I bought one this weekend (model 1671). I had heard bad things about
the Delta and the JET, and this one was on sale. They are all about
the same price, US$230.
I am making a workbench and it calls for some big mortises. I mortised
the legs with a router and it was pretty tricky making 2"x3"x2" cuts.
So I thought a machine would be easier for the leg stretchers. Since
good hand-mortising chisels (like the ones Lee Valley sells) are about
the cost of a cheap machine, I thought I'd try technology first and
expect to do some minimal by-hand cleanup.
Setup was easy, the only problem was that the threads for the fence
weren't tapped properly and had to recut them to match the bolts they
sent. I thought the holes were just full of paint, but they weren't
I installed the 1/2 chisel (included) and turned it on, and it rattled
like crazy (the instructions say it may make noise, but it was really
loud). I checked and the bit was clearing the chisel at the bottom.
Since there was no way for me to adjust the position of the bit inside
the chisel I just assumed this is a side effect of a $200 power tool
My first mortise into a 2"x2" piece of hard maple (laminated by smaller
4/4 stock) sent out a ton of smoke. There was a lot of head flex, too,
so I went slower and in smaller passes on the next one. The smoking
stopped, but it took a large amount of effort to push into the maple.
I was really torquing it down. I continued this way cutting eight
1.25"x5"x1.5" mortices. I left the 1/8th in strip in the middle and
cleaned it out with a chisle, because I heard that the mortise chisel
can veer off if there isn't at least 3 walls of support.
I was really surprised at how messy and uneven the mortises were. It
was a brand new chisel, I expected cleaner edges, not ripped shredded
wood. By comparison, my previous routed moritices were smooth as glass
(but had rounded insisdes and took forever to set up each cut).
I also noticed the head flex got progressively worse. I had to stop
and retighten the bolts on the bottom of the guide rails. Not an easy
task since it weights ~80 pounds.
Is this common, or are <$1000 mortise machines garbage? Do mortising
chisels always hit the edges of the drill? Is there a way to fix this?
It did a mediocre job after cleanup, and since I won't see the mortises
anyway, the place where 1/32" jaggies where the chisel didn't exactly
line up on each cut are OK, I was just expecting it to stay together a
little better. I haven't cut the tenons yet, hopefull the massive head
flex didn't result in slanted (not parallel to the edges) mortices.
Any comments? Should I be doing something differently? I hear the
flex in the jet and delta are about the same.