Shopping for a Slot Mortiser
From contributor K:
We have had a Felder in our shop for about five years and have been pretty happy with it. I had to replace a locking stud somebody twisted off, and the part took a while to arrive. Also, Felder builds to order, so it took about four-five months to get the machine. The x-y travel bearings run very smoothly, but they can get fouled. Last year we had to pull the power head, clean the bearings, and reassemble. It was a bit of a pain, and the tech support was not all that helpful - he knew the general procedure but had never done it on that machine. The optional variable speed is useful for boring bits, but doesn't get used much. In principle the fixed table/floating head design is better for large work pieces, in practice it doesn't make that much difference.
I have a Steton in my own shop, table moves sideways, drill head in and out, belt drive with two speeds (stays at 4500 rpm), cast iron dovetail slides, very much like the Bini. As long as the slides are lubricated it works smoothly, though with more effort than roller bearings. I never have had any issues with it, and would buy similar again rather than the Felder.
I always used end mills in my Steton, but I found that in the larger sizes (over 1/2") the easy travel of the Felder allowed self-feeding and poor control, so we mainly use birdsmouth type bits with that machine. The shortest bit that will do the job is best to minimize deflection and variations in mortise dimensions.
From contributor P:
Don't overlook the Multi-Router. Itís an excellent machine, although it may not be as heavy duty as the others.
From contributor J:
I agree about the self-feeding and poor control on the Felder. We actually rigged a gas spring to it to counteract the tendency for it to pull in. The doweling templates were pretty slick though. All that said, I wouldn't trade my Multirouter for the world. I'd love a Maka though, in addition.
From contributor F:
Don't overlook the Festool Domino. I recently picked one up and don't know what I would do without it. It seems way more flexible than a floor model mortiser, especially if you are doing a lot of odd angled work and custom one off pieces. I highly recommend it.
From contributor L:
Iíve been using slot mortisers for over 30 years. I actually have a Domino as well, but there is no way the Domino is more flexible. I can set my slot mortiser in seconds and do angles as well. I can do big mortises and small mortises. The Domino is portable. I'd look at the Laguna Platinum. I have used the Paolini, Griggio and SCMI and they are all great machines. I have also converted an old handmill to a super slot mortiser. The other big plus on a real slot mortiser is the low speed gives you a horizontal drilling machine and doweling machine. Add a VFD and you get even more versatility.
From contributor D:
I've never used a Felder or a Hammer, but I had an Italian machine, a CM-72-TG, that I liked a lot. The head moved in and out and the table left and right, and the table could be adjusted to height, then locked. The cutterhead was reversible. I mostly used HHS two-flute, up-cut end mills; the up-cut helped with chip extraction but didn't seem to cause any degree of self-feeding. Even with the up-cutting, I still found keeping an air gun at hand helpful for blowing any remaining chips out of the mortise. I agree that the longer the bit, the more tendency for the bit to vibrate, especially in deep cuts.
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