What's your Favorite Machine?

      Woodworkers chime in about the equipment they love. May 26, 2010

Enough serious stuff. What's your favorite shop machine? The one that works so great, costs so little, never fails? I've had a lot of favorites over the years: my first widebelt sander (Timesaver), my Multirouter (still in service after 19 years), and now it's a Diehl veneer splicer.

Forum Responses
(Business and Management Forum)
From contributor T:
Some tough choices. If I think about it, it would be the Martin jointer. If I could only pick one it would be the scissorlift workbenches.

From contributor H:
An old pre-built wood lathe with a 10' bed. Still runs with babbit bearings and a jack shaft. Cost me 200 bucks 25 years ago. It has paid for itself a hundred times if not more. Then a 2x4 xl 4head moulder. Sweet little machine. But my third is a very tiny 1" wide x 2'' long hand plane I use countless times a day for breaking edges and other quick trims.

From contributor S:
CNC - an endless miracle machine. Would like to have a second one.

From contributor U:
My lathe, followed closely by my CNC. Wouldn't be in business without them.

From contributor A:
I'd probably go with the Striebig. You just turn it on and go! Feels like you are being really productive in a short period of time with minimal effort. (I'd probably love a CNC!)

From contributor M:
My computer. The newest version of the Macbook Pro. 2.8 Ghz. 4GB ram. 512 MB graphics. It is loaded with XP Pro in Parallels so I can run Cabinet Vision. I have been using the same installation for 2 years now (migrated from another Macbook Pro). Never crashes. Never have to find a driver, never have to do tedious updates and patches, networks flawless every time. As the ads state, "It just works." You could argue that it is Cabinet Vision, not the computer, that is so important. I would sell my saw before I gave up CV.

From contributor E:
My Weinig Unimat 300 moulder. It's made me the most money, and I still wet my pants when I fire it up.

From contributor J:
Without wincing, it is my CNC, followed by my edgebander. I have some decent measuring tools, but it is hard to look back. With software it is becoming really affordable to do things I could only outsource. I am in awe of what we can do now.

From contributor O:
My Martin T-26 Shaper. It is the most versatile machine in the shop, easy to use, and still finding new things to do with it. The 3 head wide belt and moulder make the money, but given the choice, the shaper is my favorite to use.

From contributor S:
The Mikron.

From contributor Y:
My Rover ft7.4, Akron 855 and Omal 1300.

From contributor R:
For one that costs little and saves so much... pocket screw machine!

From contributor Q:
My Weinig R-960 grinder with production package. I have owned 4 of them and will buy my 5th next year after things get going again. It has served me and my clients very well and I am proud to own such a great machine.

From contributor W:
I do solid wood doors and parts, not cabinets. My whole system is getting very close to where I want it to be, and every part is very close to being just the right one. But the biggest game changer has been the moulder: We run S4S on our panel staves to get super flat, tight panels with the RF gluer. Rail and stile parts get either S4S or a shaker groove. Miter door stock is fast and easy to set up for - no more multiple shaper passes. The next one will have quick change spindles and/or large axial travel on the side heads.

From contributor F:
Okay, the big boys have the big toys, but even us small guys with skinny wallets have some favorites right? Mine isn't very exciting, but I have to say I smile every time I use my 20" SCM planer. Having upgraded machines a couple times, it's just fun to watch a 40+ year old machine that eats lumber like it was new.

From contributor B:
Timesaver, definitely. I think ours is made of old Panzer armor, it is so old. But with just a little TLC and a competent operator it still works like a charm. I can't vote for a CNC, as I don't have one. Hand tools: my Lie Nielsen chisels, hands down - once properly sharpened they hold an edge forever and cut hard maple like it was butter.

From contributor L:
Computer/CabinetVision - for the mind.
Verticle panel saw - for the back.
Edgebander - for frameless (love/hate relationship).

From contributor P:
My Festool tracksaw. Nice clean cuts in my expensive plywood (or even more expensive veneered panels). Helps save my back and limits my exposure to the evil tablesaw. Impresses me as a simple, great invention.

From contributor Z:
Mine would have to be my Unique door machine, 8 years old and it just runs and runs. I should have kept a counter on it to count the number of doors it has made. At 200-300 doors a week, I have to be close to 100,000 doors on it.

From contributor V:
I second the Striebig.

From contributor J:
Actually, my Festool stuff runs a strong second as well!

From contributor N:
As far as machines go, I guess it is our CNC router. You think up any shape you want, draw it, code it, cut it. It used to take us 35 minutes to cut out the parts for one of the desks we do. Now it takes 5 minutes to cut out 2 of them. My favorite thing is when you take a really sharp hand plane on any wood, and get that perfect curl that is almost see-through. That's woodworking.

