Author Topic: Woodpecker's Slab Flattening Mill Pro vs. roll-your-own?  (Read 1086 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline squall_line

  • Posts: 776
Woodpecker's Slab Flattening Mill Pro vs. roll-your-own?
« on: September 01, 2021, 10:16 AM »
I know this isn't the first time this topic has been posted or discussed, but it's been stuck in my head a lot lately, and then came up again because WP sent out a sale e-mail for this month.

I have over two dozen slabs of Ash and Maple that will eventually be done drying and come home to be turned into something (or, likely, many things).  The slabs are all anywhere from 18" - 24" wide, and cut around 8/4 or so.  Perhaps a dozen or so are live edge, the rest are cut on all 4 sides.  I think the 5/4 slabs are all live edge, and there are another dozen or so of those as well.

For any of the slabs that I intend to use as table tops or other large-surface tops, I have no desire to cut them in half to flatten them and then stitch them back together again.  I've been vacillating on building a slab flattening mill vs. buying one.

Most of the DIY options I see on Youtube and other places have zero dust extraction, and very limited depth adjustment.  I realize that dust extraction in this realm is not going to be anywhere near perfect, but just watching some of the videos online of home-brewed solutions without any extraction at all makes me sneeze and my eyes water.

The Woodpecker mill ticks a lot of boxes in what I'm looking to make/use: depth adjustment on the router mount, dust collection ports, dust-trapping skirt, wide capacity, extendable length.

Has anyone built a mill with similar features to the Woodpecker mill?  How did it price out in the end?

It seems that linear bearings aren't that hard to come by, and not terribly expensive, but the 8020 rails seems to be where a lot of the cost starts coming into play.

Since none of the slabs are over the weight limit of the STM (I was able to carry them by myself [not ver far, mind you] when they were still wet).  I have visions in my head of a mill that would fit on my STM1800 and store away somewhat unobtrusively when not in use.  I haven't figured out how to take advantage of the "tilt-to-load" feature of the STM, but it seems that it would make slab loading easier if it was possible to find a way.

That said, I may also start looking around to see if there is anyone local who can flatten slabs for me until I decide whether or not I'm a slab sort of woodworker.  It could be that I get through two of these things and decide to just sell off all of the lumber.  I'm not sure I need to spend the money and time on a rig if this isn't going to be my bread-n-butter.

I welcome thoughts and discussion, or just merge this into an existing thread if there's too much crossover.

Festool USA does not pre-approve the contents of this website nor endorse the application or use of any Festool product in any way other than in the manner described in the Festool Instruction Manual. To reduce the risk of serious injury and/or damage to your Festool product, always read, understand and follow all warnings and instructions in your Festool product's Instruction Manual. Although Festool strives for accuracy in the website material, the website may contain inaccuracies. Festool makes no representations about the accuracy, reliability, completeness or timeliness of the material on this website or about the results to be obtained from using the website. Festool and its affiliates cannot be responsible for improper postings or your reliance on the website's material. Your use of any material contained on this website is entirely at your own risk. The content contained on this site is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute professional advice.


Offline ChuckS

  • Posts: 2885
Re: Woodpecker's Slab Flattening Mill Pro vs. roll-your-own?
« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2021, 10:29 AM »
I bumped into this video yesterday: https://www.leevalley.com/en-ca/discover/woodworking-videos/router-sled-hardware-kit

Under $100 Cdn for the kit: https://www.leevalley.com/en-ca/shop/tools/power-tool-accessories/router-accessories/110746-router-sled-hardware-kit?item=15K0701

Flattening bit: https://www.leevalley.com/en-ca/shop/tools/power-tool-accessories/router-bits/110463-flattening-router-bits

No idea how much the WP system is.

"I'm not sure I need to spend the money and time on a rig if this isn't going to be my bread-n-butter."

As a hobby woodworker, I do not invest in something that has a large footprint but is not going to be used often enough to justify its keep in my shop. I consider myself a lean woodworker, not a tool hoarder or collector. I sell my tools or machines when they no longer are needed, such as the TS75, CT26, Delta jointer and benchtop mortiser, etc., or when I've found other solutions.
« Last Edit: September 01, 2021, 10:51 AM by ChuckS »

Offline squall_line

  • Posts: 776
Re: Woodpecker's Slab Flattening Mill Pro vs. roll-your-own?
« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2021, 10:48 AM »
I bumped into this video yesterday: https://www.leevalley.com/en-ca/discover/woodworking-videos/router-sled-hardware-kit

Under $100 Cdn for the kit: https://www.leevalley.com/en-ca/shop/tools/power-tool-accessories/router-accessories/110746-router-sled-hardware-kit?item=15K0701

Flattening bit: https://www.leevalley.com/en-ca/shop/tools/power-tool-accessories/router-bits/110463-flattening-router-bits

No idea how much the WP system is.

