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
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.
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.
When people hear the term "combination machine" they typically think
of a ShopSmith type of machine. As someone in this thread noted,
are other, far more capable and far easier to use, combination
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Brian works from his wheel chair and finds having
a sliding table quite handy. Being a really good woodworker
doesn't hurt either.
[snipped excellent post for brevity's sake]
Nicely done, Mr. b. It was precisely that kind of response I was hoping
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?
If you have enough shop space to share with another
woodworker, or have an apprentice - get two
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
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.
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
maybe one guy does ripping and shaping, the other guy assists and assembles or
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??
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
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.
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.