Our SAC planer has a read out display that is driven with speedometer cable. I would like to replace this with a digital readout. The speedometer cable does a great job of telling me how many times the cable has revolved but is not so good at describing precise dimension.
Can anybody recommend a digital readout system that would work for a 10 inch rise & fall on the planer bed?
I have several Accurate ProScales in my shop on shapers, planer, tenoner, mortiser, etc. They are durable, easy to set in decimal, fractional inch or metric, and they are very easy to calibrate.
Their website has several solutions that will work for 10" ranges, but it is up to you to figure out where and how to locate it. On the old Powermatic planer, we have it very near the center of the table, directly under the cutterhead. The readstick tor readhead is what reads the dimensional info, then it is transmitted via cable to the readout. This is nice because you can locate this where it is visible, out of the combat zone, etc.
They are bit more expensive that some others, but read to .0005 and never need fiddling. They do use up some batteries (AAx2), but that is the only drawback. They have an auto shutoff that turns off the display after 2 minutes, but they need batteries about every 4-6 months. When you change batteries, the thing remembers the settings.
Mr cab - The Wixey is cumbersome to set or adjust. See the manual. The Accurate has a button for increase, and one for decrease. The Wixey reads to .01, not thousandths like the ProScale. I never thought I needed that accuracy, but I can tune a tenon for .007 clearance in Oak, or .003 for Pine. Easy, and makes for fast and easy settings that make a better product.
The thing about Internet reviews is that many of these types of items are the first foray into that tool for most buyers. They have nothing to compare to since they had nothing before, so it always rates well. Just as a hand sander dreams of a drum sander, never having used a wide belt. Only after he sees and experiences the whole spectrum does he realize he needs the wide belt.
I had a Wixey type DRO that came with a new planer, and I loved it. When it failed after a year or so, I put on a ProScale and never looked back. Features were far better. That was 25 years ago, and I still use it everyday.
One feature we use often on the shapers is the zero. If we have a tongue that is .039 too low, we can zero the DRO, crank up the cutter to a setting of .039, and the setting is perfect.
I am going to remain open minded about this until I see it. If it doesn't work well or seems like a struggle to set up I will punt and go directly to the ProScale. I have two tigerstops in my shop right now so appreciate quality and accuracy.
I've been surprised many times by some of the new technology. I have, for example, an old Hilti laser level that works really great but weighs about as much as a brick. I think I paid about $4-500 for it when it came out. We recently bought a new ryobi (or something like that) for $100 that is more comfortable to drag around and apparently just as accurate.
I will not, however, every buy an import shaper ever again. Nor will I work for anybody in the psychology profession.
They are completely whack.
As I said before, will evaluate the inexpensive read out and report back.
I have several wixeys in my shop and have never had a problem with them failing but David is spot on in that the .01 resolution of the wixey is no where near accurate enough if your doing critical work. Shaper is a perfect example doing tennon or cope and stick work. You need the. 001 resolution. If your just surfacing material through the planer and. 01 is ok for you the wixey may get you by. The Proscale is in a completely different league (and priced accordingly) and has more features.
Dead accuracy would be nice but is not necessary for most of our planer processes. In most situations the wood passing throughout the planer will have additional processing on a shaper or will pass through the wide belt sander. We're just trying to get reasonably close.
Reasonably close isn't good enough if you're looking at standardizing your process.
By that I mean they have to come out of the planer the same thickness every single time and they have to go into the wide belt at the same thickness every time. This in and of itself will extend the life of your belts tremendously. I take it you have a digital readout on your wide belt.
You need to remove the same thickness from each face very single time and you need to finish sand to same thickness every time so if a part has to be reproduced it's dead nuts accurate.
The only reason I'm pointing this out is because you are the apostle of standardization.
Your point is well taken, particularly with respect to throughput at the wide belt sander.
Our protocol is perhaps a bit different than other shops because of the product we make. For the most part we build flush inset cabinetry with fully mortised butt hinges. These hinges are the real deal and don't provide any mechanism for adjustment. Everything has to be really straight and really flat.
Our sequences for face frames are as follows:
We rough allocate lumber on a bandsaw then let it cool down for a day or so. It doesn't do us any good to straighten or flatten it at this time because it will just move around as tension is released and/or it acclimates moisture content.
On day 2 we face joint then run the stock through a 2 sided planer. This planer never changes height. Everything that comes off the planer is 24.5mm thick, every time. The material is now flat enough to clamp back to a cabinet box but not yet to final thickness.
On day 3 the stock is face sanded on our Butfering double headed widebelt. At this point the material goes (face down) through a dedicated spiral head planer that is set for 22mm thickness.
The sander itself has a digital read out but is not real reliable for calibration. Thickness depends sometimes on who is running the stock, which side of the belt they use, how old the belt is, pressure, feed speed etc. The 22 mm planer gets us 22 mm every time.
Cross grain dimension is accomplished with a dedicated shaper that is set up with a fence-away system like you would stick a door. This shaper also has shear cutter head that produces a pretty clean edge.
The goal here is to produce face frames that never have to go through the wide belt sander after they are glued & pocketscrewed. They are consistent thickness and sanded on the front face.
This helps to produce consistently square openings (which minimizes fitting work for the door later).
We also have a similarly byzantine system for fabricating doors. I won't go into the scary details of that one yet. Suffice to say any greenhorn can produce an extremely flat door with any lumber the vendor ships. The diminished learning curve and predictable outcome makes this seem worthwhile.
The WIXEY thing is in the process of being set up right now. We're installing it with magnets so there isn't much investment if it turns out we should follow everybody's advice about the ProScale.
Will report back.
I have Pro Scale that was on my Powermatic planer for about three months. I put it on then decided I needed a bigger planer so took it off when I traded it in. You can have it for $300.00. It is just sitting on the shelf gathering dust.
I've been very happy with my Wixey. The 2nd version has the adjustments to make it easy to calibrate. Just sent a random pc of wood through, measure it with a digital caliper and then set the Wixey to the same thickness and you're done.
I've had only one issue with it. Once it locked up and I had to pull the battery out of it to reset it. Hasn't happened since. Seems more than accurate enough for my type of work.
An unimagined hiccup, however, has to do with the SAC planer itself. The planer has electronic rise & fall. There is a third button that theoretically bumps 1/10th of a millimeter at a time on the UP direction.
We just had some electronic parts replaced on the planer that drive the lift so I am not sure if these need better calibration. When we hit the bump button it will seem to sometimes jump maybe 2/10s.
It could also be that the planer never did actually hit 1/10 as the spedometer cable is not really a thickness guage as much as it just tells you how many times something has rotated.
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