Monday, May 14, 2012

Buy Sell and Trade

The past couple of weeks have seen me between phases of my current project and it has been nice to have a break. My wife and I are moving into a new house so it hasn't been entirely restful and the weather hasn't been cooperating with my plans to take the mountain bike out, but, oh well.

I'm in a position to acquire some new equipment for the shop, and any interesting bits of wood I might come across, and I have been indulging. Well, mostly window shopping actually. This is a great time to be looking for equipment as it is definitely a buyers market and lots of machines are available. Curiously, when the economy is flat, the wood supply tends to dry up as log suppliers see little benefit in sawing their material up and dealers prefer to clear out old inventory and remnants rather than bring in new material. So, the wood scene is a bit of a bust though I have in fact found some pretty exciting bits of timber which I'll possibly write about in the near future.

On the machinery front I decided that I would sell the Multico Hollow Chisel Mortiser as I just wasn't making any use of it. I have a Powermatic that I use and no real need to have two machines. So I managed to find a buyer for that, at $500, and I am looking to put that money into some other piece of equipment. Not sure quite what that will be yet.

I put my Oliver 166 belt drive 16" jointer up for sale as well. It's working fine, but I would like to make the jump, if I can to the next level. The next level in jointers, from my perspective, is something 20" or wider, preferably longer than 8', and with a 4 knife Tersa head. There are a few used machines out there which might do the trick, however I need to sell the Oliver to be able to make the move. Besides, a small shop like mine only has room for one aircraft carrier at a time. If the Oliver doesn't sell, I might consider swapping out its cutterhead for a Tersa or Shelix. I recently obtained a 4" Shelix head for my shaper, along with a rub collar, and it works nicely. I'm not totally sold on the insert knife helical heads however.

One of the less glamorous pieces of the shop which is however absolutely essential is a dust collection system. I have found it hard to get particularly stoked about buying a dust collection system - you might say they suck wind - however that all changed when I came across an interesting deal on Ebay. Out in Illinois there was a High School with a wood shop. The funding was eliminated for shop programs in that part of the state (a very sad sign of the times happening all over the place), and they were going to convert the shop into a weightlifting gym. Gotta give the football team something to play with I guess. The shop had a nice dust collection system in place which had to go. It's a US-made Air Sentry system, 7.5 hp, 3-phase, with cyclone and baghouse. All metal piping including shrouds for a chop saw, downdraft table, floor vacuum pickup, etc., etc.

Here's a few pics of the parts - the baghouse:


The cyclone with chip bin:


Some of the duct work:



When I first came across it, the tarting price was $1000, which was pretty reasonable. However the logistics of picking it up and getting it back to Massachusetts seemed a bit much to deal with so I simply kept an eye on the auction to see what the set up went for. It didn't go for much as no one bid. Then the seller re-listed it on short auction format, start price of $100.00(!). Suddenly, as you might imagine, I was rather more interested, and made contact with the seller and found that time to sell at the school's end was at a premium, that the gym renovation was underway and that the system was already partly disassembled. They needed it gone. The seller indicated he was in fact willing to package it all up and put the pieces on pallets, so I made some inquiries with my shipping agent and obtained a price of $299 to move three pallets of 500lbs. each. Now we're talkin'!

I had some late minute turbulence on Ebay with the snipers at auction's end, but when the dust had settled I was the highest bidder at $611.25. That means with shipping included I will have a great dust collection system for under $1000.00. How cool is that?! It is all to be shipped the middle of this week so I should have it by the beginning of next week. I imagine it will take a few days to set up, and I'm very glad to have dust collection at long last.

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I've also been looking for a smaller bandsaw. While my Hitachi CB-100FA 4" re-saw is a superb machine, I can't use it for anything other than re-sawing and thus something capable of running smaller blades was on my shopping list. Up to this point I've been cutting curved templates and roughing out parts using a hand-held electric jigsaw or making use of my neighbor's Jet bandsaw.

