Monday, March 29, 2010

Old Machine Obsessions

When I was a kid my dad had a small workshop in the basement of our house. He had a jointer/table saw combo, a drill press, bandsaw, lathe, tablesaw, and briefly, a metal lathe. So I was exposed to these tools and used most of them when I was growing up. Dad sold off most of his tools a few years before I got into woodworking, which is a shame. The only one I have of his is the drill press. It's a Canadian Buffalo 15, great machine from the 60's I believe.

 And a grinder. It was attached to the drill press. A General, but not the famous Canadian one, a lesser known General company from Milwaukee.

Some time after I started woodworking I developed an interest in older machines. Learning about them was made so much easier by the and websites. Collecting, restoring, and using these old machines has become a third activity for me, along with woodworking and chainsaw milling. My goal is to eventually replace most of my newer shop machines with these older ones, which are almost all better built than the newer machines. As it turns out, many of the tools I found were made in Canada. This is a nice bonus.

Here is a list presented in no particular order of some of these tools that I have acquired.

A nice little Atlas shaper I picked up on a trip to Seattle a couple years ago. As I also picked up Delta shaper on the same trip, the Atlas was eventually sold to a local woodworker.

I replaced the spindle on the Delta with a router collet, raised the table, replaced the bearings, sold my router table, decided to live with the hideous colour, and I use this often in my shop. It is so quiet and comfortable to use.

 Then I found this General 2800 shaper locally. Unfortunately it had been converted to run as a sander, so it'll take a bit of work to convert back, including a new motor. Otherwise it's in great condition and I plan to make this my eventual main shop shaper even though it is a bit big.

This is a nice compact shaper that I have been unable to identify the manufacturer of. I have no idea what I will do with it. I like its compactness for my small shop. Maybe I will get it going one day.

A 4" Beaver jointer that I bought very recently. Not sure why, or what I will do with it, but it seemed like the right thing to do! And it is darn cute.

This is a 6" Beaver jointer, with the extensions. It needs a complete rebuild, and a new table. When I bought it I planned to replace my made in Taiwan 6" General International jointer with this one.

But then I found this Continental 6" jointer which is a lot rarer than the Beaver, so I figured I'd fix this one up first.

But then I found this 8" General, which is a short bed unit, ideal for my small shop and the kind of work I do. So I put new blades in it, and this will be going into my shop shortly to replace the 6" General International.

I also have this 12" Poitras jointer which I bought out of Ontario and had shipped here. I keep this in the garage and use it mostly for cleaning up slabs. It came from a cabinet shop and was in tip-top shape when I got it.

This is a 16" NP Hansen jointer that I let slip through my fingers. It was in a cabinet shop in North Van and being sold for cheapcheapcheap. Yes, cheap. I really regret letting it get away. I had the 12" Poitras already and figured it was enough, and I didn't have the space for this. Idiot.

I picked up this 4" Craftsman jointer in Seattle, I cleaned it up, got some dust collection on it, new blades, and installed it on the wall right above/behind my 6" jointer. Works well for small stuff.

Picked up this 4" Henry Power Tools CraftMaster jointer locally, it's in pretty good shape. Made in Canada. Was planning on restoring it but wound up giving it to my brother in law.

Another 4 incher, this one a Walker Turner. I like the base, it looks like a miniature of a huge jointer from the turn of the century.

I saw this 14" Beaver for sale locally and picked it up. It's a mess and will need a lot of work to make right. The 14" Beaver is the classic Canadian branch plant postwar bandsaw. It has a lot of aluminum in it, as after the war there was lot of expertise in aluminum casting that needed to be re-deployed.

Then I saw this very rare Continental 14" bandsaw and moved quickly to pick it up. The cast iron in this baby is impressive. It jumped to the top of the queue to restore and is still near there.

Then I spotted this very cute 12" Beaver and picked it up. It is in good shape despite some light rust caused by improper storage by the previous owner.  It has a small footprint and will make a great second bandsaw in the shop to be dedicated to cutting small stuff.

