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Benchtop Mortiser with Chisels & Bits

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  • The WoodRiver® Bench Mortiser comes standard with “Best In Class” options such as a powerful ½ HP motor, a six-position reversible handle, rack and pinion fence, two roller bearing work supports, and pull-out table extensions that provide 35” of work surface. For unsurpassed accuracy,...

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    Fine Woodworking Best Value Award Winner
    The WoodRiver® Bench Mortiser comes standard with “Best In Class” options such as a powerful ½ HP motor, a six-position reversible handle, rack and pinion fence, two roller bearing work supports, and pull-out table extensions that provide 35” of work surface. For unsurpassed accuracy, the head travels on adjustable rack and pinion dovetail ways. Includes: Bench Mortiser, 1/4", 5/16", 3/8", and 1/2" mortising bits and chisels, tool & chisel holder and user manual with parts breakdown. One-Year Warranty


    • Motor: ½ HP, 115V, 60 Hz, TEFC

    • Spindle Speed: 1,725 RPM

    • Chuck Capacity: 3/8"

    • Chisels ranging from 1/4" to 1/2"

    • 5" stroke

    • Min. under hold down: 1"

    • Max. under hold down: 4-1/4"

    • Fence size: 3" Height x 14-1/2" Long

    • Base Size: 17" Deep x 35” Long with extensions

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    Few furniture pieces scream Arts & Crafts more than the beloved Morris chair. This updated version teaches techniques that range from mortise-and-tenon joinery to bending wood.

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    3.23 out of 5 stars
    13 Reviews
    1. 4.0 out of 5 stars
      by on

      I'm happy

      I purchased this machine at my local Woodcraft store about eight months ago. I have used it a lot since then. It does just what I need it to do-cut mortises. The handle needed adjustment when I set the machine up. No big deal. If you remove the handle, there is a set screw in the hub that allows for tension adjustment. Know how to do this before breaking off teeth! I use this for cutting through mortises and blind mortises as well as angled. I have had no issues. Keep the chisels sharp, and all is well.

    2. 1.0 out of 5 stars
      by on

      Poor Design

      On the first test mortise I made with the new unit, all the teeth on the handle hub broke off. These teeth are suppose to engage the pinion gear shaft hub. When the hubs and shaft are rotated by the handle, it engages the rack and pinion gear and moves the unit up and down. You do not get a full up down stroke with a single movement of the handle so you need to disengage the hub teeth by tilting the handle and indexing it back for another stroke. The slightest sideways movement of the handle will start disengaging the teeth. Woodcraft apologised for the problem and promptly send me a replacement part. Just looking at the replacement, I could see it was a faulty part because some of the teeth were already partially broken away. I assembled the new part and when I placed the handle through the hole in the replacement hub, it caused the teeth to disengage about 20% plus whatever is added by not having the handle perfectly positioned through the stroke will just cause a big long term problem. I sent the unit back for a refund. You get what you pay for....

    3. 3.0 out of 5 stars
      by on

      Does the job... sorta

      For the price, it's not a bad machine. The instructions are mostly non-existent, but if you have any mechanical ability, you can figure it out. The dovetail design has a brass plate that you can tighten or loosen to make it easier to pull down the head but... even with it tightened to the point that it takes some significant effort to lower, the chisel angles slightly at the workpiece. It was not enough to make my mortises inaccurate, but I didn't know that until my piece was dry fit. It was worrying at best while cutting the mortises. I WILL say that after 15 years of router and chisel, this took me probably a 10th of the time to cut the same mortises, so in that sense, worth every penny. It also jams up sometimes even if you have the auger and the chisel set up perfectly so it is a little underpowered. I was mortising white oak, so I'm interested to see what it will do with softer woods like walnut, etc... The left side of the fence was also a very small bit out of square from the work base, so poor quality control there. The display model was 10 times worse at the WC store, so they let me assemble and check for square before I purchased. Kudos to WC for their customer service. I am considering taking it back and getting the Delta model, but not seeing anything in those reviews that convince me it is worth the trouble. Gonna give this machine some more time in the shop before I decide.

