The Powermatic 1791310 PM701 3/4-Horsepower Bench Mortiser is our best mortiser and this machine can operate at a speed of up to 1,725 RPM. A great feature is that it is usable with left-handed or right-handed people due to its reversible handle. The stroke capacity of the head is 5 1/2 inches and the depth stop has an in-line design. The mortise also comes with two bushing sizes, a 5/8 inch and 3/4 inch.
Our step-up pick is the Makita 7104L 12 Amp Chain Mortiser and the motor runs at 3,200 RPM of speed under 10.5 amps. It also has an adjustable clamp with a sliding rear position so you can adjust the width using the tension knob that runs smoothly and you can cut accurately with the razor sharp chain. The mortiser weighs very light at only 38 lbs and it is ideal for thick wood stock in cutting and notching holes.
The budget pick is the Jet 708580 JBM-5 1/2-Horsepower Bench Mortiser and it runs on a 1/2 horsepower motor at a speed of 1,752 RPM under 115 volts. Its overall tool weight is 44 lbs while the head stroke measures 4 3/4 inch. The mortiser includes chuck key and 3 bits and the capacity for the chisel is a 1/2 inch.
A Little Background
A mortiser is a helpful tool for any woodworker. Its main objective is to cut holes that are square in shape so that wood working will be simplified. Traditionally, mortising is done by the hand and this can take a lot of time and have a loss for accuracy when being done repetitively, whereas a machine can do the job just fine without getting hand fatigue or losing accuracy. A mortiser nowadays depends on machinery so that the job will be done in fewer amounts of time and with less effort.
Mortisers use chisels and bits to help drill holes perfectly on wood without messing up the wood material. When you use regular drills with super high speeds, it might accidentally break the wood or lumber and this is why mortisers have special speeds that are not too low and not too high. The speed of a mortiser is usually just right for wood material and specifically made for wood working. This is because it must meet the demands of woodworkers and it should adhere to the standards of common lumber and wood works.
How We Picked
A mortiser with a great speed at RPM is a good machine. Typically, you will always get a slow speed mortiser because wood cutting is not really that much of a hassle and trouble as compared to drilling holes on metal and such. Mortisers are typically made for wood and not hard materials such as metal.
You must know the horsepower of the mortiser. You will mostly get mortisers that run from 1/2 HP to 1 HP depending on their price features and size. The more horsepower it has the more power it can give you and the faster you can do your wood working job.
The mortiser should also come with the required accessories for mortising, such as bits, chisels, etc. Usually, the bits that come with any mortiser vary in length and measurements. These accessories are crucial when it comes to operating the mortiser and it will also help if you have multiple sizes of bits and chisels so you can choose ones that are more fitting for your job and can adjust accordingly.
The depth stop of a mortiser is crucial to making perfect cuts. This is a safety feature and a precision feature as well so that your mortising operation will run smoothly and surely. More often, you can assign the depth stop a value to meet your operation needs, which is very helpful.
Adjustability is a big game changer in any mortiser so a rack and pinion system must be present. In fact, there are mortisers out there with totally flexible parts but this is just a big plus point. You will most likely find adjustability in every mortiser out there so that you will not run into problems with any kind of wood size and thickness. In fact, some mortisers can be used for door installations.
Flexibility is a plus point if you have a mortiser that has a lot of tiltable and twistable components. Table top mortisers or bench top mortisers can also have flexible parts that rotate and tilt whenever and wherever you like it. In some cases, these mortising machines can be a bit pricey but if you really want precision and work place flexibility then these mortisers are very highly recommended for you.
A sturdy base must be included in the mortiser, particularly a cast iron one for durability. A mortiser is built to last for years to come and this is why they must be encased in a durable housing and a sturdy cast iron base at the very most to protect their inner components. More commonly, the price is a decisive factor when it comes to durability. Even if you save tons of dollars on a cheaper model, it will not be as durable as an expensive one and will always have flaws with it.
