Downsizing !

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Tazio

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Hello All
For the last 20 odd years i have run a 4 man joinery doing our own specialised projects but now its time to downsize as my last joiner is retiring and i have decided to sell the lovely big kit which i have esembled over the years so i have come looking for downsizing advice my intension is to build a new workshop purely for myself around 6m x 5m so pretty small and also single phase ..My current setup is a beautiful vintage Guillet 7.6 ft surface planer with a matching 24" thicknesser i started off with a sedgewich PB lovely little mechine and now i will return to something simarly however i note now there are spiral blocks fitted to mechines such as the Axminster 260/310 planer thicknessers and some chinese makes etc i am not adversed to the far eastern good quality kit as although the majority of my kit is watkin , Guillet , sedgewich some years ago we purchased a new europac tilting and sliding bed spindle which has run faultlessly .. so apologies for the ramble but the question is are things such as the spiral blocks worth having ? in terms of setting i know they are easier to setup but that dosnt bother me the info says they are quite a bit quieter and also the the finish is smoother when compared to traditoinal blocks so it would be good to hear from someone who has experience of both standard blocks and the spirals also i am stepping down from 3 phase does running on single phase create any problems as regards power ?.
The Axminster trade planer thicknessers both 260 and 310 look pretty good for the money with cast beds ect any comments on these or alternatives would be useful
Many thanks in advance ....
 

deema

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Just my opinion, the spiral blocks look good, but I feel have a number of shortcomings. You know what’s it’s like to replace the nickers on your spindle blocks, well just imagine the process of cleaning resin out of the seats for a huge number of similar cutters! Access is often limited and getting the screws out which are gummed up can be a challenge. The headache of dropping a screw can ruin your day. You can’t leave a cutter off as the block won’t be balanced.
If you need to rotate or replace a cutter you will get a tram line unless you replace or turn all of the cutters.
When I was looking after and evaluating all available solutions (and after working on restoring / servicing) of blocks for a PT I would recommend a Tersa block. That said, you can add Barkley knives to a standard block to achieve many of the advantages of a Tersa knife system. The holders are initially expensive, but the blades are about the same as getting a traditional knife sharpened.
 
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Tazio

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Thankyou you make some very valid points particularly the resin issue and changing so many cutters and of course tramling which with so many individual cutters could be quite an issue!
 

Doug B

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I been using spiral block machines for getting on 10 years now & wouldn’t go back to traditional blades.
The finish is far superior, the tips out last blades very many times over, changing the tips is no hassle at all & although it obviously takes longer per change it is so infrequent that I doubt there is much time difference when you factor in how often you would have changed traditional blades compared to one change of carbide tips.
In my experience there is a lot of nonsense talked about spiral blocks the screw heads don’t get blocked up with pitch, this is mine after running hundreds of feet of redwood
B6D90231-0E5E-4430-9876-457398BFFDFA.jpeg


As you can see the torx heads are clear, I clean the planer & block periodically as I do all my machines & the block is no trouble at all, a simple wipe over with cellulose thinners & a once over with an old toothbrush & it’s ready for a few more months work.

6B48C102-361E-472B-9DE1-12589909B934.jpeg


The planer is considerably quieter than the Wadkin it replaced, previously I had to look at the extractor bag to see if I’d turned it on as I couldn’t hear it over the noise of the Wadkin, not now the extractor is louder than the new planer.
The spiral pattern gives a more efficient cut, the single tips reduce tear out & you’re not left with the ridges associated with traditional blades
 

Sideways

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If you are used to a trade quality machine like a Sedgwick or better, you would be sadly disappointed by an Axminster trade 260 or any of the similar machines.
Just my opinion....
 

Ttrees

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Hello Tazio, now I don't own a planer or thicknesser, but do have a read about them from time to time, especially when I see a few familiar names have some input on the subject.
I was going to suggest stalking Deema's posts on your query, as he knows what he's talking about, and has made some excellent threads which is often truly...a feast for the eyes!
He does go that extra mile in regards to these kinda posts, but alas, a bit too humble to bang on about it.
Whats better again, is he seems to do quite a bit of refurbishment on old machinery so not afraid of a bit of metalwork, which some would shy away from.

