Combination machines.

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I don't see much discussion about combination machines. Like Felder etc. Is it because the the hefty prices or, are there other reasons we don't like them?
They make some sense to me. Retirement is highly overrated.
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Robatoy wrote:

No way you are at retirement age if you know who Rael, The IAK is. Uh uh. Nope. Unless you are the coolest hipster on the continent.
As far as the equipement goes, the only thing I can say is that they are monstorously heavy, and they require a good amount of floor space around the machine. Probably all in all no more than the sq ft needed for all the stand alone machines, but still it seems like a lot due to the hub type approach. My garage shop buddies roll their big machines around as needed; not so with one of these beasts.
There was a doctor here in town that had a Rojek for sale.... forever. It was a battleship. It weighed in at something like 1600 pounds and had a three phase 4hp motor on it. Additional circuits were needed to complete the installation. According to him, it did everything well, but it was more machine than he needed and he could never easily move it out of the way for any reason to use his shop for anything else.
It cost a fortune, and he sold it pretty cheap compared to what he paid for it as he finally got tired of waiting for someone to buy it. It was rumored that he paid something like $6000 for it delivered to the door a few years ago. One of my amigos at Wood Craft that sets up their demo machines helped the doc get it set up and while he wasn't overly impressed with the amount of polish on the metal surfaces, he was blown away by how well everything fit and worked together. He said it was like a giant watch.
I think too that it is a question of bragging rights. Not much gloating in telling your buddies or posting here "well, it finally came. I got the Hammer B3 sitting in the shop (or the Rojek for that matter) waiting for the first project". I think the reply would be, "what the hell is that?"
Lots more fun to talk about the new Powermatic or Unisaw, or an old piece of iron. It is hard to connect to the woodworking ancients when your friends cannot pronounce the name of your new machine correctly.
You might check this out for a more informed look: http://tinyurl.com/a2at4
Robert
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They are for shops where most of the work, other than stock preparation, is done by hand. Changes and tweaks eat time.
Retirement's great. Ever consider getting a hobby?
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I don't think that hand work has anything to do with it.. I think that for most people it comes down to maximizing shop space. Getting a 12" sliding table saw, shaper, 12" jointer, 12" planer, and tenoning machine into a shop with separate components takes a lot of room. Combining them into a single machine saves a lot of space.
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I do. I can make that one extra mortise easily, take an extra pass with jointer or planer, etc without a problem with dedicated power tools. Not to mention I can have a couple projects going without trouble.
They're great at single-man stock preparation, as I said. After that - nope.
BTW, my shop's 13x18 (and out the door), and I learned how not to waste central space with machine wings and sliding tables and such, so I have a good set of dedicated tools on caster-mounted cabinets. I am thinking of moving the lumber storage out to gain some more floor space for a thickness sander, though.
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I am completely confused. Your original statement said that combo machines were good for shops where most of the work was done by hand. Now you are saying that they great for a one man shop, which I totally agree with. I don't see how the two are related.
I also agree that the problem with combo machine is that it is a pain to go back and make one more of an item.
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Frank Drackman wrote:

If, by "an item", you mean a part of the piece you're working on - it's gonna be a pain to go back and make one more even if you have a dedicated cabinet saw, jointer and planer. You still have to join the face and one edge of some stock, and on most combi machines you've got a 12" wide joiner, not 6" or 8".
And even if you left the planer set to the final thickness of the part you're remaking, you're going to have to change that setting if you're raw stock is 1/16th or more too thicker than you need - unless your knives are really sharp or you don't mind a little tear out AND your planer has enough ooomph to take off 1/16th of an inch in one pass (The X31 can take 1/4" off in one pass - in oak, but it isn't advisable) Unless the part you need to make another one of (to hell with proper grammar) is the last one your ripped you'd still have to reset the rip fence.
And if you had to use the shaper to make the part and you didn't make up an extra length of stock as insurance. . . Shapers are trickier to use than router tables.
And let's get real about it - saw tables and joiner tables are often partially, or totally covered with "stuff" so you have to find a place on which to move it but there isn't any space to move it to and that's why it's on the saw table or joiner tables in the first place.
The "You have to move EVERYTHING in order to move ANYTHING" seems to be one of those universal truths in a small shop and a much bigger PITA than any combi "problem".
