I am looking at moulders and will probably get a Unimat Gold 5 head. What do I need to get in the way of tooling? It looks like I will be doing a lot of S4S and parts with grooves. Are there any recommendations for aftermarket cutter heads, or do I need to stick with Weinig? What are some additional things that I need that are not included in a startup package? Do I need their spider manifold? What size collector do you recommend if I will be running a 15" - 20" planer, rip saw and this moulder?
(Solid Wood Machining Forum)
From contributor J:
The manifold you can have done anywhere. Air Handling Systems is a pretty good company. Heads are readily available all over this web site. If you don't plan on buying a profile grinder, you might want to look into carbide insert tooling. If you're set on the U-gold, I'm sure Weinig will talk you through everything you need for your application. Just keep in mind you don't necessarily need all Weinig accessories. However, you might want to look into the warrantee details before running other heads.
As for tooling, stick with Weinig. If you buy a new machine, you can usually negotiate a good deal on lots of tooling also. Better than if you were to go to an off brand. Look to put a carbide head on the first spindle either straight or spiral, and if you get the 6 head machine, a carbide on your first top. Make those a 20 degree head, as they are purely a roughing cut. If you mostly cut hardwoods (oak, poplar, maple, cherry), get 12 degree heads for the finish heads. How ever many heads you think you're going to need, get more. A good start would be 6pc 2 1/2" 4pc 9" 4pc 6" and 4pc 4". Some other things to negotiate for may be feed rollers. Extra urethane rollers (the replaceable kind) and extra steel feed rollers. I use an aftermarket set of pushmaster rollers on the first feed spindle. Not cheap, but they have replaceable inserts when you need to sharpen, and in five years and millions of feet I've never needed to do more than replace a few cracked ones. Other must-have things would be several bars of knife stock in various widths and a balance scale if you plan on making your own knives. Something else to negotiate in is bed lube. A couple 5 gallon cans will get you well on your way.
Skip the manifold from Weinig, waste of money. Little trick I've learned is to pipe a slightly larger pipe down to the machine, like 7". It's kind of like sticking your thumb over a garden hose, except in reverse. Really helps clear the chips out. As far as a collector goes, a 10-12000 cfm will probably be enough to get the job done comfortably, won't offer much room for expansion, but should do for a while.
In general, 1000 cfm per cutterhead is a good rule of thumb for the moulder. As for the rip saw and planer, ask their manufacturer. The spider can be done by anybody with a good reputation, but you're on their timetable and you would want it ready when your moulder arrives.
I agree with contributor T; if you can swing it, get the 6 spindle machine, you won't regret it!
You said you will be doing a lot of grooves. Be aware you can't make square dadoes with tooling that is ground from the back of the knife. Rule of thumb is no 90 degrees in your tooling if you want the tool to remain axial constant, on knives ground from the backs. Reason you can't resharpen it without changing the profile. Rabbets are okay, but your axial will move every time you resharpen, and it is more prone to burning. Dadoes will be okay the first time, then you will have to offset the knives (real pain in the butt). Braised on tooling or insert tooling will work best for this type of application unless you don't mind being out of square on your groove. Reason... Braised on tooling they regrind from the face of the knife and the 90 degree is resharpened with no trouble. Insert tool is fine if it is resharpened from the face, or maybe it's thrown away after use.
Contributor J makes a great remark. There is nothing like great customer service when it comes to Weinig. Great people on their staff and that says a lot when it comes to price. As for others' tooling, there is a lot of great tooling out there, and a lot of not so great tooling. Look for balanced tooling as well as bore tolerance (+5 to + 20 microns). Be aware Weinig will not back up your finish product if you use others' tooling. Training is a trademark of Weinig. Great techs, great teachers in the school, great people in parts that understand what you need and when you need it. In general, do your homework; you will be pleased with your machine and the products it produces.
Contributor R, I appreciate your comments about grooves. I was not aware of the issues with 90's, but this makes perfect sense. I guess the same is true with tongues. I guess I could get by with it if I have shorter runs that do not require sharpening, or I could buy new knives to maintain the tolerances... but I would have to set up every time I change the knives. I am thinking that replacing the steel might be cheaper than brazed cutters, for smaller jobs. Any idea what a cutter would cost that would groove .500 deep by .875 wide?
And how long does steel last? I know there are different kinds. Please bring me up to speed on that. We will be running hard maple, poplar, and possibly some MDF. I would appreciate your thoughts.
If you end up buying a grinder from Weinig - "the axial constant system" - they will train you on that as well. Learning a moulder is fun. Remember when you first learned how to use a computer? Kind of the same, in a way. The basics take a few days and then you're on your own. But after that, you will keep learning, and learning, and learning all these little tweaks that fit your bill. It doesn't stop, only gets better.
I am using a 10 HP dust collector rated at 3500 cfm. It works fine. It is a few feet away and we actually split some of the air from time to time without any trouble (much to my surprise). Weinig suggests 4500 CFM. I am doing cedar, which is very light (22 lbs per cu ft) and I am only taking off 1/8 inch. Training was great, the local sales rep was great, and they have supported me well.