Choosing a Moulder

Big industrial iron will outwork smaller machinery, but you need dust and chip collection to match. February 15, 2009

I'm searching for a 4 head planer only for S4S work on hardwoods. Originally I thought about a new Logosol or Baker, but am now thinking about a used Profimat N22 or similar. My typical size need is 6" wide and 4/4 to 8/4. Set up time is not too important because it will run straight knives all the time. Speed is not a huge issue for me as I will run it about 1/2 day/week and only about 500 to 1,000 bd ft at a time. I don't want to send this out because I do it every week. Currently I use a 3 hp single head planer and it is too time consuming. I'd consider a better single head planer as an interim solution. What do you think about these options? Is the Profimat too much machine for a small shop with these board footage needs?

Forum Responses
(Solid Wood Machining Forum)
From contributor D:
Weinig makes a Quattromat - 4 head machine with long infeed table and fence for straightening. Designed to do exactly what you describe. It will also do light profiling on the sides and top heads. More compact and efficient that the Profimats.

Some models have digi-set for quick change in dimensions, and others have Seiko counters for not quite as quick, but still quick dimension changes. Knives are quick change, proprietary Weinig type - takes about 45 seconds to change one knife. SCMI and a few others also make 4 head S4S machines, but the Weinig is the industry standard. Look at ex-factory and the Weinig site for used equipment.

From the original questioner:
The Quattromat looks really good. I could get a Profimat at a very low price from a local business. Am I asking for trouble? I don't want to add a service/maintenance headache or eat up too much floor space but need S4S capability. I'll start watching for Quattromats. Would you take a well used Quattromat over a new Logosol?

From contributor D:
The low price and probable knowledge of the history of the machine is a good thing. The Profimat just has more going on than it needs to for S4S.

No matter what the machine, it is very useful to have some sort of setting dimension readout. The Seiko counters on a Quattromat allow you to literally dial in the thickness and width, set the jointer (bottom) head and the fence, and the first piece is dead on, and straight. Some Quattromats have the powered adjustment so you enter the dimensions digitally and it moves the heads. Accurate (brand name) digital readouts could also be mounted to give readouts, with the use of axial constant, insert or quick change tooling.
My experience is with Weinigs, the world's first Mattison, and a Smithway XL - no knowledge of Logosol. The Weinigs never break down and give superior surface finish.

From contributor M:
I was in the same situation you're in and a couple of years ago I got a 4 head Weinig Unimat 300 to do just what you're doing. My only regret is that I didn't get one 10 years ago. I have the Seiko digital counters and run insert heads on my spindles so I can set the thickness and the width to the correct dimension in seconds and when the knives dull they swap out and maintain the same cutting diameter. I looked at the SCMI Sintex, but concluded it was a little too light duty for what I needed to run on it.

I've learned a lot about tooling and have strong opinions about what works best for me, but that's another discussion. My parting words, get the moulder. It may be just 500-1,000 ft. now, but it will grow and your return on investment can be pretty fast.

From contributor C:
I have not run or worked with a Weinig, only know the reputation. I am however familiar with the Logosol, and there is little comparison between it and a production moulder. If you have the choice, go with the Weinig.

From the original questioner:
I see that the Logosol is probably more pro-hobby than pro industrial when compared to even a well used Weinig. I'll also look into the SCM Sintex, and the Martin T90 came up in older threads that perhaps I should consider. Any others for the list of an entry level, used S4S moulder with a $20k price cap on acquisition? Any other comments on the Profimat N22 being overkill, and maybe too complex for S4S work?

From contributor E:
As an owner of both the Logosol and The P 22N I can tell you there is not any comparison between the two. The quality of cut from a heavy machine cannot be matched by an 800 lb moulder. That said the advantages the Logosol has are its width capacity and its small footprint. I have run many thousands of feet through a logosol and it made me lots of money, but I also needed to keep my 24" planer busy because you will tax the Logosol too much if you try and take too much material at once. The low price of the Logosol is inviting and the machine is worth every penny, but if you would like to be able to pick up production I would buy a Weinig. I have never regretted my decision. Remember that the Weinig produces a lot of chips so be prepared with lots of dust collection.

From the original questioner:
I expect I'll have to upgrade dust collection but how big? Is my 5hp cyclone too small? The N22 is 5 head.

From contributor M:
Yes, you will have to upgrade. If memory serves me correct, you need 850 cfm per head, plus the saw and anything else that may be running. 15-20 hp will do. Used dust collectors are easier to come by then well maintained moulders. I picked up a 20 hp. Baghouse (14" inlet) with a RAL for $6000. That will improve your productivity if you're discharging into 55 gallon drums. Good luck on your decision. It's best to know where your moulder came from and how well it was maintained.

From contributor D:
The dust collection is a valid issue. Our Weinig can fill a 55 gal drum in about 15 minutes. We can fill an 8yd dumpster in six hours continuous. You need to spend your time running the Weinig or other productive equipment rather than changing containers. You don't get paid to handle dust (at least I never could figure out how to do so). Plan to get beyond those puny bags and drums. A Rotary Air Lock is one of the first steps, then mount it all above a dumpster.

From contributor F:
I have a Logosol moulder, with a 5hp cyclone pulling the chips away very well. A rotary air lock is the ideal solution, but to avoid that expense, I left my cyclone in the shop and hooked up a second blower to the bottom of the cyclone and it blows all the dust outside into a silage wagon, while keeping most of the heated or cooled shop air inside. It is not a professional design, but it works.

From the original questioner:
I ended up purchasing the Weinig Profimat 22N 5 head moulder. Thanks for all your help in sorting out priorities and types of machines. Now I have to tackle the phase converter and dust collection issues.