I worked in the millwork industry for most of my career. I built my retirement workshop in 2000, the year I turned 50. It’s the last building I framed.
My tools are older industrial machines, economically obsolete but built to last forever. Just to get started, it takes a fair amount of equipment to supply them with the power they need. From the top down, there is a 7 ½ hp rotary phase convertor, a 5 kw 150 cycle high frequency drive, and a 5 hp air compressor. It was common for the machine room in a woodworking factory to be dual wired with the conveyors and feed motors driven on line frequency and the spindle motors driven on high frequency. Direct drive on high frequency produces high spindle speeds without the need for drive belts which cause vibration.
This part of the shop is for the heavy work of stock preparation. The table saw is a Beach, made in 1957. It’s not a pretty as a Tannewitz or as heavy as an Oliver; but it is a big, strong saw. The jointer is a 12” Northfield from the 1960’s. Behind it is a B&D commercial radial arm saw. Dating from the 1980’s, it’s the youngest machine in the shop.
The tools that need dust collection are clustered in a central island to keep the ductwork short. In front is an 18” Yates American planer. Behind that is a hand pad stroke sander. It takes up a lot of space but does a great job, especially on veneered panels.
At the back end of the saw aisle is this Davis & Wells 20” bandsaw. I fidgeted with it quite a bit to set it up for resawing. It’s a wonderfully simple machine with a one-piece cast-iron frame and cast-iron disc wheels.
This bench in the back corner is set up for tool and jig making. There’s a Blanchard ground steel plate for layout work, a dust tight cabinet with gasketed door to store precision tools, and a Delta drill press.
I built a lot of stile and rail doors with dowelled joinery when I was working. The little bench top drill does very accurate dowel boring with this vertical table and a pneumatic clamp.
The south west corner of the shop is where the detailed work of joinery and molding is done. The Oliver hollow chisel mortiser was rescued from a dumpster when a factory was shut down. Behind it on the right is a 1940’s Reid Brothers surface grinder.
Keeping old tools sharp takes frequent grinding. This 2-wing, high speed steel tipped panel raising cutter dates from the 1970’s. It takes very sharp edges which produce cleaner cuts than you get with carbide, especially the end grain cuts on raised panels.
My handwork bench is in the south west corner with the best afternoon light. The little Yates American shaper is set up for endwork cuts with a sliding table. The Delta shaper to the left is very handy for little detail cuts with small diameter cutters where you have to get in and out quickly and reverse the spindle rotation to avoid cutting up grain. Early in my career, fancy windows like the one on the wall were my specialty.
More to follow.