First Impressions on Planer/Thicknesser

Thought I would share my first impressions of the 10" combination planer /thicknesser I purchased recently.
My first requirement was for a thicknesser to dress boards that were produced from re-sawing 7 1/2" x 2" pine planks. ( still have about 50.) This would give me two 7 1/2" x 7/8 boards or three 1/2" x 7 1/2". (Approx) Secondly, I have limited space in the workshop, - about 500 sq. ft. - and wanted a small machine footprint. Thirdly, my usage would be minimal and intermittent, so I didn't want to spend any more than necessary to achieve the above.
I opted for a Chinese manufactured dual purpose machine with a three blade cutterhead and serrated steel feed roller, purchased from a local machinery outlet with a good reputation. Cost: AUD$1300, with three years warranty. Delivered promptly, craned off the back of the truck on to a mobile base I'd made for the purpose and wheeled into the workshop.
Read the assembly instructions, all required parts were there. The assembly/operating instructions were written in good clear English, however, they lacked sufficient detail in my opinion. Spent the first part of the day checking capscrews and fittings, found a couple that needed tightening.
On checking table alignments, I found both the top infeed and outfeed tables were slightly off alignment with the cutterhead and they were not precisely co-planar. Adjustment was simple, and I cycled the height adjustment for both infeed and outfeed several times and found the integrity of the alignment was maintained. Everything else seemed fine.
Hooked up the dust collection and selected a piece of 3" x 3" with a significant bow to try on the jointer. Worked perfectly. Four passes on the jointer on the concave side and the bow was gone. No sign of taper. Then flipped the jointer tables away, turned the extractor hood over and set up for thickness planing. Four passes removed the convex. The feed rate seemed well matched to the cutter. Ran a few other different sized pieces through, with excellent results each time.
Finish was far better than I had anticipated. No snipe at all. Noise level was far less than I had thought it would be. Chip extraction worked well. Jointer fence is adequate, but nothing to write home about.
Conversion from jointer to thicknesser mode, or the reverse, takes less than 15 seconds. The tables are secured by simple and effective cam locks. Table rise and fall seems precise, with no movement from set position.
So far, I am well pleased.
Tomorrow, I will remove the side covers and check out the integrity of the chains, sprockets and bearings. - now, having said I'm happy with the machine, sod's law dictates that I'll find a sprocket starting to chew out or some other disaster. : )
Pics on web page.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/32473839@N02
diggerop
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Took the covers off the base this morning. (Pics added.)
Chains, sprockets, bearings and pulleys were all secure. Alignment was good, no runout evident in sprockets or pulleys. Shaft keys secure. There is a large wheel in the centre, which has a rubber coated circumference. Operating the lever to engage the feed brings this rubber surface into contact with the rotating cutter shaft, thus driving the feed rollers. Simple and effective.
Chain and sprocket size seems a bit light to me. Also, not keen on the minimal amount of chain contact on the outfeed roller sprocket (approx 25%). Chain contact with this sprocket is maintained with a sealed roller bearing on a spring loaded arm. As a result, the chain is as tight as a drum. Definitely didn't like that, so I modified it by drilling another hole in the arm approx 50% of the distance from the fulcrum as compared to the original. It's far better than it was, but still not how I would like to see a chain run. My experience with chains has been that when aligned, lubricated and properly adjusted, with slight movement at the centre of the longest span, they will last thousands of hours. I'll likely modify the spring system to an adjustable rod when the warranty runs out in three years time.
Another modification would be to hinge the base cover so that I could easily access the drive area for maintenance. Presently it requires the removal of six self- tapping screws.
One potential problem, is what might happen in the event of a feed roller jam. I think it's likely that the cutter shaft will spin against the rubber on the feed drive and damage it. Or, that the lightweight chain will fail. (Or both.) I'd rather not find out, but sod's law says I will one day. : )
Based on my very limited use so far, coupled with what I have seen on inspection, I'm more than happy with my purchase. It suits my back yard hobby usage and the price is right. However, if I were earning a living from carpentry, I'd definitely be looking for something far more robust.
diggerop
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.