Saws: When It's Time for More Capability

By Jared Patchin | Posted: 11/13/2012 10:00AM

 

J Alexander Fine Woodworking Jared Patchin   We were not actively searching for a sliding table saw when we found this one. For years we made do with a simple Safety Speed Cut panel saw to cut large 4×8 sheets into more manageable sizes and a cabinet table saw to cut those pieces into their final sizes. But, as our production volume was increasing, the limitations of those two machines were becoming more readily apparent.

One limitation was that the material had to be shifted between two saws to achieve accurate and square cuts. A full day of that work is a huge burden on an operator. The second issue was the fact that the table saw did not have a scoring blade. A scoring blade is a small blade that sits directly in front of the main cutting blade. Its sole job is to cut a shallow groove in the underside of the material before it is sliced by the main blade.

click image to zoomGrizzly sliding table saw for Jared Patchin J Alexander Woodworking This groove prevents chipping out of the material on the underside, which allows for two perfectly clean cuts on melamine and plywood: the two main materials used in cabinetry. The third limitation of the table saw is that the operator had to support and move the material through the machine, which lead to imperfect cuts due to shifting of the material as it passed through the blade, and increased operator fatigue.

One day a newsletter appeared in the email inbox from none other than Coby at Advanced Machinery, detailing their newest machines. Included in that list was a Grizzly sliding table saw.

Let me take a few sentences to talk about Grizzly tools. Grizzly Industries manufactures woodworking and metalworking machinery overseas. We own seven Grizzly machines, including a bandsaw, an oscillating spindle sander, two shapers, a thickness planer, an edge sander, and a boring machine.

They have performed very well over the years, although, when you use them day in and day out, you see their limitations and lack of engineering in a few areas. But, given their price point, which is easily 30-70% less than the competition, these are things you may decide you can live with. As someone who makes a living with machinery, I also look at factors other than just price when choosing what brand to purchase.

In this case, the Grizzly sliding table saw began its life at about half the price of the top brand sliding table saws, like Altendorf, Martin, and SCMI, and its current used price reflected that. Coby also told us that he rarely recommends Grizzly machines, but he knew the design of this sliding table saw mimicked the design of the more expensive saws, and he knew the factory in Taiwan where it was manufactured, and felt like it would be a solid machine for our company. His advice was enough to sway me. We purchased the saw and had it shipped to us.

But before we could place in in the shop, we had to shift the location of four machines, re-duct a bunch of dust collection tubing, remove a 20′ pony wall, and have our electrician reposition and add bunch of outlets.

Nevertheless, once we got the saw into position and hooked it up to the phase convertor, everything worked smoothly. No more chipping out on melamine or plywood, no more struggling to send a huge sheet through the table saw, and no more transporting dozens of pieces between two saws! Another side benefit to the sliding table saw is the fact that the dust collection is able to capture almost all of the dust created, something our old table saw made impossible.

So, after $5,000 for the saw and $1,500 for the electrical hook-ups, we came to the end of this machinery shopping spree. We purchased all four with cash, and all four machines increased the quality of our product, eliminated a production bottleneck, and made our work lives more enjoyable!

Once again, Coby of Advanced Machinery was keeping an eye out for a good quality used single-head widebelt sander in the $4K-$7K range.

In the last entry, I left off with the top of the console table in the vacuum bag. In this entry, we will begin with the top fully veneered.

Console Table 7 400x300 Sapele Console Table 2

As you can see in the picture, all of the ribbon Sapele veneer on the sides has the grain oriented vertically and the grain of the top is parallel to the longest side. We veneered each surface individually, which meant that the tabletop took five rounds to complete the veneering. Each time, the tabletop spent three hours in the bag, and at least four hours outside the bag to help the glue cure. After each round we spent a few minutes checking the edges of the veneer and re-gluing any places that had not fully adhered.

A quick note about vacuum pressing. The bag itself exerts up to 1700 psi worth of pressure on the veneer. As the veneer is pressed into the substrate, the air is expelled from the glue joint and a bond is created within an hour or so. But, for the glue to for a permanent bond, it requires the water to be evaporated, which is impossible since the vacuum bag is air tight and therefore void of air in the first place. Thus, when a project is removed from the vacuum bag, it feels clammy and damp and needs a few hours in the open before the veneer is fully set.

Console Table 8 300x400 Sapele Console Table 2

We repeated the veneering process on the base of the table; it was a bit easier since the sides were not as angled as those of the top.

Console Table 9 400x300 Sapele Console Table 2

It was now time to drill the hole for the decorative metal bar that would be on the top point of the front and back of the base. We ordered two 1.5″ lengths of 1″ diameter solid aluminum bar from a local metal supplier, sanded the pieces with 320 grit paper to give them a brushed look, and eased over all the edges. On the drill press we then set up a shim that would drill a 1″ hole parallel to the floor. Since the faces of the front and back are not vertical, but angled inward about 3 degrees, if we set the back flat on the drill press table, the hole would be drilled at a -6 degree angle to the face and -3 degrees horizontal. By shimming the piece by .5″, we were able to drill the hole at a -3 degree angle to the face, which translates to horizontal. This may seem to be over-thinking, since only .5″ of the bar would be seen, but the details are what matter in custom furniture.

Console Table 10 400x300 Sapele Console Table 2

Next, we turned our attention to connecting the two pieces. The space that the two pieces share is pretty tight and did not make for an easy work space. We decided that the best way to connect the two pieces would be to use dowels. We drilled and glued six dowels into the base.

Console Table 11 400x300 Sapele Console Table 2

After the dowels were glued into the base, we turned the top upside down, and attached the two pieces. We used a polyurethane glue for this final glue-up because the glue would expand and help fill any small voids that were present inside the top and base.The tape and paper ensured that the expanding polyurethane glue would collect on top of the paper rather than on the veneer’s surface.

Console Table 12 400x300 Sapele Console Table 2

We allowed the glue to set overnight before we flipped the table right side up. We removed the tape and paper, scraped off any excess glue, and gave the entire table a final hand sanding with 220 grit paper. We then took the table into the finishing room and applied a dark brown oil-based stain, two coats of sanding sealer, and a coat of bright-rubbed conversion varnish.

Console Table 13 400x300 Sapele Console Table 2

The final product came out absolutely beautiful! The brownish red of the Sapele work perfectly with the whites, grays, and blues of the living room.


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About the Author

Jared Patchin J Alexander Fine Woodworking Network

Jared Patchin

Jared Patchin started woodworking professionally in 2008 when he set-up J.Alexander Fine Woodworking in Boise, ID, where he builds custom crafted furniture and cabinetry. He started building furniture at the age of seven when his father bought Shutter Crafts. He has developed his craft since then, moving from making wooden swords for himself and his friends to building some of the finest furniture and cabinetry available. He lives in Boise, Idaho with his wife and two young sons, who have taken over the sword making side of things.

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