Machines for cabinet making
It is obvious that machinery is being used in increasingly in woodwork. Even the few remaining ‘hand’ craftsmen use machines to an extent. In fact, any one who buys a board has used a machine in the sense that a machine saw was used to cut it from the log. This has to be accepted, and the economics of the trade are such that machines have to be used, at least for all basic operations. It follows then that anyone who makes furniture should be familiar with the function of machines, their uses and, indeed, their limitations.
When a machine will perform an operation better than, or at least as well as, hand work there seems no logical reason against its use, especially when it does it in a tithe of the time. It is only when a machine is used for economic reasons in the knowledge that the result will be inferior, or when the standard of design has to be compromised that the real trouble begins. When it is practicable to install separate machines for individual operations it is an advantage to do so because a machine is invariably more efficient when designed for a single purpose. If lack of space or other reasons make this impracticable, the universal machine or type of machine (basically a lathe with various attachments) is an excellent alternative.
We follow here with a brief review of the smaller basic machines, their essential features, and the work they will do. Those seeking more detailed information should see Light Machines for Wood-work in this series, or similar text-books. Check our recent projects for reference.
Circular saw and bandsaw: Essential or desirable features
Operations：Circular saw Rise-and-fall table or saw. Enables grooving, re-bating and tenoning to be done.
- Tilting table or saw. Angle cuts can be made. Draw plate in table. Gives clearance when angle cutting, using wobble saw or head.
- Miter gauge. Essential for cross-cutting, mitering, dimension cutting, etc.
- Riving knife. Prevents binding due to serf closing on saw.
- Top and bottom guard. Former adjustable in height. Latter usually formed by main casting.
- Used for ripping or cross-cutting, mitering, com-pound angles, tenoning, grooving, rebating, and in some cases permits use of cutter block. Grooving has generally to be taken right through, though a long stop can be arranged, length of which varies with saw diameter. The smaller the saw the shorter the stop.
- Band saw Tilting table, preferably with groove for miter gauge.
- Tracking adjustment, enabling saw position on wheels to be maintained or adjusted.
- Thrust wheel desirable below as well as above table; also adjustable guides.
- Top thrust wheel and guide unit should be adjustable in height.
- Tension device essential.
- Chiefly used for cutting external shapes, but can be used for both ripping and cross-cutting though it is not so efficient as the circular saw. Cross-cutting is limited by throat clearance.
- Tenoning and deep sawing can be done; also angle sawing when table tilts. Cannot be used for grooving, rebating or internal cuts.
Jig saw Various kinds available, continuous band type, spring plunger, or bow-spring return kind. Table should preferably tilt.
Chief use for internal cuts. Can be used for external cuts but is not so efficient as the band saw. Is relatively slow cutting. The portable jig saw is frequently used, either as an individual machine or as an attachment to an electric drill.
- Planer and spindle molder
- Essential or desirable features
- Planer Can be simple edger or combined surface and thicknesses.
- Small edgers or surfaces can usually have thickening attachment.
- Width of table controls width of wood that can be planed.
- Rebating table is an advantage. Cutters should be capable of individual adjustment.
- Fence should be free to tilt. Guard is essential. Thickening attachment for surfaces desirable.
- Surface or edger can be used to plane surfaces or edges up to limit of table width.
- Thickening can be done only on thicknesses, or on edger when thickness attachment is available.
- Rebating can be done up to width of table, depth is limited by casting of bearing. Rebates can be stopped but ends are rounded. Can also be used for stop or through chauffeuring, tapering and open-side recessing.
- Spindle molder Can have French head, slotted collars, square block, drunken saw or Whitehall cutter block.
- Rise-and-fall spindle essential.
- Will cut grooves, rebates, or moldings. Ends can be stopped but will run out in a curve to be hand finished. French head has the advantage that the cutter is ground to an exact reverse of the required section.
Router and Sanders:
- Essential or desirable features Operations
- Router Can be large-production machine or small portable tool. High speed essential, 10,000-20,000 r.p.m.
- Used for recessing, grooving, rebating or molding. High speed enables cut to be against grain without tearing out.
- Use of jigs enables repeat work to be done.
- All internal corners are rounded, diameter of bit controlling that of curve.
- Used for trimming squares, miters etc., rather than for cleaning up.
- For cleaning up and trimming. Abrasion marks run in straight line.
- Large machine for production work, or small one with inflated head which will adapt itself to shape being cleaned.