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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 Powermatic has the longest vertical travel and front-to-back table travel. The angle of lever handle is adjustable, and there is a smoothly operating gas-strut counterbalance, a table lock, and workpiece stops. This machine is a pleasure to work with.
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