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Author Topic: Surfacing equipment for slabs  (Read 4606 times)

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Offline Blackhawk1

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Surfacing equipment for slabs
« on: December 27, 2017, 11:10:29 AM »
After reading through all the information I am now leaning to a CNC router table for the 20K I will be spending, versatile and I can produce other product with a CNC table

Now for another question what CNC table manufacture for the 20K price range?

I'm with you guys.  If I was going to drop $17k, it would be on a large CNC router instead of a single function machine.   

 (Image hidden from quote, click to view.) To clarify since so many people have answered me.
We have 10 slabs 18 feet long over 40 inches wide, these are all live edge Cypress

There is an additional 8 Pecan slabs 9 feet long and 48 inches wide

We need to true fireplace mantels on a regular basis that range from 4 feet long to 12 feet long and range from 12 to 16 inches wide

In our log pile we have potential slabs to be milled from 12 feet long to 50 inches wide.

Making our own surfacing table is something we do not have time to do, we need to purchase a unit ready to go.

I currently have a Peterson ASM that I use to mill and surface large slabs. I would like to have independent equipment to do these steps. After searching the internet and this forum I have come up with several options and I would like some input from  members.
 
Baker makes a surfacing table, has anyone ever used one of theses?

I am thinking of selling my ASM and purchasing a wide slabber or wide band saw mill. Who has used one of the wide band saw mills on the market?

Can anyone recommend a surfacing table? I would use this for wide slabs, truing fireplace mantels and so on.

Thanks for the time and answers
Doug Caroselli
512-738-1770

Offline Brad_S.

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Re: Surfacing equipment for slabs
« Reply #1 on: December 27, 2017, 11:42:30 AM »
Of late, I have become a huge fan of perusing Pinterest, of all things! I bookmarked several tutorials on how to construct slab and/or cookie straightening/leveling tables using a router mounted in an overhead sled system. If you have the $$, a CNC router does the same thing automatically vs manually. Short of fitting the mill head with a planer blade, the router method is the most effective cost vs time method I have seen.

Edit: I just looked at the Baker table on their site. Looks to be like a type of dedicated CNC table. Looks great but for $17K, one would need to keep it pretty busy to justify it!
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Offline woodworker9

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Re: Surfacing equipment for slabs
« Reply #2 on: December 27, 2017, 12:27:16 PM »
How wide are the slabs you are working with?  Cost effective options vary with width, so I would need to know what your parameters are.
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Offline B@kerJB

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Re: Surfacing equipment for slabs
« Reply #3 on: December 27, 2017, 04:45:04 PM »
The Baker Slab Surfacing machine, Wood Wizz, is a neat machine. This machine is unique in its own way. This machine is different from a CNC machine as it offers the ability to plane and sand on the same table, not transferring any material. You have the ability to plane a wider cut of 5" than you would find on a CNC machine.

Offline Brad_bb

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Re: Surfacing equipment for slabs
« Reply #4 on: December 27, 2017, 05:17:39 PM »
I have a Woodmizer MP100 Beam Planer.  Besides beams, I use it on slabs up to 20 inches wide, sometimes a little wider if they are curved and I can rotate them on the bed.  The Planer itself has a 16" wide planer knives, but the planer can slide another 4" in it's frame giving you 20" wide. 

The planer often gives a smooth finish, requiring relatively little sanding afterwards.   It also acts like a jointer giving you a flat side.  Some woods will tear out like Osage, and sometimes Ash.  In those cases it will require more aggressive finish sanding. 

So i think an ideal surfacer would be akin to a wide 2 rail mill bed with a wide head frame for the planer.  Use the same sliding concept that woodmizer does, only on a longer head frame to give you the surfacing width you need.  Lastly I would change the cutter head from 4 straight knives, to a Byrd Shelix type helical segmented type.  One of the pains with the stock straight knives is that if you get one nick, it's likely in all 4 knives, and you have to replace the set to get rid of it.  (actually you can offset 2 of the knives and get a little more life, but not the ideal solution.).

Anything someone can design, I can sure figure out how to fix!
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Offline Kbeitz

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Re: Surfacing equipment for slabs
« Reply #5 on: December 27, 2017, 06:32:36 PM »
This coming summer I will be building a machine like in the video above
that will fit on my mill bed. I already bought all the stuff I need but this
cold weather not agreeing with me. Come on summer time....
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Offline flatrock58

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Re: Surfacing equipment for slabs
« Reply #6 on: December 27, 2017, 07:32:07 PM »
The Wood Wizz is built in Australia and distributed by Baker.  I saw it operate at the IWF in Atlanta and talked to Les Owen, the guy who designed it.  Baker is selling the bigger model and i think it is in the $15K range. It does a really good job.

