Combination machines.

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Well, reread with the following considerations: 1) Factor in Charlie's close: "(babble mode now being set to OFF)" and recognize that this meant it was on during the writing of the post. 2) Don't read it expecting to learn anything about combination machines or US vs. European approaches to woodworking (except some broad "philosophy of life" generalizations) 3) Don't get thrown off by the early paragraph that indicates that something about the steps or machines used in stock preparation may be following. With that framework, you will find a quite lucid characterization of woodworkers, particularly hobbyists. (Why do so many call us "hobbiests"?) I certainly recognized others I know in person or from postings here, as well as myself both now and at various stages of my involvement in the hobby.
Nice job, Charlie (even if a bit babbly<g>).
--
Alex -- Replace "nospam" with "mail" to reply by email. Checked infrequently.

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I fully understood everything that you say, but as I was reading it I thinking that there was going to be a great point at end but it just kind of pooped out.
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The Point We often expect too much of our tools and not enough of ourselves.
As for details about stock prep http://home.comcast.net/~charliebcz/StockPrep1.html
charlie b
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Thanks Charlie
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And great horizontal boring machine.

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I have done a little research and have emailed back and forth with a few owners of these machines and have decided to pick up a used Robland x31. I have been watching them on ebay for the last 6 months and they are selling for $2500.00 - $4000.00. The X31's sell for just under $7,000 new. There is a Rojek available here in Arizona. It is the second from the bottom as far as size goes for them. It sold new for $12,000.00. the guy is asking for $8,000.00 but it is too big for a garage workshop. I think the foot print on that rojek is 7'X7'. It is quite impressive!
Most of the manufacturers have mobility kits available and on some of these machines like the rojek you can use a pallet jack to move it around.
There is not much fiddling between machine changes on these machines.
AZCRAIG
www.vintagetrailersforsale.com

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cm wrote:

When people hear the term "combination machine" they typically think of a ShopSmith type of machine. As someone in this thread noted, there are other, far more capable and far easier to use, combination machines- Rojek, Robland, Mini-Max, Hammer and Felder, to name those of which I am aware (grammarians: are you happy now?). These ARE NOT ShopSmith type machines. These are half ton or better, cast iron and spinning carbide and/or high speed steel, 3 to 5 Real Horsepowered WOOD EATING, CHIP FLYING, NOISE MAKING, FINGER CUTTNG - MAN TOOLS! OHOH-HO-HO!
(Sorry, slipped into Tim Allen Mode. Won't happen again. Sorry)
These combies, as we owners refer to them, typcially come with five functions - table saw with sliding table, shaper, jointer, planer AND horizontal boring/mortising with an XYZ table and three, count 'em, three true 3 o 5 hp motors - one for the saw, one for the shaper and one for the jointer/planer/mortiser. So the three functions needed to get stock flat, with parallel flat faces, straight flat edges square to the face - a jointer/joiner, planer and rip saw, are taken care of in one, easily moved/rotated machine. Having a 3 hp shaper that'll handle an inch and a quarter bore and can use the sliding table is gravy. Add the ability to make 4" deep mortises and you've got a machine that opens up a lot of possibilities. And having a machine that weighs in at a bit over half a ton means stability. On my 1100 pound X31, I can set a dime up on edge paralleling the saw blade, an another on edge square to the blade - then rip a 1 3/4" thick piece of maple without having either dime move, let alone fall over. Yet, when I want to move the unit I get out the moving handle bar with the wheel on its end, rasise the front so the two rear wheels will roll and push, pull or turn the machine as needed.
Of course, since these are Euro in origin, some of the functions the U.S. market permits are forbidden by the Euro equivalent of OSHA - no blind cuts so no need to accomodate dado blades, nor a need for fine blade height adjustments. And then there's the "manuals" which, originally written in German or Italian or Czech, translated into Aramaic, then Latin, through Sanskrit and finally into "english" may be, shall we say - less than helpful to a new owner. Fortunately there are owners groups on the internet for each of these machines with helpful, knowledgeable members. That's essential because you're not likely to have friend or neighbor with a unt like yours, whereas finding a local to help with a Unisaw or PM66 is not a problem.
I own, and actually use, a Robland X-31. Laguna Tools is the sole source for them in the USA. It's also towards the bottom end of LT's products line - selling new for "only" about $7K, while their production shop stuff start in the $25-30K range and head up steeply from there. As a result, their customer support is - let's just say "less than stellar". I made a day trip from Paris to Brugge for a by appointment only visit to the Robland factory to see how they set up the X-31. When I returned home, with my copius notes and plenty of digital images, I put together my own set up manual, then put it on my WWing site to perhaps help other X31 owners.
http://home.comcast.net/~charliebcz/X31SetUpInstructions/X31SetUpInstructions0.html
And set up with a combi is a bit trickier than with separate dedicated machines - lots of interdependent things to deal with. But, like any tool set up, if you understand not only what to do and how, but also why - well it isn't all that traumatic. BUT - if you're one to jump in anywhere and start "adjusting" things you will learn to cuss - in Dutch/ Flemish/ German/ French and maybe Farsi.
When you use a combi you're way of working changes a bit, more planning stock prep operations - joint everything, then plane everything, then rip everything and finally rip and cross cut (you can do cross cutting AND mitering with the sliding table and cross cut fence - with flip stop.
And there are parts that aren't normally left on the machine - the shaper shroud and fences, the XYZ table and the cross cut fence, along with their mounting hardware, handles etc. The XYZ table probably weighs 60 or 70 pounds and won't stand up by itself when not on the machine. So you'll probably want to make one of these to hold stuff and make it easier to get the XYZ table on and off the combi.
http://home.comcast.net/~charliebcz/X31Cart.html
As hobbiests/amateurs, we're constantly having to reconcile "ideal" with "real" - finite shop space vs the footprints (and "wood alleys) of the 'essential tools'.
Look at this shop 16x22 shop layout and figure out how you could work in a cabinet saw with a 52" cross cut capability, a shaper, with sliding table, a 12" planer AND a 12" Jointer. The see if you can fit a horizontal boring/mortising machine - with XYZ table into the space.
http://home.comcast.net/~charliebcz/ShopRightSideMap.html
Used X31 can be had for $2-3K. Try finding the equivalent five functions - used - for that kind of money.
Here's the url for the Robland X-31 group. Yahoo also has one for Felder and, I think, Mini-Max. Sign up and ask your questions of owners. Or, if you have questions about the Robland X31 feel free to e-mail me - my address is real - unlike many here.
charlie b
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Overall I thought that you did an excellent job of outlining the combo machine market. One very small thing, you can now get high-end combo machines with dado capabilities. I know that Mini-Max and Felder have it and I thought that Robland was adding it.
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Frank Drackman wrote:

