Picking up where Craftsman left off, Delta’s 14-651 makes general setup an easier task: the machine has ratcheting levers that enable you to adjust and lock the hold-down, fence and depth stop rod without wrenches.
Even better, most of these handles are metal to improve their durability. You’ll still need an Allen wrench for installing the chisel, but Delta provides a T-wrench to do that.
Chucking in the auger bit is a breeze, thanks to a forward facing and spacious opening in the headstock. The access door swings wide, and it stays closed with a strong magnet.
The fence on my test mortiser was properly flat and square to the table, and it slid back and forth fluidly with a star knob and rack-and-pinion gear. At 3" high, it ties Steel City for the tallest fence here. An onboard tool rack and four chisels will get you up and mortising quickly with just one purchase.
While the pull-down handle is straight and less ergonomically wrist friendly, the grip is a soft overmold for comfort. And, as with all of these mortisers, you can adjust the feed handle to several start positions by shifting its spring-loaded hub.
Delta performed admirably during my mortising tests on all woods without laboring or stalling. If you want to increase its “bite” for taller work, an included riser block bumps the machine’s vertical stroke up to 6-1⁄2". All in all, this is a user-friendly and solid contender for the buck.