I have seen people warning about certain types of insert cutter heads. What are the safest and what are the least safe. We are using grazed tooling now but are looking to get into insert heads for some of our shaping heads. Any advice would be appreciated.
IMHO there's no one-size-fits-all head regardless of the safety aspect.
Euro heads are a great thing to have on hand as they allow a lot of flexibility for shorter molding profiles, are very safe, the heads and knives are fairy inexpensive and the knives are thin enough you can grind/alter the profiles pretty easily. There are several companies making these heads but they work pretty much the same. If you do a variety of different work these are an item you won't know how you did without.
Corrugated heads allow for taller molding profiles and larger cuts in general. Knives are much thicker so require specialized grinders or outsourcing. These are plenty safe as long as the operator knows what they're doing. Again hard to imagine not having several of these on hand.
Insert heads are typically more specialized and use replaceable carbide inserts. Also, plenty safe…..in the right hands.
Heads that start to get a bit questionable are things like lock-edge knives. These heads allow more versatility than corrugated heads but require more diligence in operating. These can be used safely with an experienced operator.
Then there's smooth knives. These are held in a collar by friction alone and these are where many guys, including myself, get a bit squeamish. They've been used for a long time and can work well for certain tasks. But the tooling and collars need to be in nearly perfect condition and the person setting up really needs to know what they're doing. That's as far as my knowledge goes with these as I haven't used them so can't give any first hand feedback. Oh and I don't believe you can buy these new anywhere in the states anymore so you'd have to source them used.
that's about the extent of my knowledge….good luck,
Ok. So euro and the corrugated or bolt on seem to be the way to go. Who would you suggest for a good , knowledgeable source to go to for product and advice. This stuff is really expensive and I don't want to do it twice! Thanks again.
JeffD gave a good overall. I've had experience with all but the smooth knife heads. Knowing what you are doing is the safety. Lock edge & corrugated have limits about extension past the head based on their thickness. Corrugated heads come with a choice of hook angles. Corrugated heads can come with two different hook angles in the same head. It is best to have ground the knives for the specific angle used. Knives ground for the sharper hook can be run in the less sharp but you give up some life. The less hook the less likely to tear, the more hook the freer cutting and better finish using less power. Both of these systems (lock edge & corrugated) lack the chip limiting for hand feeding that is required by European standards. OK to use a power feed with if you stick to the design standards. Once I decided to put a little more knife out. It snapped off. Luckily I was running a power feed. Haven't done that trick again. Unless you have a profile grinder you will always run out of balance with these. A trip balance helps a lot on corrugated but not as much on lock edge. On a heavy shaper it won't hurt to run a little out. We've got a variety of heads that take insert knives. All of ours are dedicated to one pattern. There are sets sold that offer a variety of knives for the same head. Only get the ones that have the matching chip limiters.
We run a molder and profile grinder and often use the molder heads on the shapers if we need a match between straight and curved moldings or for shapes requiring a tilt head. Even the curved work is power fed. If you are hand feeding don't run a very tall knife. Too risky.
Count your fingers each morning, go home with the same # still attached!
HI Dan, easiest thing I think is just to go with the European pin secured limiter heads with chip limiting design. The pins help with alignment and to secure the steel in the block and the chip limiting design reduces the severity of kickback if it ever happens. It also means the head won't autofeed your hand if you get it in there. Unless you're a high production shop that can justify lots of individual blocks, I've found the combi head by Whitehill to be very practical because it's like a few heads in one.
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