I'm currently retooling... I think I'm moving away from dado construction and moving toward dowels or confirmats using a boring machine to speed up box construction (and free up a saw). I'm also in a situation where I "need to spend money before the end of the year" so I'm kind of in a hurry. Anyone using a machine they really like, have any suggestions, etc? I'm not going CNC fyi... I don't know a lot about these machines, so all info is appreciated. We're a faceframe shop.
I have a Maggi 2332.
Well made and simple to operate.
Does dowel with no changeover. Does confirmat with quick change bit changes.
I bought a used Weeke pod and rail cheap and now use the Maggi for horz bore only.
You should consider a cnc machine if your wanting to go to dowel construction or confirmat screws. It would seem to me to be a slower operation if you didnt have a cnc. Really the better is to do a dowel and screw combination. That way you dont have to use a case clamp. Doesnt have to be confirmat screws though, they require a step drill and if I remember right they require horizontal drilling of the mating part. My problem with dowels is they dont always line up perfect. But if you go cnc you should also look into software too. That way your products machining can be parametric. What do you use to design cabinets with now?
Moving to dowel construction requires more than a construction drill to be efficient. Hand dowel insertion is slow. You need a glue injector gun that puts a measured amount in each hole or you may have blowouts from hydraulic lock. Face & edge drilling have to be right on. There are no tolerances!
You can use screws and dowels to avoid a case clamp but you give up finished ends, it doesn't automatically square the case & it is slower than the case clamp. Confirmats are faster when all operations are manual. They allow a little bit of "tweeking" to get perfect flush. They also meet AWI standards, black particle board screws don't.
We are setup with routers, CNC bore & insert machine, glue injector and laminar style case clamp. Pretty damn efficient/fast. But we only do commercial work which is almost all frame-less.
Forgot to mention, I do all but the extremely rare finished end, with confirmats and use applied ends.
I end bore 5mm on the Maggi, face bore 7mm thru holes on the Weeke.
As stated above hand doweling is slow. I also don't have a case clamp, but I do residential so no huge volume to deal with.
Let me preface by saying that we are small potatoes (3 of us in the shop). We do higher end residential, and probably put together 20-40 boxes a month. I'm planning on using confirmats. I typically only using prefinished maple ply. We're a faceframe shop, and we use decorative applied ends, so no worries there. We do captured backs, so I'll still be rabbeting on a saw with a stockfeed. I'm hoping that the boring machine will replace my small line boring machine and my hinge boring machine as well.
Anyone line boring with their machine, or do you still use your dedicated line borer? How about the hinge bore attachment, how is that working out for you?
While it is theoretically possible to do all operations on a single machine, it becomes realistically impossible when you factor in changeover its included increase in probability of incorrect setup and fouled parts. You are dealing with left and right boring bits of different diameters, different boring depths, combined with different fence settings. It will take an tremendous amount of time and concentration to be correct all the time every time.
Then multiply that times the other workers.
For a non CNC shop, dedicated machines setup within a proven system (Blum System32 or KISS) are hard to beat. All you or an employee has to do is turn the machine on and process the part or multiples.
Though I resisted for several years, and did well with dedicated machines, in retrospect, the pod and rail machine was the right move (especially considering what I paid for it) when combined with a dedicated horiz drill and dedicated hinge boring machine. I am a two-three man shop doing residential.
A pod and rail allows so much flexibilty and accuracy.
A decent pod and rail machine can be had for less than 5k and has all the software needed to run it included onboard.
Plus most include a router spindle to size parts or do curved pieces.
I would stay with dedicated machines while beginning my search for a suitable used pod and rail machine.
I agree with Jim that a pod & rail machine is very versatile. Most can also do edge boring. I've got both an IMA310 P&R and a Komo flat table. The IMA has been expensive to maintain. The ability to do edge processing is the advantage of the pod & rail. The disadvantage is you have to saw all the parts out first, double handling. The nesting router is fast but you then have to edge process on another machine, double handling, sort of, but we also insert dowels there. Depending on the machine setup, a pod and rail can be equipped to do serious solid wood processing. Aggregates can do all sorts of tricks but are expensive.
We are needing to add another machine, it will be a 5x12 flat table with a C axis and push off. To get space for it the IMA will have to go. A lot of what you use depends on your product, budget and other tools.
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