My experience is that it's the length of matching parts that's usually the most critical. Even with a 6' long infeed table, a four foot long outfeed table and TWO flip stops on my SCMS, a dedicated machine BTW, I sometimes have to shorten all matching length parts if I have to remake one of a set. That's the only way I know of to insure that all parts that are supposed to be the same length in fact are - exactly. (I also find that "loose tenon" joinery frequently makes life simpler - no "and don't forget to add in the teneon lengths" opportunity for error)
To reduce the need to remake parts, I've found that making a spare or two of critical parts when making up parts is a good idea. But then I don't make up ALL the parts for a piece first, then assemble them. For me, it's an evolutionary process. Make the key components, do the joinery to hold them together and dry fit. Measure the next parts off what I have so far - using "slip sticks" and a clothes pin or two - and use the slip sticks to set my SCMS. No misreading a pocket tape measuring off the piece, no misreading a tape when setting the stop for cutting to length. Two more potential screw ups eliminated.
To do woodworking well, and have fun doing it, you have to develop methods of work that work for you. Being methodical and finding the methods to do it with is a major part of making "stuff" - the learning curve. The old apprenticeship program taught the tried and true methods. We hobbiests/amateurs have to discover and use them however we can.
So back to combination machines - if you're methodical and plan your work flow, their advantages far outweigh their disadvantages - especially in limited shop space. AND having just one power cord for the equivalent of five machines is pretty nice.
charlie b (the sometimes incoherent)
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Wow Charlie the combo machine thread has brought out the writer in you! Like you, I have used both and now I am using a Mini Max CU 300 Smart. My current shop is much smaller than my last so I made the switch to a combo machine. After using both there are things about both systems that I like and things that I hate.
I love having a real sliding table and scoring blade. I hate that the rip fence is a toy compared to my old Biesmeyer.
I love having a 12" jointer. I hate that the jointer fence is a toy compared to the fence on my old DJ20.
I LOVE the Tersa cutterhead. I hate that the jointer tables are much shorter than the tables on my old DJ20.
I love that I have room to assemble projects in my small shop because of the combo machine. I hate that I have to remove the rip fence to plane a board.
If I had the space I would add a traditional table saw with a quality rip fence. In two years I have not been able to get the MiniMax rip fence to be accurate with the scale. I have to use a tape measure to set the fence before a rip cut. I don't have the room so I am investigating adding a Inca fence for accurate ripping.
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Charlie.. some very good points, indeed... My 20+ years with a shopsmith before having room/funds for stand alone machines MADE me get in the habit of planing a project step by step and double-checking at the end of each step to make sure I hadn't forgotten to trim one piece or something... With some advance thought (which I'll admit that I don't do enough of now), you really don't mind the few minutes it takes to change to the next setup... it's usually faster than going to another machine, clearing the debris off of it, and setting it up.. *g*

Mac https://home.comcast.net/~mac.davis/wood_stuff.htm
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Combination machines are like Swiss army knives; they do a lot of things, but none of them well. My Dad started out with a Shopsmith. As he got tired of making the adjustments to convert from one operation to another, a real shop grew up around it. It now sits as a pretty much dedicated disc sander. Bugs
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Think bigger like Knapp or Laguna. I think they probably do every thing well. :~) IIRC 80% of the time each portion of the machine works with out disturbing other machine adjustments.
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That is a pretty silly statement. There are really high-end combo machines that do everything really well. Checkout the MiniMax and Felder machines and then make an informed decision.
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I reiterate, they are fine if you have the time to convert them for every stage of a project. The 'high end' machines you discussed still have to be converted and adjusted for a different operation no matter how well they work. Bugs
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For the most part changing from a TS to planer to mortiser involves selecting a power switch much like turning on a machine. or Changing from a jointer to mortiser to TS only involves selecting a power switch also much like turning on a machine.
So NO, in most cases the high end machines can change to different operations almost instantly with out loosing settings.
Now if you want to go from jointer to planer you do have that 15 second change over but still no loss of adjustments.
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Your statements are not true for the MiniMax machines that I have used & currently own. I have to remove the rip fence to joint or plane. I have to switch the height setting to go from planing to jointing. I can use the sliding table with the jointer fence on if the cutoff isn't too wide.
To me it isn't the time that is the problem, it is losing the settings. I have tried everything to get repeatability, like counting the exact revolutions of the height setting wheel of the planer, but have had very limited success.
What combo machines have you used that allow you to retain settings?
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I am picturing the Laguna signature series by Knapp.
No lost settings.
I have not used but watched the video.

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That is a great feature for a combo machine. You probably can't tell from the video but it would be nice if it also had an accurate rip fence. The MiniMax machines have a horrible fence and the true believers always say that you just have switch to using the slider for ripping and find a way to index the wood parallel to the blade. I would rather that it shipped with a real rip fence.
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.

