Saturday, 29 June 2013

The Emco-Star Woodworking Machine





The Emco-Star is a multi-function woodworking machine that was made in Austria in the early 70’s.  I bought mine used at a secondhand tool shop here in Christchurch, New Zealand.  They are beautifully made; most parts are cast aluminium alloy except for the bases which are cast steel.  You literally couldn’t make this machine today - even the bandsaw blade guard is an intricate casting.  Today it would be stamped sheet steel.  Copies of the manual are floating around online, check manuals.es or google.


The main functions of the unit are table saw, band saw, belt sander, and disc sander.  With an optional attachment (sold also as the Emco-Rex) it’s also a jointer and thicknesser.  There are also accessories that you can attach that make it a jig saw, fret saw, wood lathe, mortiser, circular saw sharpener (steel tips only), and drink mixer, though  I may have made that last one up.  The motor has two speeds - 1700 and 3400 rpm.  The various functions on the main machine are engaged or disengaged by mechanical clutches that cleverly disengage themselves if you change the layout of the machine.  The thicknesser/jointer is designed to be unbolted and slid sideways when not in use (it’s engaged through a rubber spider drive) but I leave mine engaged all the time, figuring it adds a bit of flywheel effect.



Some notes on operation.

Table saw

The table is quite small, almost maddeningly so.  It’s so easy to pull the push guide off the front of the table and have it fall to the ground.  I’ve modified the lower blade guard to attach dust collection as otherwise it soon packs up with dust.  I need to revisit this as my attempt goes out the bottom of the blade guard and sticks out far enough that it is in the way when the machine is set up for bandsaw use.  The over-arm blade guard gets in the way of longer stock and I’m ashamed to say I don’t use it much.  I made a fence the length of the table and added a longer fence to the push-guide. The insert around the blade on mine was cracked when I got it. I've made another out of thin MDF but it's too flexible. As soon as I come across some thin ally plate I'm replacing it.


Thicknesser



I struggled a lot to get this to work.  Stock simply would not feed smoothly, and cut chips would get run over by the outfeed roller and imprinted into the workpiece after it had gone through.  I did three things roughly at the same time and now it runs beautifully.

  1. I made a swinging blade guard for the jointer that had a port for my shop vacuum. This sucks up about 95% of waste when using thicknesser (it goes up out the top) and has eliminated the issue of workpiece being damaged by outfeed rollers.
  2. I had new belts made for the feed rollers. These are round rubber belts and I doubt you’d find them on the shelf. Most good belt and chain shops should be able to make you one from your sample. The chap I dealt with reckoned he’d made the ones off my machine years ago.
  3. I sprayed all tables with Bostik Top-Cote, a product designed for woodworking equipment. There’s no silicone in it, so supposedly it won’t interfere with wood finishes. I cleaned the tables really well first with denatured alcohol and 600 or 800 grit sandpaper. Update: I recently had feed issues again. Cleaned and re-applied the spray and sure enough, problem disappeared.



Jointer

This also didn’t work well and I had almost given up on it until I decided to change the blades (mine came with a brand new set).  I don’t have the accessory blade setting jig so just used a straightedge off the outfeed table, slowly turning the head by hand (unplug the unit first, for god’s sake) and tapping the blades down gently with a nylon hammer until they didn’t lift the straightedge as they passed.  Now it works great!  Why did I wait so long?


Disc Sander

It’s a disc sander.  I attach sandpaper with contact cement.  This needs dust collection too but I haven’t got around to that yet. On the fast motor setting it's real easy to burn softer woods.


Belt Sander

This gets turned on by a pull-out clutch made of cast zinc alloy (the table saw must be engaged as well).  Do not under any circumstances try to engage this while the machine is running, it will shatter into a dozen pieces.  I know it was a dumb thing to do and I won’t do it again as making a replacement has been very time-consuming.  

Replacement belt sander clutch made at work.  Thanks work!  Edit: I have since seen another one of these machines that had an intact clutch.  The slot where the roll pin goes through doesn't go all the way to the base.  This keeps the clutch from pulling too far out and fouling the cover, which mine will do.  It gets real hot as it rubs, as the piece of burned skin still stuck to the clutch will attest.  So if you make one for yourself, take this into account.


