Beginner woodworkers often wonder should the buy a mortising attachment for a drill press or they need a mortizer. Most of professionals who make dozens of mortise and tenon joints a week do not recommend mortise drill press and steer you towards a dedicated device. Nevertheless, I use an attachment on my drill press for occasional use, and it works perfect for what I need to use it for. Read our article to make an informed decision and buy the best attachment for your needs.
Hollow Chisel Mortiser Attachment for Drill Press
Hollow chisel attachments work well for occasional use, especially if you don’t need to work with really hard wood. Yes, a drill press has less leverage and its quill feed mechanism is more on lighter duty side. Therefore, mortising will be harder both fore the machine and your arms. But mortise drill press makes all right and if you are a hobbyist, DIYer or don’t have more shop floor space for a dedicated machine, the hollow chisel mortiser attachment is a good choice. It is also good for beginners. Good attachments last long and you can sell it later to use the money for buying a chain mortiser machine.
Ironton Mortising Attachment
Ironton mortising attachment comes with with four chisel shank sizes: 1/4″, 3/8″, 1/2″ and 5/8″ and works well with a Craftsman 1/2 hp craftsman 34985 and Delta benchtop drill press and others – different size collars for different machines.
I’ve also used the adapter on a 16.5″ Delta stationary press with satisfactory results. My way of using the DP attachment is running the chisel at lower speeds, about 800 rpm and get no smoking whatsoever. It allows to work without burning or any problems and extends the life of the hollow chisel and auger bit. As for the setup time, it takes about 10 minutes to get started. Not a big problem.
Ironton mortising attachment is a good starting tool to start getting into mortising. It will allow you to create a square mortise hole with minimal time and effort. Of course, you can’t expect a $60 machine to do the work of a $400 mortiser. Don’t hurry up and don’t expect to quickly carve a large size mortise out of solid hardwood. This tool is able to make nice cuts and may last for many years.
And one more detail. If you have never used mortising attachment, invite a fellow specialist for the first time or watch the tutorial videos on YouTube. Using the machine seems to be quite difficult at first.
Woodstock Mortise Drill Press Kit
Woodstock attachment comes in carrying case with cast iron chisel holder and fence. There are 1/4-Inch, 5/16-Inch, 3/8-Inch 1/2-Inch chisels in the sets, 3 two-piece and 3 split bushings
The chisels in the set are roughly machined and need to be sharpened as all cheap ones. The case is on low quality side too, the parts easily pull out of their seats when shaken. And all this for about $190. I think, the Ironton looks better for its money.
Sealey Wood Mortising Attachment
There are three 1/4″, 3/8″, 1/2″ square hollow chisel bits in the Sealey mortising attachment kit, collar diameters are 40, 52, 55, 60 and 65mm.
The set works well so long as you don’t try to over do it. For its $100 anyways. It is fine in pine, even with a biggest chisel upto full depth, but it struggles a bit in hardwood. The accuracy is descent. The only con of the attachment is a plastic fence. Most of us prefer a cast iron locating rail.
In summary – the attachment does it’s job especially in softwood for the odd job, but if you have a lot to do buy a dedicated Mortiser. And no one will stop you from selling this set on eBay for a few dollars cheaper (see also best mortise chisel set review).
Mortise Drill Press: Conclusions
The main problem with the drill press mortising attachments is set up time. But if you can leave the tool on a drill press full time it’s OK. Besides, for For about $50-60 you probably can’t go wrong. Yes, mortising machines produce better cuts, but I’ve never had any complaints on my drill press. However, I suspect that the use of the attachment on a cheap small presses will cause “flex”, amplify any play in the DP quill and produce a poor cut. But nobody is going to make huge mortises on a compact drill press, right?