Felder Woodworking Equipment Delivery

Back in January 2004 I decided it was time to replace my 20-year-old saw, and pick up a new planer/jointer as well. When I started researching what to buy, I learned that "combination machines" have come a long way in the past twenty years. Modern combination machines pack impressive quality and a lot of features into a relatively small size. That's a major advantage given the limited shop space in our basement.

After considerable magazine-reading, web-surfing, and hands-on testing in showrooms, I settled on a machine from Felder. It includes a table saw, mortiser, planer, jointer, and shaper (if you're unfamiliar with shapers, you can think of them as routers on steroids). Plus, it provides a sliding table: a sturdy structure on which you can clamp your workpiece, crosscut fence, miter gauge, etc., then move the whole assembly past the saw blade or shaper cutters. It's safer and more precise than sliding the workpiece over the main saw table with the aid of a miter gauge or rip fence, and more versatile than a sled.

One significant factor in Felder's favor was the active and highly informative Felder Owner's Group (FOG). The FOG is definitely one of the most pleasant and professional user groups I've run across. For an example of the sort of expertise that you can find in the FOG membership, check out David Best's instructions for installing and adjusting a new Felder saw and shaper.

Felder is headquartered in Austria, but they have a US subsidiary with a showroom in Sacramento. I visited the folks there in late March 2004 and ordered one of their mid-line machines, the CF 731 S Professional. The CF is built to order, so it arrived in late July.

The CF731SP is designed to fit into small spaces, but getting it through narrow outdoor gates and into a basement shop still demands special effort. It has to be separated into two machines, the planer/jointer/mortiser part and the saw/shaper part, that are about 24 and 33 inches wide, respectively (small enough to fit through outer doors). The planer/jointer weighs about 1000 pounds and the saw/shaper about 1500, so getting them downstairs requires more than a few strong friends willing to move stuff in return for pizza.

After exchanging email with several folks in the invaluable FOG and talking on the phone with Scott Chmielewski, I decided to hire a machinery mover. The consensus seems to be that once you've seen this sort of move done, you can probably rent the necessary equipment and do it with the help of a few friends; but if you've never seen anything like it, or you want to make 100% sure not to damage anything, get professional help. I think that's good advice.

Most machinery-moving companies I contacted were unwilling to handle the job because it was too small. On a recommendation from Pete Vavaroutsos, I hired D&M Transfer (named for Dave and Mark, two of the twelve Dunkel "Cousins," who have a family business with a long history of moving big stuff). The plan was to have Felder ship the hardware to D&M's yard in Fremont, then they would put it on their truck and deliver it to Palo Alto.

I ordered the CF with quick-disconnect wiring to simplify the separation. The machines were supposed to be separated by a Felder technician in Sacramento before being shipped to D&M, but unfortunately that didn't happen. For perfectly understandable reasons D&M was unwilling to do the separation, so I had to visit their yard to handle it. This turned out to be entertaining, due to my lack of familiarity with the machines, the need for a tool I didn't have, the absence of instructions, etc. But Jon Wright of Felder in Sacramento arranged for Rudi Korsitzky, the lead Felder technician in Delaware, to give me a call, and with Rudi's advice the job was easy. A few of the photos below were taken at D&M's shop during the separation.

After the pallets had been unpacked it turned out that several significant pieces (including the sliding table!) were missing. I discovered I had just two pallet tags, labelled "2 of 3" and "3 of 3". This precipitated a search in D&M's freight yard, a check of the trucker's records, and finally a call to Felder in Sacramento. Sure enough, there was a sliding table with my name on it still in the Sacramento warehouse. Felder sent it to me promptly by FedEx Freight. Over the following two months most of the remaining parts trickled in from Felder's warehouse in Delaware. The hose for the dust collector arrived in mid September; that was the last piece I needed before I could begin making chips. As of this writing in late October 2004, three parts (a shaper cutterhead, a stop for the CF's rolling carriage, and the reducer that connects the dust collector to its hose) are still MIA.

But that wasn't all. Much of the order arrived in unlabelled boxes, and quite a few parts weren't familiar to me, so it took a while to cross-check everything. Eventually I was sure I had extra parts as well as missing parts. Felder sent a return authorization, so I bundled up the extra stuff and sent it back to Delaware. I hope no one out there was missing a tilt-away power-feeder mount or an aluminum extension table during September.

The last phase of a Felder installation is the "commissioning." If you order it, Felder sends a technician out to your shop for a combined calibration and Q&A session. I had already taken advantage of David Best's site to get started on the calibration, but the commissioning process was still worthwhile. It cleared up the few remaining mysteries and provided several good suggestions for most effective use of the machines.

Now that you've made it this far, here's the delivery process in pictures. Click on any of the thumbnail photos below to see a larger version (and to page through the large photos sequentially if you choose).

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The new machines will fit just to the right of the post pictured here.

The pallet containing the saw/shaper and planer/jointer, plus some accessories in boxes, in the warehouse at D&M Transfer.

Red arrows mark the locations of bolts holding the machines together.






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Looking through the access panel in the saw/shaper. Arrows mark locations of two more bolts that hold the machines together. The air bladder protects the motors and other machinery from flopping around during transport.

The gear arrives in Palo Alto at last!

Taking the machines off the truck.






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Separated planer/jointer and saw/shaper.

The path to the back yard. Flagstone and concrete are covered with plywood and steel plates for protection.

The basement doors are visible on the right. All the flagstone on the back patio is covered with plywood.






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Taking the planer/jointer off its dolly.

Lifting the saw/shaper off its pallet. (And discovering that there was one last hidden hold-down that we'd missed.)

Preparing to move the saw/shaper onto a pallet jack for transport to the back yard.






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Rolling the saw/shaper through the gates in the side yard.

The saw/shaper arrives in the back yard.

Roberto and Jim roll the dust collector into the yard, while Mark looks on.






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Jim moves the planer/jointer onto the temporary "porch" in front of the basement stair.

The planer/jointer, sliding on metal sheets, starts down the stairs.

Jim checking the sling on the planer/jointer.






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Allen installing wheels on the dust collector to avoid having to manhandle it after it's been set upright in the basement.

Using the forklift as an anchor, and winching the planer/jointer down the stairs.

The planer/jointer heads down the stairs.






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Roberto guiding the uphill end of the planer/jointer.

Jim readies the saw/shaper for its turn on the stairs.

Mark repositions the ramps for the saw/shaper.






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Mark repositions a roller as the saw/shaper starts down the stairs.

Roberto guides the uphill end of the saw/shaper.

The saw/shaper in the stairway. Not a lot of spare room, but enough to do the job.






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Transferred onto dollies, the saw/shaper rolls away from the bottom of the stairs.

Roberto and Jim catching the dust collector as Mark winches it down the stairs.

The dust collector reaches the bottom of the stairs.






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Jim driving the forklift backwards through the gates in the side yard.

The planer/jointer and saw/shaper, rejoined and in place.

The dust collector in its place, next to the variable-frequency drive that controls its speed and converts single-phase power to three-phase.







Armin (if I got his name right), one of Felder's technicians from Austria, after commissioning the machine.

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