Shop Tour

Oliver #12CD Jointer
This is one of Oliver's largest jointers. They actually made a 30" wide jointer in both the model 12 and model 166. This is what is called a pattern maker's jointer. It has the special feature of the infeed table being able to tilt 5 degrees in either direction. This feature allowed a pattern maker to plane a draft into a board (for a machine base, for instance) I purchased this machine from a gentleman on the east coast. It made the trip from Oxford, PA to Eugene, OR in just 3 days! The machine was taken from service in a pattern shop in 1985. The person I bought it from acquired it in 2000. It was originally purchased as a Navy machine in 1942, probably for the war effort. It still had the functioning hour meter on it.(464.4 hrs) The machine was complete - tables flat and in good adjustment, everything worked. However, it was in need of some cleanup. I hired a 15 ton crane to place it in front of the shop, then skidded it in with a come-along and snatch block, the machine supported and rolling on floor jacks. At 3500 lbs, it's not something you move by hand! I repainted the entire exterior of the machine. I left the interior and works alone. I polished and painted the hand wheels, repainted and polished the placards, and completely rewired the electrics. I did save the original Cutler Hammer magnetic starter and its art deco can for posterity. I freed up and lubricated all of the actions. My motor shop installed new oil bath bearings and cleaned and tested the motor. I pulled the knives and gibs to discover that the last person had over tightened the gib bolts to such a point that one of the knives came out in two pieces. Imagine my disappointment when I take everything to the shop to have it all cleaned sharpened and balanced and find out the knives are solid carbide! Luckily, the old boy running the shop did some digging in the "way back" and found a nearly identical carbide knife (only one!) that only required a slight amount of grinding to match it perfectly to the others. That and he sold it to me at half of his 1990 price. A new set of three would cost about $1000.00 today. The jointer runs smooth and quiet. This is my favorite machine to run in the shop. I can flatten even the most warped board dead flat. Its 24" capacity allows very wide milled planks to be processed. This machine is one of the critical links between trees and finished boards
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Jointer as purchased.
Jointer as purchased.
Freeing up all moving parts. Motor at motor shop getting new bearings tested.
Freeing up all moving parts. Motor at motor shop getting new bearings tested.
Note the heavy castings. That's Oliver quality!
Note the heavy castings. That's Oliver quality!
Jointer clean, owner dirty!
Jointer clean, owner dirty!
The finished machine.
The finished machine.
Oliver #34 Sander
This is an Oliver combination disc and oscillating spindle sander. While Oliver made single and double sided disc sanders from 12" to 36", the #34 was the only machine they made which could be purchased with any combination of disc and spindle sanders, i.e. single disc, single spindle, double disc, double spindle, or one of each like mine. This one has a 30" disc, just perfect for what I do. It was purchased from a collector and restorer of wood working machinery near Tacoma, Washington. This machine was very close to the condition of my Dewalt radial arm saw when I received it (on a pallet - a pile of rusted parts) By all rights it was ready for the scrap pile. It appeared to have been purchased some years ago, and left sitting in its shipping crate which was all but rotted away when I found it under a thick tangle of sword ferns and blackberries. Amazingly, it was all there. Being a 1920 vintage, this was a pretty early ball bearing machine. Many of Oliver's machines were still babbitt (poured lead) bearings at this time.

My friend and fellow old woodworking machine enthusiast performed the restoration on this machine, as it required extensive machine work to get it back into running condition, something I am not capable of at my shop. This was in his words "one of the worst machines I've ever worked on, from many standpoints". We're talking major, major rust here folks. Deep, pitting rust. The kind that turns parts unrecognizable and unusable. But he persevered and presented me with a machine that hardly resembles the crusted over saddest of sad machines we found in the bushes. Parts had to be remachined and in some cases remade, broken and cracked castings repaired, bearings replaced, new electrics, and according to my friend, a GALLON of bondo body filler applied to one of the roughest base castings either of us has ever seen. The only thing that survived fairly well was the motor. All it required was cleanup and new bearings.

