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Why not the Square Head ?

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  • Why not the Square Head ?

    The local Millwright down the road from me has been running moldings for 50 years, all his machines are square block cutters and bolt on cutters.
    I remember him saying to me once that it was the best cutter head ever designed, and could not be improved upon, I asked him the obvious question of why ?
    His explanation was quite clear, he claimed that the cutting angle was set correct in every way in that it cut or sliced the grain properly as apposed to modern cutters which have more of a scraping action, he went on to discuss how much power is needed to drive sharp square head tooling and modern cutters, he claimed there is more of a load on modern tooling compared to Square head cutters.

    I have been using square head tooling on my four sided moulding machine for a few years now and I'm finding that as far as set ups go for different profiles there is a lot of, flexibility in combining cutters, projection, and moulding shape/style.
    Planer's with square cutter blocks I have become quite fond of, especially since acquiring my own straight knife and profile grinder, this has just opened up a whole new world of independence for me, not only am I not as reliant on my saw doctor as I was in the past but it has given me more respect for these cutter heads in regards to a start to finish process.

    It is a crying shame to see some of these old machines be scraped, planers especially, they are such a undervalued machine,
    Even Circular head planers are not without their problems, years ago when I was an apprentice the shop I worked had a SCM planer that bent a cutter length wise, I had never see any thing like it, form memory the center bolts were not tightened up enough and the centrifugal speed caused the cutter to bend.
    Couldn't see that happening with a solid square head cutter.

    Some discussion is in order Gents, love to hear even-ones thoughts and experiences, I only know what I know, and thats not a great deal anyway...





    Cutters and Cutter-Blocks, Stafford Ransome.

    One of my planers, 2 blades Square head.

    Cutters and Cutter-Blocks, Stafford Ransome.

    Another Round Style Blade, with flat knives.

    Melbourne Matty.
  • Thread Continues Below...

  • #2

    Re: Why not the Square Head ?

    Re: Why not the Square Head ?

    Well I can't contribute to this conversation, I've never worked a square head machine but it's a debate I'm interested in. Thanks for putting it out there Matty.

    Alli

    Comment


    • #3

      Re: Why not the Square Head ?

      Re: Why not the Square Head ?

      dame if matty don't put up a great thread when i am off to bed. I am seeing wadkin things i have not seen. My answer is because there to many bolts for most people who like a screw driver to put there 4 to a postage stamp size knifes on the cutter head and because there no skill to that set up they can have monkeys working in my shop for them. me i like bolts and thick steel there are still some things they do well that no others do.
      everyone knows real machines are 3 phase. Founding member of the Wadkin blockhead club

      jack
      English machines

      http://www.youtube.com/user/tool613

      Comment


      • #4

        Re: Why not the Square Head ?

        Re: Why not the Square Head ?

        I have no authority on the subject, but I do recall somebody telling me that a square head on a planer was dangerous and should be replaced. I'm interested to see what becomes of this discussion.
        Chris Wong
        http://flairwoodworks.com

        If you have a hard time getting things perfectly level, maybe you need a First Guess Gravity Gauge.

        Comment


        • #5

          Re: Why not the Square Head ?

          Re: Why not the Square Head ?

          Nobody can deny that you can make nice mouldings with square block cutters. Your local millwright has a poor understanding of math and physics and obviously does not realize how far engineering has come in the last 100 years. It is the square head that has limited choices for hook angle, if it were the best angle it could be replicated by milling the slots in a round head to the same angle. We all like to laugh at how impractical some engineers can be sometimes but to dismiss the collective work of the industry over an entire century shows a lack of appreciation of their importance that can only be considered ignorant.