Probably the next best thing to having a good hands on feel of the machines in person, infact I would trust his word over myself giving one a once over in person,
as I wouldn't know what I'd be looking for really.

What I can tell you from being a bandsaw fanatic, a machine which seems to have somethings in common, i.e make sure you get a good'un, as quality matters here, from what I have read.
So beware of two things.
Honeymoon reviews, and misleading videos from manufacturers/employees of said manufacturers.
Find the folks who will point out the Achilles heel, and not shy away from them.

No effort was required to find some recent posts of his, seems like an encyclopedia of woodworking machines if you looked in that search box on the top right, :)
All I had to do was type in Sedgewick and Deema and a load of posts came up


Here you go, took a lot longer to write this post than to find these quick links, of which there are many, (first few that popped up)
Haven't gone through them, but I can tell you I've seen some really juicy posts with lots of pics from said forum member Deema






Plenty more in that search box
Welcome to the forum also
Good luck
Tom

[edit] Maybe I should have kept me trap shut, as we all could have been in for another nice treatise on the subject:D
 
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Tazio

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If you are used to a trade quality machine like a Sedgwick or better, you would be sadly disappointed by an Axminster trade 260 or any of the similar machines.
Just my opinion....
Yes I have only really used the watkin, guillet, Sedgwick end of the trade hence the question about the more semi pro lighter single phase mechines ...it is pretty difficult at the moment to actually get a feel for anything with the restrictions..in what way will I be disappointed?
 

Cabinetman

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Hi Tazio, i’m going to come at this from a different angle, you have some super equipment which you will not (underlined) be very satisfied in replacing with single phase hobby type equipment. Look at your overheads in your present workshop and how many days a week would you have to work to cover those overheads, one? One and a half? Just do a bit to cover your overheads it’ll be a good way of slowing you down to retirement, And you can turn down the jobs that are going to be a pain in the neck, and pick the nice jobs that suit you. And the mental anguish will be reduced completely, that still leaves you a few days a week to do exactly what you want to do – or nothing!! Similar situation myself ! Ian
 

Ttrees

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Yes I have only really used the watkin, guillet, Sedgwick end of the trade hence the question about the more semi pro lighter single phase mechines ...it is pretty difficult at the moment to actually get a feel for anything with the restrictions..in what way will I be disappointed?


 

Tazio

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Hi Tazio, i’m going to come at this from a different angle, you have some super equipment which you will not (underlined) be very satisfied in replacing with single phase hobby type equipment. Look at your overheads in your present workshop and how many days a week would you have to work to cover those overheads, one? One and a half? Just do a bit to cover your overheads it’ll be a good way of slowing you down to retirement, And you can turn down the jobs that are going to be a pain in the neck, and pick the nice jobs that suit you. And the mental anguish will be reduced completely, that still leaves you a few days a week to do exactly what you want to do – or nothing!! Similar situation myself ! Ian
Thanks Ian
And that is a valid suggestion the problem is more than 1 though and i will outline those below..

My workshop is pretty large around 10m x 30m its that size because we used to do pretty large bits of joinery so rolling around it that and keeping it warm would be pretty wasteful
Also the workshop is on my business partners site and the plan is to gain planning permission for 3 houses ,
And as mentioned my last joiner is retiring in a few months time and i am not getting any younger and even if i wanted to keep it all going we all know recruting highly skilled bespoke joiners is a real problem and to be fair running a joinery ends up being a labour of love rather than a profit making venture .

So i need to downsize and have a workshop just for myself also i will not be undertaking the large projects we used to do and concentrating on more cabinet work / fitted cuboards and the occasional bespoke kitchen plus some boat fitting out !.
All of this can be acheived in a far smaller workspace and with much smaller and more adaptabe portable equipment than i presently own and because i will need to build a workshop on a different site noise could be an issue hence the interest in the spiral blocks . So my well equiped workshop has to go and my lovely equipment needs to go to a good home that will make good use of it all !.
I am fully aware that my new kit will never match the build quality and integrity of the current setup but hopefully in a different way it will serve its purpose .... hence the questions because to be fair i have not operated at this end of the joinery scale in terms of mechines and i would like to have as much knowledge as possible to make my choices from users who may be using the simarlier sort of kit .
 

