Power Feeder Wheels for Slippery Material

Stock feeder wheels may not be grippy enough to grab onto prefinished plywood or other low-friction material. January 25, 2013

We build drawer boxes out of pre-finished ApplePly (similar to Baltic birch). The finish has a satin sheen. For some reason we can't get any traction on it with our power feeder. The finish is so slippery that the wheels just don't want to grab the material. It's not a pressure or wheel orientation issue. The table surface is clean and has drycoat lubricant.

The rubber wheels we are using have been around a while (10 years) but have never been installed onto a machine. They are still somewhat pliable, but I don't have any brand new ones to compare them with. Is there a specific durometer of rubber I should be looking for in a powerfeed wheel when working with material that already has finish on it?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor L:
Get urethane wheels from Western Roller. The rubber wheels that come with the feeds aren't much good.

From contributor D:
If your tires are 10 years old, that is the main problem. I have stacks of the new rubber tires that come on my Maggi Steff feeders. Some of my material is powerfed after having been through the widebelt, so they are dusty. This is where the Western Roller tires work really well, but they are narrower than the stock tires. So I just got a set of blue tires from Luis at Woodtechinc and like them better than Western Rollers because they are full width. Running true stock that has not been through the widebelt should run fine with newish rubber tires.

From contributor J:
One more vote to ditch your rubber tires. I don't understand why they still sell feeders with those things anyway - they don't work well for very long at all.

I bought my wheels from Western Roller also. Give them a call and explain what you're doing and they can recommend the right type of wheel for your application. I run the yellow wheels and they grab with very little pressure.

From contributor C:
Sounds to me like you need a much softer durometer. In the 50 durometer range I suspect, since your material is smooth. The 70 durometer yellow tires that contributor J is running are primarily recommended for rough stock.