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Powermatic 54A Jointer #1: Beginners issues

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Blog entry by Jerome posted 02-04-2018 01:51 AM 1600 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Powermatic 54A Jointer series no next part

Hello all and thanks in advance for reading and comments.

I purchased this jointer a year and a half ago and finally decided to start using it. I cleaned it up nice and replaced the blades. I so did my best at making sure the beds were set co-planer. I ran a few test pieces and everything was going smoothly. Then, BAM I hear this awful noise! Yes, most of us have heard that with a piece of woodworking equipment and know something bad happened. I removed my lumber and pull back the guard. I find that the indeed table has a small Chuck of cast iron gone. A silent whimper echoes through the shop. I look at the 2×2 turning stock I hoped to mill into a table leg, and see a gash in it.

Obviously, I’d much rather the wood have a huge gash than my cast iron. More so, how did this happen? Was it feed direction in terms of the grain? I made sure all cast iron was clear and looked in my dust collector hose for what was missing. My depth of cut was just at the first mark below zero. I was quite comfortable with taking multiple passes.

Again, I was so hurt about what happened to my cast iron bed, as there is no fixing that with my current skill level, and how would this gash ultimately affect future work?

I decided to look closely at the blades as I pulled the guard back. I notice some scratches on the cutterhead. I rotated it a blade and saw that one of the blades had broken. This must have caused the damage. I suddenly remembered that one of the gib screws was missing. The jointer was purchased that way. When I replaced the blades, there was a lump of wood between the old blade and cutterhead. But it worked for the cabinet shop where I got it from, so I thought it would be ok with just one missing. Why me, so quickly, with so much damage. Did I not tighten the screws down enough? The other blades were nicked some, but they have two sides that i can use.

I went to the manual to look up part information for a few new gib screws. Then I read that this jointer should have 3 Knife lock bars. (part 14 below)Does anyone use Knife lock bars on this jointer? This is the moment when I start to consider a helical head replacement. I mean, blades should work great and it would be good training and all that, but these are times where you weigh your options..lol.

Aftershock update. I can definitely see now where the missing screw led to the wood pile up. Once the blade got pushed up enough, it caught the infeed table and that’s all she wrote!

-- Jerome, Marietta, GA



6 comments so far

View tyvekboy's profile (online now)

tyvekboy

1817 posts in 3188 days


#1 posted 02-04-2018 02:20 AM

Sorry to hear about your planer damage. Lesson to be learned is never operate a power tool with missing parts. They were all put there for a reason. If the infeed table can be removed, you can take it to a machine shop that can weld cast iron for you. Then it can be smoothed down to where you wouldn’t know it was missing. Make sure where ever you take it that they are competent in doing such work.

If the knife lock bars are missing they should be replaced.

-- Tyvekboy -- Marietta, GA ………….. one can never be too organized

View Jerome's profile

Jerome

145 posts in 2304 days


#2 posted 02-04-2018 02:27 AM


Sorry to hear about your planer damage. Lesson to be learned is never operate a power tool with missing parts. They were all put there for a reason. If the infeed table can be removed, you can take it to a machine shop that can weld cast iron for you. Then it can be smoothed down to where you wouldn t know it was missing. Make sure where ever you take it that they are competent in doing such work.

If the knife lock bars are missing they should be replaced.

- tyvekboy

Thanks! I’ve ordered the missing knife lock bars and screws. The new part is 250, plus shipping. I guess I’d have to see what a machine shop would charge.

-- Jerome, Marietta, GA

View robscastle's profile

robscastle

5387 posts in 2379 days


#3 posted 02-04-2018 06:19 AM

Jerome,

my first comment should be:-
Sell it! a great tool in the wrong hands.
This is based on the fact you recognised there was a gib screw missing and still decided to operate it.
You are very lucky a chunk of flesh was not included in the dust collector as well.

However as you seem to make nice projects you may benefit from the following opinion.

1. I would be inclined to live with the bed damage as it will not effect the operation of the machine.
2. It will remind you every time you see it not to be a German helmet head!

OK with that over its now time to face the reality of the repair.

3. Attempting to weld cast iron is a specalist skill and it may fix the chunk missing but it may also require surface grinding of the complete table to return it to the accuracy needed, as you appear to aware of the coplaner requirements I wont dwell on them.

4. As Tyveboy reported its always good to read the manual and conduct a servicability inspection prior to operation. This is usually abbreviated to, RTFM.

Now the repairs.
5. Repairs.

If you can afford it replace it with a helical head, but please, again read the manual as to the required torque for the inserts and the specific characterstics required of the rotation, replacement and installation of new ones of these. Otherwise read the manual covering the knive replacement, (you will need to change a complete set!) clean everything twice ensure everything is correct after you replace all of the blades, and please do this before starting it up.

Any concerns as to due process go back to the shop you bought it from and seek the advice from a competent person.

In closing I really have to admire you for posting your mistake, its not uncommon the break some thing when first starting out, we have all done it and its all part of the learning process.
For what its worth you have done it in a big way !!
I have never seen timber damage metal like that, so it may pay to examine the material as well, I know from experience that knots are good at destroying router bits (for one) so a blade would be no different.

Looking forward to another project post as a result of the repair.

-- Regards Rob

View Jerome's profile

Jerome

145 posts in 2304 days


#4 posted 02-04-2018 07:05 AM

Thanks Rob,

It was not a good feeling. Initially I did consider selling it and whether I trully needed this piece of equipment. Of course that feeling didn’t last long, despite my misfortunes.

It will forever be unsightly. My second thought was that I’m glad I was using two push blocks and fixed the guard that was previously not retracting on its own, just moving freely. It also made me look at my other tools to see if anything important was missing from them as Tyvekboy wrote about. The main thing is my table saw. I’m not using a splitter. I have one that is combined with the bladeguard, anti-kickback teeth etc, but found that to ‘be troublesome to cut certain pieces. I did however order a splitter by itself to at least provide some addeded safety. I always keep my hands very clear of blades.

Hopefully someone will read this and not make the same mistake and also make sure that when buying a used tool, make sure all of the parts are there or find out what’s missing, and as you say RTFM.

-- Jerome, Marietta, GA

View johnstoneb's profile

johnstoneb

3036 posts in 2347 days


#5 posted 02-04-2018 03:12 PM

That piece broken won’t hurt anything other than pride. Put it back together properly and go to work.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View stefang's profile

stefang

16064 posts in 3509 days


#6 posted 02-05-2018 04:35 PM

As I’m sure you know there is always a learning curve with unfamiliar equipment Jerome. Usually the problems don’t turn out that drastic, but this hard lesson will probably be a godsend sometime in the future, so don’t feel too bad about it. Most of us have had machine ‘incidents’ of varying degrees at one time or another.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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