Cut corners on mortises

This hollow chisel will get your joinery jumping

By Rick Campbell


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While you can prepare mortises using a drillpress and a hand chisel, nothing compares to the speed and accuracy of a dedicated hollow-chisel mortising machine. After taking a close look at all the major brands, I chose a benchtop model from Steel City Tool Works for my shop. It’s a well-designed tool with several innovative features that set it apart from the rest of the pack. The first thing that caught my eye was the large cast-iron base with handy pullout extensions that provide added support for longer stock. I was also impressed by the smooth operation of the heavy-duty rack-and-pinion fence and the pinpoint accuracy of the micro-adjustment feature.

I tested the performance of the tool by preparing a series of deep mortises in rock-hard maple. The long ergonomic handle provided plenty of leverage to cut effortlessly into the dense material, and the roller bearings did a good job of holding the material against the fence firmly. The depth stop was easy to set and maintained uniform penetration along the entire length of the slots.

The unit came with a set of four chisels, ranging in size from 1/4″ to 1/2″, and all the necessary adjustment tools. It even has a handy storage rack for the accessories.

Steel City Bench Mortiser (Model 25200), $400. For more information, visit or call 877-728-6651.

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