Monday, November 23, 2015

Shelix Byrd Head-Jointer

Before moving into the new studio I decided to study my work habits and to further evaluate my woodworking knowledge. I also decided to move into a smaller studio. I wanted to limit myself on what I really need versus what I really want. The new space will be 2 rooms that add up to 650 square feet. The floor and wall space is crucial and decisions must be well thought out for the success of the business.  

The first step in the evaluating process is the machinery. Today we will start with the jointer. I once had the hopes and dreams of owning a 16 to 20 inch wide jointer with ship wheel handles. But realistically I don't need that or the hernia. Really all I need is a Powermatic 8 inch jointer with a quick guard removal (Please see photos below).  This particular jointer is 1 of 2 Phil Lowe at The Furniture Institute of Massachusetts  owns. But this particular jointer is also the one he recommends as the jointer to have if I was limited in space & budget.  

What we love about this jointer is the quality and how easy it is to work, adjust, and repair. But really regular maintenance is all that is needed.  One additional feature we have both added to the jointer is the Byrd Shelix head.  Which by far is the best out in the market. Phil and Artie made quick work installing the new head at the school. But when it came to my jointer... well it was a different story.

Removing the old head was easy. Installing the bearing was quick work. Inserting the helix head was a little tricky with all the individual cutters. I also couldn't get the head to spin with out grinding some the overly generous welds left from the manufacturing process 1969-70. Overall the process was easy. I adjusted the tables to the max capacity without hitting the cutter head. This is where patience is need to ensure the proper rotation of the head.   

This is when I quickly noticed that I couldn't raise the out feed table high enough to prevent snipe on the tail end of any board I would run over the jointer. This is where all the frustrations and questioning begins. Did I order the correct head? Did Byrd ship the correct head? Is the head too big? What can I do now?  Darn it!!!!! OMG!!!

I am happy to say I did order the correct head and the head met the tolerances by the engineers at Byrd Tool Co.  With the advisement of Byrd and my friend Artie I simply ground the casting on the out feed table with a dremel tool and a abrasive wheel.  This process took about an hour and I removed more than I needed. For I sure didn't want to install the head and find out I needed to grind more material.      

With all that grinding and swearing behind me, the jointer is ready to go. I can hear Phil saying its Perfect!!! In the end of all this invested time and frustration was all worth it.  For its perfect and purrs like a dream.  Many thanks to Byrd and my buddy Artie. 

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