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The Electric Carpenter

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The Electric Carpenter

As a teen, many years ago, I learned woodworking on my father's remarkable combination machine, The Electric Carpenter. It's a 14-in. band-saw, 10-in. tablesaw, 6-in. jointer, 4-ft. lathe, 3/4-in. shaper, and a mortising machine all rolled into one, belt-driven by a single motor. It was built in 1930 by the American Floor Surfacing Machine Co. of Toledo, Ohio, and sold for $375.

The Electric Carpenter has served my family ^ lathe well for over 75 years. My Dad upgraded the motor to 1-hp in the early 40's and replaced the band-saw's jack shaft and bearings in the 60's. I've since passed the machine on to my brother-in-law, Dan Edgar, who has made four tables, two bookshelves and a four-drawer chest with it. He's promised to be extra careful, because this antique has virtually no safety guards-not even a cover under the table for the tablesaw blade (see bottom photo).

Some unsung hero really put a lot of thought into designing The Electric Carpenter. No part of the machine must be removed to run another operation-but you do have to switch belts.

Every part of the machine has a clever feature. The upper half of the bandsaw, for example, is hinged so it can be folded over when making wide cuts on the tablesaw. The tablesaw's arbor is very simple and trouble-free: it doesn't tilt or travel up and down. To lower the blade's height, you lift the table, which pivots at the far end (see bottom photo). (The table doesn't tilt, so you can't make beveled cuts.) The shaper spindle has a clutch that enables it to run clockwise or counterclockwise, depending on the grain direction. The shaper cutters are shaped like a butterfly, with cutting edges facing both directions. The mortising attachment employs a long handle and a scissor action to push the workpiece into the chisel.

The Electric Carpenter is a superb machine. If anybody has one that still works, I'd sure like hear about it! Just contact me through the Tool Nut (see box below).

Monroe J. Mechling bandsaw


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