cheapo mortising machine

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I've seen 'em a lot in the catalogs and had a chance to try one. It seemed adequate for a tool I might use twice a year. I believe they were going for way under $200.00 but now I can't find any. They're not listed in the Harbor Freight catalog. I believe the one I borrowed was a Northern Equipment brand, but I couldn't find anything there, either. Did Delta send a 767 full of call girls to China in a deal to curtail production?
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They have at least three listings on Harborfreight: http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber5570 http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber7505 http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/Displayitem.taf?itemnumberE007
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I do not buy many power tools from HF but my mortiser is an exception. They ran an ad for a $99.00 mortiser and in a weak moment I bought one. You know what? It cuts square holes! I have had it 4 or 5 years and would offer the following:
1) Square holes (Oh, I said that)
2) The three chisels they provided are similar to those provided with the Delta drill-press kit and they do a pretty good job (1/4", 3/8", 1/2"). They are sharpenable with a diamond cone sharpener.
3) Seems to have adequate power for most work (I have cut to 1-1/2" deep or so)
4) The stock hold-down attachments absolutely suck. You can get there but they suck.
5) The switch crapped out after about four years. Simple toggle switch cost about $3
6) The bushing that fits inside of the main body casting, that also accepts the chisels seems soft. I have leaned it and the inner race with emery cloth a couple of times.
7) The plunge handle is straight. It should be curved to allow a full plunge cut. Also the threaded hardware that holds it in place (and some other threaded hardware) is cheap and soft. Cheap to replace.
8) The base is not aligned well with the rest of the machine - Oh well what can you expect?
Now for the Donald Rumsfeld questions/answer session:
Is this the only mortiser I will every own? Lord I hope not!
Has it be a useful addition to the shop? Yes. A lot better than nothing!
Do I consider it to be one of the better tools in my shop? Get Serious
Can I do serious mortising on furniture projects? Yes, but I take some time to make sure the chisels are tight in the head and I supplement the Mickey Mouse hold-down hardware with clamps. Some day I might fabricate better hold-down hardware -- or go buy a better mortiser.
PS: I saw one in a HF store this past year for about the same price.
RonB
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go back to northern tool and do a search for "mortising" it will bring up the drill press mortising attachment and accessories.
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You really think China wants spoiled lazy American women . . . . They already have the best pussy . . . .

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" snipped-for-privacy@comcast.net" wrote in message

It only seemed that way ... might as well go ahead and load up and take aim at your foot. There is no more worthless tool in the shop than a cheap hollow chisel mortiser.
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Swingman wrote in message

at your foot. There is no more worthless tool in the shop than a cheap hollow chisel mortiser.
What's the dif between cheap and notsocheap then? The steel in the chisels maybe?
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Refer to my long-winded post regarding my HF machine above. I think the difference is just the materials used in the whole thing. The bushing between the body and the chisels seems soft and has to be dressed with emery cloth now and then to allow the chisels to slide in easier.. A lot of the threaded hardware has been replaced with better stuff. The cover on the base was a wood-looking paper.
Actually, the chisels are pretty good. They look and cut like the chisels that came with a friend's Delta, drill-press mortiser. They seem to hold an edge and can be sharpened with a dimond cone sharpener. The counter price at HF is about the same as Delta chisels.
RonB
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Hello,
I have the HF machine, brought it for $80 or so (on sales for $99 + 20% off coupon that I found at: http://ww2.harborfreightusa.com/showpage_retail.taf?pageid !4&email= (the coupon changes regulary, keep checking)...
I have made around 35 mortises at the moment, from pine to black walnut to Jatoba (talk about a hard wood!) and am quite happy about it. like most HF tool, it needs a little bit of work to be great (such as sharpening the chisels a little bit more and creative work on the fence (hint, increase it's thikness so the hold down works better)...
for a tool that I use around once every 2 months, I am happy...
cyrille

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You need a router and some practice making perfect mortises in a MUCH shorter time. The mortising machines might have a place somewhere but after doing one project with my Delta, I very quickly learned the "router way".
snipped-for-privacy@comcast.net wrote:

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On Thu, 04 May 2006 14:41:30 GMT, Pat Barber

Agreed. I used to have a dedicated mortiser but I used it so infrequently and when I did use it, it took more time to set up than it did to cut the mortises that I ended up selling it to a friend who would use it more than I did.
Mortises are simple on a router table. Ten seconds with a straight cutting bit and a corner chisel and you're done.
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Brian Henderson wrote:

I don't bother with the corner chisel in a blind mortise. While I'm fine tuning the tenon with a shoulder plane, I round the corners.
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How can you live with yourself knowing you took a shortcut like that? Think of the shame it will bring you your family if this is discovered during a restoration project a hundred years from now. It would be like finding out that Michelangelo used an air brush in the Sistine Chapel.
Ed (shaking his head at this bad news)
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Ssssshh! Now you know the secret of the DaVinci code!!!!!!!
Vic
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They have found a compressor run by a bellows in the chapel store room.
Sorry... He Did Use a Airbrush to smooth the edges.
Edwin Pawlowski wrote:

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"Pat Barber" wrote in message

Certainly within the realm of possibility. The oldest known instance of use of an air brush was in some cave dwellings in France, IIRC.
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B A R R Y wrote:

Why not simplify even more and use loose tenons? (At least where the small strength difference isn't critical.)
Chris
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Chris Friesen wrote:

Good suggestion, but I enjoy cutting and fitting tenons more than cutting mortises in the end of boards.
Now, if I had a multi-router... <G>
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wrote:

True, and if you're doing a bunch of loose tenons, it's just as easy to run them through the router table and round them over en masse before cutting to size.
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You need a router and some practice making perfect mortises in a MUCH shorter time. The mortising machines might have a place somewhere but after doing one project with my Delta, I very quickly learned the "router way".
I could believe it. I've made some louvered shutters with a plunge router and concocted jig, but - what's the technique for mortising using a router table, if it's not too much to go into? Is it time to invent a foot-operated mechanism for a plunge router in a router table?
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