Multico PM16SP
Hollow Chisel Mortiser

MulticoMajor specifications:
Weight: 40 lbs.
Motor: 115v, 7.3 amp, 3/4 hp
Stroke: 4-3/4", can mortise 4" stock 4" from the fence, adjustable dovetailed slides
Chuck: Rohm (made in Germany) 3/8" capacity
Maximum chisel shank: 3/4"
Included: 1/4", 3/8", 1/2" Multico chisel/bit sets, drill press conversion kit Other Accessories: Horizontal mounting brackets, end drilling support Purchase From: Garrett Wade or Injecta Machinery, sole U.S. importers Price 7/98 (from Injecta): $635 plus $35 UPS ground shipping

Assembly of the PM16 means only having to put about 3-4 pieces together, 10-15 minutes tops. But don't you know it, the damned manual is sketchy on where the gas cylinder connects (quick call to Injecta confirms it connects at the top tapped hole). The overall machine and parts are very solid, including the fence which I was a tad worried about prior to taking delivery. The magnetic switch is nice and has a nice panic stop setup, but part of the yellow handle was broken on arrival. Injecta has one on order; it will only be a 2-minute replacement job. The Rohm chucks (the PM16 comes with two) are great - beefy and very exact in function. The machining, fit and finish are all top notch. And I am picky about such things.

The Multico bits are sharp and cut extremely well in cherry (I've only used the 1/2" bit). I discovered to my chagrin that it is possible to load a chisel and adjust the bit such that the bit is crooked and the machine won't start under the subsequent motor load. First test was through mortises in 6/4 (dressed) cherry and it worked very well, no real burning to speak of. Have to watch tearout on the far side though, even with a backer board in place. The hold down works well enough to leave marks on the wood if you are not careful (Multico recommends keeping it 1mm above the work). Combine that fact with a through mortise and you've come up with a good reason to find a way to clamp the workpiece down, tight. The fence was very solid and did not move in use. With careful movement of the workpiece1, there was no "stepping" between cuts on a longer mortise. Chuck access is great and overall I give very high marks (a rare occurrence for me) to both the design and manufacture. And it's British and does not leak oil!

I ordered the sharpening "kit" as well for $93. The kit must be used with a hand brace, and at $93 it is insanely, shamefully, sinfully overpriced. But the bane of the square mortiser is a dull chisel, so I swallowed hard and went on my way. You may want to sharpen the old-fashioned way, sandpaper on a stick or a metal file. The angles will stay exact with the kit however.

The PM16SP was $639 plus $70 for two day UPS shipping. My considered opinion is that it's a premium machine and therefore overpriced, but not by too terribly much. The three included chisel/bits are worth over $150, and it comes with a drilling conversion kit (essentially a Rohm chuck on a shaft) worth about $50. I may use the drilling attachment on the PM16 if I need precision drilling, but I can also use the Rohm chuck on my drill press, so that was a bonus.

I can't shake the nagging, unsettling thought that this machine is the same price as a decent contractors table saw. But I didn't need another tablesaw, I needed a square mortiser, so what the heck am I consternating about? A decent set of mortise chisels would have been world's cheaper, but with my bad back I can only take that type of work for short spells.

So, in the inevitable ruminations after a tool purchase, I have told myself that the base machine was about $440, which is a good few hundred dollars over the 1/2" capacity, 1/2 hp Delta Taiwanese import. Considering the PM16's 3/4 hp motor, capability to use 3/4" chisel/bits (for that one time I really, really need such capacity), magnetic switch, longer arm and sturdy construction, I can find a way to justify the price difference. And Injecta has been very good to deal with, as I assume Garrett Wade would be. Besides, I'm planning 30 years use, so the $ eventually become insignificant. At least that's what I tell SWMBO.

My overall view is that I'm very happy with the machine and am confident I'll get my money's worth over the years.

As always, any questions please feel free to fire away.

Paul Jordan - 7/15/98

1I inherently dislike any machining operation where the work piece must be unclamped, moved and re-clamped in order to complete the operation. The idea rolling around in my head to alleviate this is to mount the PM16 horizontally on a custom table, then mount the mortising attachment table from my Robland X31 machine such that I can use the Multico mortiser with the Robland table. That's plan A. Plan B would be to acquire a sliding vise or table from a scrap machine tool distributor (or use the vise idea posted by Neil) and retrofit to the Multico in vertical mode. Plan C, certainly not a bad option, is to leave it as-is.



© 2003 by Ellis Walentine by special arrangement with Wayne Miller of Badger Pond. All rights reserved.
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