Porter-Cable 513 1-1 2 Horsepower Lock Mortiser

Sunday, February 7, 2010

On Sale Porter-Cable 513 1-1/2 Horsepower Lock Mortiser

Porter-Cable 513 1-1/2 Horsepower Lock Mortiser

Amazon.com Product Description
Hand mortising is a thing of the past, and the Porter-Cable 513 1-1/2 HP lock mortiser will get the job done quicker and more efficiently than ever before. The powerful 11 Amp motor spins at 27,500 RPM for incredibly detailed cuts. Particularly useful when making cuts for box locks, the 513 heavy-duty lock mortiser cuts mortises up to 7 x 1-1/4 x 4-3/4 inches (LxWxD). The 513 will accommodate doors as thick as 4-1/2 inches, and it will automatically center the cutter on the doors edge no matter how thick it is. Its durable steel and alloy construction ensure years of reliable, accurate cuts.

  • Heavy-duty 11 Amp mortiser makes cutting box locks a breeze
  • Mounts doors as thick as 4-1/2 inches and centers automatically
  • Cut mortises up to 7 x 1-1/4 x 4-3/4 inches (LxWxD)
  • Weighs 37 pounds; Made from a durable steel and alloy material
  • Includes height rod assembly (4 rods - 804960, 1 stop - 800203, 1 nut - 800204), wrench, 3/4-inch bit, 1-inch bit, Allen wrench, operating manual

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The right tool for the right job - thats all folks
This tool is plain and simple "THE" tool, I own a small hotel and there is simply not a easier way to install large body electronic locks in solid doors. a new door is drilled and mortised in a matter of minutes, before this tool I had guys mess with chisseling these out for hours. No damaged doors, quick and easy.

Yes it only does one job... but it is the right tool and pays for itself in a afternoon if you really need the tool.

If you have a hard time justifying the tool, chances are you really don't need it. But next time you are looking at mortising a few hundred doors, just get one. :-)

5 stars for doing exactly what it is expected to do, very efficiently.

Dust Control
I have read the reviews about the Porter Cable 513 Lock Mortiser and agree with most that it is a great tool. Setting up the mortiser is a simple task with a little practice. The one problem that is difficult to deal with is dust control. Having to work in areas that must stay dust free, I have built my own dust collector that attaches to my shop vac. With a little trial and error I was able to collect all the noticeable dust. I built the collector out of clear acrylic to allow easy viewing for setup. The collector mounts to the mortiser and is easy to install or remove if needed. Because it mounts between the mortiser and the work, it is completely out of the way. I have about four hours in design and construction in the collector and a material cost of less then $10. I wonder why Porter Cable has not offered a dust control system, its very simple.

Part excellent, part cheapness, all expensive
I do not own this thing but have used it and seen it used numerous times.


Strong motor with good bearings.

Automatic centering of clamping mechanism with heavy-duty reverse-twin threads...

Lever-driven vertical motion is smooth and easy

Heavy-duty STEEL guide rods--- At first glance, it looks like you could penetrate a bank vault with it!


Weight--- this thing is so heavy, you have to really clamp down hard to keep it in place, and holding it while clamping is a three handed job. The faces of the clamps are plain aluminum or magnesium, so they need friction tape or cork or sandpaper to help them hold on. The weight of the machine PLUS the significant lateral forces involved in routing add up quickly. The clamps WILL hold, but I have seen how this thing leaves indentations on the door surface. It needs much larger surface plates for the clamps.

Cable-driven vertical motion--- Instead of continuing with cheap-but-reliable threaded rod, (as they used for the clamping mechanism) they chose to use cable and pulley system. Why??? ... cable stretches so you have to coax the final micrometers of cut in the upward direction. Obviously, this is less of a problem when you do the sensible thing and rout with the door on the floor, with the lock facing up. That helps with the weight / clamping issue too, but it negates the assumed efficiency of routing in place with the door hung. For this kind of dough, they could easily have used Acme style threaded rod throughout.

Cutter is good but replacements are expensive and because of the design, (it can't accept standard up-cut spiral-bits) cutter choices are limited. Replacements are certainly NOT easy-to-find at your local home-store.

