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Benchtop Mortiser Comparison Essay

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Tending to Mortise-and-Tenon Joints

Tending to Mortise-and-Tenon Joints Woodworking For Dummies

Mortise-and-tenon joints are among the strongest joints in woodworking, and are used for projects that have frame construction and need to be strong. Chairs and tables use them as does most Arts and Crafts and Mission style furniture.

Mortise-and-tenon joints come in several types — stopped/blind, through, angled, wedged, and many more — but they all consist of the same basic parts: a mortise (a recess cut into a piece of wood that accepts a tenon) and a tenon (a tongue at the end of a board that fits into a mortise).

Here’s an introduction on how to make three of the most common mortise-and-tenon joints — stopped, through, and angled. You can make any of these joints with one or a combination of techniques. If you end up doing much woodworking at all, you’ll quickly become an expert at making these joints regardless of how you do it.

Tenons can be made with or without shoulders (a squared off notch on a tenon; see Figure 1). Which way you choose to do them depends on the design of the piece and your skill at making the joints. Hint: A shouldered tenon can hide less than perfect joinery.

Stopped/Blind

A stopped (blind) mortise-and-tenon joint is one in which the tenon is hidden fully in the mortise (see Figure 2). This type of tenon is often used on table and chair legs or anywhere else that you don’t want to see the joint.

To cut the mortise with a benchtop mortiser:

1. Mark the mortise on your board.

2. Choose a mortising bit that matches the width of your mortise as closely as possible (without going over).

3. Set the fence so that your workpiece is positioned correctly under the bit.

4. Set the depth of cut on the tool.

5. Drilling slowly, make your first hole at one end of the mortise.

6. Make the next pass at the other end of the mortise.

7. Overlapping by half the width of the bit, drill/chisel out the rest of the mortise.

8. Clean the hole up with a chisel if necessary.

This will depend on your bit and the model of tool you have. Some cut cleaner than others.

For mortises that are wider than your bit, you need to repeat this procedure after adjusting the fence to clean out the rest of the joint.

To cut the tenon on a table saw:

1. Mark the cut on both sides of the board to be tenoned.

2. Set the depth of cut to the thickness that you want the tenon in the center of the board.

3. Using your miter gauge, line up the cut and feed the wood through the saw.

If your tenon is longer than your dado blade is wide, you’ll need to make more than one pass.

4. Turn the board over and do the other side.

5. Clean up the tenon with a sharp chisel.

If you want to include a shoulder on the tenon, repeat this procedure only put the board on its edge instead of its face.

Be sure to reset the depth of cut for the shoulders.

A through mortise-and-tenon joint is essentially the same as the stopped mortise and tenon except that the tenon goes entirely through the mortised board to be revealed on the other side (see Figure 3). The through mortise and tenon is a staple of Arts and Crafts furniture from the early 1900s.

The following steps show you how to make this joint with a drill press and chisel and a table saw using a tenoning jig.

To cut the mortise with a drill press and chisel:

1. Mark the mortise on your board.

2. Choose a drill bit that matches the width of your mortise as closely as possible (without going over).

3. Set the fence so that your workpiece is positioned correctly under the bit.

4. Set the depth of cut on the tool.

5. Drilling slowly, make your first hole at one end of the mortise.

6. Make the next pass at the other end of the mortise.

7. Drill out the rest of the mortise by setting your bit next to the previous hole and progressively moving toward the first hole you drilled.

Don’t overlap the holes because this puts stress on the bit and creates uneven holes.

8. Clear out the rest of the wood in the mortise with your chisel.

To make the tenon on a table saw with a tenoning jig (a tenoning jig helps you hold the board vertically; check out Figure 4):

If you don’t have a tenoning jig, follow the steps for the stopped/blind tenon to cut a through tenon on a table saw.

1. Mark your board for the cuts.

2. Set the depth of cut for the tenon.

This is generally 1/3 of the thickness of the board.

3. Using the miter gauge in the left-hand slot, run the board through the saw to cut a single-saw-blade-wide cut at the mark.

4. Turn the board over and cut the other side.

5. Take your miter gauge out of the miter slot and replace it with the tenoning jig.

6. Clamp the board vertically in the jig.

7. Raise the blade to the height of the tenon.

8. Run the board through the saw (refer to Figure 4).

9. Turn the board around and repeat the process.

An angled mortise and tenon is commonly used for chairs because the rail comes out of the leg at an angle (see Figure 5). However, this angle makes the joint tricky. You can create an angled mortise and tenon in two different ways: by angling the tenon or by angling the mortise. Which one you choose will depend on your style and the project you’re working on. This section explains both of the options.

You don’t need to angle both the mortise and tenon, just one or the other.

For many folks, the easiest and most accurate way to make an angled tenon is by hand. Here are the steps to follow:

1. Mark your tenon as shown in Figure 6.

2. Cut the shoulder cuts first using a handsaw.

3. Cut the cheek cuts (the wide sides of the tenon).

To make an angled mortise:

1. Place the piece to be mortised on an angled piece of wood and clamp it to the bench.

2. Cut the mortise as you would cut a regular mortise, with your chisel, drill press, or benchtop mortiser perpendicular to the table (see Figure 7).