Thanks for sharing that!

The LV kit is interesting (at about 10% of the price of the WP kit).  It shares a lot of the concerns I have with the DIY method: you basically have to figure out all of the rest of the pieces yourself: pipes, supports, tables, etc.

The WP system comes with rails and quite a few other things above and beyond what that LV kit has.  Not sure it offers 10x the value at 10x the price, but there's probably a sweet spot somewhere in between.

Offline waho6o9

  • Posts: 1611
    • Garage Door Handyman.com
Re: Woodpecker's Slab Flattening Mill Pro vs. roll-your-own?
« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2021, 10:50 AM »
335091-0

My vote is roll your own. 

YMMV

Offline rvieceli

  • Posts: 1521
Re: Woodpecker's Slab Flattening Mill Pro vs. roll-your-own?
« Reply #4 on: September 01, 2021, 11:05 AM »
@squall_line take a look here:

https://cleancutwoodworking.com/

I have been following this guy on Instagram for a while.  He’s been making and selling a sled kit made with linear bearings for everything and a fairly universal mount. Been getting good reviews. He has some standard sizes priced out BUT he will do a custom size for you as well. I don’t have one but will most likely be getting one. Prices seem reasonable to me.

Here’s his Instagram:

www.instagram.com/cleancutwoodworking

The immediate problem is that he is located in the New Orleans area, so it may be a bit before he can ship.

Offline Grev

  • Posts: 187
Re: Woodpecker's Slab Flattening Mill Pro vs. roll-your-own?
« Reply #5 on: September 01, 2021, 01:50 PM »
I'm working on a slab leveling system that is designed to work with TrackTubes.  Here's a link to an old Instagram Post that shows a quick glimpse of the prototype and how it is designed to be clamped to any bench and can be adjusted for width.  It can also be permanently mounted to a bench if desired. I agree with the necessity for dust extraction, and should have that figured out soon. I should mention that I was the original designer of the TrackTubes extrusion, but now the project has been taken over by Fred @BristolArtisanCo. I still work on accessories and give him ideas .. kind of like a senior volunteer for the project.  [big grin]

TrackTubes Instagram Postink

Offline rst

  • Posts: 2691
Re: Woodpecker's Slab Flattening Mill Pro vs. roll-your-own?
« Reply #6 on: September 01, 2021, 02:51 PM »
I use 8' 8020 1530 extrusions and their sliding door track for my guides.

Offline woodferret

  • Posts: 110
Re: Woodpecker's Slab Flattening Mill Pro vs. roll-your-own?
« Reply #7 on: September 01, 2021, 04:25 PM »
Not sure which DIYs you've seen, but SBR16 rails are cheap, cheerful, and rigid for the sled span.  You don't really need side rails and guides as you're not sliding a router sled around like a CNC and you don't need precision gridding.

Offline jeffinsgf

  • Retailer
  • *
  • Posts: 429
Re: Woodpecker's Slab Flattening Mill Pro vs. roll-your-own?
« Reply #8 on: September 01, 2021, 10:08 PM »
Just yesterday I shot one of our Deep Dive videos on the Woodpeckers Slab Flattening Mill PRO that will be released next Friday (9/10). I do most of the Deep Dives in my basement, and was sort of dreading starting in on a slab in my personal space. That fear was completely unfounded. I was using a Festool 2200 with its dust collection connected to a Nilfisk vacuum and the SFM-PRO dust collection port connected to an old Shopsmith DC-3300 dust collector (not the world's most powerful). I faced both sides of a twisted walnut crotch slab that is about 30" x 40". When I swept up the shavings that escaped the dust collectors it wasn't quite a big dustpan's worth. The Shopsmith has a good 25 gallons of shavings in it and the 8 gallon Nilfisk completely filled up. Walnut dust bothers my wife's allergies and she didn't believe me when I said we had already done the video. There's no fine dust distribution that I can find anywhere in the shop. My experience with the first model of the SFM was in working on the first video and even just giving the guy that was doing most of the work a break, I was covered from head to toe. With the PRO, I didn't feel any dust or grit on my arms or face at all. The new router carriage with the height adjustment and built-in dust collection is a quantum leap forward.