This is a Foremost 14" bandsaw made in Chaiwan. I normally would not touch an asian machine like this with a ten foot pole, but my son spotted it in a lane, someone had wheeled it out on garbage day to get rid of it. It was actually a mess, we spent quite a bit of time and a few $$ to get it fixed up and repainted. Unfortunately I had no real need/desire for it so it went to the brother in law's.

This is a Beaver tablesaw. I made some effort to fix it up, but eventually gave it to my brother in law who did the real work on it and made it into a nice keeper.

I found this very cute Walker Turner saw at a local estate sale. I have subsequently restored it quite nicely and even had a new shaft machined for it. It is virtually finished, but I really don't need it so it languishes in the garage for now. It only takes a skilsaw size blade, it is quite small.I had thought it would be a perfect second saw in my shop for fine work, until I found this next saw . . .

This is now the pride and joy of my shop, even though it is completely unrestored, unusable as it is, in the garage, and a total mess. You probably can't even tell what it is by looking. It's a Hammond Glider G4 sliding tablesaw. Originally used in the printing industry it is a super precision piece of machinery with a small footprint. Ideal for my shop and work, it's a bit of a cult saw, if you can imagine something as silly as that. It is at the top of the queue to restore and I am keen to get started on it.

 This is a Tecomaster radial arm saw. The Tecomaster brand was distributed in Canada by the famous Eaton's department store. (TECO = T Eaton Co) I actually spent quite a bit of time fixing it up, but in the end concluded it was just taking up too much room. I moved it along to the son of a friend of my dad's.

The 12" Parks planer was the standard planer in the US for many many years. This one came to me from Seattle via Squamish and I put a ton of money and time into restoring it. A ton.  It is the devil I am sure. As you can see it looks fabulous. Unfortunately it still does not work well and I am looking for a way out of this project.

Davis and Wells horizontal mortiser that I picked up near Spokane. That was a fun trip. I don't recommend trying to cross the border into the US with a cockamamie story about buying some obscure woodworking tool while your hair is in dreadlocks! Anyways it was mission accomplished eventually. I cleaned this one up, replaced the bearings, threw a chuck on it and it is a super tool I use often in my shop.

This is one impressive machine. A Jonsereds 24" planer. I bought it at a local auction, put a 10 HP single phase motor on it and use it to clean up slabs. It is a beast, I love it!

 I also picked up a couple scrollsaws on a trip to Seattle. As it turns out I have no need for a scrollsaw, so other than a good cleaning nothing has been done on them. As you can see one is missing its table, so a very kind fellow in Seattle sold me a table for it. Unfortunately (?) it came with a complete working scrollsaw attached to it!! No pictures of that one, but now I have two complete and one incomplete scrollsaw.

In addition to these tools I have acquired several decent sized old electric motors to go with them. They are fun and (mostly) easy to restore.


  1. Wow, a N.P. hansen's jointer!
    Never seen one in person, I own a 4' sliding saw and a shaper by that brand, also known as S.A.C. ( the Danish S.A.C., not the Italian).
    Very impressive machines, but aside from the shapers very few were exported.
    Wondering if anyone knows if there was ever a dealership in Canada as there was in New York.

  2. Hi! I'm selling an old Beaver table saw. 8inch. comes with an extra blade and higher powerd motor. Works like a dream man. Not sure if you would be interested but thought I would run it past you when I came across this page...

  3. That Poitras/General is a good shaper if you get it going. I have the same one behind a Poitras label. The point of my note is that I think I have the same motor that you do, if yours is a continuous duty 2hp, painted blue. That 2 hp is all you'll ever need to run that shaper. With a Busy Bee 1/4 hp power feeder I have run thousands of feet of material through mine, most recently cove siding for my workshop. Bearings are easy to get from General in Montreal.

    I also have the same model of 8" General jointer that you have, and a 6" General with the heavy cast iron belt guard.

    Rod in Forfar

  4. It is great! Woodworking machines are really a kind of blessing to workers which not only make the work easy but also make it more elegant and unique...

  5. Great work! I love the way you have written this so beautifully! keep writing!
    Old Band Saw machine Observation

  6. I enjoyed the article. Keep it up. Great work.
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