Spindle Moulding on the Minimax C26

As I have mentioned recently, the whole concept of the spindle moulder has not been something that I have paid particular attention to, having worked with router tables for so long.  So when the opportunity arose to see what it was all about, I jumped at it.

The cutter is the Amana Tool Profile Pro Shaper Cutter, from Toolstoday.com, and it is a real head-turner.  The block is comparable to the quality finish you expect from Woodpecker (a similar anodised finish), which looks superb.  I didn’t get to try the Insert Planing head, as the available spindle length wasn’t long enough to secure it.  Will have to experience that another day.


The Minimax C26 is a combo-machine, with saw, moulder, jointing and thicknessing capabilities (and mortising with an add-on).  With a variety of spacers, the Profile Pro looked right at home.  For someone used to router tables (and associated kickbacks), the amount the blades protruded on the spindle moulder was a bit nerve-wracking, but Matt (from Gabbett Machinery) has plenty of experience and said this was quite minor compared to many other cutters he had used.  So on we went.


Despite the first photo showing a moulding cutter, we first started with a basic rebate cutter (and a large chunk of celery pine).  The fence was bought in to guide the work past the cutter, and the spring loaded plate (and associated hold-down) of the C26 kept the timber snug against the fence.

sm-2It was a bit of suck and see from my perspective, so off we went with the first pass.


It was a very smooth pass.  The feed rate could have been a fair amount higher, as neither the machine or the cutter really noticed, and the resulting silky smooth cut was testament to how well both worked.


Next, it was time to switch the knives over to a profile, and this was easily achieved in-situ – no need to remove the cutter head.  It has 2 guide pins to ensure accurate alignment of the cutter, and the block held in place with a turn of the hex key.


The amount of protrusion of this cutter was rather startling, but with Matt’s guidance I learned to accept that it was ok to use the cutter in that state.

So into the cutter went the timber, with excellent results.  There was absolutely no kickback, and the entire profile was machined in a single pass.


The Toolstoday.com Profile Pro sure made light work of the operation, and a superb finish from a single pass.  The industrial version of the router table came away smelling like there is definitely something worth pursuing further, and combined with quality cutter heads, the spindle moulder really is a rather cool machine.

The MiniMax C26 from Gabbett Machinery certainly held up it’s end of the bargain as well, and the jointer and thicknesser were given a real work out a bit later on, cleaning up a log of huon pine that we had been ripping veneers off on the new Professional 14″ Minimax bandsaw.  (You can see a photo of it in the background in some of the earlier images, along with the huon pine log).

Working with quality tools, and cutters is always a pleasure.

Spindle Moulder

Been a long time since I even thought about spindle moulders.  Last time was when I was lamenting the fact that router tables are the poor cousin of the primary workshop machines.  That situation has not changed significantly in the intervening years, although some companies have come out with some pretty nice aftermarket versions.

There are some router tables around – cast iron tops, no motor, some fence that looks like it hasn’t changed in design since the ’30s.  Whoever designed them I’d seriously question if they were a woodworker, let alone if they used the table they came up with.

The spindle moulder is the machine the router table should have been, and there is quite the range.  The reason I wrote them off before is if it came down to a router table or a spindle moulder, the router table won simple because of the range of bits that I have.  Yes, you can fit router bits in a spindle moulder, but they have a top speed of around 10000-12000RPM.

A router table can reach 20000-25000RPM whereas a spindle moulder typically only gets to 10000RPM.  That is fine for the much larger spindle moulder cutters, but is slow for the small diameter router bits.  Perhaps not as restrictive as I once considered.

However, I now have a couple of different spindle moulder cutters from Toolstoday.com and they are quite spectacular.  I’m looking at them and thinking that it would be really useful to to be able to use them in the workshop and therefore the whole spindle moulder concept has reemerged.

There are a few definite advantages to a spindle moulder (although you’d have to ensure the model chosen had these- no point getting a machine and missing out on the very advantages possible).

Other than the overall size, moulding cutters etc, a spindle moulder is not restricted to the one direction of rotation.  If the item you are working on would be better approaching the cutter from the other direction, this is achievable.

Secondly, you are not restricted to working with your cutter (or router bit) perpendicular to the table.  A spindle moulder can be set at an angle, thus significantly increasing the range of profiles that are possible by presenting the cutter or router bit at an angle to the work (or rather, at an angle that is not 90 degrees!)

I am sure there is more to the whole concept, but I don’t have that real insider’s knowledge of the machine (yet).  However, there is another machine that I will in all likelihood be getting a lot more familiar with before even the potential of having a spindle moulder surfaces…..more on that if things come together…..(intrigue….)

In the meantime, these are the cutters I have that I will be reviewing shortly, and both are really piquing my interest.

cutter1This one is a planing head, and is about the size of a fist, or a slightly shorter version of a jointer head.  The difference between it and a jointer head is that bearing at the base.  You can use this head to surface a material that isn’t flat – it will follow a template, and that makes it like the offspring of a jointer and template copying bit.  Why be restricted to making something smooth and flat, when it can be smooth and curved?

There is a lot of similarity between a spindle moulder and router table – some tasks could be done on either.  But I wonder how the quality in finish changes between a very small diameter router bit doing a finished surface, and the much larger moulder cutter doing the same with a significantly shallower angle of attack?

A template copying bit looks like a baby, or a toy alongside this surfacing cutter.


This is not the best photo of the Profile Pro, but it gives you an idea.

cutter4 There are HEAPS of interchangeable cutters for it.

cutter5Appears to be around 140 different profiles available, plus blank cutters so you can get your own made!

While looking this up on the Toolstoday.com website, I came across some other cutters for the spindle moulder, such as this variable width groover.

cutter3And again – remember these can be used in a reverse direction if that is a better direction of approach for the work.

Some cutters (such as for the Profile Pro) are high speed steel, others are replaceable carbide.  Either way, there is no excuse not to have a sharp tool.  They are easy to remove and resharpen, or can be rotated (or disposed and replaced very cheaply).

So the spindle moulder has raised itself up into my awareness again, as a very serious workshop tool.


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