Belts are nearly unobtainable (40mmx810mm) and I expect to have to make my own when I wear out the ones I have.  Check http://www.emcoshop.at as they were offering parts as of mid 2013.
Bandsaw
Mine tracked poorly until I changed the blade.  Now it’s a bit better, but you’re certainly aware that you’re using a compromised tool.  The tiny drive wheels are hard on bandsaw blades (tight radius bends them sharply). Again, check http://www.emcoshop.at or see if a local blade supplier can weld you up one.  Length is 1350mm. You can cut aluminium on the slow setting (carefully!), but don't attempt to cut ferrous metals - the speed is simply too fast.

Wood lathe
I don’t have this attachment but I would guess that it wouldn’t make a stellar tool.  Wood lathes require a wide range of speeds and you’re limited to two with the Emco-Star, though you’d be in the ballpark for items of about 50mm in diameter (slow speed for rough turning, fast for finishing).   If you have the thicknesser/joiner, you'll need to unbolt it and remove it from the table. It's heavy.

Mine came on a stand that was a bit cobbled together. I made a much better stand out of scraps at work. You definitely want lockable casters on the bottom so that you can move it around easily but get it to stay in one place once you start working. You get what you pay for when buying casters, and I didn't get much. The base of my stand is divided into two compartments, one holds accessories and the other houses my shop vacuum. Future plans call for commonly-used tools to be mounted on the outside, probably in short lengths of 30mm plastic pipe. Things like a square, socket wrench with 22mm socket, and a place to hang things like the table saw guide and push stick.

In conclusion, a great tool for those who don't have a lot of space. Individual tools would certainly do each task better but would be far more expensive and take up much more room. If you find yourself tight on space or cash, definitely seek one out.





Can anyone tell me what this part is for? It was included in the lot that I bought with the EmcoStar, but I've been unable to figure out what it is. It's definitely an EmcoStar part as it has the exact paint finish of all the other accessories.

56 comments:

  1. I have listed your blog on my website www.emcostar.nl

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    1. Sadly this resource is no longer online.

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    2. i even started a facebookgroup called "emcostar lovers".
      Feel welcome !

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  2. Hi Matt can you help just got a emco star but capacitor is not working cannot find where to get one is there another that I can use? thanks Mate

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    1. Sorry Mac, not my area of expertise. I just had one of the electricians at work tidy up the wiring in my Emco metal lathe, which has capacitors as well. Best to talk to the pros when it comes to electricity, I think. Money well spent. Anyone who knows their way around motors should be able to set you straight.

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  3. Hello,

    For sanding belts, i order them in prixabrasifs.fr website.

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    1. I've found a local engineering supply house that can make them to any length at reasonable cost, but I had to buy five of one grit.

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    2. Hi Matt, I was lucky enough to be given one of these fantastic machines in mint condition (basic set- disc, belt b/saw, jig saw,table saw). Sanding And Grinding in Glenfield Auckland made my belts at a reasonable price. I purchased the disc pads from Machinery House in East Tamaki and they are the velcro type. You buy the backing pad and apply that to your alloy plate and no more gluing required and change grits in a few seconds.
      Regards John B, Orewa.

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    3. Hey John, thanks for that. I literally had a Machinery House catalogue on my desk in front of me when I read your post! Will get one of those.

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    4. Hi Matt , I have an Emco star Rex which is an excellent machine and I am trying to fit the Grinder , but the coupling which adjoins the motor to the Planer and Thickneser cannot be moved as the motor cannot be restricted from turning . To release this coupling it should be turned in an anti clockwise direction being the same as the circular saw blade which is undone in an anti clockwise direction.
      I have searched the 38 pages of the manual available online but there is no instructions for the coupling
      release
      Can you or another writer advise a solution as even with lubricant it cannot be moved .
      Phill Haines

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  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  5. Hi Matt, my late husband purchased an Emco Star in 1975 and over the years has made many projects using his machine. he always said his emco was the best woodworking machine he had purchased and how well made it was. I will probably sell most of his tools and was wondering if you would have an idea of what the emco would be worth. the machine is good condition even though it is 40+ years old. Regards Liz

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    1. Hello Liz, sorry to hear of the loss of your husband. Very difficult to put a price onto it. There are a wide range of accessories that either came with it or were purchased separately, and the price would reflect how many of these come with the machine. I paid NZ$700 for mine several years ago through a dealer, reasonably complete, which would work out to about US$500. Keep an eye on ebay, there's one currently listed in England (auction #172242271767). Best of luck.

