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JET Tools JBM-5 Benchtop Mortiser Has a Good Depth Stop, But Clumsy Chisel Changing

JET JBM-5 Mortiser HP/Speed: 1/2; 1725 RPM
Standard Stroke: 4-3⁄4"
Max. Chisel Center to Fence: 3-1⁄2"
Weight: 44 lbs
2010 Price: $299.99 JET’s JBM-5 mortiser has been around for a long while without many changes over the years. It’s still a no-nonsense machine with some good features. I like the ratcheting handles that control the depth stop rod and fence positions. [caption id="attachment_9357" align="aligncenter" width="359"]Jet mortiser ratcheting depth stop The rod-style depth stop and fence settings use a ratcheting handle which handle and set smoothly and easily. Chuck access is decent on either side of the headstock, through two spring-loaded doors. The motor moves smoothly on its rack-and-pinion column. Stroke travel is 4-3⁄4", which matches Delta’s without its riser and is just shy of Steel City’s. JET includes three chisels and a bushing for 3/4" shanks, but no tool rack. [caption id="attachment_9356" align="aligncenter" width="350"]JET uses a brass setscrew for installing chisels on its mortiser The brass setscrew on the JBM-5 for changing the chisel is soft and a bit clumsy, and one of the thing that really holds it from being a modern mortiser. Still, given its competition, I’d like to see a few updates. The MDF table is smaller than others, and so is the cast base, considering these are top-heavy machines. Be sure to bolt it down to avoid tipping. A taller fence would be a plus, too; 11-1⁄16" isn’t much vertical support, but you can improve that by screwing a taller facing to it. I’m not a fan of the brass screw that locks the chisel in the headstock bushing: it’s flat-blade style and soft. A steel screw or lever would prevent stripping this fitting. In testing, the JET stalled once when the chisel clogged with pine chips. Otherwise, mortising was on par with the other 1/2hp tools when I applied moderate feed pressure. All in all, this JET isn’t a steal at $299.99 (in 2010) for me, but a few simple shop tweaks will help this machine carry out its tasks quite well.