Other articles

Benchtop mortiser comparison essay

Today Only Bridgewood - 1-hp. Mortiser MS-10 The Bridgewood mortiser features a 1 hp motor and a 6 1/2 in. by 20 in. cast-iron table.

Large stand-alone mortisers have been around for nearly a century, but now several manufacturers offer more affordable stand-alone models with features that make them practical for serious hobbyists and small commercial shops. Compared with the drill-press add-ons and benchtop mortisers currently on the market, these mortisers feature lots of cast-iron tables that move, sturdy hold-downs, 1-hp motors, and extralong lever handles. Curious to find out just how well these machines work, I tested seven of them.

All things considered, I was pleased to find that all seven were well made and did a decent job cutting accurate mortises, even when running a 3/4-in. bit. That puts them head and shoulders above any of the drill-press add-ons or benchtop mortisers I’ve used. So it wasn’t easy to choose a favorite.

The Bridgewood, Geetech, Grizzly, and Woodtek machines look very much alike, except for paint color. Even the owner’s manuals are identical. They use a large handwheel on the front to move the table side to side and forward and backward. The mortising head is raised with a long lever, which is pinned in place on these machines (I prefer an adjustable lever). All these machines did an adequate job boring any size mortise up to 3/4 in. Their hold-down systems worked great, the tables moved smoothly, and the stops for the table and mortise head worked satisfactorily. Bit changes were relatively easy. The Grizzly has a 110-volt motor, but you need a 240-volt circuit for the Bridgewood, Geetech, and Woodtek machines.

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  • Powermatic PM701 Benchtop Mortiser

    Powermatic PM701 Benchtop Mortiser

    The new POWERMATIC PM701 Benchtop Mortiser features an in-line depth stop which allows the user to stop at preset depths without racking the mortiser bit to the base. Its heavy-duty reversible handle is so versatile that it can be changed from one side to the other quickly and easily and requires no tools to do so. The stock hold down features a specially designed double lock system. One locks from the side, the other locks from the top, to completely eliminate any slippage when removing the chisel from the work piece. This hold-down is also reversible to allow stock from 0 to 5" thick to be captured underneath it. The new POWERMATIC 701 Benchtop Mortiser has a quick-action cam lock that will quickly lock the fence into position with one 90 degree movement. This lock also features lock nuts, so once set they will not have to be continually adjusted. Set-up has never been easier or more precise. The new POWERMATIC 701 Benchtop Mortiser features an integrated bit and chisel spacer system. These two spacers are used to accurately and quickly account for the space needed between the bit and chisel during set-up. Large work surfaces in the table and fence allow for more stability and accurate cuts. The new mortiser also includes a large hinged chuck door with magnetic catch. This unique element allows the user to easily access the drill chuck with the standard 4" chuck key to lock the bit in place. In addition, its rack and pinion allow for simple and quick fence adjustments.

    The Powermatic 701 PM Benchtop Deluxe Mortiser
    has a 5 Year warranty

    • In-line depth stop allows stopping at pre-set depths without racking the bit to the base
    • Heavy-duty reversible handle can be installed to either side of the head without tools
    • Stock hold-down with a double lock system, top and side, to eliminate slippage of workpiece
    • Quick action cam lock will quickly lock fence in position with one 90° movement
    • 2 integrated bit and chisel spacers for quick set up
    • Large work surfaces on both table and fence for greater stability and accuracy
    • Large, hinged chuck door with magnetic catch for rapid access to the chuck
    • Rack and pinion design for simple fence adjustments
    • Standard Equipment:
    • Integrated chisel and tool holder with sharpening stone
    • 1/2" drill chuck with 4" chuck key
    • Removable safety switch key

    WMH Tool Group, Inc. warrants every product it sells. If one of our tools needs service or repair, one of our Authorized Service Centers located throughout the United States can give you quick service. In most cases, any of these WMH Tool Group Authorized Service Centers can authorize warranty repair, assist you in obtaining parts, or perform routine maintenance and major repair on your POWERMATIC® tools. For the name of an Authorized Service Center in your area call 1-800-274-6848.

    POWERMATIC® MORTISERS and Accessories

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    Premium Mortise Chisel & Bit, Set of 4 (1/4", 5/16", 3/8", 1/2")

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    Copyright © 2017 Smith-Hamilton, Inc
    0.013 150419 18:39

    Why Buy BIG? (When Benchtop Will Do)

    Why Buy BIG? (When Benchtop Will Do) When to stick with stationary: Tablesaw

    Although some benchtop saws now boast stationary-saw features, the cost of those better machines rapidly approaches the price of a good contractor-style tablesaw, which offers greater rip and crosscut capacity (not to mention a better fence and miter gauge), a quieter and more powerful induction motor, and easier adjustments.