A mortiser that does not produce a lot of noise is something to look forward to. This is measured in decibels (dB) and is also a decisive factor on the operation of any mortiser. If you work on a neighborhood shop, you would not want to disturb the neighbors. What’s more, since power tools are generally noisy, it really helps to protect your ears from high volume damage by using a low noise level mortiser for your daily job or DIY projects.
Top Pick: Powermatic 1791310 PM701 3/4-Horsepower Bench Mortiser
As for our best mortiser, we chose the Powermatic 1791310 PM701 3/4-Horsepower Bench Mortiser which comes with two bushing sizes, a 5/8 inch and 3/4 inch. As for the specs, it can operate at a speed of up to 1,725 RPM and it has a stroke capacity on the head of 5 1/2 inches. In addition, it is also efficiently usable with left-handed or right-handed people due to its reversible handle while the depth stop has an in-line design.
The Powermatic Bench Mortiser runs at 3/4 horsepower. When it comes to portability and accessibility, this mortiser includes a chuck extension adaptor and it also comes with chisel bushing, handle and a chuck key. It is important to know that the mortiser’s chuck measures 1/2 inch. Being backed by a 1 year warranty, the Powermatic 1791310 Bench Mortiser has a sturdy base that measures 16 by 13 inches and the overall weight of the mortiser is 93 lbs.
In addition to that, the chuck key measures 4 inches. When it comes to the system of the mortiser, a rack and pinion system gives adjustability to the fence which also has a cam lock with quick action feature to simplify positioning. Moreover, a double lock system is equipped to the stock hold down part to keep slippage to a minimum while taking out the chisel from whatever you are working on.
For your convenience, the pre-set depths can be stopped on the in-line depth stop feature without worrying about the base being driven by the drill bit racking. Adding to that, this very heavy duty corded electric mortiser can also be wired for 220 volts and it is an out of the box solution to mortising. The Powermatic 1791310 PM701 Mortiser comes with a non-flimsy tool holder and the motor of the mortiser is quiet unlike most mortisers. Moreover, its diamond hone attaches to the frame’s top and it can easily cut square mortises for getting the job done hassle-free.
Flaws but Not Dealbrakers
Currently, small issues about the hold down fork are the only concern about the design of the Powermatic 1791310 PM701 3/4-Horsepower Bench Mortiser but nonetheless, everything else about the mortise works just fine.
Makita 7104L 12 Amp Chain Mortiser
Being ideal for thick wood stock in cutting and notching holes, the Makita 7104L 12 Amp Chain Mortiseris our step-up pick and it has an adjustable clamp with a sliding rear position so you can adjust the width using the tension knob that runs smoothly. Going over the power specs, the motor runs at 3,200 RPM of speed under 10.5 amps and it weighs very light at only 38 lbs.
You can cut accurately with the razor sharp chain included in this mortiser. In terms of adjustability, the vise and knob are extra large and highly adjustable so it gets a firm grip to the logs at a thickness from 3 1/8 to 12 1/8 inches while the lap joints can be cut up to 5/18 inch. The Makita 7104L Mortiser comes with a sharpening holder and a cutter chain and the mortiser has a length of 23/32 inches.
On the measurements, the cutter chain has a max cutting depth of 6 1/8 inches and cutting width of 12 1/8 inches and the additional cutter chain widths come in 5 adjustments from 5/8 inch to 15/16 inch. As a matter of fact, all brushes are accessible to keep you on track. As for the accessories, it includes oil supply, a wrench and a user’s manual and there is no need for a new chain due to the fact that the chains are quite durable. What’s more, this corded electric chain mortiser runs at 120 volts and it is backed by a 1 year warranty.
Jet 708580 JBM-5 1/2-Horsepower Bench Mortiser
For our best budget pick mortiser, we chose the Jet 708580 JBM-5 1/2-Horsepower Bench Mortiser in which the capacity for the chisel is a 1/2 inch. In terms of power, it runs on a 1/2 horsepower motor at a speed of 1,752 RPM under 115 volts and the mortiser includes chuck key and 3 bits. Going over lightweight specs, the overall tool weight is 44 lbs and the head stroke measures 4 3/4 inch.
