Monday, September 7, 2015

The Post-Camp Decline, Part 2: Machines

The last evening of the camp saw a presentation of a revolutionary gouging system and automated profiling machine by Greg James. The three-stage gouging system gave incredibly precise results: with good cane being gouged at an accuracy of plus or minus 0.01mms. The secret, Greg said, was the way the cane was clamped to the bed. Traditionally, this is done by clamping the cane end to end as it lays in the bed. The drawback of that system is that the cane cannot be gouged evenly unless it naturally conforms to the bed. Greg’s system clamps the cane on either side down along the length of the carriage, forcing it to conform to the bed’s diameter. Of course, the effectiveness of the process depends on how close in diameter the cane is to that of the bed, but the standard bed diameter of 25.4mm produced outstanding results for cane ranging from 23-27mm. That’s a huge window for accuracy without needing to reset the machine.

Greg demonstrated his three-stage
gouging system

Greg's electric profiling machine was very interesting to watch first-hand. From start to finish, the process of profiling a piece of shaped cane took 1:45. It takes me roughly five times longer to do it with my Bell profiler (hand-operated)! What I couldn't quite calculate was how long it took to replace the finished piece with a new one.

As you can see from the video, the machine operates by 'copying' one profile onto another, with a piece of profiled cane acting as the template. The overall thickness could be changed with the machine, allowing to make a piece thinner or thicker while keeping the profile intact. What wasn't made clear to me was whether the template's measurements could alter over repeated use. To combat the possibility of a degrading template, Greg suggested that a template 'batch' be made.

It was an exciting time - for me, anyway. Though the profiling machine is out of my price range (nor do I have the demand for a purchase such as that), the gouging system demonstration was exactly what I needed to see. I made an order right away.

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