          I happen to like square head machines and they are great for limited production. The weight of the cutter is almost insignificant compared to the block they are bolted to and the speed has to stay low so the machines will last a long time. Any cutter that cuts wood will eat people also so the saftey aspect does not concern me that much but there is a learning curve to using antique square head machines. My milled to pattern heads will process lumber at 1200 feet per minute, that is faster than most of us can run, so there is a whole range of dangers associated with modern machines also.
          Rob

          Comment


          • #6

            Re: Why not the Square Head ?

            Re: Why not the Square Head ?

            i will say that from my understanding there is just no other tolling that can give as high a hock angle and reach out beyond the block (mouldings) as the square head does. this has more to do with the knife though. The higher the hook angles the less meat behind the round cutter block to hold knifes in slots so in realty it is not passable for theses angles in a gib head because of the way knifes are held in that type cutter block.

            Chirs i have a Hitachi planner the F 1000 made in the 8Os that has a square head and slotted knifes(you can still order the knifes). Hitachi is still making this head for planers i believe. cuts the cleanest of all my planers. There my be many running square head tooling and have no idea but it is still in use and can be made safe even for modern standards.

            Now what i do find interesting is the carbide inset cutter head have returned to the bolt down knife(well screw down). Can someone tell us the grind angle on these little squares and the relief to the cutting circle. it would be nice to know what the rake angle is on this modern tooling.

            I have used the the back grind to change the rake in a round head knife but there is no way to grind that make it sharper giving a higher hook angle. the square head has a larger range. I still do modified grinding on my planer knifes today.
            Last edited by jgarrett forsberg; 01-16-2014, 07:50 AM.
            everyone knows real machines are 3 phase. Founding member of the Wadkin blockhead club

            jack
            English machines

            http://www.youtube.com/user/tool613

            Comment

            • Thread Continues Below...

            • #7

              Re: Why not the Square Head ?

              Re: Why not the Square Head ?

              Originally posted by iamtooler View Post
              Nobody can deny that you can make nice mouldings with square block cutters. Your local millwright has a poor understanding of math and physics and obviously does not realize how far engineering has come in the last 100 years. It is the square head that has limited choices for hook angle, if it were the best angle it could be replicated by milling the slots in a round head to the same angle. We all like to laugh at how impractical some engineers can be sometimes but to dismiss the collective work of the industry over an entire century shows a lack of appreciation of their importance that can only be considered ignorant.

              I happen to like square head machines and they are great for limited production. The weight of the cutter is almost insignificant compared to the block they are bolted to and the speed has to stay low so the machines will last a long time. Any cutter that cuts wood will eat people also so the saftey aspect does not concern me that much but there is a learning curve to using antique square head machines. My milled to pattern heads will process lumber at 1200 feet per minute, that is faster than most of us can run, so there is a whole range of dangers associated with modern machines also.
              Rob
              Rob, you make some great points so I won't say I disagree with you, yes, my Millwright can be some what dogmatic at times, thats a given, but I have grown very fond of the old boy and I keep going back to converse with him quite simply because I he teaches me things about old moulding machines, and thats what interests me.
              He is not a young man and when he goes not many will know his trade so well, so I can stand a little ignorance just for the privilege of learning, even just to walk away with one or two nuggets of information that I know to be true and useful.
              People who are set in their ways and resist change do so because they are comfortable with were they are at, I don't see any thing wrong with that.
              I have used modern tooling for years in my trade I have seen every thing from TCT inserts to chip limiters on cutters, and worse still I have seen the price of tooling exceed the cost of a machine.
              Years ago, to find a good moulding machine with hundreds of loose cutters at a good price with an opportunity to set up was a dream come true for me, the fact that it was a square head machine ment for me that I had to relearn almost and have a better understanding, I don't think I'm going backwards just because I want to learn an old style trade.
              My search for knowledge on the square head has helped me develop a whole new respect for this style of cutter, and a healthy fear as well.

              Melbourne Matty

              Comment


              • #8

                Re: Why not the Square Head ?

                Re: Why not the Square Head ?