I built a mobile base for it and hung a new GE magnetic starter on it. I had Wyatt Tire here in Eugene make me some new spindle rubbers for it. It sands beautifully. This is definitely one of my favorites in the shop.
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As found in the woods.
As found in the woods.
Just look at that rust! Everything was frozen solid.
Just look at that rust! Everything was frozen solid.
Disc side, completely restored. This is the only machine in my shop that uses a leather drive belt.
Disc side, completely restored. This is the only machine in my shop that uses a leather drive belt.
Spindle sander side. I fabricated a new mobile base for the machine. See the white spindle? That's natural rubber (white colored like the old tires on early cars).
Spindle sander side. I fabricated a new mobile base for the machine. See the white spindle? That's natural rubber (white colored like the old tires on early cars).
Oliver 88D Table Saw with concentric hand wheels
This saw has quite a history behind the restoration. There were many people and places involved in bringing it all together to make a complete machine. There are very few of the concentric wheeled 88's left, and even fewer with the optional sliding table. The concentric wheels were only put on the saw for the first 5-6 years of production. For the remainder of their production, the next 60 or so, they had separate hand wheels, one on the front and one on the side. I'd speculate the main reason for the change was the cost involved in hand fitting the massive ways for the concentric wheeled design. I'll start with the purchase. My friend and fellow old woodworking machinery enthusiast and I attended an electrical shop auction a couple of years ago here in Eugene. I had information from a reliable source that an Oliver TS was going to be a lot in this auction. I had told my friend I would never be interested in replacing my venerable USB unless it was something outrageous "like an 88 with concentric hand wheels". We walked through the door and lo and behold there it was. My friend bid for me as I rushed to pick up my kids and see a friend of mine dying from a rare blood sarcoma whose condition had suddenly worsened. I was too late. I figured that he died almost exactly as we won the auction. It was a bittersweet win for me.

