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.
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.