Bench Mortiser Vs. Drill Press – (How To Choose The Best 2020)

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The drill press is one of the most versatile power tools ever created. It can handle almost anything you need to do in woodworking, including sanding, drilling, and even mortising. This versatility doesn`t make the drill press the only tool for a perfect workshop. You need to advance to specialized tools for the best finish that can meet professional standards. To meet these standards, every professional woodworker should have a powerful mortiser for perfect mortise and tenon joints.

Investing in a dedicated mortise machine may not seem like a necessary expenditure for entry-level DIYers. However, as you get more professional, you realize that the rugged chiseling done by your drill press is just not good enough. Choosing the best mortiser is pretty simple once you know the type of projects you intend to accomplish. You need a powerful motor and a matching head stroke capacity.

Mortisers and drill presses both attract a very high price tag, which is why a budget-friendly option is always welcome. WEN has the best robust cast iron drill presses you can buy on a budget, and 4210T, which has spindle travel of 2.5-Inches, is especially popular. It has a 3.2-Amp 1/2HP motor with a ½-Inch chuck that can take any bits, including most standard chisel bits for cutting mortises.

JET 708580, on the other hand, is one of the best dedicated mortising machines in the market popular in both small DIY workshops as well as large woodworking companies. It has a head stroke capacity of 4-3/4 Inches and a 1/2hp motor rotating at 1725RPM. It is powerful enough to meet any mortising and some drilling needs of a workshop. It is also portable so you can move it around sites.

Here is a detailed review of each tool.

1. JET 708580 JM-5 ½ Horsepower Bench Mortiser

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It is a compact cast-iron mortising machine weighing just 44lbs, which can be used independently or on a stand in a workshop. It is economical in terms of space and money, but its most impressive feature is the durable cast iron construction. It is designed to keep up with heavy-duty drilling thanks to a four-pole 1/2hp induction motor running at a low speed of 1725RPM to reduce wearing. This motor gives the mortiser a chisel-to-center capacity of 3-1/2.

It is run by a rack and pinion system, which allows the chisel to run smoothly through tough lumber. It also has a hydraulic cylinder that drives and retracts the chisel smoothly, keeping the chaff out of the way. It has a 5/8-Inch three-jawed metallic chuck, that can be fitted with 5/8-Inch as well as smaller 3/8-inch mortising bits. You can still mortise smaller pieces of stock on this mortiser as it accepts even lower shank mortising bit adapters.

This mortiser has a simple depth stop setting that allows you to set a uniform depth for different holes. Its fence is 6×13-3/4 inches, which will enable you to clamp both wide and thick pieces for comfortable mortising. It has a powerful lockdown unit that holds the workpiece in place, allowing you to concentrate on working.

This mortiser is safe and easy to use, featuring a removable toggle switch that prevents the accidental running of the mortiser. Its mortising handle is also long and easy to use for accurate positioning. Changing the bits on the mortiser is also easy; you only need to open the chuck chamber. It comes with three mortising bits. Moreover, this unit has a 5-year warranty.

Key Features

  • Motor: 1/2hp
  • Spindle depth: 3-1/2 inches
  • Chuck: 5/8-Inch, keyed
  • Power: 5-Amps, 110V
  • Fence: 6 x 13-3/4 inches
  • Head stroke: 4-3/4 inches


  • The chuck chamber protects the chuck and can be accessed from both sides
  • Durable iron cast construction to withstand a tough environment
  • The chuck accepts a wide range of bits from 5/8-inches to the smallest options
  • Rack and pinion control for easy setting and operation
  • It works silently and remains cool while in operation
  • Removable switch for safety


  • The table is too small to carry the largest pieces of lumber
  • It has a single lock system, which is not powerful enough.

Top FAQs

Q: Can I use this machine as a drill press?

A: Absolutely. Its high-speed motor can be used to drill holes if you have a fitting drill bit.

Q: Does this unit come with a 5/8-inch chisel bit?

A: No. It comes with ½-Inch, ¼-inch and a 3/8-inch chisel bit.

Q: How high does the stock fence go?

A: 6-Inches

Q: Does it have a laser guide?

A: No

Q: Can I drill through oak with this mortiser?

A: Absolutely. It has an industrial-grade cast iron construction that allows it to drill through hardwood.