The machine looked like it had been hit by a fork lift in the front. The hand wheels were busted up really bad and brazed back together even worse. The sliding table had been replaced with a newer one (old one broken as it crashed to the floor I'm guessing?) The motor had been stalled for so long on obviously more than one occasion, with either ridiculously large heaters or no protection at all, that 8 aluminum bars in the rotor had fractured, several in one area. My motor man said it would be lucky to make 1 or 2 of the name plate 6 horsepower. Re-barring was about a $1900 process... A nationwide motor search ensued, producing results from a few places on the east coast. The lead contender and eventual winner was a motor taken from a later model 88 by another friend North Carolina. After having the motor shipped to Eugene, my motor man went to work and soon we had a 220v 3 phase hybrid motor made up of the two (old case with new guts). Doug again worked his magic on the lathe and in the body and paint shop, producing the beautiful machine you see here. Friend Chuck Hess donated a NOS Oliver center hand wheel and table filler strip. Doug machined the rim of a spare 18" hand wheel I had laying around for the outer wheel, and machined most of the metal off of a stock Reid Co. cast iron lever to get a tilt lock handle that looks very original. I re-etched the entire quadrant scale on the sliding table using a custom made etching guide and re-stamped the 1/4" tall letters and numbers. I followed that with a 320-800 grit polishing session, mounted the Biesemeyer fence I had used on the old USB saw, and massaged the rolling table into smooth and level operation. Doug donated a "UPS'd" 16" Forest Duraline Hi AT blade. I had the 14 broken and damaged teeth replaced, the body re tensioned, and the whole thing ground back to spec by Cascade Carbide in Eugene. Between the restoration of the blade and Doug's expert machining of the arbor flange, the 16" blade runs out .001" total at the outer rim. This is the saw I will keep forever. It is a pleasure to use and saws extremely accurately. What a beautiful machine that I am very fortunate to own!
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Saw as purchased.
Saw as purchased.
Interior of saw before restoration.
Interior of saw before restoration.
View from front.
View from front.
Top with re-etched and stamped sliding table.
Top with re-etched and stamped sliding table.
View from rear.
View from rear.
Placards before restoration.
Placards before restoration.
After restoration.
After restoration.
Oliver 273 Jigsaw
This is my "newest" Oliver, being 1976 vintage. The 273 jigsaw is considered by many to be a specialty machine, designed and build primarily for specialized tasks like cutting ginger breading and fretwork for gables in houses, and useful for little else. I find this machine to be actually quite useful in the shop. It can cut a very small radius turn with a 1/4" blade, yet can accept work up to 10" thick under the guide and there is 36" clearance to the column. I use it for all manner of tasks, from cutting shaped leg blanks to creating patterns for use on the shaper or router table. This is actually my second Oliver jigsaw I've owned, the first being an earlier model 173. The chief differences between the two is a faster oscillation speed for the 273 and that the 273 has a jackscrew for raising and lowering the head while the 173 relies on your muscles to raise and lower the 80 lb head. This machine came to me in excellent original condition.
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Here a shot of the 173 frame on its way out of the shop. The oak tree has become very handy for hoisting heavy machinery to get a trailer under it. To date I've hung about 2200 lbs in it with no ill effects.
Here a shot of the 173 frame on its way out of the shop. The oak tree has become very handy for hoisting heavy machinery to get a trailer under it. To date I've hung about 2200 lbs in it with no ill effects.
And here is the 273 ready to go into the shop.
And here is the 273 ready to go into the shop.
Oliver 287T Shaper
This shaper was acquired in an auction at Conoco Phillips in Bartlesville Oklahoma. It arrived in the condition you see here, but with a terrible fence. Included were about a dozen high speed steel cutters, three carbide tipped cutters, a 4 knife corrugated back cutter with a few sets of 1/2" thick knives, and 2 sets of Oliver small size slip knife collars and one large set. Also included were some home made hold downs and misc. spacers/rub collars. It has 2 of the three available Oliver cast iron table insert rings and 2 extra intermediate size steel ones. The paint's not bad enough for me to bother with yet and the bearings are still solid. (Good thing too, at $600.00/set) After checking the machine out thoroughly and fabricating a rolling base and new fence system for it, it was complete. This one has the standard sized table (42" x 42") and 1 1/4" spindle. These were available with 1", 1 1/8" 1 1/4" 1 3/8", and 1 1/2" spindles and various sized tables up to 8 feet long. Many have been adapted to run a collet style spindle – an unfortunate modification that lessens the machine's utility, in my opinion. Oliver also made a #88 dual spindle shaper. With a 5 hp Howell motor and flat belt drive, this machine's only shaft speed is 8400 rpm. The table has only 5 threaded holes plus the three starter pin holes. Unfortunately, like on many old machines, the table had been used as a &*%$!@ workbench! Lots of elbow grease got it flat and polished, even though it is still riddled with divots. It replaced an overseas made Chunwell shaper I had. The difference in the performance of the two is staggering. The Oliver is smooth, accurate, and powerful.
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Rear view of new fence.
Rear view of new fence.
A little dirty, but a very capable machine.
A little dirty, but a very capable machine.
Oliver 299D Planer
This is one of Oliver's bread and butter machines. The 299 planer is another testament to Oliver's solid engineering and machine work. One of the great features of this machine is the ability to remove any one roller, or the cutter head with out disturbing the others. This particular machine was purchased from a cabinet shop in southern California. It was originally sold by a dealer in L.A. to a local cabinet shop. From there, it went through two more shops to the one I purchased it from. It was rebuilt in 1960 and again in 1978, and done well. The time will soon come when I will tear it down again and completely go through it. I imagine this would be the last rebuild for this planer for many, many years, as it is designed to run three shifts a day, and will enjoy an easy retirement in my one man shop, running less than an hour a day. And that's the difference between machines made back then and now – the ability to service them and make them run indefinitely. This machine has the segmented infeed rollers and chip breaker for uneven stock, Reeves variable speed drive, and the complete knife grinding and jointing apparatus. The grinder allows the user to grind the knives in the head instead of pulling them out to be sharpened, saving lots of time. At 24" capacity, it's the perfect companion to the 24" #12 jointer.
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As it arrived in a very large box! Moving the 2800 lbs machine without a pallet jack was challenging.
As it arrived in a very large box! Moving the 2800 lbs machine without a pallet jack was challenging.
In feed side.
In feed side.
Out feed side, showing grinder head and bar.
Out feed side, showing grinder head and bar.
The Band Saw Progression
Without a doubt, the band saw is a staple machine in most any woodworking shop. It has many uses: it can cut fine scroll work, saw at odd angles through a variety of materials, cut circles, and be used to resaw large wood into smaller pieces, to name a few. My own band saw adventure started in 1997 when I purchased my first saw, a Grizzly 20". This was at the time the largest saw grizzly offered. I was primarily interested in resaw capacity. This one would saw a plank in two that was 13" wide or less. It was underpowered, and like many overseas machines, the machine work was done poorly. I suffered along with this machine for a couple of years. I had my eyes opened to a new possibility after reading Michael Elkan's book "Reading the Wood". An accomplished woodworker, Michael could not say enough good things about his Oliver band saw. I figured I must have one. After much searching, I lined up an opportunity to buy what I would find out later is a rather old and increasingly more rare Oliver band saw, a 1911 #17E.

