The Beginnings of PEARL, Inc's New Wood & Machine Shop

The Shoehorn Floorplan
Faint dotted red outlines are lighting

Update Dec. 2017: The pix below are several months old and quite a lot has changed, some gear has been sold and new gear bought.

The place is going slowly together, all 600 sq. ft. of it. A nice little space, 10 foot ceilings, good north light and good heat. Nothing like enough power yet though, eventually there'll be 70HP in three phase motors so a new utility service and all new wiring is needed along with good dust collection and makeup air by means I've not yet sorted out.

Here we're looking into what will be the machine shop with toolroom lathe, vertical milling machine, surface grinder, surface plate and all manner of high tone paraphenalia. A ZERO glass beader in the midst of a tear down/overhaul is back in the far corner.

At the lower left is a 5HP, VFD variable speed, dual drum, 26" wide surface sander that amoung many other things will finish my upcoming 7 layer bamboo veneer loudspeaker cabinet material to its final 20mm thickness.

My workbench. If anything looks thick and heavy and solid: it is; 1,100 lbs. worth. The burgundy, Parkinson quick-acting vise on the far end is these days something I can not even turn up on Google, much less actually locate. Neither can I find anywhere it's competitive equivalent, the Woden; not so much as a mention let alone an actual pic. Masterful pieces of work made in Jolly Olde back when men were men and vises were vises . . .

A magnificent 5HP, direct drive 1956 Tannewitz J-series table saw I bought as rusted junk out of a farmer's field where it had been used as an anvil for 15 years. To clean the hammer bruises out of the table they had to grind 0.060" off the entire 44" x 45" surface, a long job even on the huge Snow Surface Grinder Dominion Bridge had at the time here in Calgary.
Info on this machine, a model 'XJ', and later and earlier Tannewitz tilting arbor mitre bench saws is found here.

Walls and floor painted on this end, the rest still to do . . .

Disclaimer: The small fridge on the left over there is used only to store such as cyanoacrylate glues, various epoxies, batteries and other items and substances exhibiting diminished half-life and/or MTBF at ambient.
. . . :-)

Over to the right, up against the wall on the other side of the solvent-wash sink is a little Rockwell Overarm Pin Router/Shaper I'm redoing after the molestation it suffered at the hands of its original owner. A passable piece of early-50s design but with 1HP, 20,000 rpm spindle bearings nowhere nearly up to the task and a sketchy collet closer that'll all be upgraded to the 21st century. Not the most precisely built I've ever had hands on buy, hey, it's woodworking gear.

A Cincinnati bench grinder I've had for 40 years that one day got all tarted up when it wasn't paying attention.

A new-for-me General 30-420 24" Thickness Planer featuring a 6-start spiral carbide cutterhead, continuously variable infeed rate and a depth of cut that's micro adjustable via built-in PLC.

It's the perfect machine to take my soon-to-be cross-grain laminated, constrained layer, strand woven bamboo speaker cabinet material from its as-pressed nominal 21mm thickness down to 20.3mm thickness prior to drum sanding to exactly 20.0mm; amoung many other things of course.

A nice full frontal that illuminates the fact there's some 12" of daylight, cutterhead-to-table available; the thing'll handle a big stick of board. Ought to, it has a 15HP main motor. Impressive, but I don't need it and don't want to put $8,000.00 worth of single-to-three-phase conversion in front of it. So I'll change it out for a 5HP unit that's more than adequate for my work.

The feed mechanism is yet another teardown project as the infeed 'roll' is actually a side-by-side stack of gears, radially centered by strong springs on their driving shaft; which assembly puts so much downforce on any material infeed for a final, 'dusting cut' of 5 or 10 thou' that the material exits with gear teeth embossed into it. The fix is a new, one piece polyurethane coated infeed roll and an outfeed to match while I'm about it.
I'm of two minds about the lower rollers in the table as they're also driven but expect I'll go urethane there as well as their life is much easier than the abuse the upper, feed rollers must sustain.

A fabulous cutterhead, the replacement cost of which is more than I paid for entire machine, perfect for surfacing ultra-hard strand woven bamboo. Some days the world just works right . . .

3 HP, 10" x 50" Bridgeport-style vertical mill with hardened and ground ways and table top gettin' a little love . . .
Later it'll get even more by way of X, Y, Z axis and quill DROs, the power draw bar I have for it fitted and a Z axis power feed. Then for the effin' tooling already, another about $3,000.00 worth.

Beater Ford Ranger in the background; my real ride is a Turbo, AWD, 5 cyl Volvo wagon I got for a song one day.

I have to tear this mofo completely to bits as it seems the original owner didn't give it the love it deserves and it's all choked up inside with water-based coolant cooties and, I guess, rust preventer while it was on the water that was never completely cleaned away. Who knows how to spell 'chain hoist' ? ?


This US-made Taft-Peirce No. 1 Precision Surface Grinder has a million miles on it run hard and put up wet but the only, tiny, wear is in the upper vee-vee/vee-flat roller way pairs and those can be lapped back the two or three tenths needed to get it back on spec. So it'll go back together and produce its legendary as-new accuracy.

Equipped with the optional coolant package and standard with a 1HP, 3ph., direct drive grinding spindle, 5.5" wide x 12" long x 6" under-the-wheel capacity; the spindle head tilts 30 deg. and it's all manual feeds with roller ways everywhere; which last is why I bought it, all 1,500 lbs. worth for $US250.00.

All these machines were fitted with a Bijur one-shot lube system and talking to the guy I was buying from, a guy who said he'd run it every day for 15 years, I asked, "Where's the one-shot, I can't see it in any of the pix I have ? ?"

