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Benchtop Mortisers Bennington VT

Traditionally, mortisers used fast-speed, 3,450 rpm motors, but now slow-speed machines are also on the market. Three of the machines we tested have 1,725-rpm motors. Read on to learn more.

The Home Depot
(802)447-9997
121 N Bennington Rd
Bennington, VT
Hours
Mon-Sat: 6:00am-9:00pm
Sun: 8:00am-7:00pm

H. Greenberg & Son Inc.
(802) 442-3131
321 Main Street
Bennington, VT
 
H. Greenberg & Son Inc
(413) 664-4576
1366 Curran Highway
North Adams, MA
 
Deerfield Valley Supply
(802) 464-3364
211 Route 9 W
Wilmington, VT
 
Miles True Value Lbr.
(802) 375-2525
178 Chittenden Dr
Arlington, VT
 
H. Greenberg and Son
802-442-3131
321 Main St. Bennington, VT, 05201
Bennington, VT
 
Hoosick True Value Hardware
(518) 686-7238
21953 Ny 22
Hoosick Falls, NY
 
Carr Hardware True Value
(413) 663-6600
192 State Street
North Adams, MA
 
W W Building Supply
(802) 464-3022
Route 100
Wilmington, VT
 
Stanleys Lumber & Building Supplies
(413) 743-0831
20 N Summer St
Adams, MA
 

Benchtop Mortisers

Benchtop Mortisers

For $250 and half an hour's worth of simple improvements, you can cut precise mortises all day.

Mortising machines first answered the prayers of mortise-cutting woodworkers over 120 years ago. Today you can buy a miniaturized descendant of those old-timers. Though they're not the only powered option you have for mortising these days, their square mortises are the perfect match for tablesawn tenons. We tested eight benchtop machines designed to cut mortises up to 1/2-in. wide. They're similar in size and capacity, and all but one sell for less than $250. They all use the same specialized chisels and drill bits. The machines are easy to set up and ready to cut mortises within 20 minutes. After our own testing, we invited a group of professional and amateur woodworkers to try out the machines as well. All together, we cut hundreds of mortises with each machine, using 1/4-in. to 1/2-in. chisel sets, in mahogany, red oak and maple.

Benchtop Mortisers

It's Okay to buy Cheap Bits
For testing, each machine was outfitted with new chisel sets from the same manufacturer. We tried sets from British, American, Austrian and Japanese manufacturers before deciding to use the cheapest ones, which are made in Taiwan. You can spend a lot of money on chisel sets, but we think these inexpensive ones (usually less than $20), are a good buy. Out of the box, they needed the least amount of sharpening. They cut clean mortises and we found them easy to resharpen. Besides, accidents happen, bits get ruined and it's less traumatic to replace a cheap set. Taiwanese sets are usually available from suppliers who sell benchtop mortisers.

A HOLLOW CHISEL with an auger bit inside is the secret to machines that cut aquare mortises. First the auger roughs out the mortise by drilling a hole and clearing the chips. To square the corners, you have to force the chisel through the wood. This can take a lot of force-a square 1/2-in. mortise chisel has a 2-in. cutting edge. That's why mortising machines take muscle to operate.

The Major Difference Between Machines Is Motor Speed
Traditionally, mortisers used fast-speed, 3,450 rpm motors, but now slow-speed machines are also on the market. Three of the machines we tested have 1,725-rpm motors. Why the change? Manufacturers we talked to say slower speeds increase the life of the chisel sets. We think that's one reason slow-speed machines are less stressful to use. You don't have to worry about overheating the tooling. They're also quieter and rarely cause smoke. However, they don't cut mortises as easily as fast-speed machines. At a comfortable feed rate, we found cutting 1/2-in. mortises takes 5 to 10 foot/pounds more effort. Fast or slow speed? You have a choice between cutting ease and ease of mind.

Tune UP THE AUGER before you use it. With a small file, remove leftover machining burrs from the inside adge of it's scoring spur and the a...

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