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"It starts with knowledge..." is more than a motto to us- it's how we do business. Our first goal is to share some of what we have learned about our trade with you.
Tool Care & Maintenance
Build a System
A few minutes invested in the storage process can save you hours down the road. Storing each tool along with its tool drawings, a set of replacement knives and screws, and the necessary wrench for changes will ensure when your tool requires care, everything you need is at your fingertips. If you're using pegs to hold your tools, choose a peg diameter that can have a common hose diameter slipped over it to protect the tool bore, and make sure the pegs incline slightly upwards to prevent the tools from slipping off. Space each peg so that tools can be safely handled- leave at least 3 inches between each cutter.
The Right Tools for your Tools
Working on a suitable bench height with the means to secure cutter heads for knife changes and cleaning will decrease time, improve operator safety and tool protection. A horizontal shaft mount is often easier to work with for knife changing, as gravity helps position the knife in its pocket. If you check knife positioning with a dial indicator, a vertical spindle matching your machine spindle diameter works well.
1 Minute Now Saves 30 Later
A non corrosive cleaner with wipes at the changeover station can help remove any wood resin buildup on the tool body or gibs. A plastic bristle brush (like a toothbrush) can help with this. A soft bench brush or low air pressure spray helps to remove dust/chip build up in knife pockets before installing replacement knives.
Errors or oversights while changing knives could cause damage to the tool body, or worse yet, become a safety hazard. Following these guidelines during and after your knife changes is a requirement for working safely.
Make a careful inspection of the tool to ensure that all knife positions are filled and secured. A missing knife in a tool turning at speed can be dangerous. Check for any wood resin build up on the knives and body or, chips jammed between assembly parts. Remove as required.
Cleaning the Tool
After removing dull knives, and prior to installing replacements, use light air pressure or a soft brush to remove dust and chips. Cleaning isn't just for show; even fine sawdust acts as an abrasive when caught between the tool body or knives and the wood being milled at high RPM. Cleaning out all dust thoroughly will extend the life of your insert knives. Check, clean and be sure to remove sawdust from mating surfaces of spacers and tool hubs.
Periodically, you should thoroughly clean your tools by hand or with an ultrasonic cleaner- how often depends on how much use your tool gets. Like the tools themselves, cleaning should be done with care to ensure safety and the best results- please follow all safety precautions, and be sure the cleaning substance is designed to work with the metal your tool body is made of. Consult the material datasheet for the full scope of the compound's physical and chemical properties.
Replacement insert knives will have a milled pocket and/or positioning stops to correctly position the knife on the tool body. Some systems require a light pressure from a gloved hand to hold the knife position while tightening fastening screws. Most fastening screws do not require excessive pressure to tighten. A torque wrench which will automatically prevent potentially dangerous over-tightening is highly recommended.
Screws and Nuts
Even if you are the only user, a check of the various allen and torx fastening screws on a replaceable knife cutter prior to machine mounting is highly recommended. Check screw sockets for wear, and replace if required. Consider using a small amount of copper anti-seize lubricant on screws to minimize wear.
Sleeve-mounted tool assemblies can easily be mismatched when being reassembled. Make sure all elements are mounted in the same rotational direction. Check that all required spacers are used in the assembly and that any sleeve compression nut is not just bottomed out on its thread.
Give the tool or sleeve bores a visual check for any scratching or wear that may affect the fit on machinery, or the concentricity of the tool circle. Check all mating surfaces of tool bodies, spacers and sleeves for scratches, burrs or other damage that will affect tool concentricity. Carefully smooth local damage, or replace part as required. Store extra shaft spacers carefully.
Securing the Tool
Whether vertical or horizontal, a tool stand will help you to secure the tool body to work more safely and quickly. If possible, match the stand spindle to your machine spindle(s), and secure the tool with a nut or quick clamp split collar. When securing tool on a machine, avoid using wrenches as a hammer to tap parts into place. See above re: checking surfaces.