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Northern Mortising Attachment

Making mortises by hand takes patience and a lot of practice, and dedicated mortising machines cost hundreds (or thousands) of dollars and take up valuable shop real estate. Luckily, there is a middle ground: if you already own a drill press you can buy an attachment to convert it into a mortising machine. Northern Industrial Tools will sell you a kit with everything you need to get started making mortises on your drill press for $40.

This cast iron mortising attachment fits drill presses with quill diameters of 52.5, 55, 58, and 60mm. Also packaged in the plastic carrying case are four chisels sized 1/4″, 3/8″, 1/2″, and 5/8″.

At this price, it’s going to be hard to keep one of these out of the Toolmonger shop. Have any of you tried it out?

Mortising Attachment
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7 Responses to Cheap-Ass Tools: A Mortising Machine For $40

  1. Ivan says:

    Not being that much in the woodworking, I googled the mortise and found some nice implementation of an usage for this tool http://www.jeffgreefwoodworking.com/pnc/Boxes/OrientMT/index.html. Also, checking out the article it seemed that this is not a new tool just not as advertised. My interest is triggered and I might pick one of these up for my next venture.

  2. PutnamEco says:

    Re: Ivan

    Real mortisers are not totally unaffordable and are much more pleasurable to use, as they are designed to put a lot more leverage into the quill then a drill press.

    If you only have a couple to do why not just drill the material out and clean up the hole with a chisel? If you have that many to do, save yourself the aggravation, and buy a real mortiser


    or a scary, cheap

    P.S. article refers to a Delta not a Chiwaneses clone.

  3. Rob says:

    These work pretty well. I’ve had one for years (Delta’s made them for a while now). Not quite as nice as the single purpose units but usable. The one thing you want to watch for on the cheaper units is the chisels. The steel is not always as good as the higher priced ones.

  4. Joe says:

    I have the Delta one, and it works pretty well, but it is kind of a pain to set up. I have to take off the factory depth stop on the drill to have someplace to attach the chisel holder. If I’m only doing one or two mortises I’ll probably just use hand chisels.

    I’ll also second avoiding the cheap bits/chisels. I bought some harbor freight ones that can’t even hold an edge when cutting pine, and they require re-sharpening frequently in hardwood.

  5. Sheldon says:

    I had the delta one and about ten minutes into setting it up I broke one of the black handles that you use to attach it to the press. I ended up taking it back. It was too easy to break. For $40 though this may be worth it.

  6. Jon says:

    For what it’s worth, Northern Tool had this for $32 back in August and $30 in June (both times “regularly $39.99)! Maybe they’ll put it on sale again soon?

  7. melinda says:

    Ok not a woodworker at all so please please excuse my ignorance. I need to mortise to create chanels to mount some ceramic sculpture in wood. Why does one need the whole contraption. Why can one not just put the chisel drill bit in and make a line of square holes? thanks

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