The USA market Robland X31 definitely does let you use a dado blade. But it doesn't have a wheel driven blade height adjustment mechanism, but rather a lever to raise and lower the blade and a twist of the lever handle to lock it in position or to allow it to move. Brian Lamb, a former Robland owner who made enough money with it to upgrade to the top of the combi market food chain - a loaded Felder - came up with a mechanism that kept the quick rough height setting AND fine height adjustment of the saw blade.
http://home.comcast.net/~charliebcz/HeightAdjInstall.html
Brian works from his wheel chair and finds having a sliding table quite handy. Being a really good woodworker doesn't hurt either.
charlie b
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I read all of Brian's posts on the Felder forum. He knows a lot and makes great stuff.
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Damn you charlie b, I need to wait until May or June to purchase my x31 and you just made the wait harder to take. he he he!
Craig

http://home.comcast.net/~charliebcz/X31SetUpInstructions/X31SetUpInstructions0.html
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charlie b wrote:

[snipped excellent post for brevity's sake]
Nicely done, Mr. b. It was precisely that kind of response I was hoping for. I never had the Shopsmith in mind when I asked for input on combis. I find this very informative, but one thing escapes me... how does one work one of these with more than one man working at the same time?...like one does some shaping, the other does some ripping?
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I have never seen anyone try to use two functions at a time.
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Frank Drackman wrote:

Think schizophrenic.
If you have enough shop space to share with another woodworker, or have an apprentice - get two combination machines?
For the guy waiting for his X31, I paid for mine and had to delay delivery so I could - empty what was to be The Shop - make a shelter for the stuff that I couldn't put up in the rafters - skin the inside walls with 3/4" ply and OSB - paint them Navajo White (could've gone with Autumn Wheat - it's the same shade of white, but it didn't sound 'manly'. I wish they'd make Apache or Comanche White) - get the surface mounted electrical done - epoxy paint the floor - hang fluorescent lights : : :
THAT took close to six months (it took almost two weeks just to find an electrician who could get to me in less than three months, and I had to wait a month for him to come out and do the work.)
So while you're waiting for your X31, order a Table Saw Aligner Jr. Deluxe and a Lee Valley 4 foot straight edge - the nice anodized alumninum one with the 1/4" this bottom so it'll stand up by itself, hit the auto parts store and pick up a metric socket set and metric allen wrench set. Then find a bicycle shop and get a pair of 10 mm and 17mm flat wrenches - get Parks versions if you can, even if they have to order them. You're going to need them - trust me.
Fortunately, like child birth, once you have your X31 set up and running, you'll forget all about the "discomfort" (for some reason, the medical professions' vocabulary does not include the words "pain" or "hurt".)
Oh, and if this is your first "heavy iron", it's normal to have the hair on the back of your neck stand up when you hear that 10" carbide tipped, three pound toothed disk of steel spin up to speed. WE'll discuss the Pucker Meter Scale later.
Enjoy - and join the Robland X-31 group if you haven't already.
charlie b
BTW - The Laguna Guy in the video/ DVD is Torben, the owner and president of Laguna Tools. A Scandinavian, he came to southern California for college, discovered surfing and built a business so he could stay here.
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maybe one guy does ripping and shaping, the other guy assists and assembles or something?
Or, you could get multiple combo machines.. *lol*
I think if it's more that one person working in the shop, it's probably a business, not a hobby... Wouldn't business needs dictate that "time is money" and require space and funds for separate machines for common tasks?? Mac https://home.comcast.net/~mac.davis/wood_stuff.htm
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On the contrary. As you mention, proper planning makes stock preparation easy through a sequence of machine operations. A shop working to dimension and plans can do this kind of work on a single machine with various setups easily. I really appreciate having a catcher/piler/gofer available, even if she's not capable of catching me in a dumb mistake, and I seldom make all the pieces in advance.
I leave the planer thickness set for the last pass, the saw fence for the final rip, the miter gage to the last angle, and the jointer for the trimming depth all the time. Mortising machine and drill press are usually jigged and sitting the same. Easy to walk back and make the spoiled piece over again if needed.
That's the joy of separate machines, you reset as you clean up for the next project.
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I use a robland X31 its a great machine have a lok at mine here http://www.connoraston.com/workshop.asp sometimes I wish I had seperate machine but the extra space could be a problem and it is only 10 to 15 seconds to lift the odd fench off to use one of the other functions. There is a great Yahoo user group seach for x31 at yahoo groups. I really like the robland (I think laguna tools do it in the US) 12" planer and 10" saw work very well and the mortice attachment on the side is very sturdy.

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