There are plenty of smaller bandsaws out there, most of them imports, but by and large they tend to suffer from a common problem: the chassis and/or tensioning spring aren't adequately stiff enough to properly tension many bandsaw blades. While there is no shortage of monster antique US beasts, like the Yates, Oliver, Northfield,, American, etc., that perform well, I really didn't have the room, and wasn't interested in another rebuild project either. There are some decent Italian bandsaws, like the ones made by Agazzani and Mini-Max (a budget brand for SCMI), however I was thinking that I didn't want to drop $3~6,000 on a saw which would not see daily use.

I came to a solution though that I think will work really well - I'm buying the little brother to my CB-100FA, the CB-75F:


This machine weighs about 350 lbs, and is equipped with a 3" Stellite tipped re-saw. Now, the classic issues with this saw, as it was sold in North America as least, revolve, literally, around the motor. Presumably to make the saw more attractive to a wider consumer base, the saw was equipped with a 110v. 2.8 hp. motor. This motor is of the geared reduction type. This means the motor itself spins at high speed, and the splined output on the end of the motor shaft then turns a second larger gear. Here's a picture of the set up on the CB-75F:


You can see the small gear machined onto the end of part #251 drives the larger gear #260.  Gear #260 is in turn connected to a shaft which spins a belt drive pulley.

This gear reduction allows a small 110v. motor to power a larger bandsaw since one of the benefits of gear reduction is that the motor doesn't have to work as hard to spin the wheel. The torque produced by the output is inversely proportional to the amount of gear reduction. Problem is, the 110v solution, gear reduction not withstanding, is really a marginal power plant for this machine - certainly if much re-sawing is intended, though some people have reported satisfaction with that aspect. Worse though is the side effect obtained by gear reduction: the motor howls like a banshee and the gearing adds more noise. Not the most pleasant thing, especially in light of how quiet most bandsaws are by comparison.

What led me to select this bandsaw, despite the apparent shortcomings is this: unlike the CB-100FA, the CB-75F can accept smaller blades. There is a factory option to fit a set of roller bearing blade guides. Since the chassis of the machine is engineered to properly tension a 3" wide re-saw blade to 16,000 lbs., the unit will be more than adequate to tension a 1/4" or 1/2" blade.

And the motor? Well, that simply has to go. Interestingly, Hitachi sells this machine in Japan (and other markets, just not the US) also in a version with a 3-phase motor, with no gear reduction. That means it would be a lot quieter and more powerful. Here's a picture - compare the appearance of the motor with the one shown above:


I have made inquiries to some Japanese contacts to see what a Hitachi 3-phase motor might cost. If that's a no-go for some reason, I'm confident, based on the parts diagrams I've looked at, that re-powering this saw with another motor will be quite simple, though not an inexpensive endeavor. It will require some combination of motor and pulley, possibly a VFD, to obtain a running speed of around 900 rpm.

The CB-75F that I bought is in excellent condition, included extra blades, and cost me $1000. I found it in Maine. It will be shipped to me this week.

Finally, I was having some email exchanges with the fellow that bought my mortiser that led me to investigate a Griggio TRC-N mortiser, which is of the slot-mortising variety:


Unlike most slot mortisers, the head on the Griggio moves instead of the table. An interesting design.

I had a funny feeling when I looked at it that it was vaguely familiar. Later, I was browsing Martin's site and discovered something surprising:


I was most surprised to discover that the maker of the most drool-worth equipment in woodworking is now re-branding stuff made in Italy. huh. Nothing wrong with Griggio, but it is a notch below Martin. I did a little more looking at Martin's new 'basic' line of sliding table saws and discovered more of the same. Here's Martin's new 'basic' saw, the TC 640:


And here's Griggio's Unica 350:


Now I'm curious to learn how they might compare for price - that is, how much more would one likely pay for the Martin badge and paint? Hmmm...