    4. 4.0 out of 5 stars
      by on

      Benchtop Mortiset with Chisels

      Like others have said, the instructions that come with the machine are poor. You need to go to STEEL CITY website to download and print out better instuctions. But other than that, so far have no issues with the machine yet. The bits are so-so, but to get a clean square hole - a chisel works good. It's a time saver for me and at a good price..

    5. 1.0 out of 5 stars
      by on

      Instructions poor.

      Unit came with 2 pistons. No way to attach longer one. Store employees could not find adequate instructions on 'net to assist. How does one attach the longet piston??

    6. 4.0 out of 5 stars
      by on

      Defective part replaced, no charge

      Great product for the money. Seems to be well constructed. Thicker pieces of hardwood require a little elbow grease but that is expected. My only negative is the quality of the chisel/bits. The 5/16" mortiser did not produce a clean mortise. There seemed to be alot of internal friction when in use. The other three worked very well. I made a call to customer service and explained the problem. The tech. was very helpful and agreed to send me a new 5/16" chisel/bit, free of charge. As a Woodcraft customer, I can not ask for anything better than that. As always, I have had a very positive experience with the people at Woodcraft.

    7. 4.0 out of 5 stars
      by on

      Nice product

      The product is great, the instructions....not so great. The Steel City version of this tool has much better instructions and can be downloaded at their site. I recommend you do that if you buy this machine. There is a lot of bang for your buck with the WoodCraft brand.

    8. 4.0 out of 5 stars
      by on

      Excellent mortiser for the price

      This mortiser works exactly as I had imagined it would. I replaced a mortising attachment on my drill press with this machine and found it much easier to set-up and use. I have cut numerous 3 1/2" deep mortises in hard maple with it and have had no problems. Like all mortisers, it takes some muscle to push the chisel through hardwood for the first cut, but subsequent cuts (to enlarge the mortise) are easier. The only small complaint I have is that the drill bit rubs on the side of the chisel in one spot, causing heat, but it is a minor issue. If not for that it would have gotten five stars. The machine seems to be a good compromise between weight and sturdiness-- it is strong enough for most users and applications and yet light enough to pick up and move. I don't think I would buy it for full-time use in a production shop, but I don't think it was intended for that purpose either.

    9. 2.0 out of 5 stars
      by on

      Accuracy issues

      Not accurate at all, same as a steel city mortiser. can do better by hand. will be returning

    10. 4.0 out of 5 stars
      by on

      Very nice piece of equipment

      I started building hardwood crib with our first grandchild. Three grandchildren later, I now am making them to sell. Soooo there is a lot of scrap around the shop. Bought this unit to be able to use 3/4' slats in the cribs. It is much quicker and a better job that doweling. Top hold down is very close to the 3/4 " chisel. Needed to spaceout from the fence to give more clearance.

    11. 3.0 out of 5 stars
      by on

      Not bad but not great either.

      I'm a professional cabinetmaker and have done mortise work with both hand chisels and my drill press for over 20 years. I don't do them all day long but decided on a dedicated machine with this price point after my drill press unit failed. This unit had many feature higher end machines offered including a large bed and adequate hold downs. The weight of this tool helps, too. What bothers me most, however, is that the adjustable fence was not drilled properly at the factory and is off-center by about 1/4" so that the large chisel ends up very close to the top hold-down bracket. I'm going to see if Woodcraft will replace it for me. The only other "issue" have is that it does require a lot of pressure to begin a cut in hardwoods. I experimented in some Oak blocks and I was able to make a square mortise but not without breaking a sweat to push that handle down hard enough to get the chisel to work. I thought I would break it but I didn't. So, the price is right and the machine seems to have enough power to do the job but it's not a panacea but better than hand chisels and a hammer. In soft woods like poplar and pine it'll work very well.

    12. 4.0 out of 5 stars
      by on

      Good machine, ALMOST adequate manual.

      Manual does not go into how to properly set up the chisel and drill bit. The chisel/bit set need a lot of to tuning for proper joinery.

    13. 4.0 out of 5 stars
      by on

      Horrible Instructions

      You will find in searching that this product is made by Steel City Tools. I strongly suggest you go to [@] and print their instructions. The pictures are much clearer and instructions better. Looks like Woodcraft wanted to save on paper. This aside, the tool is heavy and looks like it will do the job intended. I did some test cuts and was happy with the results.

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