While there are several different ways to make a mortise, the only thing that will make ones that are high quality and professional looking are actual mortising machines. If you can’t get one, you could use one of the other methods, but you really want to try to use an actual machine.
This is especially true if you’re making a mortise on pieces that you’re selling to people. A great thing about these machines is that it pushes out the wood in one movement so the tenon will fit perfectly.
With that being said, there are a few things you want to look for when getting ready to purchase a machine.
For starters, you want to find a machine that has a good speed. Getting one that’s too slow will result in the wood not being pushed out thoroughly and cleanly and getting one too fast means the machine will be harder to control and can quickly ruin a piece.
Next, you want to find a machine that’s efficient. You want to be able to do what you need to quickly without having to go through a ton of steps. Finally, you want to make sure the machine is high quality.
You want something that will hold up to hard use and will make a perfect mortise every time. Below we’ve reviewed the top 10 best mortising machines on the market in 2018.
Table of Contents
- 10. PORTER-CABLE 513 1-1/2 Horsepower Lock Mortiser
- 9. Powermatic Tilt Table Mortiser
- 8. Grizzly Bench-Top Mortising Machine
- 7. General Tools 870 E Z Pro Mortise
- 6. RIKON Power Tools Bench Mortiser
- 5. Jet Horsepower Bench Mortiser
- 4. Makita Chain Mortiser
- 3. Powermatic Horsepower Bench Mortiser
- 2. Shop Fox Mortising Machine
- 1. DELTA Professional Bench Mortising Machine
- Which Mortising Machine Should You Buy?
10. PORTER-CABLE 513 1-1/2 Horsepower Lock Mortiser
This 11 amp, 27,500 rpm mortise machine can cut mortises of up to 7 inches long, 1 1/4 inches wide, and 4 3/4 inches deep. In addition, it can cut wood up to 4 1/2 inches thick. The great thing is that this machine will center any piece of wood you’re trying to use, regardless of the thickness.
This means you don’t have to worry about putting a mortise in the wrong spot or the piece of wood being off center. The fact that it’s made from steel and alloy means that it will hold up to rough and regular use.
- It’s made with durable materials.
- It centers the wood automatically.
- It can cut wood that’s up to 4 1/2 inches thick.
- The directions are kind of difficult to understand.
- It doesn’t have a dust port so you have to make sure you clean it regularly to prevent clogging.
9. Powermatic Tilt Table Mortiser
This machine is made from cast iron, which helps with stability and durability. In addition, the vise clamp swivels so you can easily work with pieces that are slanted. The feed lever also has 6 positions so you don’t have to worry about not being able to cut where you need to.
The fact that the entire table tilts from 0 to 35 degrees means that you can work with a huge range of angles and sizes. Another great feature is that the rack and pinion head are gas powered, which means it will move effortlessly and smoothly. Finally, it can work with pieces of wood that are up to 4 inches in depth.
- It’s made from durable and stable cast iron.
- The vise clamp easily swivels.
- The entire table can tilt up to 35 degrees/
- It doesn’t come with any chisels so you have to buy some.
- It’s relatively heavy so it might be hard to move around.
8. Grizzly Bench-Top Mortising Machine
Made from cast iron, this machine is sure to hold up to even the most frequent use. The rack and pinion head have a control mechanism, which makes it easy to adjust and use. In addition, there is a return strut that really makes it easy to quickly work with multiple pieces of wood.
Since there is an extension block included, you can work with pieces that are up to 6 inches deep. This is great because most of these machines will only let you go up to 4 inches. It’s only about 75 pounds so it shouldn’t take too much effort to move around if need be.
- It comes with a set of 4 chisels.
- It can be used with wood up to 6 inches.
- It’s lightweight so you don’t have to worry about not being able to move it.
- If you have to get a replacement part under the warranty, it can take several months.
- The balance is off so you can’t really use it if it isn’t bolted down.
7. General Tools 870 E Z Pro Mortise
This machine lets you easily cut a mortise and tenon. Since you can use the same machine for both of these, it saves you time. Included in the package are bushings that can make joints that are 3/8 inches and 1/2 inches. In addition to the bushings, it also has a high speed upcut spiral bit and a bushing guide.
Both of these help speed up your work. The fact that it’s small and lightweight means you can easily move it to any area you need to. Since this isn’t a full on machine, it can only handle wood with a thickness of 1/2 inch to 1 1/2 inches, but it can cut multiple mortises in one single piece of wood.
- It’s lightweight and portable.
- It comes with 2 bushings.
- It lets you do mortises and tenons on the same machine.
- It can only cut wood with a thickness of no more than 1 1/2 inches.
- It’s hard to make every single cut the same because it lets the wood move.