Okay, well, that's a stroll through the garden of Tool Land for today. When I get the bandsaw I'll do a blog on swapping the motor over as I imagine some readers might find that of interest. Thanks for coming by the Carpentry Way - comments are always welcome.

13 comments:

  1. Thanks for the update Chris. Will you be sharing photos of the house and shop once you get rolling on the dust collection?

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  2. yeouch!..that Griggio mortiser is about 6000 clams...

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  3. Dale,

    good to hear from you. Not sure about sharing pictures of the house right away, but i have numerous remodeling projects envisioned, so I'll probably be blogging about that. I will definitely post pics of the shop as the dust collection comes together, though I'm imagining it might not photograph so well.

    Nick,

    hah! Now, why do you want to enter that world of hurt and pain that is the retail price of a European woodworking machine? I thought you'd had enough of that already.

    Those Griggio slot mortisers have been made for a while so used ones are out there. And you're in Canada where the currency continues to be worth something :^)

    I've also been intrigued by another type of oscillating chisel mortiser with three knives - the French made Alternax.

    ~C

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  4. Blade tension is one problem, but there is also another. Mark Duginske has an excellent book out that informs how the upper and lower wheels of a bandsaw being what he refers to as "planer" to each other, will give the proper blade alignment and cleanest results from a cut. This enables the blade to track in the same position on both wheels without unnecessary movement that causes a rougher cut. This is something beyond just the upper wheel tilt mechanism, but that is also included in the formula. I believe he pointed out that a lot of saws from the factory aren't set up properly to be planer. Mark describes how to make the adjustments, but on some saws, there may be no provision for moving the wheels in or out to allow the permanent alteration. If you are doing a lot of hand planing of curved sawn surfaces, having the wheels planer will make the cleaning up quite a bit easier with less wood removal required, and also better allow keeping your lines fair and as originally intended. It is worth checking out the book to get the best results from your saw. Saws can go out of adjustment as well, and running in a somewhat crude fashion is not uncommon it seems, especially saws that are used for a lot of wide blade resawing. Japanese band saws for some reason seem to be particularly prone to the lack of being planer set up for some reason. It could also be that people using them don't much consider the condition of the tires. I once had the impression that they are to a larger degree regarded as implements for resawing in the main, rather than tools for doing more delicate work requiring cleaner results. That likely may have somewhat changed in the minds of the manufacturers. A properly running band saw is a sweet thing, and one in a chair shop probably often gets a higher level of critique than one used in a carpenters shop. Since you do both, yours will probably be the best! Good luck with your new acquisitions, Chris, house included.

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  5. Dennis,

    thanks for chiming in and that is a good point in regards to the bandsaw wheels being aligned in plane - or capable of being aligned in plane - with one another. I would use the term 'coplanar' to describe that. Both Hitachi bandsaws have adjustment wheels for the tracking, which adjusts the tilt of the upper wheel in a vertical axis. Checking the wheel pair for coplanarity in the horizontal axis would be a little trickier. I should take a look at Duginske's book to see what he has to say. I do vaguely recall reading an article by him on that topic many years ago.

    ~C

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  6. We've got some old (mid 1970s) english Wadkin equipment in our workshop (bandsaw, jointer, thickness planer). That stuff is almost bullet-proof, with cast iron frames. Recommended if you can find them second-hand.

    As for table-saws, don't they all look more or less the same? We've got an Altendorf F45 ELMO in our shop, that is used daily. Very nice machine. But apart from the computer control it looks more or less like the Martin.

    At the machinery and jigs section of the "woodworking for engineers" website (http://woodgears.ca/) you can find all kinds of interesting woodworking machines built out of wood. I think his pantorouter and joint jigs are interesting.

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  7. Roland,

    I've been looking at Wadkin stuff here and there. Most machinery buffs seem to be of the opinion that their stuff was great until they became Wadkin Bursgreen in 1956 (a takeover of Sagar Bursgreen by Wadkin. I quite like their Pattern Maker's RS and RU lathes, and their PK table saw is definitely sweet looking. Parts though, for older machines, are a concern.

