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If you are interested in handsome and strong joinery you already know that mortise and tenon joints are the way to go. Yes, pocket hole joinery is all the rage, and I have three Kreg jigs myself, but when I want to build furniture that will be passed-down to my grand kids I know I'll be making mortises and dovetails.
Try as I might I was never able to get good results mortising with my Mark V. It takes a LOT of force to drive a four-sided chisel into a block of hardwood, and not only does the quill handle suffer from a size problem, but just as you make some progress the table wants to move on ya. This is not a good prize, especially because Murphy's Law dictates that you won't notice that your mortises are not as deep as you planned until some time after removing all of the mortising gear from your Mark V.
My mortiser is a PowerMatic 719, which wouldn't ya know I purchased just months before the 719T with tilting table was released. (Grumble). Before forking out the big bucks for my mortiser I researched all the tabletop units, and I just wasn't going to be able to cut the mortise depths that many of the projects I had planned would require. At the time the market was dominated by Delta, Jet and a couple questionable no-name imports.
As I mentioned in a prior post, I was at my local Woodcraft the other day and at a Rockler a couple weeks back and was amazed at the improvements that have been made in benchtop units. The one that caught my eye was the WoodRiver at Woodcraft, which as a huge base with extensions that expand to 35" in width to support for your stock. This unit has a firm fence and rollers that act as hold-ins to keep your stock firmly against the fence. The fence is made of cast iron and is adjusted with a rack and pinion that reminds me of a mini version of the fence on my Delta jointer.
One of the biggest hassles that benchtop mortisers tend to introduce is caused by very limited access to the drill chuck. The WoodRiver has two HUGE clear plastic doors that swing open for practically unhindered access. Another neat thing about this design is that because the doors are clear they allow plenty of light to make bit changes as easy as I've ever seen.
Another advantage of this unit wasn't obvious from a study of the manual: It's ambidextrous. The two access doors swing open on both the right and the left. Likewise, as you can see from the bottom photo, the lever handle can be mounted left or right. With the switchbox on the left I thought there might be a problem using it on the left, but nope, she worked just fine.
The thing that really surprised me was that it comes with a full set of four chisels and bits and the mortiser has a full 5" depth of cut! Seeing this made me curious, so I measured my PowerMatic and learned that while it has a 6" stroke, all of my chisels are 5" long!
So, if you are in the market for a great looking, reasonably priced mortiser, check the WoodRiver out at your local Woodcraft.
BTW, until Aug 27th this mortising machine is on sale for $234.99 at this link: WoodRiver Mortiser with Chisels and Bits
As a woodworker Shopsmith stands out as a great supplier of tools, but H. Gerstner & Sons is the pinnacle of craftsmanship. They've made machinist's tool chest from wood since 1906! I've been shopping for them for some time, and like this blog I've started a blog to make it easy for me to store my refined eBay search links and other data that I've collected over the years. Some of the links on the blog will lead to tool chests from resellers like Woodcraft and Amazon, and other links will be to tool chest plans and parts.
Drop by http://gerstner-tool-chest-hunter.blogspot.com and check it out.
This is from the dashboard that eBay gives us to track the traffic from our Tool-Hunter blogs, and what it shows is the number of bids placed by our readers and the success rate of their bids. Now, not everyone is successful, but what this shows is a trend that has been improving over the past two years that we've been blogging. Granted, our blogs aren't traditional "blogs", in that we don't feel the need to post when we have nothing fresh to say. No, our goal is connecting lovers of fine tools with , well, more fine tools! We hope this describes you and if so we encourage you to check-out all of our "Tool-Hunter" blogs. You'll find them listed on our launch page at this link: http://tool-hunter.blogspot.com
Thanks for joining us, and please drop us a line if anything comes to mind that you'd like to see on these blogs; or if you have a tool to promote.
From the enclosed stand, to the HUGE cast iron table to the standard accessories like a light, fence and quick tension release lever, at first glance it was obvious that Grizzly had been burning the night oil.
But then I started to dig deeper.
When you've been looking at power tools for as long as I have you've seen a lot of gimmickry. Sears has been the master of this. They'd take a $99 saw and slap $29 in lights, flimsy guides and most recently lasers, and then slap a $199 price tag on it.
I was fearing the worst when I opened the top wheel cover. So far so good... there's a cast iron wheel! (See photo bottom right) This is great news because most of the saws in this class feature aluminum wheels. While an aluminum wheel isn't terrible, it doesn't do you any favors like the mass of cast iron wheels do in resawing. These wheels are not only cast iron, but are also computer balanced and the tires are solid rubber.
The upper guides are ball bearings instead of the old-time guide blocks, and a quick look beneath the table and... yep, ball bearing guides there too.
The saw can handle blades from 1/8" to 3/4" widths, and a 3/8" blade comes with the saw.
The motor is 1 1/2HP and can be operated on either 110volt or 220 volt power, so there's plenty of power for resawing. And speaking of resawing, the saw can cut stock op to 6" think, but with an additional bolt-on riser block kit she can cut 12" stock.
Keep in mind that if you expect to add the riser block at a later date you don't want to buy a bunch of blades now, because the 6" block will require you to use blades that are 12" longer.
More info on the next post.
