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Benchtop Mortisers Urbandale IA

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
(515)251-5819
10850 Plum Drive
Urbandale, IA
Hours
Mon-Sat: 6:00am-10:00pm
Sun: 8:00am-8:00pm

The Home Depot
(515)287-7269
4900 SE 14th St
Des Moines, IA
Hours
Mon-Sat: 6:00am-10:00pm
Sun: 8:00am-8:00pm

O'Donnell Ace Hardware
(515) 255-2240
5715 Hickman Rd
Des Moines, IA
 
O'Donnell Ace Hardware
(515) 277-0062
4808 University Ave, Waveland Golf Course
Des Moines, IA
 
Leachman Lumber Co.
(515) 265-1621
1921 Hubbel Ave
Des Moines, IA
 
The Home Depot
(515)221-2233
3700 University Ave
West Des Moines, IA
Hours
Mon-Sat: 6:00am-10:00pm
Sun: 8:00am-8:00pm

The Home Depot
(515)963-1890
2335 SE Delaware Ave
Ankeny, IA
Hours
Mon-Sat: 6:00am-10:00pm
Sun: 8:00am-8:00pm

Merle Hay Mall
(515) 278-7399
4000 Merle Hay Rd
Des Moines, IA
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:9-21
Sun:11-18
Store Features
Mon:10-21
Tue:10-21
Wed:10-21
Thu:10-21
Fri:10-21
Sat:9-21
Sun:11-18

White Cap- Des Moines
(515) 243-6969
1631 Second Avenue Des Moines, IA, 50314
Des Moines, IA
 
Park Fair Ace Hardware
(515) 243-6000
100 E Euclid Ste 11, Park Fair Mall
Des Moines, IA
 

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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