S4S Planing Equipment for a Small Shop

Shopping for a four-head moulder that's practical for dressing lumber in a small shop. October 4, 2011

I have a small 2 man custom shop, approximately 2600 sq. ft. We do about anything that walks in the door. All of our s4s is done on the jointer, and planer and is very time consuming. I've been looking at moulders and 3 sided and 4 sided planers, and would like some advice on a good quality machine that could help. A typical run might be a few feet up to a few hundred feet, so easy setup would be good. Profiling is not a must, but might come in handy for very short runs.

Forum Responses
(Solid Wood Machining Forum)
From contributor B:
I have a Streibig panel saw for straight line ripping and an SCMI Sintex for S4S. The SCMI cannot profile, but the combination of these two machines is a big time saver when prepping solid stock.

From contributor D:
I'll suggest the Weinig Quattromat, again. This subject comes up often, and I always suggest the Quattromat. Two basic models - one has digital counters and you crank to set the width and then to set the height. The Auto-set model has servo driven settings that are entered into a screen manually or pre-set in memory. The Auto-set is much faster, but it is no problem to set manually since the feedworks and fences and holdowns all move with the width or height.

With a jointing type infeed table and fence, it is super accurate, straight and fast. We often set it up and run 1, 2, or 3 parts. Or will set up with a wide stock and narrow it down for piece by piece for variable or random width stock.

Knives are full width insert type, and it takes about 3 minutes to change a set, while the head is still on the machine.

And you can easily profile off the side heads and the top head. While expensive (especially for a 2 man shop), they are trouble free. In 8 years, we have had to replace a hose and a belt and a breaker. We use ours only a few hours a week, and it paid its way years ago.

Improves the quality, speeds up the process dramatically, adds new products (t&g, flooring, short run moldings, etc.) and makes money.

From David Rankin, forum technical advisor:
There are several good choices for this type of machine. The Weinig Quattromat is a good option. You can get into a good used one from $8000. You may also want to look at a used 5 head Weinig. There are some good ones available from about the same price range and they would give you more profile options. Now is a great time to buy, as there are many machines available. I suggest you either look at the machine or have someone you trust take a look if possible. With the number of machines available, many are worn out.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for the help. I'll be shopping Weinig 4 or 5 head moulders. I do need to be careful about size (we're tight on floor space already) and dust collection requirements. I have a 7 1/2 hp Torrit and don't want to go larger for now.

From contributor J:
I've even heard of people putting a Quattromat on a caster base for max flexibility. My 2-3 man shop has a 5-head moulder that gets used 95% of the time for S4S.

From contributor U:
I bought an Asian 5 head molder 4 years ago and installed it in my 3 man shop. It paid for itself in 1 year with labor savings from S4S work alone. It's so much faster, safer, and more accurate that I couldn't see working without it now.

From contributor R:
The Quattromat is a good choice for an s4s machine. The earlier versions had no axial adjustments, so it's not very practical for molding. The later versions offered both adjustments and are very capable for s4s and most profiles, within reason. Although an older design, a used Weinig P22n is also an excellent machine. It was produced in both 4 and 5 head versions and is more robust than the Quattromat, however as mentioned, you will want to have it checked out before buying.

From contributor L:
I've got a P22n Weinig that I bought new. Great machine, great support. I'd go for a 5 or 6 head machine rather than a 4 head. Being able to actually run moldings rather than just S4S and a very limited molding capability makes the 5 head machine a better buy for most shops.