Not many years ago, a powered planer or table saw would have weighed tons and would have taken up so much space in a workshop that there would have been no room for anything else. Today, the ability of small powered machine tools has made precise and imaginative work possible for both amateurs and professionals. Cast aluminum has replaced heavy steel in the manufacture of the components, and the efficiency of the motors has increased as their size has diminished. Some, such as the mini-planer-thicknessers, have become so small that they are as portable as hand power tools. Others, such as the spindle molder, can perform the same tasks and have the same capacity as some of the largest electric routers.
The variety and portability of the modern, lightweight machine tools makes planning and setting up a workshop much easier. When you are placing these tools, you must leave space for the “infeed” and “outfeed” of the wood, but, if space is limited, remember that not all these tools have to be bolted to the floor, and they can be moved into position when they are needed.
All wood working tools, especially powered items, are potentially dangerous. Strict safety procedures should always be followed, including the positioning of safety guards, whenever they are used.
1. BENCH GRINDER
The bench grinder has coarse- and medium-grit wheels for repairing the edges of chisels and plane blades and touching up drill-bits. Non-ferrous metals should not be used on grinders, because they will clog the wheels. Keep a jar of water nearby for cooling, because considerable heat is generated by grinding steel.
The bandsaw is an extremely useful machine. It can cut both straight and curved lines with the table fixed at 90 degrees or tilted to up to 45 degrees. The continuous loop blade cuts quietly and efficiently, creating less noise, less waste, and less dust than a table saw.
3. HOLLOW CHISEL MORTISER
The hollow chisel mortiser combines the pressing action of a sharp-edges chisel with a drill-bit, which rotates within the “hollow” chisel to give a fast and effective way of cutting square slots in a piece of wood. Mortises of any width can be achieved by moving the piece along for each cut.
4. RADIAL-ARM SAW
The radial-arm saw is a highly versatile machine that is capable, among other actions, of cross-cutting, ripping, and grooving wood.
5. SCROLL SAW
The scroll saw is a fine-toothed reciprocating saw with an inexpensive, disposable blade. It is used for cutting fine, tight corners in materials up to 1 inch thick.
The planer-thicknesser, as its name suggest, combines the actions of planer and thicknesser. It can be used to plane the wood to create a flat surface and then, using the fence, to square the edges. As a thcknesseer, it enables the wood to be machined parallel to the already dressed surfaces by means of an automatic feed. In some models, the surfacing table swings clear when the thicknesser action is in use.
7. WOODTURNING LATHE
The woodturning lathe is one of the simplest machine tools, and it has the additional advantage that complete objects can be made on it. The wood is precut into a more or less circular shape, mounted on the lathe – either on a faceplate or between centers – and spun at speed. A gouge or scraper against a tool rest is fed against the revolving wood.