After four tough years, woodshop owners and craftsmen of every stripe filled the aisles of the International Woodworking Fair. The biannual Atlanta show suffered in 2010 along with the woodworking industry. Both attendance and exhibitor count were lower.
This year equipment, software and supplies manufacturers returned for a successful show. Preliminary attendance was 23,000.
For custom woodworkers, fundamentals were key. Practical offerings — software to rent instead of buy; basic floor machinery (particularly saws) — trumped whiz bang technology in capturing woodshop pros.
Attendees came for education — the Cabinet Makers Association reported more than 400 registrations for its workshops — as well as peer fellowship. Our bloggers and correspondents reported from the show floor:
Bernie Bottens, owner, Kapellmeister Enterprises, Vancouver, WA:
MD Dario exhibited an articulated bandsaw. The articulated arm allows the saw to come to the wood and make difficult, intricate cuts while the work piece holds still.
All of you folks who are cutting really bulky pieces on a band saw understand the difficulties of feeding something really heavy or bulky through the saw while trying to conduct an intricate cut. Here’s a way to do that while the work piece holds still and the saw moves. The articulated arm, with its ball bearing joints keeps the saw perfectly plumb in all axes. There is also a guide on the saw that lets you follow patterns clamped to the workpiece.
The saw has a multiple workstation where the saw arm pivots around a central point to service four separate pieces, at four work stations.
Jared Patchin, J Alexander Fine Woodworking, Boise, ID:
I began my wanderings through Hall B, which is mostly machinery. Looking at top-of-the-line woodworking machines all day is pretty awesome, but buying some of those machines is even more awesome.
I worked my way to the Felder Group booth, which has some pretty impressive equipment spread throughout its Hammer, Felder, and Format lines.
I would love to buy one of their planers and jointers with the “Silent Power” spiral cutterhead! I also saw, for the first time, a crosscut fence with a digital readout for the cut length and angle, complete with an automatic cut length adjustment depending on the angle of the cut. Consider me impressed!
Edgebanding discoveries highlighted the next part of my day. I got an in-depth demonstration of the new Brandt Ambition 1110 edgebander. Over the past three months I have been looking for quality used edgebanders. Used equipment has been perfect for my company. But after surveying the used market, and educating myself on edgebanders, I decided that I was willing to pony up the money and buy new.
Brandt’s Ambition line of edgebanders is geared towards the small cabinet shop. The machine comes standard with top and bottom trim, front and end trim, and buffing, and can also include, at time of purchase, a pre-mill unit.
The pre-mill will actually removes anywhere from 0.5 to 3mm from the face of the piece, thereby ensuring the edgeband is being applied to the most perfect face of particleboard possible.
After spending my money on the Brandt edgebander, my mission was now strictly one of information gathering and education. In Hall A, which is lumber, veneer, edgebanding and supplies, here in no particular order are some of my IWF highlights:
A tour of the Blum booth changed my outlook on what is possible with hinges and slides and drawer boxes, which sounds quite nerdy, unless you make your living using that hardware. I was impressed by the BluMotion soft-close undermount slides complete with a servo-driven push-to-open mechanism; and the soft close hinges including an on/off switch on each hinge. I am also seriously looking into Blum’s TandemBox, a double-walled metal drawer box with integrated BluMotion slides. I know that Grass and Salice have many of the same offerings, but the Blum demonstration was eye-opening.
Woodworker as Electrician
I will be educating myself on the Loox systems offered by Häfele, and Rev-A-Shelf’s recently acquired lights source, Tresco, so I can start selling and integrating these lighting systems into our cabinetry and furniture.
LED lighting for cabinetry has now become as easy as 1-2-3. First, plug the driver into an outlet that is hidden, like in the microwave cabinet or on top of the cabinetry. Next, plug in all the different lights that will be run off the driver (up to six ports). Lastly, plug in any of the switches, which include motion detectors, dimmers, and sensors, and you’re done. The only thing you would need a professional electrician for is to hard wire the 120V outlets for the drivers.
On the next leg of my IWF tour, I discovered rolls of solid wood edgebanding in 2 or 3 mil thicknesses. I will be using this stuff every time I edgeband plywood panels. (It can be layered for a super thick edgeband.)
The most serendipitous discovery was TreeFrog Veneer and its Chemetal line of metallic veneers. These sheets of metal veneer will now allow me to bid on a project in metal that I had at first refused.
Another interesting little tool I found is the ThingaMeJig: pretty much a scribing tool on steroids. The next item that caught my eye was the Systainer booth. You may have seen a Systainer container and not known it. All of the Festool tools are packaged in systainers. The design and engineering that has gone into this modular, incredibly flexible, and endlessly customizable container system is brilliant, but not cheap.
The first product that seriously made me consider opening my wallet to take advantage of a show special was the Senco Fusion F-18 cordless nail gun, especially for two features: it can shoot 18-gauge finish nails, and Senco has a gas cartridge that never needs to be replaced. A charged battery is all that the gun needs to work. The thought of not having to lug a compressor and air hose into a client’s home made it very tempting.
I have always had a fondness for well engineered layout tools — squares, straightedges, levels, and the like. So no surprise the Maya Posi-Stop booth caught my eye. We have an older CTD saw we use for cutting rough lumber to smaller lengths. I want to upgrade the fence system so we can cut all our face frame and door material to final lengths on this saw, rather than cart everything to the one chop saw in the shop with an accurate fence system. A 12 fence and a Model 1 stop should do the trick.
Challengers Awards 2012
Seven winners for the 2012 IWF Challengers Awards were announced Aug. 22 during IWF, drawn from 80 entrants.
Martin T75 Sliding Table Saw: The T75 tilting blade can be tilted to both sides, while still retaining the capability to reach a cutting height of 8 inches. Changing the blade size lets it score and do other functions in cutting solid wood or panels.
Frontino, Häfele America: Frontino sliding door hardware lets doors open in close spaces, where there’s no room to swing open. Sliding doors sit flush, sharing the same track, but riding over each other. Frontino can be used on upper or base cabinetry or in furniture. “We’ve gotten a phenomenal response to it,” says Häfele’s Mae Holler, product marketing manager.
Extra Plus Aggregate Head, Techniks Inc.: After Techniks worked with door manufacturers to raise productivity in mortising on the CNC, it built the Extra Plus Aggregate Head. The tool oscillates to increase material removal, cutting time needed to mortise deep pockets. It is aimed at the architectural millwork, drawer, door, window and furniture markets or “anything joined together and using deep pockets,” said Greg Webb, VP sales.
Solid-CIM 3D, CIM Tech: Automatic Feature Recognition works directly on 3-D solids and 3-D solid assemblies to lay parts flat and identify machine operations. Nested programs for any CNC machine are created with a cutlist with all the parts.
Prisma 6000 ECOtech, Giben America Inc.: This panel saw cuts power consumption 35 percent, says Mark Craig, Giben GM. “We started looking at the technology available and decided to. . .create an electric hybrid,” he said.
HPI Gloss Control UV Curing, Miltec: Miltec UV’s new HPI Gloss Control UV Curing System eliminates the need for downtime by allowing use of only one UV final topcoat for all gloss ranges from 30 to 80 gloss units, depending on the UV coating formulation. It is applicable to any type of wood finishing process with a top coat and where a gloss is needed. The primary market is for hardwood flooring and the kitchen and bath industry.
Cameron Flooring Nester, James L. Taylor: It increases bundling quality in flooring production using laser measuring, a sorting mechanism. It tallies material automatically, too.
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