For the price you get a solid machine which works
Shipping, packaging, and delivery I ordered this on the 19th and chose 7-10 day shipping, I received it on the 23rd. It arrived in its own packaging no additional external packaging was needed. The unit is nicely packed in Styrofoam and arrived intact with no visible damage or missing parts. If you are carrying it on one shoulder and go to lift open your garage door, you might almost drop it and scare your pants off, not that I would know anything about that. It came with three bits 1/4, 3/8, and 1/2, which should pretty much join any 2 pieces of wood you're likely to need to join. Instructions and initial setup 95% of the assembly is done with your box cutter. It comes almost completely setup, the user only needs to attach the handle, a piston, the table, hold down and fence. You also need to chuck the bit and mount the chisel, but that should not surprise anyone. I set the unopened box down on my work bench at 6:24PM and made my first mortise at 6:59 PM. Instructions are clear and easy to read, but you could fold them into little boats instead of reading them and still be making dust in less than an hour. Setting up the cut Setup is straightforward, you adjust the hold down with a simple locking handle. The chisel is justified by squaring it against the face of your workpiece. You tighten a brass screw with a slot for a screwdriver to set the chisel. The fence adjusts forward and back through a hole on the column. This is the greatest design flaw in this system. The rod which supports the fence and allows it to be adjusted travels through one hole and is set with one set screw, so there is going to always be slop in all directions, up/down left right. You can control for this slop by setting the fence before you square the chisel, but you need to employ set up blocks on top of the work piece to then set the chisel, not ideal. Making mortises It's a dedicated mortiser, it makes mortises, fast. You'll still need to hand cut any mortise that isn't 90 degrees to the face and 90 degrees along the length. As with all mortising systems, the bottom of the hole is rough, but think of that as a glue reservoir and you've made lemonade out of lemons! I used the 1/2 chisel in a piece of cypress, and then immediately followed it up with black walnut to see if the harder walnut would throw off my calibrations or cause the bit to bog down. My settings held and I cut easily in the walnut, though I made a ton of smoke so I think I had the chisel set to the wrong depth on the bit. The sides of the softwood mortise were a little fuzzy, but I've embraced that reality over the years. The walnut on the other hand made a nice smooth wall against long grain and short grain. Best and worst parts Simple access to the chuck through two doors, solid metal construction throughout, quick initial setup, small footprint (handy for a tiny shop like mine) and makes lots of mortises fast! Touchy setup of the fence and need to use a tool to adjust the chisel. Capacity issues for workpieces of large size. Needs to be mounted to a surface or it will tip forward during use, not a terrible idea anyway, just a more stable base should have been a no-brainer.