Used for thousands of years by woodworkers around the world, the mortise and tenon joint is both simple and strong, and a critical link in building a timber frame. You could do it the old fashioned way with a drill and chisel or a boring machine, but it would be more time consuming. However, an innovative tool like the Makita Chain Mortiser is a great time saver that provides professional results for both timber framing and log home construction. It can cut a mortise or spline trench quickly and accurately.
Features & Specs:
This mortiser can pivot to three cutting positions without resetting the base . It comes complete with 18mm (23/32") chain, sharpening holder assembly, wrench and chain oil. You can firmly attach onto timbers between 3-1/8” to 12-1/8” thickness with its large adjustable vise. You can also adjust the sliding rear clamp to any desired width with a quick twist of the tension knob. For depth, you can plunge up to 6-1/8” and you can use the depth gauge to set the depth or your mortise. To make sure you’re hitting your mark, the yellow indicator plate and indication plate are factory adjusted for the standard equipped 18mm cutter chain but you will want to fine tune this as you go.
- Powerful 10.5 AMP motor (3,200 RPM)
- Fast chain speed (1,000 feet per minute)
- Externally accessible brushes for longer tool life
- Adjusting levers and knobs for quick changes without resetting the tool
- Cuts lap joints up to 5-1/8"
- Adjust knob for re-adjusting position of chain across the timber
- Chain tension adjustment cover with snap action
- Durable plastic boot protects twin steel rails
- Max. Hole Width (Longitudinal) 5-1/8"
- Max. Hole Width (Transverse) 7-1/4"
- Max. Hole Depth 6-1/8"
Every Makita tool is thoroughly inspected and tested prior to leaving the factory. Makita provides a limited one-year warranty on the Chain Mortiser Model 7104L that guarantees the tool to be of free of defects. If anything develops within one year from the date of the original purchase, simply return the complete tool with freight prepaid to one of Makita’s Factory or Authorized Service Centers. Upon inspection, if defective workmanship or materials is the cause, then they will repair or replace it (their choice), free of charge. Makita also offers a 30-day satisfaction guarantee. If you aren’t satisfied with the product, return it and Makita will provide either a replacement or refund (their choice).
The Chain Mortiser Model 7104L comes standard with:
- (1) 23/32" (18.25 mm) Mortiser Chain (A-16570)
- (1) Wrench (781204-0)
- (1) Sharpening Holder (123028-2)
- (1) Bar Chain Oil, 100 cc (182229-1)
- Five additional Cutter Chain widths, from 5/8" to 15/16"
- Overall Dimensions 15-1/4" x 11-3/4" x 20-1/4"
- Cord Length 16.4 ft.
- Net weight 37.4 lbs.
- Shipping weight 44 lbs.
Great for homeowners, yet productive enough for professionals. The Makita Chain Mortiser is ideal for timber framing and log home building and great for any woodworker needing to cut mortises in timbers or logs. While heavy this tool is portable with its built-in carrying handle and weighs 37.4-pounds, which makes it easy to take along on any jobsite if you need to. This tool is recommended and used by the team at Timber Frame HQ.
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32 thoughts on “Makita Chain Mortiser Review”
I love mine. Wouldn’t trade it for anything! You’ll want to figure the price of a new chain into every few jobs at $700 a pop, but the time savings are well worth it.
Go get one!
I’m a novice when it comes to framing, so I picked one of these up a few weeks ago, it works great, cuts like a hot knife through butter and very accurate. I’m about to start milling timbers for my new workshop ” 20×20 timber frame, plans from Timber Frame HQ, thanks Brice for your help.” Btw chains go for adout $250 if you shop around.
Thanks Ross! Good luck with your project.
This is a great little machine! I’ve been timber framing for 11 years & for half of those years we cut all our mortises using the Makita chain mortises. They are very durable, reliable & easy to maintain. A small tip to avoid wood tears from the chains upward cutting motion is to score your lines with a chisel first. majority of our projects now are CNC machined, but I still use the old mortiser when on site for modifications.
Thanks for your thought and tip Jeff.
You can sharpen the chains, but you need to find someone capable. I’ve been a professional timberframer for 18 years, and have my original chain that has been sharpened 4 times…althoiugh I do like your idea of buying new chain every once in awhile, having backups. I’ve been very lucky with mine.
Thanks for the comment Randall, who do you send your chains to?
Can anyone tell me if they have purchased one of the used models from Japan and if they had any issues with voltage (Japan is 100v while USA is 110-120v)?
I’m considering buying one on Ebay, but likely having to buy a step down transformer to get to 100v.
I don’t have any experience with this, I would recommend that you post a question in our forum or in the Historical Timber Frame Facebook Group.
I notice there is a large spread in prices depending on what brand chain mortiser you purchase. Can you explain why you chose to review and recommend the Makita over the other brands? and if you have experience with the others what are the pros and cons to spending quite a bit more for something like the Mafell. I am looking at possibly making the jump and would like to weigh all options.