2. WEN 4210T 10-Inch Drill Press 

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If you are looking for a versatile drill press on a budget, WEN 4210 is always a top drill press to consider. It works well both as an entry-level and a heavy-duty drill press in workshops that have lots of woodwork and some level of metal drilling. It has five-speed settings from 570RPM for hardest wood and metal, 900RPM, 1390RPM, 2050RPM, and 3050RPM for rapid drilling and smoothening.

It is a durable unit thanks to its cast iron construction, which makes it suitable for both outdoor and indoor projects. It is still a compact unit measuring less than 30 inches top to bottom so you can use it independently or mount it on a table. This drill press has a 1/3hp motor that runs at 3.2-Amps on a regular 110V plug. Its greatest feature is the 1/2-Inch chuck that accepts a wide range of bits, including mortising bits and sanding drums.

Its spindle travels 2-1.2-Inches, which allows you to drill most holes in woodwork projects. Its table is also iron cast and has dust holes to remove the chaff for smooth operation. The table has a beveling angle of 45 degrees left and right, making it easy to drill at complicated angles.

It is operated using a rack and pinion system that is both smooth and easy to use. This drill press is also accurate because of its laser crosshairs that make pointing easy. Moreover, it has a depth adjustment lock that allows you to create uniform holes with equal distances repeatedly.

Key Features

  • Motor: 1/3hp
  • Speed: 570-3050RPM
  • Spindle depth: 2-1/2 inches
  • Chuck: 1/2-Inch, keyed
  • Power: 3.2-Amps, 110V
  • Table: 7-5/8 inches


  • Five-speed settings to customize the drilling for different densities
  • Durable cast iron construction
  • Depth adjustment stop for making uniform holes.
  • laser crosshairs for high precision pointing
  • Rack and pinion control for easy setting and smooth running


  • 10-Inch swing size limits the size of stock it can accommodate
  • High-speed operations produce a poor finish on high-density material.

Top FAQs

Q: Can I use this drill press to drill through a 4×4?

A: No. Its drill depth capacity is 2.5 inches

Q: Does it have a reverse drill option?

A: No.

Q: Can the table be removed?

A: Sure. You can set your workpiece on the base directly whenever you need to.

Direct Comparison


Chiseling bits need more torque to drive through wood compared to spiral drilling bits. The mortising machine needs a stronger motor than the drill press to cut through the same type of wood. That said, JET 708580 has a powerful motor rated at 1/2hp motor. 1/2hp is powerful enough for any range of mortising tasks with ½-Inch bits or less. It, however, produces a rugged finish in drilling operations because of the low speed.

WEN 4210T is a drill press with a 1/3HP motor, which is enough for a wide range of drilling operations. It is, however, strained when fitted with a matching mortising bit. The drill press, however, delivers a clean, professional finish when used in commercial-grade drilling because of its matched high-speed settings.


These tools have keyed chucks with a sturdy bit grip that ensures accuracy. WEN4210T is a jawed ½-Inch chuck that can accept both round and rectangular bits.

JET 708580 has a universal chuck that can take in any bit 5/8-inch or less. It comes with an adapter for 5/8-inch mortising bits, ½ inch as well as 3/8-inch bits. Its recommended mortising capacity is ½ inches, which is suitable for most universal tenon joints.


WEN 4210T is the most accurate of the two, which you would expect from a drill press. It has laser-guided focusing, which allows the quill to drill on the lumber with high accuracy. JET 708580, on the other hand, requires a keen eye, this is why it needs a professional with the necessary tools to make accurate cuts. It is harder to use the mortising machine to cut accurately, especially on wider pieces without pre-marking the point of drilling manually.

Spindle depth

JET 708580 has more motor power that allows it to make deeper cuts at 3-1/2-inches. It, however, has a head stroke capacity of 4-3/4 inches so you can make deeper cuts as long as you have the bits for the job. WEN 4210T, on the other hand, has a 1.3hp motor that limits its drill capacity to 2.5-inches. Its motor unit is not primarily built for both sanding and drilling. Its spindle depth may not deliver professional mortises like the dedicated mortising machine.

Final Verdict

Professionals advise against using a drill press as your primary mortising machine. However, many workshops and DIYers only need to make a couple of mortise and tenon joints, making it unreasonable to make a huge investment is a mortising machine. A mortising machine can, however, become an essential tool for a workshop giving the best mortise and tenon joints, and it can also be used for drilling.

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