    Cast iron is not always the best solution to creating a resonance-free structure. Bells after all are made of cast metal. Martin's top of the line machines are of a concrete-steel hybrid construction, which dampens vibration much better than cast iron chassis. They pioneered that technology in 1925.

    As for "table saws more or less looking the same", that is true in the same way that a Ferrari F12berlinetta and a Hyundai Sonata are the same. Four wheels, body, engine, steering wheel, brakes - just the same, right? Obviously, the details and material qualities can vary tremendously. The older Altendorf saws I've seen had riveted-on phenolic strips for the sliding table to ride on, which is not the best way to engineer a durable mechanism.

    Most Martin saws are computer controlled - I believe they pioneered that technology with saws. Martin's standard line of machines are built to last and last. For example, their sliding table lip is completely replaceable. You won't find that on an Alterndorf. Martin was the first company to develop a sliding saw with a tiltable sawblade, and the first to use Tersa cutterheads in 1985. I could go on, but I'm sure you could read all that at Martin's site if you chose to.

    I like companies that have a culture of innovation, are invested in their communities and their workers, and are driven to produce quality products. That describes a relative minority of companies, but Martin is one of them. It is the type of model I want to emulate with my business.

    Thanks for the link - I'll check it out.

    ~C

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  8. Reading Your blog has been really interesting, especially part of Japanese tools.
    But my experience says, that times when companies produced durable and good woodworking standard maschines are almost over.
    Therefore I do not understand why to change normal knives to Tersa ?
    For me it is important that I can make re-honing of knives, when they get dull, but not so dull that I have to take them out and give to sharpening shop.Tersa knives are like all todays things-when they get dull, You have to throw them away.
    Actually I am replacing Mascines in my hobby-shop at the moment to the older ones. For example: Robland saw (2003) was replaced to old Bäuerle (1970). Robland jointer(2003) was replaced to Kölle AH 50 (1983) etc.
    And I think I know the reason why they do not produce good Maschines any more. That is because structure of woodworking industry has changed towards to mass production, where standard Maschines have no place.
    So If You can find an old cast iron Maschine what is in good condition and little used, it is far more better/cheaper than todays sheet metal Maschines.
    But its just my opinion.
    Priit

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  9. Priit,


    great to hear from you! I generally agree with you that the production of durable and high quality woodworking machines is fading, and there are many reasons for that.

    Why Tersa, or similar insert knife systems? There are several reasons. First of all, I hear you in regards to the 'disposable' nature of the tooling, which on first glance repels me too. However, steel is completely recyclable. The advantages to insert knife systems are completely reliable positioning of the knife in the cutterhead each and every time, in the 'reference' cutterhead circle. There is no need to spend 30~45 minutes carefully setting the knives, dealing with gib screws which cause the position of the knife to squirm slightly when tightened, double checks that each knife is projecting evenly across the cutterhead, and taking such steps as jointing the knives with a sharpening stone to get them perfect. No need to check knife height to outfeet table and adjust the table if required. Tersa can be swapped out in less than 2 minutes. The knives are double sided, available in several materials including carbide, HSS and M42. If you have some grubby wood to plane and worry about nicking a knife, an old set of knives can quickly be swapped in and rough planing done, then the good knives swapped back in to work on the clean material.

    While I like the self-sufficient aspect of changing out my own knives, I actually prefer woodworking to fiddling around with machines, and after having changed knives for the umpteenth time, the ritual becomes less interesting.

    And cost-wise, when factoring in downtime, transport, and commercial sharpening charges, the Tersa knives are actually reasonable in cost.

    You wrote,

    "And I think I know the reason why they do not produce good Maschines any more. That is because structure of woodworking industry has changed towards to mass production, where standard Maschines have no place."

