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Buying Advice Pillar Drill/Morticer

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katluke

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Im after buying a single phase Pillar Drill and also Morticer.I have done a few searches on here and the advice seems to be,wait for a Fobco,Meddings,Startrite drill to turn up and the same for a Morticer wait for a Wadkin,Sedgewick,Multico to turn up.I have been looking for a while now and so far the machines are too far away and by the time I have added the Couriers fees onto the price of the purchase its not worth it.I know the older machines are meant to be better but I have also read of machines needing new motors worn parts etc. Is there any new machines available that would also be a good purchase. I would like some on advice on either of these machines. Pillar Drills Jet JPD-13 or JET JPD-15 and Morticers Axminster MT 25 or Startrite STM25 (similar looking to the AX 25). Any advice on other machines I have not mentioned that you would also recommend would also be helpful. Thanks for any replys.
 

Jacob

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Cheap pillar drills are fine for woodwork as a rule. Mines a Nutool - £50 on ebay, dead accurate and well designed. But I don't suppose it'd stand heavy use in a metal-work environment as the Fobco etc would.
Cheap mortices perhaps not good - they need to be powerful, heavily built, with a sliding table capable of holding the end of a weighty piece of timber without tipping over or running out of true.
 

Stormer1940

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I bought a mortiser from Axminster. It wasn't the most expensive but for the money I paid I expected the thing to be of some use but all it could do was stop and start on near enough every stroke and this was just in softwood. The holes that the bolts went into to tighten the clamp that holds the work piece just stripped and rendered them useless. The back fence wasn't square with the base!

I can't say that all of them are like that but I got so fed up with it I decided to buy another machine, an older machine made by Cooksley (Not here any more). Did I have any problems with the thing stopping and starting and threads being stripped? No... I must admit the machine is 3 Phase and has a 3.1hp motor on it :lol: and cost me £400... They just don't build them these days the way they use to.
 

eribaMotters

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I run a probable pre 1st WW Sartrite pillar drill. I have never seen another like it. It has a 4 speed head and a cast aluminium table that is 3 foot in width. It started out a glaziers drill and was very rusty when I was given it. Two week de-rusting , re-wiring and painting [bearings fine] fitting a chuck and I have a fantastic woodworkers drill. Buy 2nd hand!

Morticers. Yes the Sedgwick 571 is a lovely bit of kit, but a good 2nd hand one with lots of life that has not been hammered will probably set you back £600. The Axminster route is questionable, as I believe quality has declined over the earlier labelled stock. I make this judgement on personal purchases and the machines we have bought at school over the last 15 years or so. The MT 25 is OK, but its the YC2308 that is a closer match to the current Startrite STM25.
Do not look at a new Record machine, I think they have gone downhill. This is a shame as they used to do a model called the WRM200. The earlier green models also seemed to be a bit better than the later blue versions. I bought one of these 2nd hand over 15 years ago and it is a gem. There is little I would part with it for, only a nearly new Sedgwick or latest Startrite. [currently looking for] If a WRM200 comes up near you, between £250 and £350 buy it. You will not be dissapointed.

Colin
 

Eric The Viking

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I've got a Clarke floor mounted pillar drill and an Axminster morticer (the earlier model of this one. Axminster had quality issues with the morticer, which were fixed. Mine had a new motor, but it's now fine. I haven't tackled oak, but softwood and Idigbo (for window frames) it's been great for and I love the two-axis table. It's very quick when you have a few to do, but you have to keep the chisels sharp, smooth and slippery on the outside. The back fence was out on mine too, but it's shimmed and fine. They do a raising block for the column, which is a mixed blessing: you do get extra height, but no extra depth, and the block comes too close to the sliding table really. I've got the drill adapter too - handy, but not as much as you might think because it's single speed and there's little throat depth on it. All that said, it's amazing value for under £200 and I can't complain about the service!

The Clarke drill remains rubbish. It vibrates a lot and is useless for anything below 4mm as you can't easily get it to run true. I got the head replaced, but the new one was as bad as the old. I've learned to run the belts as slack as I can get away with, which helps the vibration, but it's still way to rattly. I've also replaced the Morse taper and have a selection of chucks, but to little avail. The movements are also slack. You can't adjust the front-back tilt at all and if you leave any clamp slack, the thing is out of true. I also curse the circular table, as I'm forever fouling the column with clamps - it's too small really. The only really good things about it are the tilting table, meaning you can edge drill boards if needs be, fairly accurately, and the height and ease of access to the table - would be the same with any floor drill, one hopes - and the fact there is a good range of speeds available. It wasn't cheap, at over £300, and it's not a patch on the war-finish machines I used when I worked on a shop floor in the 1970s. Time again? I'd save up and seek out for a good s/h one.

