One of my projects for this summer is going to be to build 20 new doors
for the horse stalls I am also going to be building. The design of the
doors is pretty simple, two vertical stiles and three horizontal rails.
I would like to do mortise and tennon joints for strength, so this
would require 120 mortises to be cut. I am thinking that this more than
justifies $400 for a mortising machine (a single pre-made door can be
$250-$500, so it's easy to justify a machine).
I created a couple of doors that a horse might appreciate.
I used cheap 2x4 stock and half lapped (I believe that is the correct term)
the stiles and rails where they met and pinned them with 1/2" dowels.
For the panels, I used 1/2" nom. exterior grade plywood glued into channels
routed 3/4" deep into the styles and rails.
Primed and painted, two years on, they are doing quite well. Staying flat
and closing as when first installed.
As to the mortising tool, DELTA has a kit to fit to your radial drill press
for under $70 (I got mine on sale for $30!). Given the number of repetitive
mortises you intend, the effort to set this up (build a jig, etc.) would not
be significant (and you might need to build a bit of a jig with the
dedicated tool anyway) so if $$ is an object, consider the accessory.
I just got a HF el cheapo mortising machine for around $79 (on sale for $99
+ 20% off coupon) and it works like a charm (of course, I do not have any
comparison to check), but I am more than happy with it!
Go for it (don't bother with the drill press attachment as it will only
disappoint/aggravate in the long run). If you look at Delta, and it won't
cost you $400, just make sure that you get the 14-651 instead of the cheaper
I think the number of mortises you cut well justifies the expense of a
good mortise machine. Ii'd sure stay away from the ones at the lesser
expense part of the scale in favor of something like the ones made by
General or the beefier Powermatics--sure you'll shell out a few more
bucks but it sounds like you'll be working with larger dimensioned
stock. problem with some of the smaller lighter weight machines with
bigger stock is that the columnssupporting the motor housing can
deflect (i found out the hard way about this) causing much aggravation
when you go to assemble your joints.
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