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  6. Thanks for the info I will check e-bay

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  7. Sanding belts available here:
    http://www.ebay.co.uk/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_trksid=p2050601.m570.l1313.TR0.TRC0.H0.Xemco+star.TRS0&_nkw=emco+star&_sacat=0

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  8. Hi,Liz sorry for your husband 'pass away.I 'm interesting in emco so if it still with you ,I will get in touch,by the way Ihope you doing fine.
    Best regards,
    brown

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  9. Is it device still for sale? I'm going to buy one
    Leszek Wojtasiewicz Kraków Poland
    email: lotnie@poczta.onet.pl
    tel: 48787316326

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  10. That last part in the picture. My mate suggests it's a drinks holder - as in an extension to the table, either is sawbench mode, belt sander mode or bandsaw mode.

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  11. Hi, the last part is for the thicknesser to mount over the knifes in order to throw out the chips in one direction.

    You'll see it on the pictures a bit down on this link:
    http://www.copaindescopeaux.fr/forum/les-outils-electriques/10382.html?start=15

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    Replies
    1. Brilliant, thanks. This has bothered me for ages! No use to me as I have made a vacuum port to suck the chips out the top. Who wants that mess all over their shop?

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  12. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  13. Your machine looks great!

    I recently purchased mine, and I am looking to buy a drill chuck so I can attach a bench grinder/polisher where the lathe normally is connected. Would you happen to know the dimension of the screw thread for the axle where I should connect a drill chuck? I believe it is an M14x2 but I'm not sure.

    Also, the belt sander clutch was broken on mine too, will not be able to make an as good looking as yours but I'll try!

    Kind regards,
    Jesper

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    1. Oh and I buy my belts here, perhaps it is of use to someone:

      http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Emco-Star-cloth-sanding-belts-40mm-x-810mm-80-grit-pack-of-10-/112114135347?epid=711720819&hash=item1a1a85f133:m:mI4yVJdIxgXlNMac0OqdSig

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    2. Hi Jasper. I was wondering how you got on attaching a drill chuck to your machine? I am thinking about doing the same thing. Bill

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  14. We need parts for our Emco Machine. We are situated in south africa. Do you know who we can contact?

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  15. Short of http://www.emcoshop.at/en/329-conbinedmachinesemcorex2000 there really isn't much out there. Somebody must have paid an awful lot of money to get that machine to SA back in the day!

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  16. Had someone mail the following but without a legit return address:

    Hi Matt. I trust you are well. Another post from South Africa. I'm looking at making an offer on a machine. There are a few parts missing, including the table saw fence unfortunately. It has the planer thicknesser attachment, the rubber belts are broker which is not a problem. I was still able to test the surface planer and jointer and when I run a board over it, even pine the blade slows down and eventually stops but the shaft from the motor is still spinning. Any suggestions? Is there a clutch assembly between the shaft and blade? Is it an easy fix?

    The Table saw fence should be fairly easy to fabricate. With regard to the planer, there is a coupling that attaches the motor to the planer. This has a rubber "spider" in it. The ends of the coupling attach to the shafts with a grub screw. I'm guessing this screw has come loose. It may have scored up the shaft as it spun. Try sliding the planer away from the motor and undoing the grub screws to check the condition of the shafts on both sides of the coupling. If they are lightly scored they can be cleaned up with a file; if they are really bad a machine shop may need to be employed. Or, if there is room enough between motor and planer, you could hacksaw off the damaged bit. Good luck.

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    1. Hi the part that you want to know about to is a chipping deflector that bolts to you top planer fence

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  17. Hi Matt. I am Derick Smit from Bloemfontein in South Africa. I've got hold of an Emco Star planer and thicknesser. Unfortunate some parts are missing, like the reduction box for the rollers. Is it possible to provide me with any specs regarding the reduction box and the rpm of the drum as well as the rollers. Thank you very much.

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    1. Goeiedag Derick, more than happy to take mine apart and take measurements and pictures but I'm just about to go overseas for a month. Email me in late June at mattagnew at gmail dot com and I'll see what I can do.

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    2. Thank you very much. Will do so.