Well I am sure there will be times that the fence will have to come off. IIRC it mounts in 2 locations for wider rips. IIRC again the fence looks a lot like the Delta Unifence. It slides back for repeated cut offs. Check into getting their Demo DVD. I was really impressed when the owner of Laguna sat on the cross cut sled and pushed himself away from the machine with one finger to its limits. The video is incredable. Regular price for the base machine however will buy you a car. Almost $20K. But you can get it on sale now. LOL
http://www.lagunatools.com/sign_series.htm
To order the video,
http://www.lagunatools.com/info.htm
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Interesting thread about combination machines. It's an obvious lead into to an underlying topic U.S. vs Euro woodworker approaches to woodworking and their expectations.
As stated previously, I've got a Robland X-31 combi and I'm an American so I'm a Tweener - tween the U.S. ways of doing things and the Euro ways of doing things.
Let's compare stock preparation
- one face flat (joiner), - one edge flat, straight and square to the flat face (joiner) - second face flat and parallel to its opposite face (planer) - second edge flat, straight, square to the face and at the desired distance (width) from the opposite edge (table saw rip) - one end flat and square to both the faces and edges of the board (cross cut on table saw or chop saw or miter/mitre saw or compound miter saw or sliding compound miter/mitre saw) - second end same as first end BUT at the desired distance from the first end [length] (see above) - New hobbiests/amateurs probably don't do stock prep but go with "cut to length" and maybe "rip to width" because they're using primarily ply and store bought "kiln dried" boards.of the desired, or close to the desired, width. Only when they get beyondlag bolts, screws and biscuits and begin playing with traditional joinery does stock prep become an issue.
So let's talk about the approaches and expectations once one begins to get into some "real woodworking" - rabbets/ rebates,dadoes, half laps, splines, mortise and tenons, dovetails, half blind dovetails, triple miters/mitres, frame and panel,etc..
Proper stock prep is essential to making good traditional joinery for solid wood furniture making, or even box naking. You just can't make rectangular objects out of trapezoidal parts (ok - it is possible but you've got to be a really great woodworker to do it and if you are good enough to be able to do it you do it anyway)
So back to the differences in the approach and expectations thing.
Group "A" - The Instant Gratification Group
"I want to buy a machine or several machines that will allow me to make pieces that would otherwise require a lot more knowledge and skill than I have time to acquire or are willing to learn."
This huge and growing market that is being fed by clever marketing teams.
"With our Super Deluxe Blurfle, YOU can be making our patented Fantasmagoric Wonder Joinery System furniture - over the weekend! NO adjustments necessary, perfect and effortless heirloom quality furniture making right out of the box. Just follow our simple, step my step instructions and you'll have a house full of heirloom quality furniture in no time! AND if you act NOW, we'll even GIVE you our Space Age material, precision Drill Gauge!"
This is the instant gratification "microwave" thing - a delicious six course gourmet meal - in minutes! ( Wine not included, void where prohibited, consult your state attorney general's office for details. Batteries not included , side affects may include nausea, head ache, cavities, neuritis, neuralgia and flatulance - consult your doctor if an errection lasts longer than four hours.
Offer good for only as long as we can make money offering it).
This group wants a "cabinet saw" with a "precision fence" that lets you set it for 16 and 63/128th of an inch and rip a board that's EXACTLY 16 and 63/128th of an inch - preferably with digitalread out but a maginifying, vernier window which compensates for parallax and micro-adjust- ment fence positioning will be acceptable. AND if it's motorized AND remote controlled! No test cuts or calibration if you buy the expensive machines- right?
Of course this requirement also requires that you don't ever change saw blades - thin kerf/normal kerf, or teeth patterns and that you replace your dulling blade immediately - with exactly the same type of blade you calibrated your fence to (you did calibrate it right?)
This group tends to work from plans,either purchased or that they created themselves.
The novices in this group typically make ALL the parts, EXACTLY as the plans show and only THEN assembles them. This subgroup is identified by ground down teeth (gnashing your teeth a lot has consequences), furrowed brow (now why in hell is there this gap right here?) and is often surrounded by not quite square, not quite flat, not quite right PAINTED furniture which, for the most part, works OK.
The intermediate checks the plans more thoroughly, looking for gaps and errors and then makes ALL the parts, EXACTLY as the corrected plans show and THEN assembles them. This group is calmer, has a calculator that can work with fractions, a pocket protector with colored pens, a 0.5mm pencil and carry a small pad of paper with them at all times. The furniture they make is EXACTLY like the original the plans were made for - and looks EXACTLY like the ones done by all the other people who built their piece from this particular plan - assuming they checked for gaps and errors - and made the necessary corrections.
