Drill press and mortising attachment?


New User
I've got a cheap WEN tabletop drill press and I'm ready to upgrade. I would also like a mortiser but I don't have a ton of space. From what I've read the mortising attachments are more of a pain to set up. So I'm wondering if anyone has had good success with a particular combination. I'm not too price sensitive, I just want it to be the last one I purchase. Want a floor model and if I need to hunt for something vintage that's ok too.


Corporate Member
My advice is get a mortiser and a drill press. I have a mortiser drill press set up. It works ok. I had it on an my 2nd drill press. Yeah it works ok but it is clunky and care and attention is really required to make sure everything is locked down and nothing has shifted.
Typical used table top mortiser run 2-400 bucks depending on type condition, etc... just keep an eye out on Craig's and facebook marketplace. They come up about every 1-2 months.


I’ve had pretty good luck making mortises with a drill press and forstner bit, and then squaring the mortise with a chisel. You might consider trying this a few times while you’re looking for a mortiser, you might be surprised. Just a suggestion.


Charlie Buchanan

Corporate Member
If you make a lot of mortices a dedicated morticer is worth the expense. I started out with a drill press and a mortising attachment. Yes, they can be made to work, but a lot of trouble to set up. They are not as rigid and the plunge gearing is ratioed for drilling without enough leverage for also pushing the chisel. I soon bought a bench top morticer. Money well spent. Less effort, more accuracy.


Corporate Member
Unless a heavy duty industrial drill press, they are a bit too flexible. Even just drilling with a Forsner bit my Delta flexes so I have to drill quite undersize and finish by hand. For only a few mortices, I don't bother and just do with a chisel. I had 32 on the table I just did, so I did use the drill press.

Mike Davis

Corporate Member
It depends on several factors.
How much will you use it? The drill attachment is fine for making a table one a year or several small items a month. It is by no means a production tool.

Back in the 80s I made 200 reproduction child size wheel barrows for Nieman-Marcus. Each wheel had 8 spokes, 1/4 x 3/4 x 3/4 deep. That’s 1600 mortises and it took me 2 weeks. Three bits and the attachment were worn out by the time I finished. A dedicated floor mortiser would have saved time, been much easier, and would have been just broken in well.

How much space do you have? Even a bench top mortiser takes space to store.

As someone else said you’ll need $200-$400 for benchtop and double or more for a floor model.

Drilling and chiseling is more work but not too bad if only occasionally done. Again not for high production.

bob vaughan

Bob Vaughan
Senior User
The only drill press mortising rig that worked well was a Powermatic 1150 with a Powermatic mortising attachment. That's vintage stuff, in high demand, and very scarce. The USA-made Delta 17" presses weren't too bad but they needed longer handles for comfortable leverage. I used to use a 900 series Walker Turner with a mortising setup until I got a Delta (made by English Multico) bench top mortiser. I instantly sold the Walker Turner press. I've since traded the Multico for an Oliver 144D mortiser and I'm happy with that even though it is small.
If mortising is going to be part of your processes from now and into the foreseeable future, I recommend you consider a separate machine for that duty.


Corporate Member
Yea, US made Delta. I made the mistake of thinking a '90's vintage Taiwan would be decent. Junk.


Senior User
Im not sure where you are, but Ive got this drill press and a mortising attachment. PM me and we can talk about it!


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Corporate Member
I have a 16 1/2" Delta DP and mortising attachment like Chris's above which I've used a few times. Really I found it serviceable for what I needed to do, which was cut a couple dozen mortises. Setup was a little finicky, so I spent plenty of time making sure that I could do all the mortises in one sitting. I bought the attachment on a lark when buying another tool (the price was right) and it sat in a drawer for a few years until I bought the DP it fits.

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