ing with just one machine.

Portability is important, too. All the machines I tested offered casters, and some machines were compact enough to be loaded in a station wagon. Several contractors told me they bought their machines exclusively for jobsite use.

Versatility is another advantage. David Mcltzer, a Fclder owner from Dallas, observed that combination machines represent the "best available-way to [tackle] the majority of commonly encountered woodworking problems." For most owners, the ability to accomplish a wide range of tasks with one machine outweighs the inconvenience of setting it up for each operation.

Combination machines derive special abilities from their basic engineering. On the Shopsmith, for example, you can use the tilting table for sawing, sanding, drilling or horizontal boring, eliminating the need for specialized jigs and fixtures. (See photos, page 37.)

Finally, the "instant-shop** capa-bilitv of a combination machine has appeal to beginners and journeymen alike who want to start cutting wood right away, without waiting to acquire and hook up four or five separate machines.

Disadvantages of Combination Machines

A jack-of-all-trades, as the saying goes, is master of none. In the case of combination machines this is not necessarily true, but there are some inescapable trade-offs:

Only one person can work on a combination machine at a time, so even though you have the capability of five machines, you have the productivity of one. If you work alone, this won't be a critical factor.

Kitv, Robland and Felder, three European manufacturers, offer a partial solution to this problem—separable machines. They may be combined or separated as needed, and may be oper ated separately as well.

Rip capacity may be less than on a conventional tablcsaw, especial!)' on the European machines with the jointer/planer adjacent to the tablcsaw.

Cliangeovers take time. Although manufacturers tell you how quickly you can move from one operation to the next, a majority of owners considered changeover time the biggest single disadvantage.

Changeovers were more annoying to owners of the lathe-based machines—Shopsmith and its clones— which rely on one motor to power all the functions. On these machines, changing over requires coupling or reconfiguring the motor to the new function and clianging arbors, chucks, blades, etc., as well. No single step takes much time, but together they add up.

The European machines were less complicated to change over because, with the exception of the Kity KS, they all had three motors dedicated to different tasks, so you aren't required to move belts or couplings. One minor irritation of the larger machines, though, is the hassle of changing between the jointer and planer, a process that involves cranking the planer bed up and down several inches so you can swing the dust-collection chute into position.

Combination machines force you to organize your work differently. If you typically make small production runs or work from parts lists, you probably won't mind all the changing because you're used to setting up once for each machine function. But if you prefer to work in sequence (i.e. face and edge your workpiece, then plane, rip, crosscut and shape it), you could get tired of constantly resetting the machine.

Dadoes are a problem on the European machines because dado heads won't fit. Their tablesaws' arbors weren't designed to accommodate thick blade sets.

Also, the switches on the European machines with multiple motors take some getting used to. Even though only one function will operate at a time, the little svmbols on the selector switches can

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Woodworking Tools and Installation Tips

Woodworking Tools and Installation Tips

There are a lot of things that either needs to be repaired, or put together when youre a homeowner. If youre a new homeowner, and have just gotten out of apartment style living, you might want to take this list with you to the hardware store. From remolding jobs to putting together furniture you can use these 5 power tools to get your stuff together. Dont forget too that youll need a few extra tools for other jobs around the house.

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