The Jet Bench Mortiser has a rack and pinion head design helps for a better control of the drilling operation and the steel and cast iron make up its rugged construction.
Going over the components, the chisel and bit sets you can find are 1/4 inch, 1/2 inch and 3/8 inch as it also has a safety toggle switch that prevents 1/2 inch max accidental turn. In addition to that, drill chuck is a 3-jaw system with a chuck key that extends to give you more grip on the drill bit of the mortiser and for your convenience – switching bits will be at ease due to the 4 inch chuck key.
The shank capacity for the chisel is 5/8 inch and 3/4 inch and the chisel center to fence measures 3 1/2 inches. In fact, the mortising handle allows for various positions and it gives you uniform depths for mortising due to its depth stop that is highly adjustable. Additionally, for mortising larger items, there is a reversible column and you can easily access the chuck with its 2 hinged side doors.
The Jet JBM-5 Bench Mortiser includes a spindle extension, a chuck key, fence assembly, a hold down, a table, some screws, a user’s manual, a hydraulic cylinder, the mortiser, the handle and chisel bushings in 3/4 inch and 5/8 inch and all of its bits and chisels run very sharply. The mortiser is currently backed by a 5 year limited warranty.
Best Hollow Chisel Mortiser
Woodtek 876775 1/2hp Hollow Chisel Mortiser
A mortiser with great control you can consider is the Woodtek 876775 1/2hp Hollow Chisel Mortiser which weighs 45 lbs and runs at a voltage of 120V and with a horsepower of 1/2 HP and a single phase motor. The plunge stroke is controlled by a lever on its rack and pinion gearing system.
The handle measures 28 inches long and it has been thoroughly equipped with adjustable stop rods. Going over the sizes, the keyed chuck has a size of 3/8 inch and the fence measures 1 1/2 inch by 13 3/4 inch. The mortiser has a hold down capacity of 4 1/4 inches and the motor runs at 6 amps at a speed of 1,725 RPM.
Oo the mechanics, the on and off switch uses a mechanical toggle system as the system stands at a height of 30 1/4 inches. The capacity of the chisel is shank diameter of 5/8 inch to 1/2 inch. On accessories, the Woodtek Chisel Mortiser comes with an extra long 8-foot power cord with included plug and it also has a stroke length of 4 3/4 inches.
When you order the Woodtek 876775 Mortiser, it includes a user’s manual, additional hardware, wrenches and bushings. The aforementioned mortiser weighs 48 lbs and is backed by a 1 year warranty.
Best Lock Mortiser
PORTER-CABLE 513 1-1/2 Horsepower Lock Mortiser
With the PORTER-CABLE 513 1-1/2 Horsepower Lock Mortiser, its peak horsepower is a 1 3/4 HP while the motor runs at 27,000 RPM of speed at 11 amps. With this awesome machine, you can cut mortises at a maximum length of 7 inches, a max depth of 4 3/4 inches and a max width of 1 1/4 inches.
Being ideal for mortising box locks with high accuracy and speed, it is a mortiser and is also your ideal mortiser for installing entry door locks. Moreover, the door thicknesses it can accommodate are about 4 1/2 inches and it is very easy to set up on door installations.
With the PORTER-CABLE Mortiser, anyone can easily get the job done with a durable construction made of steel and alloy and it is also backed by a 1 year limited warranty and a 1 month performance certification.
Mortiser with Tilt Table Design
Powermatic 1791264K Model 719T Tilt-Table Mortiser
If you want a super flexible mortiser on the go for your work or task that requires a lot of flexibility and holding down and precision work then you should invest on the Powermatic 1791264K Model 719T Tilt-Table Mortiser which comes with a stand while angled projects are not a problem due to the swiveling vise clamp that is mounted to the table and can be repositioned to any way you want.
