Wixey Digital Readout For Planer


I just finished installing and testing the new Wixey Electronic Digital Readout on my Dewalt 735 planer. I bought it from Rockler on sale for about $50, regularly $60. I read about it on the Wixey website, http://www.wixey.com/planer/index.html and knew it's limitations. I really like the planer but I wanted a little more precision than the analog gauge that came on the planer. The Wixey readout has a resolution of .005" and also read in 1/32" at the appropriate decimal points. The fractions didn't mean that much to me but that's a feature it came with. It claims an accuracy of .002". Installation took some guess work since the installation instructions are vague but it wasn't too hard to figure out. The instructions require the drilling of two holes in the Dewalt gauge to mount the frame for the digital readout. Instead I removed the factory gauge and replaced it with a piece of 1/8" steel bent and drilled to match the Dewalt unit. It was easy and the digital readout mounted easily. So far so good, right? But that's where the good ended. It came with one battery installed and an extra in a blister pack. The installed battery was dead so I installed the new one. Unfortunately, there's plenty of play in the unit and it's not because of any installation error. There's a sliding scale that slides up and down in the mounting frame as you raise and lower the head of the planer. The scale also slides through the electronic readout box. The scale has room for about an 1/8" of side to side play in the mounting frame and as I wiggle it the electronic readout will change about .005". This same sliding scale is used to measure the thickness of a piece of wood. Hard to describe but if you look at the website you'll see what I mean. Calibrating the unit is very simple with no real room for error. Unfortunately, after running numerous test pieces through the planer, changing the settings and testing for repeatability it usually shows about 1/64" in variance. Usually it was under by about 1/64" but not every time. 1/64" equals about .015". That doesn't work for the projects I make. The reason I bought this was so that I could get some easy repeatability with my planer when I wanted another piece of wood the same thickness as another even after changing the height of the planer. I guess I should've realized that with a resolution of .005" it couldn't possibly be any more repeatable than to within .005". Duh. But it's not even that accurate. I measure the same piece of wood several times and I get a reading that will vary by .005" as I slide the scale up and down on the piece. I will talk to the tech at Rockler Monday morning but I can't imagine what he will tell me other than the unit has room for slop. I think I'll be returning it. At least with the factory analog scale, if I turn the wheel .002" or so I can see the scale move. I may have to go back to splitting lines but it's better than just guessing between .005" and ignoring the inaccuracy. The factory scale may not be very precise but at least it's accurate. Bottom line, it may be good for some people but not if you're concerned about being off by 1/64" or if you don't mind creeping up on the thickness and checking it with your dial calipers. I can do that for $50 less. Anyone else have this unit? I did an archive search and didn't get any hits.
Bruce
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On 21 Oct 2005 17:27:30 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@charter.net wrote:
... snip

Bruce,
    Thanks for the review; I've been weighing getting something like this, your review was quite helpful, guess I'll look elsewhere.
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There are a couple of ways to do this without buying somthing like this. The easyest is to put a graduated dial around the hieght adjustment shaft. Another would be to mount a dial indicator with adjustable stop. Bothe require a test cut for calibration but once done, you can dial in what you want.
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Yep, those are a couple of other possible approaches I have been considering. Even went so far as to get a cheap dial caliper with the intent of modifying it by drilling some attachment holes and devising some sort of attachment method to the adjustment column. I have a an older Delta (13" cast iron planer), so I'm looking at how to make the attachments and allow for calibration.
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This works pretty well. My Delta has a weird thread that changes height by 5/32" per rev of the crank, which makes it difficult to creep up on a final dimension, and the built in gauge just is not precise. I used a CAD program to lay out a small dial with .01" and 1/64" increments, printed it out, glued it to a piece of cereal box, and put it on the shaft. I used a marker to place an index line on the crank. As I plane down close to my desired thickness, I measure a board with a dial caliper, zero the gauge to my index mark, and rotate the crank the necessary extra amount. Increments of .001" would be easy enough to add, but I seem to do well enough estimating between the .01" marks.
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I googledg for 12in digital calipers, found one for under $50
Use a few Lee Valley magnets and the anti-skid pads and it works like a champ on my Woodmaster. Had to use a few steel washers as spacers to get things lined up, and I definitely don't have any slop
John
On Fri, 21 Oct 2005 20:10:59 -0700, Mark & Juanita

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The magnets are "Rare Earth type" and the anti-skid pads are sand paper? Could describe your setup in a little more detail or maybe send me a pic or two? I think I'm going to use a dial caliper but I haven't started to try to hook one up yet. Thanks.
Bruce
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