6. RIKON Power Tools Bench Mortiser
This 1/2 hp, 1700 RPM machine is not only powerful, but also cuts through some of the toughest materials. The adjustable stop makes it great for cutting consistently on several different mortises. In addition, the stabilizer is gas powered and decreases the chance of stalling or bogging down.
The table itself has an X-Y axis so it’s extremely easy to put it in the exact position you need. The machine includes: fence, hold down, 4 chisels, and a tool holder. The chisel bushings themselves are 5/8 inches and 3/4 inches. Finally, there are 2 extensions that you can use to make sure you can use it the way you need to.
- It comes with 4 chisels.
- The X-Y axis makes it easy to adjust.
- The gas powered stabilizer helps prevent stalling.
- The bits that are included aren’t the best.
- The instructions are not good at all.
5. Jet Horsepower Bench Mortiser
The chisel capacity of this mortising machine is 1/2 inch while the head stroke is 4 3/4 inches. The material it’s made out of is cast iron and steel, which means it is durable and stable. Besides the machine itself, the other things included are: three bits and chuck key.
Since it only weighs about 44 pounds, it’s easy to move and reposition. A great thing about this particular machine is that it’s covered by a 5 year limited warranty. Finally, it’s extremely easy to change the bits. All you have to do is open the access door on either side and change them out.
- It’s made from durable materials.
- It’s very easy to change bits.
- It’s lightweight.
- It only works with smaller pieces of wood.
- The frame is flimsy.
4. Makita Chain Mortiser
The 10.5 amp motor means that it’s powerful enough to cut through several different types of materials. It only weighs around 38 pounds so you won’t have to worry about struggling if you need to move it. In addition, the chain is extremely sharp, which means it can cut right through without snagging or tearing.
In terms of lap joints, it can cut them up to 5 1/8 inches. The vise is adjustable and can fit on wood that’s 3 1/8 inches to 12 1/8 inches. Finally, there is a sliding rear clamp that’s adjustable so you can put it in whatever position you need it in.
- It’s very lightweight.
- It can fit wood up to 12 1/8 inches.
- It’s easy to put in several different positions.
- The manual is really lacking.
- It can sometimes get locked in the down position.
3. Powermatic Horsepower Bench Mortiser
This particular machine comes with a 1/2 inch chuck, depth stop, and bushings that are 5/8 inches and 3/4 inches. In addition, the head stroke has a capacity of 5 1/2 inches and also has a reversible handle for both right and left hand use.
It’s around 94 pounds so it isn’t as lightweight as other machines but it still shouldn’t be too hard to move. The 1 year warranty is great if you need to replace in that time frame. The cam lock will lock the fence in position with one quick hand movement, which is great in terms of safety and convenience.
- It has a 1 year warranty.
- It can be used by both left and right handed people.
- The fence can lock into position quickly.
- The handle is made from flimsy material.
- The base can crack and break easily.
2. Shop Fox Mortising Machine
Not only does this product have double support columns, but it can make mortises in wood that’s up to 8 inches wide and 8 3/4 inches thick. The fact that it’s made from heavy cast iron means it’s hard to move but stands up well to a lot of use.
In terms of the quick set handle, this machine has one that’s extra long and measures 22 inches. The base itself swivels, which is great for putting it in the position you need, and the fence is adjustable, which means you can put it exactly where you need it.
- It can make mortises in wood up to 8 3/4 inches thick.
- It’s made from durable cast iron.
- The handle is extra long at 22 inches.
- The knobs are made from cheap materials.
- The directions are hard to understand.
1. DELTA Professional Bench Mortising Machine
The chuck is in an open area and easy to get to for changing bits. The base is made from cast iron and has a circular hole right in the middle. This means you can easily center your materials when adding mortises.
The rack and pinion fence and head are easily adjustable so you can be sure you can put it exactly where you need it. Not only can the head mount be adjusted 180 degrees, but it can also be removed if you wanted to add mortises somewhere besides the base. Finally, the dovetail is adjustable for ease and convenience.
- It’s easy to change the bits.
- The hold in the middle helps center your materials.
- The head mount can be removed easily.
- Some of the pieces can easily break.
- The base can easily crack and break.
Which Mortising Machine Should You Buy?
While all of these products would work well for adding mortises, the one that comes out on top is the Grizzly Bench-Top Mortising Machine. Not only does it come with 4 chisels, but it’s also lightweight. In addition, the cast iron material means that it will hold up for a long time.
It’s easy to adjust and control because of the control mechanism. The fact that it has a return strut is an added bonus because you can easily do several pieces back to back.
You don’t have to take a bunch of time in between. If you’re looking for a high quality mortising machine, then this one is perfect!