Click here to purchase the Grizzly G0555X 14" Extreme Series Bandsaw from Amazon: Grizzly G0555X 14" Extreme Series Bandsaw
Here's a link to all the Grizzly Bandsaws available on Amazon
Click here to see Grizzly bandsaws currently for sale on eBay (Note that this link will also return Shop Fox bandsaws, as Shops Fox is a brand owned by the same parent company, and many of these items are being sold directly by Grizzly on eBay)
In the photo at right you'll notice something that is perhaps unexpected; the motor. Not that you wouldn't expect a bandsaw to have a motor, but most cabinet-mounted bandsaws have the motor enclose within the base cabinet. This not only keeps the motor free of dust and debris, it also lowers the center of gravity. The good news is this saw has what is called a TEFC motor, which is an abbreviation for "Totally Enclosed Fan Cooled". That means that while dust and chips that slide off the table may fall onto the motor, the motor itself will not suck-in the dust.
The other thing that you'll observe it there is no belt shown running from the motor to the lower wheel. On the Delta 14" bandsaw (and most of it's clones) the belt runs from the motor in the base to a drive pulley on the back of the saw. This is then covered by some form of belt cover. Some of these are well done, but most appear to be flimsy afterthoughts.
The photo below is from the owners manual for the G0555X, though note that it shows the aluminum wheel found on the lighter 14" saws. This is fine with me because if they had shown the cast iron wheels we wouldn't be able to see all that we can see. What can we see? Well, quite a bit. We can see the integrated 4" dust port, the tension adjuster for belt tensioning and most importantly, hey, there's the drive belt! This doesn't concern me as long as the saw is ALWAYS attached to a dust collector, but it wouldn't take much debris build-up to cause problems between the belt and the pulleys.
Talking about resawing reminds me of one of the nicest features on this saw: the fence system. I've never been a big fan of fences on bandsaws because they rarely accommodate the inevitable drift that comes with a bandsaw. Drift is natural and is nothing to fear, but you need a fence that allows for quick adjustments. This fence is neat in that it can be used with or without the aluminum extension, and the extension can be used either vertical or horizontal.
The color photo shows the fence in the vertical position, but the horizontal position is very useful when cutting thin stock. For narrow cuts without the aluminum extrusion, the cast iron portion of the fence requires the upper guide to be positioned 1 1/2" or so above the stock. With the aluminum fence in place in the horizontal position the guides can be positioned almost touching the stock. I'm not doing a very good job explaining this, but it works.
The upper guide is just about as straight forward as a ball bearing guide can be. In order to move the bearings forward for guiding wider blades, or back for thinner, you simply loosen the thumb screw and turn the rear knurled knob. The back-up bearing is adjusted in the same manner. To accommodate variation in blade thickness you loosen the cap screw which you see at front right (and the one you don't see on the left) and with the same hex wrench you turn the cap screw that's centered on the bearing and rotate the bearings into or away from the blade. Follow by tightening the cap screws.
The quick tension release that's shown in the bottom photo is standard, and does the job that until recently added about $100 to the price of a bandsaw. What's it good for? Well, when you head for the bunk house it's always best to remove the tension from your bandsaw. This not only takes tension of the saw and the blade, but more importantly the rubber tires won't become compressed on one sied of the wheel, creating odd tension and rumbling when you start it back-up.
Once the saw tension is adjusted by turning the tension knob on to of the saw, you flip the lever up to release the tension. Very well done, Grizzly.
Shiraz Balolia, owner of Grizzly Imports, Woodstock, Shop Fox and countless other companies finally relieved!
As for the title of this post, no, this isn't something salacious; it's just that if you've been a Grizzly Industrial, Inc. fan for any length of time you may have noticed that they have gone to great pains to conceal the likeness of the owner, Mr. Balolia. The photo at right is from the 2009 Grizzly catalog, and every time I see it I laugh. Another way that Grizzly plays "Hide the Founder" is that he is most often referred as S. Balolia.
Mr. Balolia's story is interesting in that he was born and raised in Kenya, moved to Canada, then later to the USA in Bellingham Washington. According to the Grizzly web site:
"In order to support his hobby of metalworking, in 1976, Shiraz Balolia began buying used metal lathes, rebuilding them and reselling them for a modest profit. Soon, customers began asking for other equipment including woodworking equipment. Since Mr. Balolia had never used any woodworking machines, he went to night school to learn woodworking only to realize that woodworking machines were a lot less complex than metalworking machines. When he contacted manufacturers of locally made machines, he was bluntly told that they were "not taking any new dealers". Thus, began the machinery importation business. What began as a hobby has grown into a "hobby" of mammoth proportions with Grizzly being one of the most sought after brands in the marketplace. Although totally immersed in running the company, Mr. Balolia still finds time to do metalworking and woodworking projects in the evenings that include some very intensely inlaid guitars (see them on this web site). He has a complete woodworking and machine shop in his home that includes CNC equipment and, essentially, his dream shop!
With over a million square feet of space at our three large distribution centers and showrooms, today Grizzly Industrial® is one of the largest woodworking and metalworking machinery companies in the world. Employing over 350 people nationwide and headquartered in Bellingham, Washington, Grizzly also has offices in Taiwan and China with our own engineering staff overseas."
One of the things that impresses me about Mr. Balolia is that he not only wanted to market to the Woodworker, but while he is at it he wants to sell to all the other folks who sell to woodworkers. This is why he founded Woodstock International to market small woodworking accessories, and later he launched the Shop Fox brand of stationary power tools. The Shop Fox tools were redesigned with advanced features, and are sold only through resellers.
Mr. Shiraz Balolia!
He is the current Washington State Champion and holds several national records in F-Class shooting!
His other hobbies include saltwater fishing for salmon and halibut, crabbing, building guitars, metalworking and playing racquet sports, all of which take a back seat to shooting!
Nice to meet you Mr. Balolia.
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