Cry once right!
thanks for your in depth review,
I have used them all, the Mafell, Protocol and Swiss Tool mortiser are incredible tools that greatly speed things up for the professional. The key differences are the power and alignment of the chain. The alignment is 90 degrees to the Makita mortiser and that allows you to cut them faster. The biggest downside is that you are limited by the depth of the mortises, they are not UL listed (the last time I checked) and the upfront cost. If you are a professional shop you can justify the expense however if you are going to cut one or two frames then I would stick with the Makita. All have great resale value though.
Hi Brice, I have a project where i need to cut slots 10mm or 3/8″ thick . Can you get a thinner chain for the Makita Chain Mortiser are you aware of? Cheers Peter
Peter, give the team at Timberwolf Tools a call, they will be able to steer you in the right direction.
I’m getting ready to purchase the Makita 7104L Chain Mortiser. For my upcoming project, I’ll be using red oak timbers. The Makita comes with a “standard” chain. I can upgrade to a “hardwood” chain for an extra ~$125.
Question: Has anyone used both on hardwood and can you tell the difference? Bottom line: Is it worth the extra $$$?
I have always used a regular chain. It has worked well with oak and the other hardwoods that I have used it on.
I finally broke down and bought the Makita last year when I was building my own project I have used them off and on for years and never had a problem with the Makita mortiser .
A lot of my projects I did with Forstner bits drills and beating a chisel for hours well worth the money you cannot find a good used one at least I tried and failed
They are worth the money even if you’re only doing a couple projects you can sell it for nearly the cost of new
Is Timberwolf tools a connection with Pat wolf I took a log building course with him way back in 1990 well time flies
Thanks for your thoughts Jim, I agree they are easy to sell and worth the couple hundred dollars you may lose.
I like my 7104L but I have a problem with the base locking clamp mechanism. It requires way to much force to be applied to the small locking lever to hold when applying the locking lever. It is a very serious flaw in my experience. Has anyone experienced this?
Gary, I have not experienced that before, sound like you are putting too much pressure when you crank it down on the big spring. What type of wood are you using?
Greetings I am a slow learning and brute force small scale framer. For example I think a 10 circular saw is awesome as I only have to cut a beam 2 times. I am considering just a machine as drilling and chiseling mortises in White Oak is hard (lumber pun). How do you deal with the depth limitation. Many of my beams are 8″ x 8″. I suppose you turn the beam over and start from the other side and then…. as the cut progresses make sure the walls align? Perhaps its my limitation but starting a mortise from both sides always has risk of not meeting up as cleanly as desired…
Yes you just make a through mortise. It is not hard to line it up and then chisel out any that you missed. If you use the makita do not use the depth stopper in the second side cut. The chain will grab jerking the mortiser down. That cast bracket is not strong enough and will break.
Anyone have one of these in the Northeast US that would like to rent it for a job or sell it? [email protected]
Has anybody used the 13/16″ chain? It seems to me that to make a 1.5″ mortise it would be easier to do two chops with the slightly wider chain than three with the standard 11/16″ chain. Or does the standard chain get you close enough to the 1.5″ mortise that you’ll just clean it with a chisel afterwards?
You can use the bigger chain if you are using softwoods, if using in oak or another hardwood, I would stick to the smaller chain.
I purchased a used Makita 7104L on eBay used. It’s been a God send. The only problem I had was clamping the base to an 8×8 timber. The jaws just wouldn’t open up enough. I took it to a machine shop and had the staff duplicate the guide rods and extend them 4 inches. No problems after.
I recently bought myself a SwissPro mortiser after using the Makita for over 15 years. The Makita never let me down and cut literally hundreds and hundreds of mortises without issue. But I really wanted to speed up the process so picked up the SwissPro. It is a beast, just eats wood. Easily 1/2 the time to cut a mortise.
I have never used a Mafell, and could have gone with one but I had read that the SP had a couple of small advantages over the Mafell. Chip clearing ability being one. Plus the distributer isn’t far from me.
One issue I’ve noticed with it is that as you are plunging the chain into the wood, the bar will kick away slightly, like maybe a tad over 1/16″. The play isn’t in the bar as it’s bolted into a grooved channel and can’t move, but there seems to be a little slop in the vertical slide columns. Very minimal but enough to throw my cut mortice past my layout line a bit.
Does the Mafell deflect a bit upon cutting as well? I’ve watched videos of it in action but it’s very hard to tell if there’s any side movement there or not.
Seems to me that with both these machines cutting across the grain, there would be some substantial forces trying to pull the bar away when the chain first starts cutting until it has plunged a bit and is trapped in it’s path down.
Or maybe this is this just the nature of the beast with these cross grain mortisers.
Anyhow just trying to get some info on this issue and I see that you have used them all. Thanks
I have one that I purchased and no issues with the electrical.
I had the same issue about a year after using it. It got so bad, I could barely lock it into place. I though I was going to break it I was pulling and pushing so hard. Turned out that it needed to be oiled. After a little oil, it worked like new.
Glad to hear that
That was an easy fix!
When we built the log cabin, we used it to cut out our electrical box holes.
Great thinking, Robert!