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Clamshell jointer heads and safety issues

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Forum topic by AZWoody posted 05-17-2016 06:02 PM 354 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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AZWoody

698 posts in 691 days


05-17-2016 06:02 PM

I’ve been looking for some 16-24” vintage jointers and 3 have come up on craigslist that I’m interested in.
They’re not close, so I would have to make a pretty long drive to get them but they all have the clamshell head and I have heard people say they are a safety hazard. 2 questions…

Are they as dangerous as people say or is it more of a theoretical issue and secondly, how difficult is it to change to a different straight knife head such as a tersa or to a helical head even if there are not direct replacements?
There is a very good machine shop near me that I could have do any kind of fabrication needed to change some things up.


3 replies so far

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MrUnix

4244 posts in 1666 days


#1 posted 05-17-2016 06:19 PM

Depends… not all ‘clamshell’ designs are the same. Olivers in particular were famous for throwing knives due to their design. Others, not so much, but still a concern. As for replacing the cutter head, it depends on the machine and how much you are willing to spend. Given the amount of work and expense, on top of what you pay for the machine, it might just be cheaper (and easier) to find a more modern machine that doesn’t have those issues.

Cheers,
Brad

-- Brad in FL - To be old and wise, you must first be young and stupid

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AZWoody

698 posts in 691 days


#2 posted 05-17-2016 06:23 PM



Depends… not all clamshell designs are the same. Olivers in particular were famous for throwing knives due to their design. Others, not so much, but still a concern. As for replacing the cutter head, it depends on the machine and how much you are willing to spend. Given the amount of work and expense, on top of what you pay for the machine, it might just be cheaper (and easier) to find a more modern machine that doesn t have those issues.

Cheers,
Brad

- MrUnix

I doubt it would be cheap, or take only a little work but a new 16” jointer runs upwards of $7k for a basic one. Some are cheaper but they are no-name imports. I have found a 16”, 18” and 24” and the most is $2500. They look in good shape as well. Hall and Brown is the one I’m most interested in at 18”. I have seen a little info on them and a couple restoration projects but not much else.

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MrUnix

4244 posts in 1666 days


#3 posted 05-17-2016 06:46 PM

I doubt it would be cheap, or take only a little work but a new 16” jointer runs upwards of $7k for a basic one. Some are cheaper but they are no-name imports.
- AZWoody

I didn’t say new, just newer :)

Clamshell designs haven’t been used for decades, so there are plenty out there with safer heads. Here is a good writeup on the issues with those heads over at the VM site: Clamshell Cutterheads

Notice that back around the turn of the 20th century, square heads were fairly typical, which are far more dangerous… and the clamshell design was considered a ‘safety’ head! Here is what Hall & Brown shows in their 1912 catalog:

Cheers,
Brad

-- Brad in FL - To be old and wise, you must first be young and stupid

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