April 19, 2010

Woodshop Setup - Planer and Jointer

As I mentioned in the previous post the desire to build a simple coffee table quickly turned into a headlong dive into woodworking that by necessity started with the aquisition of tools. I quickly learned that in order to build anything decent at a reasonable cost I would need to be able to start with rough sawn lumber and joint and plane it myself (for details on this process see the links at the end of this post). I immediately began scouring craigslist for good deals on a used planer and jointer and within a few days found a pretty good deal on a 15" planer.

It is a import clone of a delta DC-380 probably made on the same factory line as the Grizzly G0550. It came without a stand so I built up a quick mobile base out of 2x lumber I had laying around and some cheap harbor freight casters. Since the planer has a 2HP 220V motor I needed to wire up a 220V outlet in the garage. I managed to get that done without electrocuting myself and was finally able to test out the planer. The first few boards I ran through it came out rougher than they went in so I figured it was time to change the knives and give it a tune-up. It came with 2 extra sets of knives so I got to work installing the new knives and adjusting everything as described here.

Above you can see the quick and dirty jig I made to hold the dial indicator over the cutter head. This allowed me to ensure that all 3 knives were set to within about 0.001" of and inch of the same height. The original knives were off by as much as 0.070" from each other which goes a long way to explaining the initial poor performance. I then created a jig to hold the dial indicator above the planer bed to measure the heights of the feed rollers, chipbreaker, etc... and then used that to adjust everything to the recommended settings outlined in the link above. Again everything was way off so it was no surprise it was cutting poorly. With fresh knives and everything aligned properly I ran a few scraps with much better results.

I now had a decent planer but still hadn't found any deals on a jointer. A few came and went on craigslist but all the good deals were gone before I could get to them. By chance I found out a guy at work had a Craftsman 6" jointer sitting in his garage that he wasn't using as much as he planned so I began trying to talk him into letting me take it off his hands :) Eventually he caved in and sold it to me. It was previously owned by another coworker of ours so it was in really nice shape. It was dead flat and well setup so I just added some casters to the base and called it good.

At 6" the jointer is a bit on the small side but I should be able to true-up boards 6" wide by about 5 or 6 feet long and I think that should cover most everything I can think of building at this point. I should now be able to turn rough lumber in perfectly flat and square stock by following the procedure illustrated in this video: Part 1 and Part 2

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