It is a mortiser that features durability and stability due to its cast iron build where in you can choose up to 6 different positions for the feed lever. Overall, you can get more flexibility for your work due to the tilting fence and table up to 35 degrees of tilting and a smooth operation is ensured due to the rack and pinion head that is controlled by a gas cylinder to operate the raising and lowering system. It has a powerful motor which runs at 1 horsepower and it comes with a steel cabinet that has been heavily enclosed to give you more room for accessory and chisel storage.
The Powermatic Tilt-Table Mortiser includes linear stops that are adjustable and repetitive mortising is not a problem due to it flip-down stop feature. All in all, it is a great mortiser for dovetailing due to the large hand wheel controls and the table can travel up to a longitudinal measurement of 15 1/2 inches and 4 inches cross. For the accessories coming along with this mortiser, it includes the wooden table, user’s manual, enclosed stand with shelf, chisel shank fitting bushings at 1 1/8 inch, 3/4 inch and 5/8 inch, chuck key, handle for operating the mortiser and the mortiser itself. Moreover, it is currently backed by a 5 year warranty.
Best Bench Top Mortiser
RIKON P34-260 Bench Top X/Y Mortiser
The RIKON P34-260 Bench Top X/Y Mortiser has a motor which runs powerful at 1/2 horsepower at a speed of 1,700 RPM to get into the harshest woods and create mortising quickly without worrying about stalling. It is a mortiser in which the directional x and y table comes with stops to give you control on mortise boring with its positioning feature.
Its stabilizer is gas filled and can help control the motion of the chisel whether it is upward or downward. Moreover, multiple mortise cutting is solid and consistent due to the adjustable stop that is included in its dovetail column ways. This mortiser weighs 92 lbs and also, this corded electric mortiser is backed by a 5 year warranty for your expediency.
Mortiser with Table Extensions
RIKON 34-255 Bench Top Mortise w/Extensions
If you want a mortiser with table extensions, you can go for the RIKON 34-255 Bench Top Mortise w/Extensions in which the motor runs at 1/2 horsepower and has a speed of 1,700 RPM to give you a fast and tough job of cutting mortises against the very tough material of wood without the worry for stalling on the machine.
Absolute drilling power is also not bad due to the multi position handle to provide the user with the best control possible as your work will not be interrupted due to the chisel motion being easily controlled upward and downward because of its gas filled stabilizer. Perfect for dovetailing, the dovetail column ways help cut multiple mortises at a solid and consistent pace with its adjustable stop feature. A mortiser with table extensions for your convenience, this corded electric tool is backed by a 5 year warranty.
Ideal Mortiser for Dovetail
DELTA 14-651 Professional 1/2HP Bench Mortiser
A great mortiser for dovetailing is the DELTA 14-651 Professional 1/2HP Bench Mortiser in which the rack and pinion fence is highly adjustable for lowering and raising it. This is a mortiser that will surely reward you with quality application and an ideal dovetailing mortiser with an adjustable dovetail way on the head of the mortiser.
In fact, you can even do off-table mortising due to the feature of being remounted and the fact that the mortising hed column is highly flexible and turnable at 180 degrees. Moreover, the cast iron base holds down the mortiser and is extra large with a hole center through and the bit changing is a breeze due to its drill chuck being able to be accessed easily and opened with ease.
The mortiser’s hold down and fence are adjustable in a convenient way. The motor runs at 1/2 horsepower and can be as fast as 1,725 RPM and it also includes a chuck and key with a drill capacity of 3/8 inch.
Going over the specs, the motor is a single phase induction that runs at 120 volts and 60 Hz and a hex wrench and a chuck key can help to simplify changing chisels or bits. Also, the feed lever is a multi position design for flexibility and this tool weighs 77 lbs. When it comes to security, the safety fence included is 2 pieces and also has a tray for tools and chisels. What’s more, there are 4 chisels and bits for mortising include – 1/4 inch, 1/2 inch, 3/8 inch and 5/16 inch and it also includes a riser block. Being backed by a 5 year warranty, the DELTA 1/2HP Bench Mortiser is a mortiser you will love.
