It’s no surprise that it takes much longer to change 240 knives on the top head of a planer than it does to change the guards at Buckingham Palace. At first glance, performing planer maintenance may not seem as grand either, but after a closer look, I disagree. Working alongside Steve Brantner and Chad Klatt, maintenance gurus at our Menomonie, WI division, I have been exposed to the intricacies involved in taking care of one of the most important machines at Banks Hardwoods – The Newman S-382 Planer.
According to the manufacturer the 382 “is designed to take random width rough sawn lumber and calibrate it to target thickness.” In 2014, we ran approximately 70.5 million feet of lumber through our planers (including Quantum). Keeping sharp knives and as-good-as-it-gets alignment is extremely important to producing a Quality Everything product for our customers.
The helical carbide cutterheads, or “heads” for short, are an industry standard. Carbide steel is much harder and more durable than average steel, particularly when exposed to the increased temperatures inherent in high speed cutting. The replaceable knives fit precisely into the eight helical rows to form the most advanced cutting edge available. Other benefits include lower operating costs and better performance.
Performing planer maintenance is a time consuming process that normally occurs before or after production hours. Because changing the knives is more involved than simply honing (sharpening) or jointing, only one head is done at a time. In general, the bottom lasts longer than the top, but the timetable varies due to which species are being planed, production hours worked, and the occasional “oops…”
These knives were last replaced in July of 2012. The entire process took us five hours.
Let’s get started.
There you have it, a little bit of planer knowledge for your back pocket. Of course, there is so much more to it and many years of experience that allow Banks Hardwoods to run smooth and efficient production every day. We certainly owe our maintenance crew a round of applause and a big, “Thank you!”