 I have thought about looking to see what it would cost to buy the smaller hobby model and have it shipped from Australia.   I have also thought about buying a used Lucas mill.  Les sells a 8' surfacing blade and sander to go on them.
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Offline tule peak timber

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Re: Surfacing equipment for slabs
« Reply #7 on: December 27, 2017, 09:35:13 PM »
I looked at the Wood Wizz this summer in Las Vegas and very nearly bought one. The main selling point as explained to me is that only one man needs to run it, thereby freeing up labor. I have several guys that run powered hand planers that will flatten any  slab in short order , but the Wizz machine did look good ! So I came home and did a poor mans version with a router sled registered to my finishing table with the same results- one man flattening slabs reasonably fast. My next version will have a bigger motor  and a larger tool head. Another great tool to surface with is the slabber by Lucas. Just running the chain saw carefully , slaking the surface produces good results. Another tool is a large jointer with a power feeder that with some finesse will tackle slabs several feet wide. This option is expensive though. I have massive tables inside and outside the shop to reference slabs on, using different methods of flattening. Trained guys with power planers works pretty darn well.....Rob

 
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Offline redbeard

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Re: Surfacing equipment for slabs
« Reply #8 on: December 27, 2017, 10:04:05 PM »

Been studying the idea of using a shaper mounted upside down, the wheels will work good or maybe linier bearing set up
Also like this one

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Offline Larry

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Re: Surfacing equipment for slabs
« Reply #9 on: December 27, 2017, 10:19:30 PM »
One of the locals runs a sled with 3 PC routers running on his Lucas slabber rails.  The routers are staggered behind each other.  I'm not sure what bits he runs, but with 2" ones that would give 6" minus every pass.

Another guy had a Komo cnc with a table about the size of a tennis court.  He could level a slab while we drank a cup of coffee for a reasonable price.  He could also cut a recess for counter bolts if slabs had to be joined.  Went out of business, guess he was a bit too reasonable on price.

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Offline YellowHammer

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Re: Surfacing equipment for slabs
« Reply #10 on: December 27, 2017, 10:46:57 PM »
Slab size dictates how hard they are to flatten.  I've tried several things, but I recently bought this 20 inch jointer with nearly 6 foot infeed table to flatten slabs as well as other jobs.  Most our slabs are 8 feet long, less than 2 feet wide, as that's about all our customers can handle and about all we can get out of our walnut logs.

I worked this walnut slab this morning.  It wasn't too bad out of flat, somewhere around 3/8" inch, but would have been impossible to flatten with my planer.  The nice thing about a jointer is that the slab never has to be lifted to make successive passes, simply drop the cutter head and slide it backward on the table, then raise the cutter and take another pass, back and forth.  Very easy, fast and puts a finished glass surface on it.

Heres the slab laying on the bed, lots of gap between the wood and the table.

This is after only one pass, pretty good, but still a little to clean up on the edges and left side, where it pulled because of a knot.  You can see the depth of cut by the gap between the infeed fence and table, about 3/16".


Here's after the second pass.  Flat as a piece of cast iron.  Then a pass into the planer, flat side down and done.  No sweat.




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Offline Brad_bb

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Re: Surfacing equipment for slabs
« Reply #11 on: December 27, 2017, 11:50:28 PM »
tule peak timber, So my idea was similar to the baker surfacing table, only bigger, and a planer taking 16" swaths at a time.  So it would be fast.   QUESTION:  if you were building it, how wide would you go - 60"? to cover say 80-90 percent of the slabs or table tops you'd do.
Anything someone can design, I can sure figure out how to fix!
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Offline longtime lurker

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Re: Surfacing equipment for slabs
« Reply #12 on: December 28, 2017, 05:29:31 AM »
Sooooooooooo. Heres where I finally get to outdo Mr KBeitz... cause I got one and he aint. :D :D :D

(I didnt build it though but... its mine. I bought it off the guy who bought it off the guy who built it. He was an old time mortician and used it to flatten and polish headstones when he wasnt p[laying with big chunks o' wood)

Y'all going to loooove this one.

 

  

  

 

Please forgive that bad photos, I took these when we got it and ive been kinda busy the last few years and havent got it installed at home yet to take better ones.

Soooooo, theres a rotary table underneath that holds the workpiece, and its got some up/down movement and some side to side movement thats achieved by way of a couple hydraulic bottle jacks.

The main body is hooked onto a post and the winch setup controls height of the arm/ working assembly. It looks pretty rough but it actually drops in about 1/16" increments

Power is ex KleenMaid industrial washing machine motor, gearbox out of a Ford Cortina, final reduction courtesy of a Ford 9" automotive diff.