"Dunno . . . Hey Joe, go out there and see if there's a one-shot on that thing will ya ? ?"

Stuff like that does not bode well but somehow it survived. Seems like they'd manually greased the ways.

War stories . . .

A long job to bring this back to up to speed though. Because of environmental regs these days, commercial hot tanks no longer strip back to bare cast so getting stuff clean is a real problem and sandblasting ain't the ticket where there are precision ground surfaces that can't be touched. So on this rebuild it'll be a refinish over the original.

Back in the day Taft-Peirce was a major heavy hitter in the precision tooling and contract production businesses and produced equipment and tooling that to this day fetches a good price. Here's one of their handbooks.

Behind all that stuff is a 1,200 lb., solid cast iron to the floor, General 780 12" Jointer that'll get rebuilt to better than new, with a spiral, carbide cutterhead, to look like the Rockwell 8" Long Bed Jointer immediately below, now sold.
As acquired, the 780 can been seen here, sitting at Alberta Gov't Surplus Sales Warehouse in Calgary, where the pic glosses over the fact that, once again, it had been used as an anvil.

The big square pink thing is the bottom side of an inspection grade 24" x 24" x 6" Starrett surface plate.

The Burnerd GripTru lathe chucks on top are waiting for my as-new Holbrook C10 12" x 20" toolroom to come home to play.

I bought this one new in the '70s and re-did it just for fun.

This is the Holbrook toolroom lathe mentioned above, seen off-site. Amoung many, many other things, its identical twin is the machine I used to wind the high-power, ultra wideband output transformers detailed here. Sadly, that machine has some wear and it being about a year-long, $30K project to do a full-on, bare metal regrind, refit and repaint to as at least as good as new I don't think I'll get that done.

This scratch-built, 3 HP, variable speed polishing lathe is for doing contour hardwood finishing where it can be a requirement to use low surface-feet/minute to keep from burning hardwoods such as Koa, one of my favorites which you can see here.
The flapwheel fills for the two slotted hubs are a grand a hit ! !

The edge belt sander I locally scored off Kijiji one day. Built in Yugoslavia, the factory isn't to be found but for a mention here and there. It seems Daddy Bush et al's. little shitshow years back did it in.

Another complete teardown/bare metal rebuild and a new vari-speed VFD drive system.

The existing 12" dia drive drum on the end of an 1,800 rpm motor kicks up a belt speed of 5,700 sfpm, which is nuts. So I'll build a two step 4:1 reduction from the motor to a jackshaft and back to the drum and then about x2 up and x1/8 down by VFD from there will give a very useable range of speeds with the highest being about 1/2 what it runs now..

The brand new $1,100.00 5HP motor you see is an VFD-service part I scored out of an auction in Toronto where Wrigley was closing a plant. $200.00 in my hands in the original box.

Another piece from Alberta Gov't Surplus Sales, this one out of SAIT here in Calgary.
It's a 4 speed, 7.5hp, tilting arbor, sliding table spindle shaper that'll do 12,000rpm using an oil mist spindle bearing arrangement SAIT let run dry.
As of Dec. 2017 I haven't been far enough into that assy see to what might be messed up. Someone has been there before though and, I guess, replaced the bearing(s) only to let it run dry again !
The bolt-on sliding table must have been an afterthought as it's a primitive rig that'll go down the road off eBay, after a complete teardown and rebuild to a respectable standard of construction.
As a piece of machine tool building this thing's the roughest piece I've seen in nearly 50 years of working on machinery. It's crude in some places to the point that I wonder if there was a sharp tool, or anyone who knew how to use one, in the entire factory.
However, it's good, raw iron that came cheaply, and after a bare metal teardown it'll make over beautifully; in fact I'm getting to be kinda fond of it because it's such a dog's dinner; that's when I'm not bloody annoyed with it.
As a for instance: the 7.5hp, two speed motor is two inches from where it ought be ! !

In abrasive saw trim, the piece above is otherwise a Walker-Turner Radial Saw, a fine example of which I have almost entirely re-done and ready to go back together, I've been working at it off and on for 30 years.
This is a machine sold by the hundreds in the late '40s thru about the early '60s and by the look of its solid brass handles, mine has to be an early one which it makes it almost 70 years old and the only tool in the shop that's older than I am :-). Over the years I've owned four of these and seen many others and all of them had cast iron handles; gotta love the cost accountants.
See below for pix of a couple of assemblies rebuilt back from back cast iron. The Mercedes-quality, but back then highly-toxic-in-use Endura finish is the result of pure-grunt prep work; elbow grease by the quart can.
I just love the Art Deco look of the thing . . .

New Stuff That's Coming to Stay

This is 16" a 2HP, Variable Speed Walker-Turner 3331 Wood/Metal Bandsaw I found on eBay. Thinking at first it was a magnificently meticulous rebuild I then saw that no, it's a piece that sat its whole life doing pretty much nothing at all, a Shelf Queen. A little surface rust on the table, who cares; it'll clean up as-new with only modest effort. I've wanted one of these for years. Walker-Turner made great gear.

Below is an as-new Cantek 24" wide belt sander I scored on Kijiji for 13 cents on the dollar, with 144 hours on the clock. A beautiful example of modern Chinese construction it boasts any number sophisticated features.
Its main mottor is a 10hp, 3ph unit for which I just happen to have on hand a 15hp soft-start motor controller, so getting it up to speed will be a reasonable undertaking every time.
It ain't quite here yet but the New Year will see it land . . .