I’ve lost count of the number of these machines I’ve had in my workshop for review, and for the most part they’ve a(l been very similar. This mortiser from Axminster is something of an exception as it incorporates a number of useful developments to improve its performance. The table is much larger than usual, and this is effectively made even bigger by the extension wings at each side. The fence is adjusted forwards and backwards on a rack-and-pinion arrangement, controlled by rotating a lever on the left-hand side of the column. Once it’s in position, it’s locked by the use of ratchet tighteners.
The biggest innovation, though, are the guide rollers which are mounted on the table and control the wood so it can only be moved laterally while being guided against the fence.
They’re made of nylon, are of course fully adjustable, and are also locked in the required positions by ratchet tighteners.
A considerable strain is placed on a mortiser, and the harder the wood and the larger the chisel the greater this is. Because of this, much use is made of cast iron for the main components, as it doesn’t flex when under load.
The outrigger work supports (Axminster call them extension wings) slide in and out at each side of the table, but they aren’t self-supporting and must therefore rest on a solid bench surface at either side of the machine.
It’s possible to rotate the column on the table through 180s, This allows the mortising of large work pieces which can’t be accommodated on the table, as when cutting lock mortises in the edges of room doors.
Moving the head
As Is normal with mortisers, the head moves up and down on dovetails in the pillar; these are adjustable so as to be free-moving but without any slack. The head is raised and lowered by operating the handle on the right of the machine; this can be readily adjusted for movement by disengaging and re-engaging the castellated ends of the mating sleeves. A . gas strut raises the head after each cut is I made, and there’s a depth stop to control] the extent of the cut.
Holding the work
The main fence is readily adjusted on the table and is then locked as required, as I are the nylon guide rollers which hold the# wood against the fence. The hold-down I shoe is reversible to suit the height of 1 the workpiece. When a piece is being mortised near its end, and therefore only one of the nylon rollers is touching it, you need to insert a piece of packing which spans the two wheels and thus maintains full control over the piece being worked.
Using the mortiser
This machine performed well up to my expectations. The lever-operated fence makes it easy to I align the wood accurately beneath the chisel, The nylon rollers are also to my liking, giving improved control to the workpiece as it’s moved from side to side. Their instantly adjustable handles are also an advantage.
it’s not always realised that most mortisers can also be used for boring holes, but with limitations. This restriction usually relates to the length of the bit; short ones are unsuitable; so too are those with long shanks. Those with an overall length of around 200mm are best, and an auger bit of this length proved to be ideal during my tests.