I'm making a mission style coffee table and plan to do quite a bit of
mortising. (spindles, stringers, etc)
Are drill press mortising attachments all that great? Prices aren't
that bad (approx. $50) but reviews on Amazon are kind of mixed.
Are these things worth it or are you better off using a good centering
bit and just squaring things up with a chisel??
For most, better than doing it by hand, but, depending upon the type of
wood, maybe barely so. I predict that for the type of work you specify
above, and using white oak, you will soon be frustrated with the effort
A dedicated hollow chisel mortiser will save you a lot of time providing you
will be doing more of this type of work.
Since a coffee table generally has no angled joints, you might also want to
consider using a plunge router and "loose tenon" joinery.
I agree with Swingman. The drill press attachments are a hassle because
you keep having to remove the mortising attachment to do regular
drilling. Plus, I kept having problems with the mortising bits on a the
After I bought a real mortiser, I've been very pleased with the
convenience and the quality of mortise.
Swimgman also mentioned using a router. That's also a good technique.
Using the router method, I square off the mortise with a chisel.
Actually I do that with the mortiser, too, but not nearly as much since
the corners are square, as opposed to the round holes of a router.
I have alos used your methofd of drilling it out and then squaring up
with a chisel. That works but it takes a lot longer.
I've used the mortising attachment on my Grizzly floor standing drill
press. I was able to make a really nice mortise and tenon face frame
for my daughter's changing table. First time I'd ever done anything
like it. I was impressed with myself. :-)
In fact, I picked out my drill press with the idea that I would be able
to get a mortising attachment for it.
some things to keep in mind/thoughts/pros/cons:
- a dedicated mortiser is better, always. Though I've never actually
used one, so I don't know the difference - but think about it: a tool
designed for the task is almost always better than a tool retrofitted
for the task.
- the setup for the mortising attachment is time consuming, so you'd
want to do all of your mortising at the same time.
- a drill press wont give you the same amount of torque as a dedicated
mortiser would, which makes it harder to do on a drill press. The drill
press has to be pushed harder.
- you can drill out most of the mortise with a standard drill bit first
(much cheaper than a mortising chisel) and then clean it up with a
mortising chisel on the drill press. (this puts less strain on the
drill press, and potentially makes a better mortise. )
- take it easy, and don't try to push the mortising chisel right into
the wood at full force. I remember going up and down, each time, going
a little further down, until i was at my final depth. This helps clear
away the waste wood, and also might be easier on the drill press
Now again, I've only done this for a face frame, once. And it was in
Poplar, not oak. My suggestion is, go for it. It might be a bit more
difficult than a dedicated mortiser, but 50 bucks is worth it - in my
opinion - specifically if you're not going to be doing a lot of it (ie,
on a lot of projects, all around the same time.)
Let us know how it works out, and good luck.
On Dec 4, 8:51 am, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
Someone asked basically the same question a couple of weeks ago and
generated some discussion. You could Google "mortising attachment" and
follow that thread. The general consensus was that, while they do
work, they are too much trouble to set up and they keep your drill
press tied up while they are installed. The mortises I made with mine
still needed to be cleaned up with a chisel. Not that much more
trouble to knock out the corners too.
"Never wrestle with a pig. You'll both get dirty, but the pig likes
I think you'll be happier and you'll get better joints if you do the
morticing work with a router. With a little practice, an upcut spiral bit,
and a simple fixture or a fence to position the router repeatably you will
find that you can produce clean and perfectly positioned mortices quite
easily. Using your table saw you can then cut some stock to make floating
tennons to fit these mortices. You can round the edges of these tennons to
fit the mortices if you want, but I usually leave my tennons square, leaving
the curved ends of the mortices open so the excess glue has a place to go.
Most of the joint strength comes from a good side fit anyway. A close, but
not tight, fitting floating tenon will produce an incredibly strong joint.
In my opinion, morticing on a drill press or with a dedicated morticer is no
where near as fast nor as accurate as can be achieved with a router. Plans
are available for making elaborate router morticing fixtures that can make
the job even easier, but a little practice with a simple jig or even just
with the router fence can produce impressive results.
"DonkeyHody" < email@example.com> wrote in message
As others have said, I would use either the router or buy a proper
dedicated mortiser. I used a mortising attachment on my delta 12"
benchtop drill press. It was a pain to get centered and aligned
correctly. Once I did though, I was able to make useable mortises.
One of the problems you'll have with the attachment on the DP is that
you need a fair amount of leverage to cut square holes. This is
because you're not just drilling, you're also driving chisels into the
wood. The dedicated mortisers have longer handles and different
gearing to give you more leverage. Also, the quality of chisel
I have a dedicated mortsier and a tennoning jig. In spite of that,
I've been thinking of making something like a multirouter or the leigh
FMT myself. Or I may just buy one of those. You may want to
experiment with making a router jig before spending money on the DP
Thanks for the replies.
I think I'll skip the mortising drill press attachment.
I also happen to have a Smithy 3 in 1 metalworking machine. I use it
primarily for metalworking but I don't understand why it couldn't make
precision mortises. I'm thinking of using a router bit in this
machine. The only problem I see is that it won't have the rpm of a
router but I don't see why that would be an issue as long as I go slow.
Is there such a thing as a router bit that does better at low rpm??
Grizzly has this machine:
Have a look at the accessories. I think there are end mills that would
do the trick. IANAMW (MetalWorker) but some of them look like they'll
do the job.
On 5 Dec 2006 07:33:56 -0800, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
Probably not *better* at slow speed, but if you get one with as many
flutes as possible, it's likely to give a cleaner cut with the reduced
RPMs. In any case, I'd imagine that a slooow feed rate would offset
the slower spindle speed to some extent.
I've had a mortising attachment for at least 30 years, and I haven't
used it for at least 25 years. It's a royal pain-in-the-ass to set up
and take down, and your drillpress is out of service until you finish
mortising. If you don't want to spend the bucks for a mortiser, think
about getting a cheap or used bench top drillpress and converting that
to a mortiser.
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