Woodshop Equipment, Previously Owned

By Jared Patchin | Posted: 10/30/2012 10:00AM


J Alexander Fine Woodworking Jared Patchin Last fall, well before IWF, 2012, we invested in some “new” woodworking equipment as our cabinetry sales increased over the year.

We already had a pretty robust shop of industrial woodworking machinery, but some of the machinery is specifically designed for manufacturing interior shutters, which is our other business. And some of the machines, like a stroke sander or a cabinet table saw, are not really ideal for manufacturing large volumes of cabinets.

All of these machinery upgrades have been for two specific reasons:

•  to increase efficiency of our operation

•  to improve the quality of our product

We have been fortunate to work with a machinery wholesaler out of Salt Lake City, UT who has been able to find some great quality used machinery at great prices. Also, all of these machines have been purchased with cash, making owning these machines even sweeter, since we don’t have a monthly lease payment hanging over our heads.

Now onto the machines!

click image to zoomBlum Mini-Drill 7-head line drill machineBlum Mini-Drill 7-head line drill machine  

Last November, in the very beginning of our residential cabinet careers, we quickly realized that drilling the 5mm holes on 32mm spacings, necessary for hinge plates and shelf pegs, by hand with a drill and a jig was a huge time waster and made accuracy very difficult.

So, the first machine we began searching for was a line drilling machine. We began by looking on Ex-Factory and WoodWeb's machinery marketplace, but quickly spotted a used Blum Mini-Drill 7-head line drill machine, on Craigslist, being sold by a local cabinet shop that was closing its doors. We jumped on it immediately, and after $900 and few days of set-up and tweaking, one bottleneck was eliminated!

Soon thereafter, we realized the next problem that needed to be dealt with was the issue of cutting the profile for raised panels on cabinet doors. We build all of our own cabinet doors, and at the time, we only had a 1.5HP shaper that we used specifically for the cope cut on the rails, and a 3HP shaper that we shared for the stick cuts on the rails and stiles and the profile cut on door panels.

The 3HP shaper was not nearly strong enough to cut the profiles for the raised panels. We would have to send the panels through the shaper 2-3 times, increasing the depth of the cut each time, before the raised profile was fully complete: a real time suck.

click image to zoomPowermatic Model 66 wood  shaperPowermatic Model 66 wood shaper We began reading up on what features we would need, and quickly narrowed the list down to a 5HP Powermatic Model 66. Everywhere we looked, shop owners were singing this shaper’s praise, saying it was reliable, powerful, and priced right. We also found out that most guys were recommending the older shapers over the newer shapers, saying the models seem to be built sturdier and with better tolerances than the newer models.

We found a nice looking, reasonably priced Powermatic 66, circa 1990, on Ex-Factory, but after a week or so the deal fell through. That is when I heard about the aforementioned used machiner dealer from Salt Lake City.

So I called Coby, from Advanced Machinery, and told him what we were looking for. Within a week or so, he presented us with the Powermatic 66 seen in the picture above. The machine was a bit older than the previous one, which was more of a benefit than a drawback, and had a top-of-the-line power feed unit with brand new roller wheels!

So, by the end of March, after a few weeks of searching, and $2,000, we had a new, more powerful shaper ready to go to work.

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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Canada  |  October, 31, 2012 at 09:02 AM

Three years ago I purchased a used Pipetta briquetting press, the machine I received was not the model advertised, it was supposed to have had an electrical upgrade, instead the hydraulic pump had been changed with the wrong size. The electrical panel was a mess and the outlet cylinder was improperly assembled. I rebuilt the machine including re-designing the electrical panel, it now runs faster, the briquettes are harder and more consistent, uses less power and creates less heat. The maintenance people at the company I purchased it from clearly had no idea what they were doing, I wonder what condition there other machinery is in ? Three weeks ago I purchased a used 4 head push feed moulder to produce a new product. The machine was described as "excellent condition". Since it arrived I have found the previous owner had hacked away at the infeed table casting and cut back the wear plate in front of the bottom head, the hood over the top head can't be secured properly without re-machining the parts. It was described as having little use, the wear on hold downs don't bear this out. Both machines were purchased through Ex-factory, buyer beware. I can fix it but that isn't the issue, I feel sorry for anyone who doesn't have the equipment or skills to do the repairs. I will no longer buy any used machine I can't put my hands on.

Jared Patchin    
Nampa, ID  |  November, 23, 2012 at 08:11 AM

Trevor, you bring up a great point! In a lot of ways, purchasing used equipment is a buyer beware type of situation. I have perused the inventory of machines on sites like ExFactory and WoodWeb, but have never purchased anything yet. Unless I have had the ability to view, touch, and run the machine I don't feel comfortable buying a used machine. Of the ten or so used machines I have purchased over the past few years, only three were from a local seller, and those local sellers were fellow cabinet shop owners. I was able to turn the machines on and make sure they worked. I also knew I could trust the sellers, since we had a working relationship for some time before purchasing their old equipment. But, when it comes to purchasing the rest of my used equipment, and lately my foray into purchasing new equipment, a machinery dealer is invaluable. Coby, at Advanced Machinery in Salt Lake City, has been a godsend. He has a network of shops and sources from which to search for used machinery. A far deeper supply than any that would be available to me. He also employs a team of technicians that check out each machine they have. Of the two shapers, widebelt sander, sliding table saw, two drilling machines, clamp rack, and table saw I have purchased from them, all have been as advertised and all have worked wonderfully! I think the moral of the story is find a machinery dealer near you that you can trust and build a relationship with, and you will never regret it. Jared


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