Cabinetman

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Thank you for that very full and informative answer, yes I can see one person in a workshop that size is not tenable.
My three main bits of kit are all good quality cast-iron and single phase and all were secondhand so not bankbreakers can recommend my Sedgwick tablesaw (T315?) a really quite old Sedgwick spindle moulder and my SCM planer thicknesser, I don’t know but I suspect you would not be happy going any smaller and more towards the hobby end of the scale. Ian
 

Spectric

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Hi

You have run the business for twenty years using industrial quality machinery and with other skilled craftsmen who are retiring, you have probably produced first class work and know woodworking inside out so you have little to learn unless you want to find out how others suffer using inferior machinery and use gadgets in an attemp to achieve good results so why such a backward move, are you retiring and moving house? Have you thought of trying something different, my background was never woodworking but got involved for the challenge and I can say that much hobby machinery is frustrating and never works out of the box. On a plus side you will have the banter on these forums and I am sure we could all learn from someone with your baackground.
 

Tazio

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Thank you for that very full and informative answer, yes I can see one person in a workshop that size is not tenable.
My three main bits of kit are all good quality cast-iron and single phase and all were secondhand so not bankbreakers can recommend my Sedgwick tablesaw (T315?) a really quite old Sedgwick spindle moulder and my SCM planer thicknesser, I don’t know but I suspect you would not be happy going any smaller and more towards the hobby end of the scale. Ian

Yes thanks Ian i like you love the classic kit i thought i would outline the kit i have now and what my intended replacements are ! I know it might look a bit shocking ! by the way on site we always used Maffel for our site work hence its inclusion i consider it the finest site kit available .

Existing Workshop......
Watkins PBR Resaw fantastic ability at resizing timber took sometime to find one
Gullit 7-8ft planer wonderful peice all complete still with its metropolitan switch gear will straighten anything
Gullit 24" Thincknesser hydrolic bed ( i feel Gullit as the French equivellent of watkin is actully better !)
Maggi best Crosscut with 12" thickeness cross cutting ability
Europac tilt head and sliding table spindle
Sedgewick 3 head tenoner
SCM Panal saw
Laguna Band saw
And associated tooling ect.......

New workshop....
Single phase
Small plannner thicknesser with possible spiral block (Axminster, sedgewick)
Router table purpose made for the incra Plate and lift plus Jessme Fence and incra positoner and joinery fence.
Maffel Erica 85 push/pull table saw full system sliding table and table extension and MFA.
Maffel rail saw for breaking sheets down .
Laguna band saw.
Cyclone extraction.

Yes quite a huge change however i already own the Maffel kit except the Erica which is exceptionally acurate . This i consider should be able to do pretty much everything i need the Incra router table fences of course are great for dovetailing ect i obvously have things such as biscuit cutters , routers ect .. also this is all pretty portable which is a bonus.
 
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Doug71

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Here is my experience as I had to kind of do what you are doing but have come full circle again.

For years my workshop was full of old Wadkin kit, even a big old 5 cutter planer/moulder which had square blocks 😧

Suddenly I had to leave all this and start up again in a farmer friends shed, only took a week and a trip to Axminster and I was up and running again. I got some Axminster trade rated machines and a few bits off Ebay, everything was small so I could move it myself in my van and had 13amp plugs on the end.

At first everything seemed like toys but after a couple of months they became the norm, I could still do the same things as long as I kept within the machines limits (Axminster thicknesser max 2mm per pass, old Wadkin 6mm+).

A year later I moved to a bigger workshop and kept using the same kit as it all worked fine. Turning point was a nice old Robinson mortiser came up for sale locally for £300, I couldn't say no, it replaced the Record one I had and wow, what a difference! Next a Wadkin spindle moulder replaced the Elektra Beckum, I actually paid less for the Wadkin than I got for the little Elektra Beckum! Last year I upgraded my Axminster PT to a Sedgwick, the Axi had cast beds but is nothing like the Sedgwick for build quality. Finally a couple of weeks ago I changed the Metabo site saw for a SCM Minimax panel saw.