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  18. Good day gents.
    I inherited an Emco star and the planer is in parts. I am cleaning everything and need to assemble the planer.
    Where can I get a schematic for the planer?

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    1. Not sure if this is what you're looking for but try https://www.scribd.com/doc/163789570/Emco-star-manual-pdf

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  19. Tell me where can I buy this machine?

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  20. Well, they haven't made them for a couple of decades so check eBay or local used tool stores.

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  21. Hi can i find this machine in Uae ??

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  22. Hi Matt,
    I've got 2 Emco Stars' Inherited one from my Dad 30 years ago and one I picked up on eBay for spares. I also have the manual which I'm happy to scan for people who want it. My 'spare' machine ran well but it just kinda stopped, I'm thinking overload cut out as this happened to my 'real' machine a few years back. I was charged £300 and it took 6 months to fix??? But no invoice or paperwork supplied on return - suspect I got ripped off. Any ideas on it cutting out?

    PS I had a bunch of sanding belts made in UK, found them on Ebay.
    Happy Emco Staring...
    Keith

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    Replies
    1. I know very little about the internal workings of electric motors! i'm sad that you had such poor luck getting yours running, and I suggest the firm you engaged are grossly incompetent. Did they at least fix the problem?

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  23. Milton Keynes based retired drives engineer. Let me know if you need help with any (electric) motor problems.

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  24. Hi I looking for emco star band saw blade please inform me where I can buy ? Thanks

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  25. Hi, you can have one made at any good sawdoctors or wood working tool manufacturers or sales co. Just take the old one in as a sample.

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  26. tengo 3 de estas maquinas, algun interesado me ecriba al correo aaa-agraces@hotmail.com

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  27. Hi. I have recently acquired an Emcostar and I need to replace the circular saw blade. Any idea where these can be sourced? Bill

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    1. I just used one from a circular saw, common hardware store item piece. Can't recall the exact model. Just make sure the outside diameter and bore size are the same.

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    2. Thanks Matt. My apologies for the delay in responding.I have recently come across an original brochure for the Emco-Star. It is quite detailed and contains pictures of each function of the machine and all the accessories. The brochure also contains technical data relating to the machine and the accessories. If anyone was interested I could upload it for people to kook at and/or download. Bill

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  28. My drive belt has snapped and I have just about dismanteled the entire machine - I'm missing something and I'm sure it's very simple. How do you get to the belt to replace this?

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    1. The belt to drive the thicknesser? What's turning and what's not turning when you run the motor? If the central shaft is turning but wood isn't feeding, the drive for that is under the cover at the very end of the machine. It's three round belts. Most belt/power transmission places can make a new set.

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  29. If I take the band saw cover off, the belt that drives the sander & saw has snapped. I just cannot see how to get in there (unless the circular sanding disk screws off)?

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    1. I have a velcro backing on my sanding disk at the moment that I dont want to disturb, but I'm pretty sure there's a bolt underneath that secures it. The trickier part may be the bandsaw wheel behind that, which may be secured with a circlip, requiring circlip pliers to get off. The other bandsaw wheel (top one) is secured with a circlip.
      Judging by the condition of my belt I'm probably not too far off having to figure this out for myself!

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  30. I've had an emcostar all my life and have done wonders with it - from large furniture items (3M wardrobes) to front doors in 2 inch Iroko to small puzzles. But now I've used all my stock of bandsaw blades - and cannot find a supplier for the 0.7mm thick stock. Any idea where I can source some?

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    1. You could try https://www.emcomachinetools.co.uk/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=1514 but they are expensive. Depending on where you live, it may be cheaper getting in touch with a blade store to have some custom made, but it is an uncommon thickness.

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  31. Good Morning - We have one of these machines & are seeking a new rotary on off 2 speed switch. Do you know where to source these?

    David

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    1. Wouldn't have a clue, sorry. Try a local electrical wholesaler. You may need to adapt something.

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  32. Hi
    I’ve just been left a basic machine as father in law passed away. I think I’ll pass the machine onto my son as a present.

    I’ve been looking at the first picture of the machine on an MDF homemade trolley. Can you tell me the dimensions of the trolley?

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    1. Sorry for the late reply - My trolley is 670 to the top of the table, 600W x 930L. I'm about six foot, and if I were to build it again I might go another 25mm or so higher. I keep my Nilfisk shop vacuum underneath one end and accessories under the other end.

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