The advanced guy/gal may start with someone else's plans, goes through them looking for gaps and errors, modifies them to suit his or her personal preferences - or does his or her own, thorough and detailed plans, and then starts to make the parts, in phases / assemblies - building as he/she goes. Along the way things often get modified to make the final piece more personal. EXACT dimensions aren't so critical - as long as all the parts that MUST be the same size ARE the same size. If the final piece is an eighth of an inch taller or wider or deeper - it don't matter.
These folks have a cabinet saw with 52" cross cut fence - that locks both fore and aft, an 8" wide joiner with three foot or longer tables, probably a 20" planer AND an18/36 drum sander. You'll probably also find a LEIGH DT jig, a LEIGH FMT "device"with ALL the bits, guides etc. , a router table with a precison fence and precision router rasiier/ lowerer and a 12" sliding compound miter/ mitre saw with six foot long tables and multiple flip stops.
Members of this group will be quick to point out ALL the mistakes in each piece of furniture they've made
Group "B" The Mechanically Inclined/ Close Enough Group
"What do I NEED to make the furniture I WANT to make? I'm pretty good at figuring things out and I enjoy the 'making' part of the hobby/addiction more than having and using the pieces I make."
This group is identified by the fact that they own, or as part of their initial purchase of tools and equiptment include, some basic set up tools - a pseudo machinist straight edge, square, dial gauge and a feeler gague set. They probably already had a metric and/or imperial socket set, set of allen wrenches and box/open end set of wrenches.
The novice in this group uses a hand held circular saw and maybe a chop saw, a hand drill and dowels to make garage benches and shelves out of some wood left behind by the previous owner of his house, or from pallet wood he scrounges. He doesn't care what the final piece looks like, it just needs to do its job. Often it will not only do its job, but probably could support a car or small truck. Shims fix any wobbles.
The intermediate may find a set of plans to study, not to build from and will spend time looking at and understanding the joinery and the structural concepts used. The book he/she buys on joinery will no doubt stress the importance of proper stock preparation, layout and marking tools. If he/she is lucky, it will also have a stock marking sytem and stress the importance of using reference faces and reference edges and ends.
He/she will get a good table saw, perhaps a hybrid initially, a 4 or 6 inch joiner and a bench top planer, the former probably found in the newspaper or on line, maybe inherited from a woodworking relative. And there will also be some hand tools on the list of things to acquire - initially a block plane, some bench chisels and a dovetail saw, western back saw or japanese dozuki.
The intermediate's pieces may not be the most aesthetically pleasing to the eye, but every thing will fit together squarely. Parts that are exactly 1/2" or 3/4" thick will be rare, flat, square and straight - and of the same thickness is what's more important than a specific thickness. This is the genesis of the Close Enough approach, the importance of specific dimensions will, for the most part, diminish, replaced by the understanding that what's needed is to have ALL parts that are supposed to be the same length or width ACTUALLY BE THE SAME length or width.
The advanced "close enough" woodworker sketches ideas, does one he/she likes and goes and looks through his or her wood stash for stuff that go with his/her idea of the piece. A fare share of that wood stash will be rough cut wood with a wainy edge or two, perhaps even some bark.and thicknesses measured in "quarters" - four, six, eight and maybe even twelve "quarters".
More time will be spent selecting the wood than spent on any "plan" and a great deal of time will be spent doing the "rotate, flip, shuffle and slip" process for deciding what's going where so that the grain patterns in the finished piece go together nicely. This is NOT an "optimization, minimize waste" thing. If the desired piece of wood is in the middle of an 8 foot long, 12" wide board then that's what gets used. There will always be a future project that will use most of what's left.
And the machines and tools this person uses to make parts for pieces are old friends whose little quirks are familiar and accomodated for. If a "close enough" part is a little wide then a pass or two with a hand plane will take care of it.
This person's stuff will be crisp and clean and, at first glance, simple and unassuming. But if you think about it and look more thoroughly you'll notice that EVERYTHING goes together, not just the parts, but the proportions, the grain, the hardware and the finish - a whole, integrated piece rather than a few interesting components /elements held together by other "stuff".
Two approaches to woodworking, two sets of expectations. Me- I'm somewhat in the middle, being a self confessed tool phreak. In the U.S., there never seems to be "enough" time. The "time is money" thing spills over into time that has nothing to do with money. And so we get into buyig "time savers" and marketing folks exploit our "need for more time". Europeans and Latin Americans see time as just time - time for work, time for family and friends and time to play. You'll find few Europeans or "latins" who brag about regularly putting in 50 and 60 hours a week at "work".
Life is not a race to the finish line - the finish line is death.. Take your time, develop some skills and appreciation of things - and enjoy the trip - it's a one- way ticket. The stuff you make are just post cards of the journey.
(babble mode now being set to OFF)
charlie b
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Charlie I read every word of your post and have no idea what the point is.
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