I need advice. PTP or dedicated boring? Confirmat or dowels? I do high-end residential with one foreman, two journeymen, two trainees and one part-timer. We have two 10" Powermatics, a Griggio slider, Ritter line borer, Her-saf panel router. I am in the final stages of integrating Cabnetware. All of our work is Euro construction. We rabbet and dado, glue and screw, iron on pre-glued tape, then hand-file and clean. The 21st century beckons!
Our customers appreciate the quality of our handwork (we grew out of the Portland Saturday Market, a "handcrafted only" outdoor craft mall). Each advance in technology takes us further from the craftsman ideal, but we still have to make a living. I suspect that we can make these changes and find creative ways to maintain the quality of our work.
To eliminate the hand facing, I need a good bander. I am leaning towards the Holz-Her 1432SE. With my cabinet parts banded I must choose a new assembly method. I looked at the Masterwood 2.45L to drill for confirmat assembly now and dowels in the future. I don't intend to get orders of huge magnitude, so I don't need massive production capability. I am most concerned about quality. I need tight, flat joints at the corners, and tight seams at the fixed shelves, etc.
Has anyone calculated the volume (boxes or dollars) required to make the upgrade feasible? How do I spend enough to be set for a long time, but not too much that I have to attend my own auction?
From contributor B:
I don't think that quality is an issue when comparing a hand-applied tape edge to an edgebander-applied edge. If anything, the bander edge will be better. The thing to consider is efficiency and how much time you will gain by banding with a machine. You can do a lot more profitable things with the time you save by automatic banding. I owned a 1432 a couple of years back and decided to sell it only because we only turned it on a few hours a month. I have recently had more call for banding and plan to buy another machine, only this time I will get one with much more capacity. Anything you can buy that removes skill or setup is worth its weight in gold.
The PTP is a machine that may actually dramatically increase your quality. The flexibility and accuracy of these machines is impressive. Five years ago I never would have imagined that today I would be measuring inlay parts with an electronic caliper and changing the size by about the thickness of a piece of copy paper! All the construction methods you mention above can be achieved on a good PTP. If you purchase one with a tool changer and a well-tooled boring head, you can figure out how to make just about anything with a little imagination.
With the addition of any new CNC machines to your shop, the accuracy of cut becomes so important. You will no longer be looking at 1/16", it will be .00. These machines will boost the quality of your cabinets 10-fold. Remember this--once your templates are programmed into your machines, should you damage a part, simply call up that program and run the part. You won't have to move to 3 or 4 different stations anymore to process that panel.
If you don't want to cut your parts, then are you going to NBM? If you are looking down that road, you will also have to buy more software from Cabnetware. Check out their Enabler. I would look at the Winner 2.45S. I have found it to be solid and the training was excellent. The marriage between Cabnetware and Masterwood was a very easy setup.
I too have been using a Hersaf panel router for dado construction. We've been using a combination of 1/4" tongue and groove and stop dados. This method works well for us because we use so many different thicknesses of material (plywood, melamine, laminate covered panels). We stop dado with a 1/4" bit for shelves and tops and bottoms of the cabinets. The same bit cuts the back groove so we are able to do all our dadoing on the panel router without having to change bits, regardless of material thickness. We put the tongue on the end of the shelves with a dedicated spindle shaper, which is also used to clip the end of the tongue where the dado stops. We get tight joints on our cases. You don't need to invest in a PTP right away to make good use of an edgebander. Stop dados are easy and safe on your panel router.
I have just purchased a CNC machining center, the new Holz-her EcoMaster. The technician arrived today to install it so I still have my fingers crossed that it will do for my production what the edgebander has. One of the selling points for me on this machine is that you don't need a post-processor to execute DXF files form Cabinetware and Autocad. I've been monitoring this forum for some time and have read enough horror stories about software problems.
The Holz-Her edgebanders are a great choice. I used to sell them and very much like the glue nozzle technology they use as opposed to glue rollers. You have much less clean up that way.
I have sold CMS and Anderson routers and used to program and operate a Biesse PTP, so I've got some experience in this area. I began selling MultiCam because at their price point, they offer ease of use and features that far more expensive equipment either does not have or charges more for.
As for the bander, we have had a 1436SE for approximately 5 years. Both top and bottom trim motors went bad at the same time with spun bearings, one month out of warranty (Holz-her paid for 50% replacement and told me I should be very happy). Besides that, we have been very happy with it. I never want to see another glue pot for as long as I live.
As for the P2P, you will find there is no limit to the flexibility of what it will allow you to do. If only I did not have to make those damned payments. I have a similar sized shop and although I have benefited from the machine, it is the only machine I have ever purchased in 20 years that does not make its own payment in cost savings. Provided it lasts 2 or 3 more years, it will turn out to have been a profitable decision. If it does not last, however, I will buy another (perhaps not Masterwood, but I won't go back to the days before CNC).
2. The only other problem was not really Masterwood's problem, in that the vacuum pump would not turn over on cold mornings. They did remedy the problem by installing the equivalent of a block heater, which has solved the problem. Since then, I believe they have switched like almost everybody to the Becker dry vane pump.
4. Holz-her may be a lighter constructed machine, but based on what my employees have tried to do to the 1436, I am very impressed with how it has withstood the use (abuse).
Brian Personett, forum techncial advisor
On the edgebander part of this discussion, try running consecutive 8-foot strips through a machine without a glue pot. See how many you get before the panel is starved of glue.
Comment from contributor A:
There is no problem with starving glue due to temperature drops with the Holz-Her glue system. I've seen long panel after long panel sent through that nozzle configuration without any problem. There is enough time between panels for the temp to recover since most of the panels are 5/8 or 3/4". Any thicker than that and you should slow track speed down or space two feet more between. Besides, who can get their employees to feed 1"x8' panels back to back anyway?