Finally, if you're tempted to go for a new-ish pillar drill, shun anything with moulded plastic levers on the quill movement. On mine the levers screw into the central boss. If they get in the way you can unscrew and remove them. Permanently-fixed levers will certainly be cheaper, but either too short or a nuisance. I must assume the change is down to cheapness.

Hope that helps, E.
 

Phil Pascoe

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I seem to remember reading somewhere that Meddings were asked why they didn't do tilting tables, and the reply was that they considered it better that the default position was a table set at a perfect 90 degrees to the quill - if an angled hole was needed the item could be packed off the table. If you have a tilting table, you'll not be absolutely certain you have right angle every time. Seems reasonable to me. (Meddings owner)
 

Eric The Viking

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As long as the table swings left-right, I'd tend to agree, Phil. You can always clamp to an angle plate for drilling edges, and it would be a lot less fiddle than trying to align the circular table.

On the one occasion I did try to actually use the table angled, I messed-up and drilled into it by mistake!
 

custard

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phil.p":2tkvszab said:
I seem to remember reading somewhere that Meddings were asked why they didn't do tilting tables, and the reply was that they considered it better that the default position was a table set at a perfect 90 degrees to the quill - if an angled hole was needed the item could be packed off the table. If you have a tilting table, you'll not be absolutely certain you have right angle every time. Seems reasonable to me. (Meddings owner)
I tend to agree with that. I've known a few very experienced production sawyers even apply the same logic to table saws, leave the saw set precisely at 90 degrees and then build a jig for mitre cuts. I think Ian Kirby for example falls into this camp.
 

katluke

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Thanks for the replys/advice.I picked up a Multico M? today its in very good condition with a new motor fitted.I tried it out on a few bits of scrap and its cutting fine. Ive ordered a new bit for it today and will eventually buy more sizes as I need them. Im going to hang on now for a Meddings,Startrite or Fobco Pillar Drill to turn up.Thanks again.
 

misterfish

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phil.p":14isjk6p said:
I seem to remember reading somewhere that Meddings were asked why they didn't do tilting tables, and the reply was that they considered it better that the default position was a table set at a perfect 90 degrees to the quill - if an angled hole was needed the item could be packed off the table. If you have a tilting table, you'll not be absolutely certain you have right angle every time. Seems reasonable to me. (Meddings owner)
My Fobco Star allows me to angle the table to be able to drill at an angle, but there is a locking pin that stays in place for perfect 90 degree drilling - this is removed to allow the tilting.

Misterfish
 

Togalosh

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I'm also looking for a morticer but have a limited budget & space...and next to no experience of them to make a sound judgement on what is quality or not. I can't afford to buy anything duff (axi AW16BMST2 ) but can't afford £500+ for something really good...the classic conundrum.. The voice in my head says just keep with the chisels until you have the money/space but the time it takes to chisel out 8 mortices could be time better spent.

What bench top models can anyone recommend ?
I've seen the Kity M16 but the motor is only 370W (less powerful than my exctractor !) is this enough grunt for oak?

Your advice would be very much appreciated
 

Phil Pascoe

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I bought a rexon without a moving table after I borrowed one similar and cut 56 small mortices in one hour ten mins.
It was about 10yrs ago, but they haven't gone up much - they're about £230. I don't regret a small one - it only gets used for a few mins. at a time, once in a while.
 

Eric The Viking

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Togalosh":1c3emszn said:
I'm also looking for a morticer but have a limited budget & space...and next to no experience of them to make a sound judgement on what is quality or not. I can't afford to buy anything duff (axi AW16BMST2 ) but can't afford £500+ for something really good...the classic conundrum. The voice in my head says just keep with the chisels until you have the money/space but the time it takes to chisel out 8 mortices could be time better spent.

What bench top models can anyone recommend ?
I think you're being rather inconsistent:

What defines a "good" morticer, compared to a "duff" one?

Power? If you want one with a bigger motor, it will cost more.
Capacity? If you want something really huge, it won't be benchtop. I certainly can't easily lift mine, and usually take the table and pillar off to move it in pieces.

The AW16BM is far from duff: It's the one I have, it works pretty well and I like it, and it's very close (almost identical) to at least one other popular model from anther brand (at a significantly higher price, last time I looked). BUT, it's not a large morticer. It has limitations, but within them it works well.

Mine's the earlier model - I can't speak to the changes, such as the wheel instead of the lever for moving along the mortice slot.

