The Grizzly G9976 is the quintessential budget mortising machine. I have had it in my shop for years now. It has cut several hundred of mortises for me. Most of time it has done so reliably. Sometimes, however, not accurately. The machine is a solid performer, but hard to set up.
The word "manual" best describes this machine. Before every cut you have to align the fence, hold downs, and depth stop. All of these are set using some form of set screw lock. It is very hard to accurately configure the machine. Set screws apply tourque to the object they are meant to secure. This twisting force makes it hard to align parts precisely.
The fence assembly is the worst part of the machine. It uses what I call a fake rack and pinion system. The operator can turn a long screw to move the fence in one direction. To move the fence in the other direction, the operator turns the screw in the other direction. This allows a spring to move the fence. More accurately, the spring should move the fence in the other direction. On my machine the spring does nothing. It's not even close to string enough; not even on the day I got the machine. I have to manually move the fence. It is very hard to align the fence properly. Very fine adjustments cannot be made by hand.
The fence also does not automatically stay square to the work piece. It has a few degrees of play either way. Once it is locked down, it stays in place. The operator has to realign the fence every time the fence is moved.
The plunge range of the machine is actually divided into two rangers. A lower and an uupper one. To switch the setup from one to the other the operator has to remove and reinstall a gas spring from the back of the machine. This takes about 30 seconds. The spring itself is made from plastic. I expect it to break long before anything else on the machine.
The positive part about the machine is that once it is set up properly, it performs. The motor is powerful, but has it's limit. I got it to seize drilling mortises into 1 inch oak. This is acceptable considering the machine's price. I just needed to take smaller cuts. Each individual plunge is straight and square. The mortises the machine produces clean up with a chisel in under a minute. The machine would be a real time safer if it was not for it's completely flawed fence assembly.
I advise looking elsewhere for a mortiser. Accuracy is a necessity in woodworking. When you spend as much time fighting the machine during setup as you do making the cut, something is very wrong. You have plenty of options to go with in the marketplace.
- once set up, it cuts mortises quickly and accurately
- accepts different size chisels
- Complicated to set up
- plunge range is divided into two segments
- very poor hold downs
- somewhat weak motor
- small table necessitates additional supports for the workpiece
- fence needs to be aligned every time the setup is changed