The previous upgrade I did to my planer was to install a Byrd cutterhead in it.
The latest upgrade was to install a Wixey digital height gauge onto my Canadian made General model 130 14" planer.
Here is a shot of the guage fresh out of the box,
It didn't come with much, just a random bag of screws and things that didn't look too helpful to me.
I checked the Wixey web site to see if anyone had posted pics of an install on a 130. No one had, so it looked like I was on my own.
I held the gauge in various places on the planer until I found the place I wanted to mount it,
Once I figured out where to place the gauge, I took it apart and made cardboard templates of the brackets I would have to make,
I bought some 2" wide by 1/8" thick aluminum stock to make the brackets out of. I traced my cardboard patterns onto the aluminum and cut the parts out on a 14" bandsaw. A little work with both a round and a flat file and things looked pretty good. I also had to drill some holes in the brackets for where the screws would attach the Wixey to the bracket, and the brackets to the planer,
I then marked for those hole on my planer before drilling and tapping the cast iron to accept the pan head machine screws that would hold the brackets in place,
Next I mounted the Wixey to the main bracket,
I put the Wixey back together and installed in on my planer,
You can see the screws that are holding on the brackets I made.
Now that the Wixey is installed, it is time to calibrate it.
Here is a gratuitous shot of me planing a board,
I now take this board and use the onboard calibration function of the Wixey to set zero,
I lift up the spring loaded scale of the Wixey and place the board on the reference tab and press "Calibrate" for 3 seconds. This sets the gauge to zero.
I raise the head up to 0.435" or 7/16" (trust me, that is what it says, bad photo)
and run a board through.
I then measure the board with my trusty dial caliper,
Looks like I am off 0.003" or less than 1/300". Pretty good.
Lets raise the cutterhead to 0.405" or 13/32",
Make a cut and measure the result,
Looks like I am out almost 1/1000". <grin>
I am very happy with the upgrade, but I do not suggest it for the mechanically challenged. For some planers, you are going to have to figure out the entire install yourself.
I didn't install this so I can mill my boards to exactly 0.750", but rather for repeatability. When I mill boards, I often go for "maximum thickness" that I can get from a board, be it, 13/16", 7/8" or 27/32". I don't work from set plans and I usually make everything up as I go along, so my only real goal was repeatability, and I now think I have that.
For those of you with bench top planers, you might not know this, but cast iron planers have a minimum thickness they must remove per pass. Because of the highly sprung serrated infeed roller is set lower than the cutterhead, you must take off around 1/64" minimum per pass, or the infeed roller leaves marks on the board. On a bench top planer, you can pass the same board through twice without adjusting the cutterhead and not have a problem due to the rubber infeed and outfeed rollers.
I used to have difficulty sneaking up specific thicknesses, but this gauge should allow me to just set cutterhead and get the job done.
Thanks for looking,
Every Neighbourhood has one, in Mine I'm Him.