It was purchased from a gentleman here in Eugene that was dismantling his shop due to a condition giving him deteriorating vision. We struck a deal, and I toted the saw home. This saw had 30" wheels and about 15" resaw capacity under the guide, a notable improvement from the Grizzly. As you can see in the pictures, this saw was in to-be-restored condition.

Before long, I was searching again, this time for an Oliver 116D band saw, the same saw Michael had waxed rhapsodic about. I found one in San Martin, CA. I made arrangements to view the saw and made a deal with its owner. Now I had three saws. The Grizzly was the first to go. The 116D was Oliver's second largest production band saw with 36" wheels. (The largest was the 115D with 38" wheels.) It weighed in at about 2800 lbs. It could cut approx 22" under the guides with a 19'-6" blade. It had Carter guides, demountable wheels and lectric/mechanical brake with tension release sensor. It was powered by a Howell 5hp 3 phase 850 rpm direct drive motor. The gentleman I bought it from had acquired four of them in a lot at a Navy auction. The original hour meter read 40 hours. The outside of the saw looked like it had been moved around and sat a lot. I had to pull the motor to change the leads to run on 240v. Upon inspecting the inner works of the saw, 40 hours could possibly have been the actual time. As the saw was in very good operating condition, I cleaned it up some and ran it as is. Now I had a serious resaw machine. I used the full capacity on several occasions, and it sawed right through the hard woods I offered it, ready for more.

I would have been happy to keep this saw (Oliver 116D) for the rest of my days. But, an opportunity came up to own what is considered by many, including myself, to be the finest band saw ever built in the U.S. The Yates American Y line series of saws have no equal. The stoutness of the castings, precision machine work, and thoughtfulness in design are unparalleled. The early Y line band saws had what machinery buffs refer to as a "snowflake" upper wheel guard. Cast of aluminum and in rare cases iron, the snowflake Y line band saw is the penultimate machine. I was fortunate enough to purchase a Y42, the largest model, with 42" wheels, from a broker in California. It can resaw 25" under the guide (Specially factory modified models can do even more) with ease. Mine came to me in fairly good condition, but it did have some issues.

The restoration of this machine was a journey. It started with hauling it home from Sacramento, CA in early December of '05. We made it over the Siskiyou pass without encountering any snow or ice, a rare feat at that time of year. My hired 15 ton crane picked it off my trailer and set it in the driveway, much to the delight of my wife, who at this point was ready to have me committed with an incurable case of bandsawitis. It was at this point I sold the 116D to a gentleman from Arkansas. He drove clear across the country to pick it up! I hired the crane again and we flew the saw out through the skylight and onto his trailer. Now I was ready to tackle the Y42 restoration.

The saw had been retrofitted with a small "10 hp"motor and belt drive. This had to go. The search started for an original frame direct drive motor to replace the poorly done belt drive setup. My months long search ended in Toledo, Ohio at the Doug Beat Motor Co., a specialty electric motor shop, where I found a 365 frame 720 RPM 7.5 hp motor. According to Yates American, who are still in business to service their late model planer-matchers, this was one of two original spec. motors available on this saw, the other being a 10 hp 404 frame. Yates used these motors, which elsewhere were usually wound for as much as 40 hp, to take advantage of their mass and huge bearings. The motor was rebuilt and shipped to me. At 650 lbs, the shipping was not very cheap! I had the shaft turned down to 1 5/8" and ground to +/-.0002" to accept the lower wheel collet.