    Well, I agree that mass production has its negative consequences. Mass production has been a part of the woodworking culture for as long as there has been mass production, and remember that the high quality machines you mention were themselves made in a factory production setting - like the Bäuerle and Kölle machines your recently acquired. There are new machines made in Germany every bit as good, by Hofmann and Martin, etc. And they are very expensive. New Northfield machines made in the US (the last old time manufacturer standing in the US are also quite expensive and haven't changed appreciably in 60 years.

    More to the point, I believe, is that the nature of mass-produced furniture is that is requires materials that are entirely predictable, and thus particle board, veneer and plywood are the usual materials, and the equipment to process them quite different than 30~40 years ago, or 100 years ago. Thus, those large companies which invest in production equipment are looking to buy programmable Martin sliding saws, huge multi-head point-to-point CNC machines, 4- and 6-head moulders, large sanding machines, glue presses, edgebanders, etc. It's no wonder that the market for 20" jointers and other traditional machines has dried up a bit, and the companies that manufacture them having a hard time selling product. But it is good news for those of us working solid wood as there are lots of high quality industrial used machines on the market!

    ~C

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  10. Hi Chris,
    Your piece about the Hitachi CB100 resaw and buying its little brother, the CB 75 was interesting. I have the opportunuty to buy a CB100 but I'm not sure it's the right machine. The 24" size is just what I'm looking for but I want to be able to run smaller blades on it in addition to the resaw blades. You mentioned that it cannot run smaller blades but the CB75 can. Why is that? I see that there is very little or no camber on the wheels so I expect that's the reason, but confirmation of that would be great.
    I have a big 30" JA Fay that I'd love to keep but it's too tall to fit in my new shop. Thus my search for a smaller 24".
    Can the CB100 be modified somehow to run smaller blades?
    Thanks
    Brian Ulrich

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    1. Brian,

      thanks for your question. The CB100 can only accept the stock size blade. As you mentioned, the wheel has no camber, and no rubber tire, so a narrower blade can not be fitted. Additionally, there are no smaller guides available for a smaller blade, though something could be fabricated I'm sure. The bigger problem are the wheels without tires.

      I've been very satisfied with the approach of having both Hitachi bandsaws. I ran the 100 all day today ripping stock, and then use the 75 here and there for curved work. Of course, you need to have the room for two machines, and there are single machines that can accept a wider range of blades.

      ~C

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  11. Hi, Chris,

    Like Brian, I enjoyed your writing about the CB75F and CB100FA. In fact, I just lucked into a B-600A, forerunner to the CB75F, and have been using a 1/2" blade with much satisfaction. At the same time, I've been wondering what I will do if and when the tires ever wear out. On that point, I'm wondering if you had any luck finding tires for the saw. I'm also curious about de-tensioning the saw between uses. I do that because nearly every source says to do so to avoid warped tires, wheels, or spindles. However, the B-600A manual says nothing about that, and I think the CB75 manual is silent on that, too. So, my question is: do you relieve tension on the blade between periods of use, or are the B-600A and CB75F saws overbuilt enough to withstand constant tension? Thanks for your time!

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  12. B. Meister,

    thanks for your comment and congratulations on your purchase. So far, no need to buy tires so I haven't gone down that alley. The tires aren't listed as a separate item in the Hitachi parts breakdown, so it would appear that either one would buy new wheels altogether or would have to send the wheels out to a company that repairs such things. Mine are in good shape so it will be a while for me before I have to investigate further.

    As to de-tensioning the saw between use, it's not something I do and i think you are right that the frames and bearings, etc., are sufficiently stout that it is not required. That said, if I put a bandsaw in storage or do not anticipate using it for a while, I would de-tension. I use both of my Hitachi bandsaws daily and have not observed any issues from leaving them set at operating tension. Japanese manuals are usually a bit over the top in regards to warnings about what to do and not do, so I think that since the manual makes no mention of blade de-tensioning, it is fine to leave them set.

    ~C

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