So after much debate and trial I found, rather it found me (thanks camel camel camel) and I ended up with Powermatic's PM701 bench mortiser. Typically it sells for $599 but I was made aware of a price drop and at $405 w/Prime shipping I jumped. $195 discount easily covered the cost of the chisel set. That evening I was checking and the price was up to $500.
Anyway the hollow chisels came the following day and were set aside. The mortiser was due the next day and was to be delivered by Amazon. Sure enough on Friday morning I checked on the order because I was advised via email it would be a day late and it showed as being in route that day for delivery. In fact the tracking on Amazon actually shows the movement of their truck updating every few minutes it seemed. And it was indeed delivered in 2 days having been shipped form California. This was a sold and shipped by Amazon item.
So after getting the 92 pound box in the shop and unboxed I put this baby together. I quickly decided this baby needed a dedicated rolling cabinet although one person can pick it up although it's a bit awkward and very heavy. You young bucks can have a go at it I guess. I assembled this on my adjustable height workbench
to give it a quick checkout.
I was amazed how sharp the chisels were and the mortiser comes with a cone sharpener. Assembly was quick, straight forward, and easy. I used the 1/4" mortise bit to test on a laid out mortise location on some 1" soft maple scrap. Marking out the mortise I started with a cut at each end and then spaced the cuts leaving about a 1/4 between to ensure the hollow chisel bit is biting into wood on all 4 sides. When those were done I went back and did the places in between. This left me with a nice clean mortise. I rotated the wood 90 degree and made a second intersecting mortise as if I were installing a skirt board on an end table. Nice clean intersection. The great thing is that while it does take a bit of effort it really isn't much more than if I were drilling.
What I also came to realize is that I want a sliding table to clamp the wood to. What I found ready to use online was either too small, too cheaply made, or just not fit for this. I then looked for plans and found this one from WoodSmith
The hardware will set you back a few bucks but it looks large enough and sturdy enough to last a lifetime.
And with cutting into walnut, cherry, oak, and maple I'd like to make accurate cuts without making a lot of scrap. This should be an interesting project. So far finding the parts and pieces means multiple vendors but most of it should be here this coming week. Problem with living in the country is nothing is nearby which is why we live in the country.......