From contributor I:
My Conover wood lathe. If every machine was built and worked as well as this machine we would have nothing to complain about. By the way, it's for sale. I rarely ever get to do any turnings. Second is my Castle pocket hole machine (also a love/hate relationship).

From contributor C:
The coffeepot in the woodshop. It has gotten me through many long afternoons and nights.

From contributor D:
The Weinig Quattromat. It has performed flawlessly for 6 years. Easy to use, durable and accurate as can be. There is never a question or hesitation about using it - it just does what it does efficiently and quickly. Better than flush toilets. It does get taken for granted, but almost everything we have made has gone through that machine. We replaced one circuit breaker and some flexhose.

From contributor G:
I agree - the coffee maker.

From contributor K:
Most favorite, forklift. Least favorite, time clock.

From contributor GG:
I have a Lazy-Boy 20' from my workbench. A tarp over it to keep the dust off. I can be in it in 5 seconds.

From contributor X:
My moneymaker, thus my favorite, is a homemade manual press that I purchased for $25 40 years ago from the auction of a large cabinet shop. It's made to disassemble from a 5' x 9' flat press to a 40' beam press. I've used it a lot in lamination. I call it the backbone of my woodworking.

From contributor C:
I have a chair too, but my 100 lb. black lab is always in it!

From contributor M:
I take back my previous post - the coffee machine is the must have machine in my shop.

From contributor RR:
I have to say it is a combination of e-Cabinets, my ShopBot Link software and the ShopBot CNC machine. The biggest moneymaker in my shop, hands down. A distant second but still a great investment is my pocket hole machine.

From contributor T:
Years ago I had a Millers Falls handheld belt sander. You periodically had to change the chrome plated platen on it and it required daily oiling. It was always a good feeling to run that sander. I never ceased to be amazed at how flat I could sand stuff with that tool. I can still remember the joy and sense of accomplishment that sander instilled.

Producing something really flat on the Martin jointer evokes the same emotion. There is a very satisfied feeling that comes from the sense of overcoming vacuum when you pick a board straight up from the table.

Another thing that has never ceased to amaze me is how much continuous open space seems to increase whenever I add a new machine. We installed a Ritter face frame clamp to a small corner of the shop today and already have added a flat storage shelf measuring 30 x 96 under the table. The plan for next week is to add some archival storage to the rear side of the angle part of the easel. Shop space is at a premium so this is an unanticipated added benefit to this new tool.

I guess I would have to conclude that my favorite tool is usually my newest tool.

From contributor MM:
I would say my Unique door machine - an oldie but a goodie, and second, my dovetail machine. These 2 machines make it possible to keep everything in house and not outsource. It is really nice to remake a door in 15 minutes and not wait 2 weeks.

From contributor UU:
My favorite machine is my cash register. Cha-ching!

From LL:
It's a tossup between my Unique 250 mc and my CNC and software. Both very hard working, money making, and time saving machines.

From contributor HH:
My thermos bottle. I put hot coffee in it and it stays hot; I put cold water in it and it stays cold. How does it know how to do that? Second choice is my Tiger rip fence and remote dust collector switches.

From contributor G:
Five seconds to get into the recliner, but how long does take to get out? I have two Jack Russells I bring to work every day (one for 15 years).

From contributor AA:
Got lots of good machines - hard to choose the best. Hoffman dovetail key machine, Weinig molder and grinder, IDM58 bander. Nicest to use - my hand planes.

From contributor II:
Mine's the deposit stamp.

From contributor CC:
My favorite machine is my Sirius satellite radio. I don't have to listen how the H1N1 flu is going to kill me. It's just music all day, no news flashes or commercials. Makes the day much more productive.

From contributor WW:
Satellite radio has been my favorite tool for the last 5 years. XM/Sirius has made the worst times bearable and the best times even better. It has increased my productivity exponentially. Drowning out the voices in my head is far more important than drooling over my Deutschland jointer.

From contributor W:
Pandora has been great for shop tunes. I ponied up the $36/year to get unlimited listening with no commercials. The guys can take turns picking/creating stations. I stream it to an airport express wireless station hooked up to a big old surround receiver. 4 speakers at 100 watts each in 3000 SF of shop and we are rocking!

From contributor BB:
The best ROI I believe would be a Porter Cable manual pocket hole machine. We have worn it out pretty much, but keep it as a secondary machine. For $699 it has done a lot of work for us. Second to that, CNC.

From contributor ZZ:
My cigar cutter. Next, definitely, Festool sander with vac.

From contributor NN:
I love my Baz machining centre from Homag. I have two such machines with gantry table. Wish I had a table in one for my nestings.

From contributor QQ:
My Senco SC-1 senclamp gun. Can't build cabinets without one.

From contributor EE:
My brains, my co-workers, and their brains.

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