Installed a Wixey digital height gauge on planer (w/pics)
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.