    When to stick with stationary: Bandsaw

    Benchtop models lack the power and capacity to resaw hardwoods or rough out a bowl blank, so what you end up with is a glorified jigsaw for curve cutting. Even then, you'll get frustrated quickly by poor blade guides and blade-tensioning systems.

    When to stick with stationary: Jointer

    Long face-jointing sessions can overheat the universal motor on a benchtop unit. And you will have long sessions making twice as many passes as with a stationary jointer due to the limited depth of cut. Fences tend to be flimsy, cut-quality marginal, and tables too short to joint workpieces longer than about 4'.

    Hollow-Chisel-Mortiser Tune-Up - by NBeener @ ~ woodworking community

    Hollow-Chisel-Mortiser Tune-Up

    I didn’t know, originally, that virtually EVERY chisel that you buy needs to be sharpened, before you use it.

    Neither did I extend that reasoning to my Grizzly Benchtop Mortiser’s hollow chisel mortiser bits.

    But … after a LOT of use of the thing, and after always watching Norm Abram use what seems like SIGNIFICANTLY less effort, to make mortises with HIS Delta unit than my Grizzly seems to require …. I did some poking around.

    I found an old test that compared like seven different hollow-chisel mortiser/bit sets, with the most expensive (Clico) being roughly TEN TIMES as expensive as the cheapest set.

    1) Woodcraft,
    . 2) Hartville,
    . 3) Lee Valley,
    . 4) Guildcraft,
    . 5) Clico,
    . 6) Shop Fox, and
    . 7) Fisch

    Two clear conclusions:

    1) You really DO NOT get what you pay for, on this one.

    In fact, the two MOST expensive sets were among the three considered “not recommended.” Shop Fox was the 3rd;

    2) Proper preparation of both chisel AND bit makes a WORLD of difference.

    So … armed with this knowledge, and … thinking I should spend big $$$ and replace my OEM Grizzly bits … I, instead, went to the shop and did tune-up work.

    Some of the instructions I worked from were found here. The rest was a combination of glancing at NUMEROUS sources, and … what I’d learned about sharpening, generally.

    I ran all four outside faces of each chisel through the sandpaper gauntlet, starting with 150 grit, and—pretty much without skipping a grit—working my way through 1200 grit. What started as dull finishes, rough with milling and finishing marks … ended up as pretty much mirror-polished sides.

    I then used the Rockler 220 and 600 grit diamond cones, made for sharpening the inside of the chisels.

    The chisels have a 5/8” shank, so … using my Forstner bit … I drilled a 5/8” hole in a scrap of wood, and used that as the ‘stand/clamp’ for each chisel.

    Centering it under the drill press chuck, I lowered the diamond cones, at the lowest speed my drill press will turn, and took a light pass at each of the chisel interiors for a few quick seconds.

    I followed THAT with a quick de-burring process on a whetstone.

    Look … I don’t have ANY before/after measurements, or ANY quantitative data to convincingly prove the difference that all this effort (maybe a total of an hour) made.

    But here’s the deal.

    The difference was staggering.

    I had done a LOT of mortises in African Mahogany, so I knew THAT wood fairly well.

    My newly-tuned bits flowed into and out of the wood MUCH faster, MUCH easier, without EVER getting “stuck” on the bit (so that the fence clamp had to ‘push the wood back off’).

    The chip ejection was picture-perfect, smooth and steady, with smaller chips.

    I made it a habit of holding my DC’s hose, with a reducer nozzle (ShopVac would work fine here, too), to keep the holes free of debris that would only slow the process.

    After the mahogany, I mortised some SPF, some Red Oak, and some Maple—all with the same results.

    To ME, the difference was night and day.

    The edges were cleaner, smoother, more even, and … the process took MUCH less time. It was FAR less of a wrestling match with the lever than before … and I HAD already greased the gears on which the head travels.

    I did NOT take the time, yet, to properly sharpen the auger bits that come with the chisel sets.

    If THAT makes ANY difference, then I’m going to be one tremendously happy mortise-making camper.

    I also did NOT (yet) take a triangular file to work the inside corners of the hollow chisels, as the article linked above recommends. I will. I may also do what I can to polish the insides of the hollow chisels, figuring … can’t hurt, and may help chip ejection.

    Two more learnings:

    1) The recommendation is that you point the OPEN face of the chisel _in the direction of the movement of the workpiece,” and

    2) Many sources recommend that you have the thickness of a nickel or a dime between the flat of the auger bit and the points of the chisel.

    Testing revealed that MORE is better.

    According to one test, a gap the thickness of a nickel—roughly 0.072” thick—results in operating temperatures roughly 40 or 50 degrees higher than if you increase that gap to 0.117” (the gap provided by the built-in spacer, on the Powermatic PM701 mortiser, used in their testing.

    I have a 0.125” gage block that I will NOW use to set the gap between bit and chisel.

    Going any further than that, obviously, creates fairly significant risk of breaking the bit.

    Hope this helps.