The second important item was repairing a crack in the frame that originated above the motor bay on the backside of the saw and ran nearly all the way across the top between the tables and a few inches down into the main frame web. After much research and deliberation, I "plated" the area across the crack with 1/2" angle and 3/8" flat stock. I embedded the plates in epoxy after stripping the areas to bare metal and fastened them in place with countersunk 3/8" stainless flat head bolts, about 2" apart. This way I avoided the impossible task of heating the huge frame hot enough and long enough for a weld repair. Cast iron stitching, a process using multiple overlapping drilled and tapped holes and bolts, was prohibitively expensive. It appeared that something very heavy was dropped on the front side of the auxiliary table at one point, bending the table, and causing the crack in the frame.

I completely stripped and repainted the saw, repairing a few broken spokes in the rear upper wheel guard with epoxy and wire. I used bondo to repair the worst of the surface imperfections. With help, I had to move the frame into the shop on my trailer and stand it up between the beams supporting the roof. From there, I used the skylight hole, which the Oliver 116D had flown through via crane, to chain hoist parts into place. The Yates was far too large to crane in. The lower wheel hangs into a narrow pit I had to saw cut out of the concrete floor. I lined the hole with sheet metal to prevent dirt and rocks from being carried up into the machine. I removed the old chewed up tires and planned on ordering new ones. I could only find 3 sources for them anywhere, and two of them buy from the other. The old tires on the saw were 3/8" thick and vulcanized on. The replacement tires from the "sources" were only 3/16" thick. At 2 1/2" wide, I figured there wouldn't be much left at the edges after crowning. I searched locally had a set made from Wyatt Tire Co. They were great to work with and made me a pair of 1/2" thick 3" wide tires that I epoxied on and trimmed and crowned to 5/16" thick. The bands now just pop to the center of the tires.

The final battle was getting it running. I figured my 15 hp phase converter would start the big 7.5 hp GE motor with the 400 lb lower wheel attached. I was wrong. The motor drew such a load, I was experiencing voltage drop of over 100 volts on two of the three power wires. The overload heaters in the magnetic starter were glowing red. This caused a howling, groaning startup time of about a minute. And that was just the bare lower wheel. I knew it would never pull the band and the aluminum upper wheel without frying the motor windings. Enter the Variable Frequency Drive. I had read some about VFDs, or AC drives, and consulted an electrician friend. They are a marriage of a computer and a switch. Most newer industrial equipment is controlled by VFD drives these days. Was I impressed! The drive starts the saw in about 30 seconds whisper quiet – no howling or groaning, no brown outs in the neighborhood, no heated up motor coils. The drive gives me complete control over the motor. DC braking, torque curve manipulation, variable speed, variable startup and stop times, adjustable overload settings, the list goes on and on – 95 different settings. That and its enclosed in a NEMA 12 dust proof enclosure for my dusty shop. I can't say enough good things about it. I was at first concerned I should have gone for the 10 hp motor, but I was proven wrong the first time I sliced a 24" wide walnut board in half. The motor barely slowed down. I later sold the #17 Oliver, bringing me back to one band saw. I'm done collecting band saws now.
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1911 #17E Oliver band saw with original guards.
1911 #17E Oliver band saw with original guards.
Oliver 116D.
Oliver 116D
The Yates American Y42 outside the shop.
The Yates American Y42 outside the shop.
Thee frame mostly stripped of parts.
Thee frame mostly stripped of parts.
Giant wheels, newly painted with new tires.
Giant wheels, newly painted with new tires.
New motor and freshly painted motor cradle.
New motor and freshly painted motor cradle.
Rear upper wheel guard – repaired, painted and bolted in place.
Rear upper wheel guard – repaired, painted and bolted in place.
Frame set in place. Wheel pit and liner in place. Motor, cradle, and brake mechanism painted and in place.
Frame set in place. Wheel pit and liner in place. Motor, cradle, and brake mechanism painted and in place.
Lower wheel installed. Tables polished and installed.
Lower wheel installed. Tables polished and installed.
This is why these are called a snowflake.
This is why these are called a "snowflake".
The badge.
The badge.
The whole thing is hard to get in the frame. Note the gray VFD installed on the frame. I'm told there are very few of these Y42s left. I feel very fortunate to own one.
The whole thing is hard to get in the frame. Note the gray VFD installed on the frame. I'm told there are very few of these Y42s left. I feel very fortunate to own one.