                Hello Matty, great idea for a thread, I have a little experience with square heads running on my EQ for some mouldings, they work well but of course they are a bit scary at first and surprisingly heavy . I have taken some pictures of what I have.

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                My wadkin setting stand I am sure was built for square blocks and also has a chart for cutter diameters for wadkin machines. These blocks have a sleave and a cone which I am not sure what to do with them but think they are for moulders.
                Thanks Mark


                British Machines

                Comment


                • #9

                  Re: Why not the Square Head ?

                  Re: Why not the Square Head ?

                  Mark we are going to need a shop tour soon!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
                  everyone knows real machines are 3 phase. Founding member of the Wadkin blockhead club

                  jack
                  English machines

                  http://www.youtube.com/user/tool613

                  Comment


                  • #10

                    Re: Why not the Square Head ?

                    Re: Why not the Square Head ?

                    Originally posted by furnman View Post
                    Hello Matty, great idea for a thread, I have a little experience with square heads running on my EQ for some mouldings, they work well but of course they are a bit scary at first and surprisingly heavy . I have taken some pictures of what I have.
                    My wadkin setting stand I am sure was built for square blocks and also has a chart for cutter diameters for wadkin machines. These blocks have a sleave and a cone which I am not sure what to do with them but think they are for moulders.
                    Mark, that is some nice kit there !
                    I have only ever seen a few of those setting stands, perfect for Wadkin FC, FD moulders..


                    Melbourne Matty.

                    Comment


                    • #11

                      Re: Why not the Square Head ?

                      Re: Why not the Square Head ?

                      Hi Matty

                      I have a bit of a thing for setting stands and tool room things, I have built a little tool room in my new workshop , at the moment its a bomb site but my long term planes are to try and learn some cutter grinding and tool setting, I am a complete beginner but have collected some wadkin tool room stuff but its hard to find. The wadkin setting stand as shown is very easy to find on uk ebay and normally go for £60 or so, but they are very heavy so difficult to post. They are very useful things specially with spindle tooling.

                      I don't know much about square tooling, shown in the pictures was taken out of the skip at the jedweld auction in lowersoft, england which you can read back in my wadkin magazine thread . When I tell you there was pallets and pallets of them being chucked in the skip along with the moulders, i think I counted about 10 moulders in the skips, so sad. I took out a few to save some, not sure on these sleeve's , any ideas anyone.

                      Workshop tour Jack !!! soon may be.
                      Thanks Mark


                      British Machines

                      Comment

                      • Thread Continues Below...

                      • #12

                        Re: Why not the Square Head ?

                        Re: Why not the Square Head ?

                        Matty,

                        I have been thinking about your post, I thought I could contribute by posting some of the square heads and cutters from my EQ, but Mark has now covered that. I can't answer any of your questions although I could probably "Prove it" (sorry guys that’s an inside joke for Matty).

                        So I figure when you are limited on answers, it's time for questions!!

                        This is probably my total knowledge of Square cutter heads based on the limited information available online:

                        * If you use them, there is a possibility that it might tear the fabric of space and time, and the whole world could be in jeopardy.
                        * If the world doesn't end, then you will most certainly be pulled into the blade and mulched.
                        * If somehow you avoid the above 2 you will soon die anyway as shards of steel penetrate your body before being lodged into a surrounding wall.

                        Before I ask the questions, let me say, I am not asking or expecting that your answers are complete and are anything other than your opinions, experience, etc., that I should read the disclosure document before signing , and that there are no warranties expressed or implied……………. (Matty this paragraph is not for you, it is for anyone who reads my post and feels obliged to jump on and assume I don’t have my own brain to be able to work out what knowledge can and can’t be taught in a forum setting).