Theres a big flat head hooks on the bottom (not pictured). It takes either 3 of those 7" velcro sanding pads, or can be changed out to one thats got a big planer knife set to work similar to a hand plane

The articulating arm setup means it can work on anything within about a 8' radius of the center.

Despite appearances, this thing actually does a really good job. I never saw it working with the planer blade but she was chewing her way through some really hard timbers that fast with 16 grit paper when I played with it that I dont think id ever bother changing it out anyway.

I'd like to say Im going to set it up again one day but I havent cut anything in 3 years over the limit of the big Klein planer so theres not a lot of urgency involved. My current ideal is to find someone local who wants to set it up and give it to them on proviso that i can use it on an as required basis.
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Offline Blackhawk1

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Re: Surfacing equipment for slabs
« Reply #13 on: December 28, 2017, 06:52:13 AM »
The largest I have now are 18 foot long and 48-inches wide. The smallest are 24-inches wide by 10 feet long
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Offline longtime lurker

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Re: Surfacing equipment for slabs
« Reply #14 on: December 28, 2017, 07:24:05 AM »
Theres a piece of equipment thats -well its what that thing I posted above is a homebuilt version of.

Not common but... if you look long enough sooner or later you find and the other thing is that as with most now esoteric equipment... limited demand tends to translate to low prices. Hell most of them probably go to scrap because people dont know what they are.

its called a "Pattern Milling Machine", which is basicly the predecessor to the modern axial router. On steroids. With the ability to not just flatten slabs but carve complex curves in them as well.

Just sayin' ... one of those keep your eyes peeled for and you get lucky things.
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Offline Blackhawk1

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Re: Surfacing equipment for slabs
« Reply #15 on: December 28, 2017, 08:39:46 AM »
I agree at the price point it needs to stay busy and we have the work load to do this.

Of late, I have become a huge fan of perusing Pinterest, of all things! I bookmarked several tutorials on how to construct slab and/or cookie straightening/leveling tables using a router mounted in an overhead sled system. If you have the $$, a CNC router does the same thing automatically vs manually. Short of fitting the mill head with a planer blade, the router method is the most effective cost vs time method I have seen.

Edit: I just looked at the Baker table on their site. Looks to be like a type of dedicated CNC table. Looks great but for $17K, one would need to keep it pretty busy to justify it!
Doug Caroselli
512-738-1770

Offline Blackhawk1

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Re: Surfacing equipment for slabs
« Reply #16 on: December 28, 2017, 08:41:06 AM »
How wide are the slabs you are working with?  Cost effective options vary with width, so I would need to know what your parameters are.
I have revised my post, it was not clear I can see now with all the people helping with information
Doug Caroselli
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Offline YellowHammer

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Re: Surfacing equipment for slabs
« Reply #17 on: December 28, 2017, 09:14:29 AM »
To clarify since so many people have answered me.
We have 10 slabs 18 feet long over 40 inches wide, these are all live edge Cypress

There is an additional 8 Pecan slabs 9 feet long and 48 inches wide

We need to true fireplace mantels on a regular basis that range from 4 feet long to 12 feet long and range from 12 to 16 inches wide

Thanks for the time and answers
Surfacing wide slabs removes a lot of meat so we prefer to cut or rip to approximate selling customer length and width before we flatten.  Crosscutting or ripping a wide board in half or to usable length increases the flatness and removes tremendous warp.  We rip and crosscut on our sawmill or Tracksaw, depending.  It keeps the wood on the slab instead of the chip pile.  Everything gets easier and lighter.  Most customers can't handle big and wide, anyway,  and most mantels and tops are relatively short and narrow, less than 20 inches wide, and as you say less than 12 foot long.  It's been our experience most mantles are less than 8 foot.  If I had to get something besides my jointer to flatten, I'm almost certain it would be a MP100 which mounts to an LT15.
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Offline scsmith42

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Re: Surfacing equipment for slabs
« Reply #18 on: December 28, 2017, 09:19:37 AM »
Doug, there is a guy right down the road from you in Bastrop named Brandon Berdoll.  He has a milling and planing operation that specializes in oversized logs and slabs.

His planer leaves an outstanding surface and it may be worth your while to reach out to him to see if you can work a deal for him to plane your stuff.  Tell him you were referred by Scott Smith.  Send me a PM if you'd like his number.

If you get into it on your own, as others have recommended a CNC router would be a great choice.  You can usually find them used at Industrial Recovery Services for a good price. 

I have a 25" Oliver jointer/planer that does great, and also have the planer blade for my Peterson WPF.  The automatic operation of a CNC router sure would be nice though.
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Offline Blackhawk1

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Re: Surfacing equipment for slabs
« Reply #19 on: December 28, 2017, 09:24:54 AM »
 

 
Doug Caroselli
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