Setting up a Combination Gang-Ripsaw/Planer/Moulder

Detailed comments on how to get good use out of a combination machine that gang rips, planes, and makes mouldings. December 29, 2008

I run a custom stair company and am looking to upgrade to a planer that can handle 20"+ wide material. Woodmaster has a 25" planer/gang rip/molder that isn't much more than a wide planer in itself. It would be great to be able to gang rip blanks for glue-ups, plane them down, and even make some of the moldings I normally outsource. Am I being naive to think a machine will actually do all these functions efficiently? Is the planer portion alone worth the investment? Am I better off looking for separate machines for the different functions?

Forum Responses
(Solid Wood Machining Forum)
From contributor D:
I bought a 718 and set it up permanently as a straightedge/gangrip saw. We have never used it for anything else. I ordered it with a 10 hp 3 phase drive motor, the 1/2 hp, 23 fpm feed motor and serrated steel feed rollers. I changed the feed pulleys when we were setting it up so it will feed at 46 fpm. You can feed a rough, unstraightened board in and get straight blanks out. It took a couple days to set it up. It won't do it right out of the box. As far as changing from one process to another, I think it wastes too much time. I always thought doing that was for hobbyists that aren't trying to make money. I do think Woodmaster is a good machine, and if I could do it over, I would have got the 725.

From the original questioner:
Thanks. Do your blanks come out straight enough for glue ups right out of the 718? If so, any advice on setup for straight lining from someone who's done it already?

From contributor B:
I have a 718 and the thing literally carries my shop. I straight line, gang rip, plane, and mold. I make quite a few reproduction moldings for the older buildings along the Ohio River. The straight line function I use is primitive. I think contributor D is on the right track on this and I hope to set up a machine like his for making molding blanks. I hope he posts some pictures of his setup so I can copy it. A dedicated machine to straight line and gang rip all at once would be a real luxury for me. I would not look for glue line type accuracy, but certainly makes straight moldings. Better add a few zeros to the price to get a glue line quality machine.

My machine turns out real nice molding and T&G products. I also cut curved moldings after first cutting out the blanks on the CNC, very fast. I have quite a library of molding knives now, but nobody ever seems to need the same knife.

I have another buddy that has the 725 and have not heard him complain. The Woodmaster is not the "heavy steel" type of machine, but mine has seemed to hold together pretty good under hard use for 3 years. I am still leery of Chinese machines, although I must admit to not owning any to give them a fair trial.

The service is pretty good. When I call to order blades, sandpaper or other stuff, I get to talk to the same guys that would sell a machine, and they are pretty informed and take the order and get the stuff out quick (they must be on commission!) So overall I would say they are a pretty good outfit to deal with. I would buy another one if I got the chance.

From contributor J:
I have two 718 planers. One is set up to straight line rip with some of contributor D's ideas. The second is set up for log siding. It has many modifications including a second cutter head to cut the bottom shiplap groove in the siding. I try to never change the second one, but the first one I change quite a bit. Woodmaster is not the most heavy duty machine out there, but I can run 8" log siding on it all day long without hardly any problems. For the money you can't go wrong.

From contributor D:
Below I have copied and pasted a description I wrote in another forum. I special ordered my Woodmaster (10 hp drive motor, 5 sawblades) and then further modified it (46 fpm) to use it as a gang rip saw only. For the tables I built two frames of 2x6's (12' infeed, 8' outfeed), using 3/4" osb as a subtop and a slick replaceable top. One end is fastened to the saw, with the other end supported by a permanent leg. The 2x6's are strong enough that no support is needed in the center, and with the support legs being 12' away, raising or lowering the bed doesn't make any difference on the tables. The whole setup is about 23' long and as you probably guessed, is not portable.

This picture shows the Woodmaster and feeders. A long pallet with upright stakes fastened to each corner goes under the outfeed table and the usable offcuts get thrown in it. When it's full you take them out with the forklift. The scrap strips fall on the floor on the back side. If you look close you will see there is only one leg at the back of each table so you don't have to work around a front leg. The tables are also fastened with a board running across the end extending to the wall and are really stable.

I had bought the feeders to use on a homemade moulding machine I had built. I bought my Logosol moulder, dismantled the homemade machine, and then had the idea to get the Woodmaster and set it up like it is now using the feeders I already had.

Here is one more picture. This was taken on the infeed side. The fence on the right is a 12' long piece of angle iron. It will adjust about an inch more to the right for badly bowed boards. To adjust the fence we slide the wooden handle, seen beside the feeder base in the picture. The handle slides about 1 1/2' to move the fence 1".

The small feeders on each side of the saw are what keeps the lumber against the fences. The Woodmaster itself does not have a way of keeping things straight. I realize I missed your question about glue line edges. As already noted, the Woodmaster will not make glue edges. I agree that it is not a big, heavy machine, but it is a simple design and holds up well with use.

From the original questioner:
Thanks again for the responses. Could I produce scribe molding (1 1/4 x 1/4") with the right knives and setup?

From contributor B:
An economical way to do this is to use 7/8 stock and mold both sides of the piece, then split it down the middle with the table saw. I have done this on thin moldings up to 2 1/2 inches wide. You get two moldings out of each 4/4 blank.