                        Ok now to the questions:

                        • When you get a second hand head or blades (let’s face it you can’t get a new head), what things are you inspecting to ensure that it is suitable for use.
                        • Mark showed his setting stand, what is the procedure for aligning blades and ensuring everything is balanced, and what equipment do you need if you don’t have a setting stand?
                        • What books would you recommend reading to get a better understanding?
                        • You use your square heads on your 4 sider, and obviously this gives you at least some distance from the cutter, and you have talked about planers, what are your thoughts on square cutters on a spindle moulder? Would you feel comfortable using a square head on one of them, with a power feeder of cause?
                        • And then generally what things do you do, during setup, and use, when using a square cutter head, to minimise the risks (some or all of this you may have already answered in the above questions).


                        If others have experience with square cutters, I am sure Matty wouldn’t mind you also jumping in and I would certainly appreciate it.


                        Cheers,

                        Camo


                        HELP!!

                        If you have seen this catalogue, or are in the area of Tyntesfield, North Somerset, or you know of the location of a Stenners catalogue, I would love to get some images of some of my 1955 machines.

                        Call: 1800I HAVE A BAD ADDICTION, or PM me.....PLEEEEEEASE

                        Comment


                        • #13

                          Re: Why not the Square Head ?

                          Re: Why not the Square Head ?

                          Originally posted by furnman View Post
                          Hi Matty

                          When I tell you there was pallets and pallets of them being chucked in the skip along with the moulders, i think I counted about 10 moulders in the skips, so sad. I took out a few to save some, not sure on these sleeve's , any ideas anyone.

                          Workshop tour Jack !!! soon may be.
                          Breaks my heart to hear that story mark, such a waste !!

                          What sleeve's are you referring to ?
                          Do you have a closer pic ?

                          Melbourne Matty.

                          Comment


                          • #14

                            Re: Why not the Square Head ?

                            Re: Why not the Square Head ?

                            Originally posted by Camozy View Post
                            Ok now to the questions:

                            • When you get a second hand head or blades (let’s face it you can’t get a new head), what things are you inspecting to ensure that it is suitable for use.
                            • Mark showed his setting stand, what is the procedure for aligning blades and ensuring everything is balanced, and what equipment do you need if you don’t have a setting stand?
                            • What books would you recommend reading to get a better understanding?
                            • You use your square heads on your 4 sider, and obviously this gives you at least some distance from the cutter, and you have talked about planers, what are your thoughts on square cutters on a spindle moulder? Would you feel comfortable using a square head on one of them, with a power feeder of cause?
                            • And then generally what things do you do, during setup, and use, when using a square cutter head, to minimise the risks (some or all of this you may have already answered in the above questions).


                            Camo
                            Cam, a new head could certainly be made so its not impossible, but when dealing with second hand components "condition is every thing" !
                            I would be avoiding bent, ground to nothing or cracked/fractured cutters, they must be in very good condition.
                            I would be avoiding worn, stretched threads, Damaged bolts, badly seated cutter bolts, on a dovetail slot they must seat below the block to hold the cutter firm.
                            I would be avoiding damaged, bent up edges, worn, not perfectly flat or concave cutter block, Cutter head must also be in balanced condition.
                            The Cutter head is or should be balanced factory, loose cutters are then ground in matched pairs and balanced, then bolts are put in pairs and balanced as well, a small set of scales will suffice.
                            The square heads on my moulder are fixed in the machine so set up must be done on the machine, this is where wonderful little tools such a Molder-mans Rule or a Molder's Gauge come in handy, even a template of timber and a sharp pencil will help.
                            I'm very reluctant to set a square head on a shaper, I have done it before out of necessity, but I don't recommend it, there are so many choices for tooling on a shaper and better options available.
                            And minimizing the risks, Check every thing twice !

                            Melbourne Matty.

                            Comment


                            • #15

                              Re: Why not the Square Head ?

                              Re: Why not the Square Head ?

                              I think the sheaves are adapters for the balancing stand.

                              Too bad Wadkin doesn't float this far, I'd like one of those.


                              Squarehead,

                              Daily and Religious User of Squareheads and Other Horrors.

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