Archive for the ‘Robland X31’ Category

Robland X31: Three Legged Horses

October 3, 2016


My out-feed table on the Robland X31 works very well. I can rip boards and stack them right on the table. On the other hand it has taken me a while to work out the best way to stack wood at the front of the saw. In the past I usually set up regular four legged sawhorses, and I was forever tripping over the near-side legs!

These funny looking sawhorses work great as in-feed supports for the table saw. They are just shy of the saw table height, and with a bit of weight (an extra board maybe) they don’t tip over. I can put a stack of lumber on the horses and easily walk through them as I pick up and feed the wood into the saw.


Three Legged Horses: Made from 1/2″ black pipe and fittings, and soldered at the joints.



Robland X31 Straight Line Rip Jig!

July 18, 2016

IMG_0292The Robland X31 predates modern sliding table saws where the wagon slides very close to the saw. The newer sliding saws do a great job cutting a straight edge on a crooked or waney edge board.

Here is my new attachment for the sliding table so that I too can straight line rip like the big boys! Well, not quite. The travel on the X31 sliding table is limited to sawing about 52 inches long. But for most everything I do this is plenty long enough.

Robland X31 Update

July 15, 2016

Please see the previous June 3, 2016 post re: my ups and downs with buying and setting up an old euro combination woodworking machine. I think I have finally got the machine working properly, but it has been a struggle. I would caution anybody contemplating obtaining such a machine to proceed carefully and with eyes open.

Motor Failure Mystery Solved!

I had assumed that the previous owner knew what he was doing when he put a starting switch on the front of the machine. It turns out that the simple momentary switch he used was permanently wired to both the running and start windings. I thought that he had disabled the original switch, and positioned the new switch, simply for convenience of operation.  Probably what happened is that the original switch broke and the new switch was put on the front because it was easier than taking out the old switch and mounting a new one back in the control box. Sigh. Long before I got the machine the motors were running continuously on their startup windings, and therefore at higher amps. This type of use eventually caused the two motors to burn up.


The red button is a stop or “kill” button. There are three of these around the machine that can stop whichever of the three motors is running. The silver box has the conveniently placed, but improperly wired, starting switch. This switch eventually caused two of the motors to burn up. A completely different kind of kill switch!

The Robland X31 is intended to have a manual starter that engages the startup winding to bring the motor to full speed, and then when the starter is released the motor operates on the run winding at lower amps. In contrast, the U.S. standard is to produce motors and starters that automatically switch from startup to run mode.

I purchased a new OEM starter from Salzer Corp in Mesa, Arizona, and after waiting three weeks for the part to arrive from Germany, I was able to install it in about half an hour. All the motors are now running without a load at under 4 amps.  They had been running at between 11 and 13 amps off of the old non-OEM switch due to the resistance of the start winding. Jeff from Gray Motors, Schenectady, says that if the saw motor runs at similar amps to the rebuilt motors there is a good chance it is not damaged. Let’s hope so! At least not for a while, so I can save up to have that motor fixed.

Note (August 3, 2016): I still have an amp clamp on a hot wire to the machine, and it is interesting to see that each of the motors start up at around 32 amps then immediately drop to around 11.5 amps, and when I let the spring loaded start switch return to its original position the motors go down to 4.2 to 4.5 amps. Within about a minute of warm-up the motors then run at 3.5 to 3.9 amps. This is not under working load. The planer will plane a 1/16″ off a 5 inch wide oak board at around 5 amps. I’ll need a helper to see what the other motors do under load (not taking my eyes off while sawing or using the shaper!). I only need to turn the start switch for a second to get each motor up to speed. Working fine now! TBTG!


Robland X31?

June 3, 2016

A typical european combination woodworking machine has a sliding table that can be used with the circular saw and the spindle shaper. The machine also has a thickness planer, a jointer, and a mortiser. These machines generally have three separate and identical motors; one for the saw, one for the shaper, and one shared by the jointer/planer/mortiser.