Basically you can do all the same things with the smaller machines but the industrial stuff is nice to have.

I get the impression the Axminster machines can be a bit hit and miss quality control wise, my PT worked fine but I have heard quite a few reports of bad ones.

Just seen your shopping list of tools, I would love an Erika but they are more than double the price of what I paid for my used SCM panel saw so I would find it hard to justify, but for a small portable saw the Erika is amazing.

A Festool domino is worth a look if you don't have one.
 

Tazio

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Thanks Doug yes i know the Axminster could be a bit hit and miss particulary as the beds are not fixed which is a slight concern as mentioned before i started off all those year ago with a lovely sedgewick PB which was great i just feel the portabilty is important now and the quieter blocks .. also you make the very important point that you do get used to what you have and as you will know there are plenty of work arounds i do not need now to worry about things such as production time so if it takes a little longer well thats the way it is .
I remenber years ago i had a new guy start and i asked him to make me a pair pf large 8 over 8 box frame sash windows with very narrow and complicated moulded glazing bars i got the guys to show him around the kit to make sure he was ok with it .. anyway he came over and said rather than use the fixed mechinary he would simply make the box frame sashes on his workmate with his router because it would be a better demostration of skill he made the windows they where very good and it demostrated with the miniium amount of equipment but a fair amount of experiance and skill most things can be accomplished ....
 

Tazio

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Here is my experience as I had to kind of do what you are doing but have come full circle again.

For years my workshop was full of old Wadkin kit, even a big old 5 cutter planer/moulder which had square blocks 😧

Suddenly I had to leave all this and start up again in a farmer friends shed, only took a week and a trip to Axminster and I was up and running again. I got some Axminster trade rated machines and a few bits off Ebay, everything was small so I could move it myself in my van and had 13amp plugs on the end.

At first everything seemed like toys but after a couple of months they became the norm, I could still do the same things as long as I kept within the machines limits (Axminster thicknesser max 2mm per pass, old Wadkin 6mm+).

A year later I moved to a bigger workshop and kept using the same kit as it all worked fine. Turning point was a nice old Robinson mortiser came up for sale locally for £300, I couldn't say no, it replaced the Record one I had and wow, what a difference! Next a Wadkin spindle moulder replaced the Elektra Beckum, I actually paid less for the Wadkin than I got for the little Elektra Beckum! Last year I upgraded my Axminster PT to a Sedgwick, the Axi had cast beds but is nothing like the Sedgwick for build quality. Finally a couple of weeks ago I changed the Metabo site saw for a SCM Minimax panel saw.

Basically you can do all the same things with the smaller machines but the industrial stuff is nice to have.

I get the impression the Axminster machines can be a bit hit and miss quality control wise, my PT worked fine but I have heard quite a few reports of bad ones.

Just seen your shopping list of tools, I would love an Erika but they are more than double the price of what I paid for my used SCM panel saw so I would find it hard to justify, but for a small portable saw the Erika is amazing.

A Festool domino is worth a look if you don't have one.

What advantage does a domino have over a biscuiter ?? be useful to know it is not something i have experiance of !.
 

Cabinetman

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And the Erika is not something I had experience of, just been away and done the videos, that’s quite a machine!
It sounds like you’re going to have a good set up. And your old stuff? Wow!
 

Doug71

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What advantage does a domino have over a biscuiter ?? be useful to know it is not something i have experiance of !.

A domino is just really a loose tenon. There are 2 machines available, basically small and large, the large one will do a 70mm deep x 14mm thick mortise. Purists aren't keen but it is a really useful tool if a bit expensive, but if you are at the Mafell end of the market you will appreciate what you get for your money.

Here is one example video but there are loads around

 

Doug B

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I quite agree with you @Tazio with regard the Mafell gear you won’t go wrong with that, excellent products.
Have you though of inverters for any of your 3 phase gear you might prefer to keep once you’ve seen the alternatives, I went down this route when I downsized running my Wadkin planer off one, though my BRS spindle was easier to convert to a single phase motor.
Personally I wouldn’t touch Axminster machinery I’ve been disappointed with all but one purchase & that was my first an extractor that’s still going well after 17 years but their quality has dropped off a cliff since then.
 
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