A Moving Experience Awaits (Ah, Weights)

With the ‘Dark Chocolate and Sponge Cake’ build project wrapped up and shipped out the door, I have been turning my attention to the task of moving out of my current shop space in an old 19th century industrial building to my newer all-concrete basement. As The new space is about half as big as the one I have built up my shop in, machine by machine, I have some readjustments to make. Relative though to the times I have had other past shop situations, it is not all that bad in the basement space-wise. It’s dry, and will be warm, more so after all the insulation I have putting on the walls of late.

From the time that moving out became my clear course of action, my thoughts have seldom strayed far from contemplation of the myriad factors involved in making a move like this, mostly in terms of the details of how the heavy stuff can be safely put into the basement without spending thousands on riggers.

Some things were obvious from the start, such as the fact that some of my machines were not going to fit in my basement simply because they wouldn’t go through the opening in the concrete wall. I needed to reduce my overall scope of equipment, and even for those machines which would fit down the opening and into the space I had to consider carefully whether it made sense to keep them as they were, or to sell them and move to a similar but smaller machine, or do away with the machine entirely and change either what I made, or how I made certain things.

In behind all of this was a second set of considerations, about whether I would be able to even have a shop if my health situation were to suddenly worsen. Whether it was selfish to put the financial resources into a new shop situation when proceeds from the sale of my old shop were one way in which I could provide for my family after I’m gone. Still don’t really have an answer for that one, but have had many discussions with family members about it.

Woodworking, when you make use of larger industrial machines, makes for a uniquely challenging proposition as a business, given the costs that associate, the need for space, the need to good dust collection, the need for 3-phase power. I’m envious at times of the electricians and plumbers who ply their trades out of a single van. Tired of living in the Baltimore suburbs? Want to move back to your hometown to be closer to family, or try a complete change of scene for whatever reason? It would seem to be relatively easy to do with a business which comprises little more than a work van/truck and some sort of home office. With a woodworking business and a shop filled with tonnage, moving is not an activity so lightly contemplated however.

The prospect of selling all of my equipment, keeping the money and doing something else, something not involving tonnage, seemed like a freeing option to contemplate at times as well.

I didn’t contemplate that option too intently though, as the fact remains that I like to design and build things, and want to be able to continue to do so. There are so many projects worth digging into! But do I have to make the same kind of things as before, in the same range of materials? Well, no, new directions could be taken if that makes more sense or seems right. Clearly, at a minimum, working in a shop space half the size seems to argue for making smaller things perhaps. Smaller things to make in a smaller space seems to argue for smaller machines too. I still need to leave myself room to have ‘bench’ working space, and store some materials, so I can’t just cram every last machine in there and hope to have something workable.

While giving consideration to other avenues, like turning work, or only making hardware on a mill, I do intend to keep working in wood, which for me means doing joinery work in solid wood, and therefore I am thinking a lot about what machines or other tools might suit that particular situation best.

One of the first things to look at, if not among the most glamorous, was dust collection. I had received about $3500 from selling the cyclone, piping, filters, etc., that had been set up formerly in my shop space, and thus could consider a certain range of options. If I had the money and a bit more space I think I would be looking at something from Alko. I like that style of mobile Euro dust collector.

This is what I bought instead, as it matched my budget:

I thought about the purchase for a good long time, given that, unlike most products originating in China, it was not inexpensive at $4250, but then Harvey put it on sale at 10% off. That may not sound like much but $425 is nothing to sneeze at and it tipped the scales for me towards purchase sooner rather than later. Hopefully the G700 delivers what it promises, namely a smallish footprint with low noise. From the one video I have seen, the machine sounds vastly quieter than my previous set up, and has a convenient detector which shuts the machine down once the chip bins are full. The bin capacity will be about 1/4 that of my old system, which featured 55 gl. oil drums as chip bins, so that means more frequent emptying.

The Harvey G-700 arrived, albeit with some minor shipping damage to its front door panel. Land Air Freight was the local shipper, but the damage could have happened anywhere along its journey across the continent.

After contacting Harvey Woodworking by phone and email I found they were immediately responsive and after explaining the details and supplying many photos the company will be sending me a new door free of charge. So far, so good in terms of my relationship with the company at least. It’s reassuring, because we’ve all had those experiences of consuming some modern product, only to have a problem and then find the company non-responsive or even hostile. Customer ‘service’ seems to have become “consult our FAQ page/forum for help”. Not in this case – they actually picked up the phone.

I look forward to getting the collector up and running, but that is a few weeks away. In the meantime I stripped it of the remaining packaging and carefully inspected to see if there was any damage I had missed the first round. Thankfully no. The door however was a bit more mangled than I had first thought:

It definitely had a run in with something heavy:

The door is unlatched by a pair of knobs, 1/2-turn each and it folds down. Then the bins are unlatched (a nice heavy piece of cast hardware):

The latch holds the bin seals up tight to the framework, and when released the bins drop down:

I’m assuming that the large bin is for large chips and the medium bin for smaller chips, but I have yet to peruse the owners manual:

A view of the back, now sans pallet, with the cover removed and the bins forward in their unloading position:

A look at the end of the machine where the motor and inverter are located:

Conveniently, this machine takes a household single phase 240v current and turns it via a Seimens inverter into a 3-phase 240v. current for the motor. The motor is rated 2hp, and draw is around 1100 cu.ft./m.

The machine has three wheels on the bottom and a pull handle so it should be easy to move around.

The fit and finish seem quite decent. I though the screws fastening on the panels were a little on the cheap side, and there was a little chipped paint on the edge of an access panel that was installed slightly misaligned at the factory, but overall the build quality looks fine to me. The Chinese can put satellites in orbit, so making a decent dust collector is obviously well within their capacities.

Why is it then that we N. Americans almost exclusively consume their cheapest stuff? We seem to like cheap stuff, but it is weird that we could alternatively have very well made stuff at a very reasonable price. Why not?

I looked also at the next size up in the Harvey line-up, which was more like $8000, but the modest increase in bin capacity in that model for me was not enough, not to mention the disadvantage in my small shop of the machine’s larger physical size, so I selected the smallest model. I’m hoping it proves to be a good machine for me.

I’ll be doing a few follow ups to this post in the near future, so please stay tuned. Thanks for visiting!