Rounding Board Ends for Pallet Production

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Equipment and methods for high-volume rounding work. May 4, 2005

I have a small wooden pallet manufacturing work shop. I need to supply a good amount of pallets to a chemical company. Their requirement is 4 corners of the pallet should be rounded by 30R. I have no machine to round off the top and bottom boards of the pallet. Which kind of machine should I purchase?

Forum Responses
(Architectural Woodworking Forum)
From contributor C:
I suggest investing in a jigsaw and a supply of blades and have at it. You should be able to round those corners with ease, but you will probably get tired after a doing a few.

From contributor V:
Or invest some more money than a jigsaw and blades would require, so you can do it fast without getting tired. The price for the corner trimmer is + - 1K.

From contributor X:
How about using a portable bandsaw?

From contributor S:
If you can round the corners before constructing the pallets, I would suggest a shaper with a round-over bit. Grizzly makes a decent shaper worth the money. We paid somewhere around 700.00 for the last one we purchased.

From contributor P:
Just buy a cheap band saw and make a simple jig for cutting radiuses with a pivot point.

From contributor A:
Would it work to use a 15" disk sander with coarse paper and free hand the radius before assembly? Seems that after a worker has done twenty or so, they should get pretty good at it.

From contributor L:
I use a sander to cut one or two, but for more I use a band saw. Clamp a piece of plywood to the table and place a dowel to the right of the blade, just like a circle cutter. If you want to round off a 1"x6", drill a hole 3" from the blade and put in a dowel, leave 3/4" high, then drill a hole 3" from side and end of a 1"x6" and place over dowel with long end of board to back of saw and turn clockwise. You will round the end perfectly. Then nail a fence to the side and a small part of the end and you can stack 3 or 4 1"x6" on top and cut all at one time. You can adjust your dowel to get the radius you want.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for your kind interest in my problem. Board size is 17x100x1100mm. I should round 350 boards per hour. That means around 700 corners need to be rounded. It is simply impossible to be done manually.

From contributor G:
With the size of the stock, you can easily set up a router table with a 30mm router bit and build a jig to hold 10 pieces at a time (clamp system will help). That should be the cheapest way to do it.

From contributor C:
350 per hour! Yeah, I guess you can nix the jigsaw recommendation. By your initial post, it sounded like you were working out of your garage or a small shop and you only needed to round a few corners.

From contributor O:
There are basically three ways to cut this shape on a production basis and remain profitable. A jig saw is not one of them.

1. Stack the boards, or cut the cant before running it through the gang saw.
2. Use a shaper with a round over cutter the size required and shape the cant before resawing.
3. Use a haunching machine and cut the profile before resawing the cant.

In all cases, cut the profile before you resaw the cant. Cutting one board at a time will be far too slow.

From the original questioner:
Some one emailed me about a corner rounder machine: Model C 30, Hazlethorn Machine Co. I can't find this machine on the Internet.

From contributor O:
Hazelthorn Equipment was in business for many years making pallet industry equipment. Check with Pallet Enterprise to find out who bought them out. The owner died a few years ago.

A haunching machine would easily handle the number of boards you need to produce. It is essentially a shaper where the stock is held fast and the head moves vertical. This allows you to cut the cants very efficiently and quickly. There are several companies who produce haunchers, and a good used should not be hard to find. The other advantage to a hauncher is you can cut strapping notches into cants before ripping stringers out. I worked in the pallet business for about 10 years, and used haunchers for all of our rounding and specialty notching work.

A quick note - a Yoder single head notcher will not work. This is the type of notcher the Amish and Mennonite mills frequently use.