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Benchtop Mortisers Gardner MA

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.

Artisan Lumber, Inc.
(781) 431-1500
35 Leominster Road
Lunenburg, MA

Data Provided by:
Lynde True Value Hardware
(978) 632-0500
483 Main St
Gardner, MA
 
Ashburnham True Value Hardware
(978) 827-5245
41 Main St
Ashburnham, MA
 
Leader Home Centers
(978) 355-3411
99 South Barre Rd
Barre, MA
 
Lowe's
(978) 230-4072
198 New Lancaster Road
Leominster, MA
Hours
M-SA 6 am - 10 pm
SU 8 am - 8 pm

Woodery Lumber Company
(978) 342-9293
110 Pleasant St
Lunenburg, MA

Data Provided by:
Maki Building Centers
(978) 343-7422
513 Betty Spring Rd
Gardner, MA
 
Sabourin True Value Hdw.
(978) 342-9022
27 Lunenburg St
Fitchburg, MA
 
Mall At Whitney Fields
(978) 534-2200
100 Commercial Rd
Leominster, MA
Store Hours
Sears Stores
Store Type
Sears Stores
Hours
Mon:10-21
Tue:10-21
Wed:10-21
Thu:10-21
Fri:10-21
Sat:8-21
Sun:10.5-18.5
Store Features
Mon:10-21
Tue:10-21
Wed:10-21
Thu:10-21
Fri:10-21
Sat:8-21
Sun:10.5-18.5

Maki Building Centers, Inc.
(978) 343-7422
160 Massachusetts Ave
Lunenburg, MA
 
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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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