Things that made it sing:
  • getting the chisels really sharp and smooth on the outside faces
  • sharpening the augers
  • setting it up properly (auger-chisel gap is quite critical and not the same for all sizes)
  • organising effective chip removal (vacuum nozzle almost over the mortice)
  • roller stand at the right height to feed easily (so it's not relying on the clamp not to twist)
  • sandpaper glued on the clamp face (improves the grip hugely)
None of the above has anything to do with its quality really.

That said, I had two issues from new:
  • motor failure: I had two fail. Axminster were very responsive. I think it was poor quality copper wire and/or varnish used in the windings. I had another induction motor go in an otherwise completely unconnected machine too. I've good reason to think the motors were both made in China around the same time, and I've since heard of other failures that point back to the same problem
  • back fence squareness/strength: It is a design weakness, and it wasn't square to start with. Two simple fixes: shimming it square and adding the sandpaper (above). The latter vastly reduces the amount of clamping force needed, so the fence isn't stressed anything like as much.

If you want it for industrial production work, that little morticer isn't the one to get, definitely, but it works for me as a hobbyist. It's limited, certainly, but it's not duff, and it still costs less than a decent cordless screwdriver set.

E.
 

Togalosh

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Thanks Eric..

Yes I do need to work on my inconsistencies (there may be more to follow).. what I was trying to say is that I need a happy medium between hobby & industrial in size & power & just maybe there is a gem out there that fits the bill.. but not having the hands on experience with a morticer I cannot judge what specs to pay attention to i.e. would be a 350W motor be poor, ok, or no good for 40mm deep mortices in oak.. but yes it's also the tooling that may play a greater roll in proving this or not.

As for "duff", I'd say that having to replace 2 motors = duff. Although I concede that any manufacturer can have a bad batch of parts & you can only expect so much quality/accuracy for the money spent.. It is also the aftersales service that counts for a lot in these situations & you saying that Axminster were very good counts for a lot & I like Axi...but having 2 failures is definately something to weigh up as the long term reliability might be questionable especially if the part manufacturer is the same.

For a hobbyist to have a morticer you must still do a fair bit - so do you work on oak & does yours cope ok with it ?
 

Eric The Viking

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I haven't used it on oak - softwood and lighter hardwoods only.

The size of the chisel will make a huge difference: the force required to drive it will go with the square of the radius (I think), so that's probably the biggest issue. A bigger motor would be the thing, and a longer lever for the chisel. I'm pretty sure if you're making lots of mortices more than 3/8" in oak (in one go), it would struggle, and yes, you'd need one with a bigger motor.

I've used it up to 1/2" without problems, but I was doing 3/8" in softwood the other day with lots of jamming, because the resin was gumming up the chip ejection. Re-adjusting the auger clearance (to be a bit less than normal) pretty much fixed it.

As for those faulty motors: perhaps I wasn't explaining - it seems to have been a duff batch of wire in China, supplied to the motor winders, who made for a number of customers, including the people who make Axminster's (and other people's) mortisers. The other one I had that failed was on a Dakota (Rutlands) wet grinder. Worked fine one day, then smell and no rotation.

It's not uncommon for a component supplier to mess up, and that motor fault is the sort of thing that would be hard to see coming. You could only test for it destructively (well, shock+vibe, perhaps), but given the relatively small production runs involved it would be a very expensive thing to do, if costed per unit.

A good example of a similar problem from an entirely different industry, is the power rail smoothing caps that were supplied to almost all computer motherboard suppliers about ten years ago. They used a flawed recipe for the electrolyte used, causing them to explode. It affected pretty much everyone, including Apple and loads of PC makers.

In the case of Apple (whom I'm only mentioning because I can't remember the other makes for certain), they extended the warranty on their eMac model to take the problem into account. We had a machine fixed (for free) that was at least three years old and well out of normal warranty. I repaired a similar one myself, and I know it would have been at least an hour's labour plus quite expensive parts. Other manufacturers basically told their customers, "tough!".

My point: sometimes you can't see a problem coming no matter how much QC you do, and anyway the law of diminishing returns applies - the testing would make the product too expensive!

In my case, Axminster handled it well, their after-sales exceeded my expectations, the problem was fixed, and I have every reason to believe they read the riot act to whichever Chinese supplier it was.

I don't read that incident as indicative of an ongoing quality problem, as Axminster had root cause diagnosis and a quality improvement process in place to feed back problem data to the OEM supplier. In fact, I'd be more likely to buy from them again on that basis.

Hope that makes sense.

E.
 
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