Boxy Lady

At long last some freight from Japan showed up today. Fortunately the box was just narrow enough to go through the freight door, which is only about 47″ wide for some strange reason – a 48″~50″ opening would be more convenient I guess:

I wheeled the behemoth down to my shop space, and was keen to get the box opened to see what the winds had brought. I knew what was supposed to be inside at least….

A first crack into the plywood box:

A relief then to find that I had received the same machine I bought, in the condition I bought it in, with no shipping damage or missing parts:

A while later I had the box side walls off to reveal the little lady:

Ships are assigned a female gender, so to speak, so why not surfacers?

I find that a johnson bar, pallet truck, and some 1″ pipes are mighty handy for maneuvering machines around single-handedly:

At this point, I wasn’t totally sure about the exact location for the machine, and it was physically larger than I had imagined, but it came with a long extension cord, which made it possible to set up if even on a temporary basis to check things out. So I wired a new plug onto it and plugged it into an existing outlet to power it up. First I needed to raise the drive unit up to get the support tables out.

Then came the moment a while later – does it work? It would be an awfully heavy ornament after all.

A piece of hinoki from the old MFA gate reclamation seemed the appropriate material with which to christen the machine. I pushed the drive belt feed button to confirm the 3-phase was correctly wired – it was. If wired wrong, the belt would have rotated the wrong direction, which would just have meant swapping a wire around, no big deal. Sometimes we get lucky with the wiring, heh-heh.

May as well see what happens when wood goes in one end:

Seems to work just fine – I was pumped!!

Some people say that super surfacers are only good for softwoods. I know that to be false, however seeing is believing as they say. I know there are doubters out there, some professionally trained as doubters in fact. How about some curly bubinga? This can’t possibly work – or can it?:

Oh damn! This isn’t working at all:

Yep, looks like super surfacers are only good for softwoods, what was I thinking?:

Some people may refuse to accept pictures like the above at face value, or any information that might contradict their world view, and I’m okay with that. Horses also tend to be calmer with blinkers on, and I’m kinda surprised a human version hasn’t come about yet. Hah- I tease! Sorry! The stubborn ones out there know who they are.

Meanwhile, back in the reality of my shop, there is wood of all kinds to be surfaced and it will be interesting to see how the chō-shiage-kanna-ban handles various materials as I become more used to operating the new machine. For now, it looks like it will save me considerable labor on the bubinga.

A view of the underside of the two knife cassettes – the standard re-sharpenable knife type is fitted at the moment, and there are two of them:

There’s a rubber plug on the top at the back that I was curious about:

Turns out it is for fitting a hand wheel so that the drive unit can be manually raised and lowered:

Depth scale is in metric and shakkan-hō:

What else is going on here? Well, it has a foot-pedal operated control unit:

Here are the insert knife cassettes and 10-pack of blades, along with the manual and a couple of dry lube sprays provided as a courtesy by the seller:


There is a modest tool set, which fits into its own compartment in frame of the machine:

Not quite sure what the metal dowel to the left is for at this point.

Here’s the super surfacer most of the way to being set up, except for some remaining wiring work- and the small Hitachi bandsaw tucks in there nicely:

It will take a while to get used to seeing it in the space. Tomorrow I’ll probably move the surfacer another few inches closer to the post, and maybe 6 inches closer to the jointer, and then I can put in the dedicated wiring. I’ve already picked up the 3 phase plug and receptacle, so I just need a few EMT fittings and pipe yet.

To make space for the new machine, I moved the chopsaw over to the other side of the jointer, and managed to tuck the hollow chisel mortiser in at the end:

It was like a game of machine tetris in there the past few days as I figured out how to accommodate the new surfacer into the space, but it seems to have come together well. I figure another day to button things up and then I can get back to making stuff, save for a few mods needed to the dust collection piping now that the little bandsaw has a new spot.

Thanks for coming by the Carpentry Way.

14 Replies to “Boxy Lady”

  1. Curly Bubinga… sure, looks like bacon to me.

    Nice machine. Between that and your Martin jointer I'm rather a bit jealous.

    Excited to see what projects you use it for.


  2. Timbershave (Chris),

    why, yes – it does look like bacon! I wonder if I finally have a product for Etsy now?

    I'm blessed to have been able to move my shop along so much in the past year or so. Slowly but surely I am getting there, tho I am running out of space it seems.

    Thanks for your comment!


  3. Joe,

    thanks for asking – I was planning to do a video once I had a little more time to familiarize myself with the machine. Got the wiring completed yesterday and repositioned the machine slightly, so it is ready to go. Also discovered that the quick change knife holders have already been fitted and the new boxes I have which I thought had the new qc holders in fact contained the old holders and re-sharpenable knives.


  4. Looks like the dealer who you purchased the machine from treated you well, too bad you had to pay out so much for the shipping…but it did pay off in the long run because the machine arrived in such good shape and well packaged. Too bad similar service from dealers is sometimes so hard to get here in the states. I've never seen a surfacer like that in action. I do remember about 20 years ago, a dealer had a smaller one. I think it was hitachi????. But never seen again. Good luck with it and we look forward to a video when you get things all squared away.

  5. Joe,

    thanks for the reply. Yes, I think the machinery rebuilder I dealt with was honest and I got a good product at a fair price. While the shipping was as much as the machine, the total price is far less than what I would pay for anything remotely comparable here in North America – and there is nothing remotely comparable, at least not on the market as far as I know.

    There were a variety of different super surfacers sold in the US in the 1980's, and you can come across them used from time to time. Hitachi, Makita, and Ryobi all make super surfacers. As noted in an earlier post on this topic, the machines are often in poor shape, and are not accompanied by a blade grinding machine so it is highly unlikely that their owners got satisfactory use out of them. I can imagine that once the blades got dull and started to tear out the material, or the first time they didn't set up the knives properly and tear out ensued that the machines would have been confined to a dusty corner of their shop, not used again.


  6. I have the small Hitachi contractor's surfacer, the PF60F2 Small, noisier than I would like, but when tuned and the shaving are flying out the top, it's a pleasure to use.

    Chris, I agree with your point on blade sharpening. Using this machine with dull blades is a recipe for frustration and tearout. I have two blades for mine that I bring back with me when I go to Japan. Found a nice man there who owns a small tool sharpening store. He had strong opinions on bevel angles for this particular blade and I enjoyed talking with him. When I received my blades last time they were nicely wrapped in newspaper addressed to 'アメリカ’ (america).

    Chris, that surfacer is a great addition to the shop. The max width of my machine is 180 mm, but with the shear angle it's significantly less. I run into that often I envy the capacity of your machine and its large, quiet motor.

  7. Webb,

    thanks for sharing your observations. I've been enjoying this machine so far and have learned more about it since writing the above. The more I use it the more I like it – it's a keeper!


  8. Chris

    Did you conduct your search for the surfacer in Japapnese and did you communicate with the seller in Japanese? That would come in handy in searching for items in Japan.
    Are you happy with the performance and quality of your Powermatic Mortiser?

  9. Ward,

    good to hear from you. Yes, I conducted my search for the surfacer and communicated with the seller in Japanese. It does come in handy to be able to communicate, albeit imperfectly, in Japanese.

    The Powermatic hollow chisel mortiser is okay, nothing special. I'm not much of a fan of Powermatic. I used to have one of their shapers in my shop and it was poor, despite being in new condition. I do not own the mortiser but merely borrow it, and have intentions of buying a nicer mortiser in the future.


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