Monday, September 17, 2007

The Wood Mechanic Hits the Road

I'm in Greensboro, N.C. for training on the two machines pictured below. The first one is a fancy knife grinder, which grinds the profiles into the tool steel used in shapers and moulders to create mouldings. One makes a template which the machine follows to guide a grinding wheel across the surface of blank tool steel. Basically, it works like a big, expensive key grinder. It used to be that the templates were cut out of 1/16" mild steel and filed by hand, a process that could take hours. Nowadays, one simply outputs a CAD drawing to a little desktop CNC router that cuts the template from a sheet of acrylic. It even etches in a job name if you want. If I ran "," that little router is the kind of thing I'd put on it.

The second machine is a state-of-the-art six-head moulder marketed under the brand name Kentwood and sold by Stiles Machinery. Competing brands include Diehl, Wadkin, and Weinig. Moulders have been around since the mid nineteenth century when someone got the bright idea of combining jointing, planing, and moulding operations into one machine. The early ones were belt-driven monstrosities that ran from a central shaft that powered all the motors in the shop. I imagine they had a "parts" bucket next to these things, not for machine parts, but for people parts. In any case, a moulder is capable of quickly and accurately producing large quantities of any straight moulding used in a building. In fact, 2 x 4's and other dimensional lumber is milled in a moulder,which reduces the rough stock to the final dimension and rounds the corners. We use ours for anything from white pine shoe moulding to 9" crown moulding. Until we got this new machine, we were using one from the late 30's and another from the mid 80's.

I hope to post more updates as this training week continues.

Lastly--please send me some emails; I'm lonely down here!

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