Fine-Adjustments are finicky and non-intuitive. Requires tests cuts in pre-sized scrap. That totally defeats the implied efficiency, especially if you have several different sizes of doors and locks to mortise. ( as in most restorations)

No provisions whatsoever for dust collection. Are they kidding? They want to sell a tool with a street-price of one-grand, presumably designed for routing mortises in place, but there is absolutely NO thought given to the mess this machine makes. Milled mortised are one of those places where missing-matter from black-holes magically reappears. It's funny how a four-inch mortise can make a three-foot pile of wood-chips and fill a freshly painted and carpeted room with dust. If you need kindling, this is the machine to have!

Cost... I just can't see a thousand bucks worth of metal or machining here. Perhaps I am just too old, too cheap or too experienced... but I can make a similar tool for less, and that's paying retail for premium parts: hardened stainless-steel guide rods, acme twin-threads, handles, machined parts, welding, router-motor... everything. Lots of people have more metal working experience than I do, and they could probably build one faster than I can.

As it is, when I have to do deep mortises in fancy hardwood doors (for Lawyers offices, historic buildings and recording studios, etc.) I use a simple plywood jig and a big-plunge router like the PC Speedmatic. Simple stop-blocks reliably set X-Y axis travel-limits, cheap C-clamps with padded cauls hold the jig in place and I cover the whole caboodle with a clear plastic box attached to my shop-vac. Admittedly, I cannot rout a mortise with the door in place, nor will my biggest router go four-and-a-half inches deep. ( All my drill-bits do though!) But it only takes a minute to pull the pins and clamp the door over some saw-horses or a portable bench. And if the specified lock-set is the antique square-corner type, we still have to finish the mortise with a chisel anyway... so where is the advantage?

When I first saw this thing on a job-site, it looked like that post-industrial Porter-Cable design-magic was back... Then I saw its owner reading the manual, fussing with adjustments, cussing, more adjustments, more cussing. He asked for my help and we got it to work. But for all the time it took, I could have gone to my truck, got my home-made jig and finished three doors.

He got his used, ( the previous owner used it only once) so he has no chance of returning it. Even at five-bills, (what he paid) I can't see the value, even though it looks as tough as a '55 Buick.

It is a great-looking heavy-duty tool, and will definitely HOG out some massive mortises... once you get it set-up. But... The adjustments are not fast, the clamps are not quite big enough, there is no way to collect or contain the mountain of dust it makes, it is cumbersome and (for the noble working-stiffs) WAY overpriced.

There are better, more versatile and much more practical products / methods for deep-mortising.

For well over thirty years, I have done the same types of mortises with a square, a marking gauge, a drill (with a fifty-cent chunk of wood for a guide-block) and a sharp-mortising chisel. If you have only one mortise to do, that is just as fast and far more economical. And if you have twelve doors to do, spend thirty minutes making a routing jig. Don't forget to buy a cheap clear plastic bin from Target. Use a utility knife to cut holes on the sides for your hands to go through so you can hold the router. Attach your shop vac hose with a two-dollar fitting hot-glued in place. It's amazing how well that sucks up the dust and chips!

Assuming you already have a router and some know-how, you can build a better contraption with plywood and a plastic bucket for less than thirty bucks worth of time and materials.

One last point... the entire purpose of this thing it to do DEEP mortises in pre-hung doors. Of the countless doors I have built and hung, the ONLY time I have needed deep mortises for specialty lock-sets are in high-end installations or restoration work. For the high-end new stuff, we do everything in the shop then install the door on-site. For restoration work, dust is ALWAYS an issue. Half of the problem of getting the bid is guaranteeing a clean and safe work-site. (that means NO dust) And if the work is on a public building ( like restoration of historic museums, court-houses, banks or battleships) many times the restoration committee insists all the work is done with hand tools or off-site anyway. You can buy a really good mortise chisel or two for a hundred bucks. You already have a square, a pencil and a hammer, right?

Lock Face Template
Great Tool. We had (14) custom mortisse locks to install in white oak doors. No room for error. Once set up correctly (took some practice runs in scrap wood), the tool did each lock cut out in minutes. Expensive, yes. It is a great tool if you have a large # of deep mortisse locks to do.

Porter Cable 513
This is a door mortiser and thats all. It's a lot of money to pay for a tool with only one job but there is nothing else in the world that can do the job it does in the everyday world. Set up is a little slow but when all adjustments are complete it seldom runs over 20 seconds and its job is done.The depth adjustment came broke on my first one. Amazon leaned over backwards to get it swapped out and we went on with business.

More Info: On Sale Porter-Cable 513 1-1/2 Horsepower Lock Mortiser

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