Ideal Mortiser for Repetitive Mortising
Woodtek 1hp Bench Top Mortiser 120/230v
The Woodtek 1hp Bench Top Mortiser runs on either 120 volts or 230 volts and is a very powerful motor at 1 horsepower and a single phase. Do know that this is a bench top mortiser which weighs 80 lbs and has a gas filled head stabilizer to give you smooth control and high precision. The two of the sides are covered to give you rack and pinion gearing better and easily to access and the stop rod is highly adjustable which makes this mortiser ideal for repetitive mortising.
Running at 6.8 amps at a speed of 1,720 RPM, the keyed chuck measures 1/2 inch. The Woodtek 1hp 120/230v stands at a height of 28.5 inches (excluding handle) and the capacity of the vise is 5 1/6 inches. It also has an extra long power cord and plug which spans at a length of 8 feet.
Going over the specs of this mortiser, the capacity of the hold down is 7 3/16 inches and the minimum stroke thickness is 9/16 inches. The size of the fence is 2 by 11 inches and the size of the table is 7 3/8 inches by 6 1/4 inches. Its construction is made from heavy cast iron. What’s more, adjustments do not require wrenches to do work with. The machine weighs 80 lbs and comes with a user manual, hardware, a 22 inches length handle, bore and bushing measuring 1 1/8 inch to hold shank chisels at 5/8 inch.
Also worth nothing is that the spindle can travel vertically at 6 1/2 inches while the on and off switch uses a mechanical toggle mechanism. It is backed by a 1 year warranty for parts and workmanship.
There weren’t a lot of mortisers out there due to the fact that some people still go for manual mortising compared to machine mortising. This is also probably because mortisers that are electric powered can be pricey for an average woodworker. Nonetheless, we still picked the best of the best here.
Other Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What exatly is a mortiser and what does it do?
A: According to the information laid down by Wikipedia a mortiser is something that woodworkers need to shape or cut holes, particularly rectangular and square holes, on wood and similar lumber. Mortisers are needed for precision work and to speed up wood working in general. Mortisers are unlike drills that are often used for metal and only make circular holes. Mortisers are made to cut square holes that are specifically used for wood working.
As a matter of fact, there are many kinds of mortisers for you to choose from. However, the most commonly used are the chain mortisers in which the work piece is clamped to the frame. On the other hand, horizontal mortisers and square chisel mortisers are other types of this kind of machinery. Whichever mortiser you chose, most of this machinery can cost a lot of bucks so they are only typically ideal for those who own a business or a shop or work in the industry of woodworking and such.
Q: Any tips on using a mortiser?
A: According to Woodworkers Guild of America , it is important that you know the parts of the mortiser. For the basics, the hollow chisel is the one that creates a square hole while the auger spins within the hollow chisel to make a perfect and clean cut. Moreover, the article also said that it is ideal to set up the mortises with a depth way more than the tenon length at 1/16 inches.
Wrapping It Up
To wrap things up, the Powermatic 1791310 PM701 3/4-Horsepower Bench Mortiser is our best mortiser for all your wood working needs and to speed up boring square and rectangular holes when you need it without compromising quality for swiftness of work.
Jen Miller is a former electrical engineer and product specialist with more than 20 years of product design and testing experience. She has designed more than 200 products for Fortune 500 companies, in fields ranging from home appliances to sports gear and outdoor equipment. She founded Jen Reviews to share her knowledge and critical eye for what makes consumers tick, and adopts a strict no-BS approach to help the reader filter through the maze of products and marketing hype out there. She writes regularly and has been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, The Muse, The Huffington Post, Tiny Buddha and MindBodyGreen.