I bought my 1990 green Robland X31 in February of 2016 for $2100. My understanding is that it was purchased new from Laguna Tools, CA in 1990-91, was used for ten years, and then basically not used much until I got it.

In order to get it out of the basement where it was stored I had to take off the sliding table and rail, electric control box, left side cabinet, saw top (with attached saw+motor and shaper+motor), and both jointer tables.

I moved it with hired help to my basement for $500, and re-assembled it. The jointer/planer/mortiser motor burnt up within a couple of months and I managed to remove the motor through the side panel. I called Laguna Tools and they suggested having the motor rebuilt since a new motor from Belgium would cost at least $1200 plus shipping. I had a shop in Schenectady do the work and they charged $650.

Last week the shaper motor died. I used ratchet straps to take up the saw top, (and quickly bought a chain hoist) so I could remove the motor. The motor is now out being repaired. The saw motor is running at 11.5 amps and seems to be fine. [Note: Not “fine”!: see July 15, 2016 post here] The rebuilt jointer/planer/mortiser motor runs at around 11.7 amps. Even though I had run all the motors before I bought the machine, I didn’t check amps until after the first motor burnt up. I have been using the shaper and after a little while it would run over 13 amps, and it had that acrid-hot-motor-smell.

1.  The saw top is now back on the machine and the saw is running fine [Note: Not “fine”!: see July 15, 2016 post here]. The top is secured with only four cap screws, and getting inside the machine to do maintenance/repair (including the planer motor, drive belts, and chain drive mechanism) is really best done by removing it (and the attached shaper and saw) with a chain hoist.

2. By now I have almost $3500 into the machine (not including moving costs). I’m very glad I got it for the price I did. I like having one dust hose and one power cord. I like that it is compact. The mortising machine is great. Actually, the whole thing is good. I don’t even mind the saw adjustments and the fence.

3. Buying and keeping a vintage (25+ year old) euro combo machine is like taking on a long-term committed relationship. The trouble involved with moving a 1400 lb. machine out, and/or trying to sell it, makes you think twice about getting rid of it.

4. I have both a small 5” jointer and a 10” jointer/planer (Inca brand). Most of the time I use these other machines, and save the Robland jointer/planer for when I have a pile of wood to mill. It is really inconvenient to swing out the jointer tables and then have to wind the planer table all the way up (and back down again) in order to flip over the dust hood. Really.

5. A trick I learned: In order to use the saw to cut a wide board (or use the shaper), without removing the jointer fence, I can swing the infeed table of the jointer out of the way with the fence attached. This works up to 25″ – anything wider and I have to take the jointer fence off.

6. I’m not sure why but I have an amp meter on the machine all the time to check to see how the motors are running. Just a little paranoid I guess. If you have a spare Robland motor for a reasonable price let me know.


The ratchet straps lifted everything fine, but it was not so smooth going back down! I bought a chain hoist and had a much easier time of it.

Outfeed and Sliding Table Support:

March 29, 2016

Robland-X31 Posts

More Robland X31 progress:

Having used various arrangements for supporting wood boards and plywood on and off machines, including permanent tables and rollers, I have decided this time to combine the best of what I’ve learned over the years. Roller stands are small and portable, but they can tip over. Sturdy shop-made tables are great, but they can take up valuable space. On the other hand, the tables are good for stacking, sanding, assembly, and finishing.

I bought two portable Keter work tables. One is sold at Home Depot and can be taken apart and put together in a couple of minutes. It comes with a router table insert, which I replaced with a piece of plywood. The other table I bought on Amazon, and it deploys and folds up in two seconds! Both tables are only 22” x 33” x 5” taken down. On the portable tables there are 2ft. x 4ft x 1in. thick plywood tops. These work tables each support two other 1/2” ply tops that serve as the machine support tables. I put the Keter router table insert into the out-feed table. This way I can use the Robland shaper fence and the sliding table along with the router table.


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The Woodshop

February 20, 2016

We moved to a new house in February of 2015, and for the first time in twenty years I am putting together a proper woodshop.