Slotting in Something New

A crate has arrived at my shop. In lieu of the ‘unboxing video’, I present a few images, starting with this one:


Let me know, if you feel like it, by which picture can you identify the type of machine, and which specific make and model. It’s a game with no prize at stake I’m afraid. Don’t worry, if you’re not savvy about machinery, it will all be revealed soon enough.

With the lid off the crate, a bit more can be seen:


I’m guessing that some readers have figured out what sort of thing it is by now, but probably not make and model.

Here’s a teaser that I’m sure gives away way too much info:


Mind you, that sort of device does appear on various sorts of machines….

Some electrical switches on view here:


Okay, a big reveal – can there be any doubt now?:


If you’re still unsure, well, it’s a mortiser. More specifically a slot mortiser, or as I see it, a horizontally mounted router-like cutting machine with 3 axes of movement.

As the plastic comes off, it all becomes a bit clearer:


It’s interesting to me how European and Japanese 3-phase machinery comes with rather slender power cordage, 16 g. perhaps for the individual wires, while the US specs for similarly-rated plugs, cord  and so forth are gigantic. I find it kinda weird that there should be a difference of opinion, it would appear, as to electrical part ratings between the three most developed areas in the world for manufacturing.

This machine features a swiveling head. The table is fixed, and the head moves. That means you can park fairly heavy stuff on the table without worry. Many other mortisers come with the cutter fixed, and the table being the moving part.

The head features a standard 2-jaw chuck, though I have plans to upgrade to a newer type collet chuck in the future:


The company that makes this machine, still in business, has hardly changed this model in 20 years, so parts and accessories should not be a significant problem.

That above statement was a big clue as to the manufacturer because there aren’t a whole lot of woodworking machine manufacturers these days, for one thing, and those who have kept the production of a machine like this essentially unchanged, and who actually stock spare parts reduces the number even further. This is not a company that buys so much into the pre-planned obsolescence idea.

Still, there are a few companies that come to mind. I haven’t narrowed the options down to one quite yet.

The table is in perfect shape and is planed, as you can tell by the telltale lines in the surface:


That’s another clue, because fewer and fewer companies, engaged as they are in cost-cutting, plane table surfaces these days and instead resort to grinding.

I didn’t get a manual, but I did pick up one accessory, which is the double-sided protractor, visible in the upper left of this photo:


On the right is the depth stop rod assembly, perfectly straight. Also visible is the chuck key in the middle. Everything is just STOUT.

The seller gave me an option of a pair of Festo pneumatic clamps, or a single factory manual clamp. Perversely, though the pneumatic clamps offer many advantages, I decided to keep the stock parts together and chose the manual option. The company that makes this machine does offer a pneumatic clamp so I could upgrade later if need be.

So what is it more specifically?

A Hofmann LB760S mortiser!:


The metal bar on the left is for the hold down clamp is is upside down at the moment. There are four stout attachment positions for the clamp on the table, and the table also has a lip on each edge, to which a transverse hold down bar can be fitted (an option).

This machine dates from 2001, and has seen very little use. The previous owner happened to be around when Laguna Tools lost the right to distribute Hofmann at that time, and was in a position to acquire several showroom machines, including this one. He was running two shops and had other mortisers, so this one didn’t see a bunch of use.

I could find but a few chips in the paint, and the only damaged item is the aluminum psa-backed protractor label, which is upturned slightly at one corner (and still has its factory plastic sheet covering attached). That is it as concerns wear and tear, as far as I can see at this point – a gem:


Looking around at what is one the market, I don’t think there is a better slot mortiser to be had, and I am delighted to have scored my first Hofmann machine, a brand have I esteemed greatly since around 2001 when I first saw a video of their machinery at a house in Redwood City California (thanks Matt C.).

In the near future I will find a place for this machine in my space (a challenge in its own right), get it wired up and hook up some dust collection. It has three (!) dust collection ports so I guess I’ll need, as it seems with every new machine purchase, some additional duct parts and flex hose. I have no tooling either, so I’ll need to look into that, though I am planning to make use of router bit tooling so I’ll be able to get started at least. Once it is up and running I’ll take a video.

I hope you enjoyed the unboxing, and let me my know how many pictures it took before you twigged on to what the surprise in the box was. That’s all for now, thanks for visiting.