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!
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.
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.
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