Offline dicktill

  • Posts: 351
Re: Woodpecker's Slab Flattening Mill Pro vs. roll-your-own?
« Reply #9 on: September 01, 2021, 10:29 PM »
Just yesterday I shot one of our Deep Dive videos on the Woodpeckers Slab Flattening Mill PRO that will be released next Friday (9/10). I do most of the Deep Dives in my basement, and was sort of dreading starting in on a slab in my personal space. That fear was completely unfounded. I was using a Festool 2200 with its dust collection connected to a Nilfisk vacuum and the SFM-PRO dust collection port connected to an old Shopsmith DC-3300 dust collector (not the world's most powerful). I faced both sides of a twisted walnut crotch slab that is about 30" x 40". When I swept up the shavings that escaped the dust collectors it wasn't quite a big dustpan's worth. The Shopsmith has a good 25 gallons of shavings in it and the 8 gallon Nilfisk completely filled up. Walnut dust bothers my wife's allergies and she didn't believe me when I said we had already done the video. There's no fine dust distribution that I can find anywhere in the shop. My experience with the first model of the SFM was in working on the first video and even just giving the guy that was doing most of the work a break, I was covered from head to toe. With the PRO, I didn't feel any dust or grit on my arms or face at all. The new router carriage with the height adjustment and built-in dust collection is a quantum leap forward.

Can the older model be retrofitted with the newer dust collection at a reasonable cost?

Offline squall_line

  • Posts: 776
Re: Woodpecker's Slab Flattening Mill Pro vs. roll-your-own?
« Reply #10 on: September 01, 2021, 11:05 PM »
@jeffinsgf , thank you for that information.  I learned the "fun" of walnut dust when I took a rough-turned tire thumper and tried to smooth it up with some sandpaper about 10 years ago.  I reacted almost as if a cat were crawling all over my arms and face.  [scared]

I definitely appreciate that you hang out on here and answer questions such as these.  I look forward to the Deep Dive next week!

Can the older model be retrofitted with the newer dust collection at a reasonable cost?

@dicktill , the e-mail I got mentioned conversion kits for older models, and the main product page has some options listed.

There is one item listed for just shy of 4 clams:
CARRIAGE CONVERSION FOR SLAB FLATTENING MILL
SKU: SLBFPRO-CONV
Adds the PRO Carriage to Your Original Slab Flattening Mill.

Whether that's reasonable to you or not, I can't say for sure.  It's about half the price of the entire standard setup, which makes sense when you consider that the carriage contains most of the detailed pieces vs. the rest of the mill, which is mostly extrusions.

The description of the differences between the Board Mill, Slab Mill, and Slab Mill Pro also has this quote (emphasis mine): "the Board Mill and the Slab Flattening Mill PRO have integrated dust collection with a dust curtain and ports where the Slab Flattening Mill will need to have the Dust Collection Shroud used which can be purchased separately."

Looking at the page for the Slab Mill Basic, it appears that the dust shroud for that model is a circle, rather than a full skirt around the entire carriage, and runs just over a single clam. 

Based on the pictures, the entire carriage probably needs to be swapped to get the newer extraction.

Offline jeffinsgf

  • Retailer
  • *
  • Posts: 429
Re: Woodpecker's Slab Flattening Mill Pro vs. roll-your-own?
« Reply #11 on: September 01, 2021, 11:06 PM »
Can the older model be retrofitted with the newer dust collection at a reasonable cost?

Yes, it can. See "Carriage Conversion" on this page:  https://www.woodpeck.com/woodpeckers-slab-flattening-mill-pro.html

Offline Bertotti

  • Posts: 239
Re: Woodpecker's Slab Flattening Mill Pro vs. roll-your-own?
« Reply #12 on: September 02, 2021, 11:57 AM »
I use 8' 8020 1530 extrusions and their sliding door track for my guides.

Are you using 1530 or 1530 S? No deflection issues? how are you mounting it to the table? I have been eyeing 8020 for a year or so for a project like this.
I want to populate SD with trees because I miss the forests of the river bottoms.

Offline rst

  • Posts: 2691
Re: Woodpecker's Slab Flattening Mill Pro vs. roll-your-own?
« Reply #13 on: September 02, 2021, 12:42 PM »
I use the standard 1530 and there is no deflection and is perfectly straight.  I used their UHMW sliding track attached to 3/16" 2x2 angle.  So far I've used the MFS guide panel and my 1400 as I have not needed wider capability.  Eventually I will make a wider quide so I can use my 2200 and larger router bits.