Suspending a Power Feeder from the Shop Ceiling

Pros and cons of mounting a stock feeder on the shop ceiling to be shared by multiple machines, plus advice from someone who has done it.November 28, 2014

Question (WOODWEB Member) :
Iím making scale floor plan mock-ups for a new shop space. I see that the table saw and shaper, both with large table extensions, are in competition for expensive infeed/outfeed space. I use the shaper only a few times a year so I want to mount both machines on casters. Then, besides working space, they can share a dust pick-up and electrical supply too.

Though I have a couple of power feeds sitting idle, the thought returns that the ideal feed would have no table-mounted post but would be suspended over the machine and swing into place when needed. Maybe a feed would be used a lot more if it was quick to set up and never in the way when it was at the ready. Why couldn't it have a dust collection shroud that enclosed and guarded the cut? The new machine room's ceilings will be 12'. I envision an inverted angle iron pyramid, about 4' square where it mounts to the ceiling and coming down about 6'. At its point there would be a plate where the feed bolts. The only modification that comes to mind is that the feed's column would need to be grooved and the casting drilled for a retaining clip. Who has seen such an arrangement? Can anyone foresee problems I am overlooking?

Forum Responses
(Solid Wood Machining Forum)
From contributor G:
It will probably be in the way sometime for something. For what, I don't know but it will. Felder sells (or used to) a powerfeeder mounting bracket that mounts to the side of your saw. It allows the feeder to flip down below table height when you want it out of the way. I have one and love it.

From Contributor O:
I once had a setup with the feeder socket mounted below table level on a tablesaw, and I shared the feeder with another machine. The saw had a 10' long catch table and the router table was near the end of the saw table. When I needed to move the feeder, I cranked it down to the table, loosened the post and cranked it out of the socket and then switched the feeder on and 'drove' it down the table to the other machine where there was another socket. I think the ceiling mount is doable, but will cause unforeseen problems. It is the old 'just because you can, doesn't mean you should.'

From the original questioner:
Your reservations are under serious consideration. I recently sold a Felder combination machine bought new in the mid-'80s. I drilled and tapped several sets of mounting holes for a feed so I could use it to rip, joint and shape with it. Because it installed so far from the edges of the machine, it was really difficult to move or else was in the way. The $1,000 feed spent most of its life gathering cobwebs in the corner. The hot notion I'm entertaining now involves having both the feed's wiring and top-end dust collection coming down from above. Tell me, has anyone seen a setup like this? Has anyone seen a satisfactory dust shroud for a stock feeder? I envision something made out of Lexan with provision for a high volume of airflow.

From contributor Y:
For tablesaw dust collection with a stock feeder, I cut a slot in the wheel cover and jammed a crevice tool from a shop vac between the first and second wheels. The spray off the top of the blade shoots right into the crevice tool. The shop vac is located outdoors where I won't hear it. The stock feeder on a tablesaw restricts ripping to 14 1/2" max. I rarely rip wider on that saw. When I do need the stock feeder out of the way, I hoist it up with a chain fall that hangs over the saw.

From contributor Q:
I have two tablesaws built into on large work surface with a power feed mounted above each on the ceiling. I use one for dadoes and the other for ripping solids and plywood stock. I am only limited to the width of my 57 inch fence. I have never regretted mounting both to the ceiling and would do it again in a heartbeat. I have 12 foot ceilings and had a T-post made to mount to the ceiling and two angle braces mounted off each feeder and then tied together with a cross brace - very easy to modify the feeder post to mount it upside down. I say do it and you will not regret it except for waiting so long to try it.

From the original questioner:
I was sure ceiling-mounted stock feeders would have been tried by someone else. The description of the mounting arrangement you used helps free my thinking about the configuration of the "tower" or hanger from which to mount the feeder. I had imagined something like an inverted miniature windmill tower and that might be ok for a universal application but in my new space the ceiling will be unsubstantial and suspended from the bottom chord of roof trusses on 4' centers. I'm sure those trusses will be much more solid when everything is tied together but the idea of T hangers that could tie together three trusses seems appealing. The installation is still a couple of months away. I have a torch, welder and credit at the iron yard.