If you’ve got plenty of work on your hands, but still want to make time for finding the best mortiser on the market, we can help you with just a short paragraph. We consulted expert review sites and owner feedback and it turns out the Powermatic 1791310 PM701 is the best option. The ¾ horsepower motor, the heavy-duty reversible handle coupled with an in-depth stop and the double-lock system are the features that made us place the item on top of our list. The motor is strong enough to punch through any sort of grain with the right chisel, while the reversible handle and depth stop make for an accurate, easy operation for the right or left hand on any type of mortise you want to implement. The double lock system gives this mortiser an edge over other similar products because it averts slippage incidents and saves you time and effort. If the Powermatic 1791310 PM701 is out of stock, look for the Jet 708580 JBM as a second best option.
Mortising is one of the most common methods used by woodworkers to join together two pieces of wood. Putting a square or rectangular hole in the piece of wood allows a tenon to fit inside, usually at a 90-degree angle, and that keeps the pieces in place. A mortiser is a dedicated tool for cutting the holes needed for the joint.
The best mortiser reviews agree on the fact that the number of rotations per minute a mortiser can provide is a feature that defines its efficiency. A strong motor and at least 1700 RPM is essential for getting the job done. Most benchtops use a ½ hp induction motor, and that should be enough for whatever you decided to do.
If the mortiser has more horsepower, it means you can do the job fast and easy. But the more it goes past that minimum speed, the more there’s a chance the wood you’re working with will start smoking and catch fire. Some say it’s the normal thing to happen, but it’s probably safer to have an adjustable speed setting.
The second most important feature in all mortise machines is the one that allows you to hold the wood pieces in one place while you’re operating. This doesn’t seem to be a prominent strong point for any of the products on the market. However, make a careful choice, don’t jeopardize your material, flow, and the precision work.
A good hold down will probably save your chisel and raw material. If the stability of the system is endangered, the workpiece will twist, and your chisel will get wedged. A well-built benchtop mortiser will allow for an easy withdrawal of the chisel, even when you’re dealing with hard wood.
Whenever you decide to opt for precision and safety, a depth stop should be on your list. Finding a way to standardize results and achieve the precise depth to match the tenons is what you’ll find desirable in a benchtop mortiser for sale. A helpful depth stop is only reliable when it doesn’t bend under pressure, it’s accurate and easily adjustable.
A long feed lever gives you the proper leverage when you lower the bit into the wood. The better ones can be repositioned, according to the depth of cut you need. It’s also useful to have a longer lever since it can be handled better.
The head travel or stroke is the vertical movement of the bit, and it ranges between 4 ¾ to 6 inches. If the stroke is small, you might end up with some distance to the workpiece, or barely scratch it. In cases like this, you’re probably going to lose time getting trying to fix the issue.
Chisel and bits
The results you’re expecting from the mortiser depend on the chisel capacity and bit changes. The standard for mortise machines is ½’’ x ½’’. Some brands claim to offer ⅝’’ and ¾’’ chisels. See if the chisels fit this description and are good enough for hardwood.
Some mortisers don’t carry enough strength to force large chisels into hardwood, so you shouldn’t get excited until they’ve made it through the challenge.
Top mortisers in 2019
Now that you read some of our advice don’t forget to take a look at our list of the best mortisers showcased below and prepare the chisel for a new project.
Powermatic 1791310 PM701
Powermatic engineers managed to design a top-notch machine. This benchtop mortiser is a great choice for more than one reason, as it transforms most of its features into advantages.
The motor is ¾-horsepower, and it reaches 1.725 RPM. These two specifications are almost standard for the benchtop mortisers we’ve researched, but they don’t usually come for this price and size range.
Adapted to its strong motor is a 5 ½ inch stroke capacity, that gives you the possibility to pick the kind of mortise you want without fear you won’t be able to reach the required depth. Precision is ensured by the use of an in-line depth stop with preset depths.
The double lock system is the kind of feature you would appreciate on any mortise. It enables you to hold down the wood piece with both a top lock and a side lock. This way you can be sure there won’t be any slippage, and you’ll get accurate mortising.
You can add to the features mentioned above the easy setup that requires almost no tools since all the levers and knobs make it easy to handle.
This machine reaches a great balance between power, features, and price, and you’d love to have it.Buy from Amazon.com for ($589.99)
Jet 708580 JBM
Although it’s been built to satisfy professional furniture makers and hobbyists alike, this benchtop mortiser is much lighter than the Powermatic, with only 44 pounds.
This product’s top feature, as seen by most woodworkers is the possibility to reverse the machine on its base, allowing for mortise on the long stock, something lots of customers have been waiting for a long time.
The motor yields ½ horsepower and reaches 1725 RPM. While the motor has a smaller capacity that our top contender, the RPMs give you the same working capability. The range of tasks you can accomplish with the Jet 708580 JBM is larger than that of most benchtop mortisers since it offers ½’’ maximum mortise chisel capacity and a 4-¾’’ head stroke.
If you need to operate from a comfortable position, the adjustable feed handle will come in handy, while the depth stop is easy to set to obtain the desired accuracy.
To change the bits, all you need to do is open one of the steel plates on any side, and you’ll have access to the three-jaw drill chuck.
The product is made of heavy-duty cast iron and steel, so you needn’t worry about its strength and durability through the years.Buy from Amazon.com for ($359.99)
Delta 14-651 Professional
This benchtop mortiser has some original features that made us complete the list with its name on it. Just like the previous products, the ½ horsepower motor yields 1725 rotations per minute. But the single-phased motor, strong and steady as it is and dependable for all the jobs, wasn’t what really raised our interest.
The multiposition feed lever that locks down for hardwood punching is an interesting designer choice, and it comes in a pack with the adjustable height and rotating head. The Delta 14-651 Professional uses an attachment for increasing the mortisers capacity by 1-¾ inch, and if the space provided by it is still insufficient, rotating the head by 180 degrees offers you the possibility to mortise off-table.
Additionally, you’ll have the much needed adjustable depth stop that locks down for a precise and consistent mortise. For an efficient hold-down, the tool features a rack and pinion fence.
You’ll also notice an adjustable dovetail option for more intricate jobs.
The cast iron base gives the machine the needed stability, considering the total 77 pounds weight of the mortiser. The product is complete with mortise chisels and bits in ¼, 5/16, ⅜, and ½ inch increments.Buy from Amazon.com for ($431.35)