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What Is a Universal Woodworking Machine?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 30 November 2014
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A universal woodworking machine is a power tool that provides multiple functions for woodworkers. This can take the place of several pieces of equipment in a shop to make more room available. Such machines are available from a number of manufacturers, and it might be possible to purchase attachments and other parts to extend their functionality. Woodworkers can lease or rent equipment in lieu of purchase if they want to try a machine before they commit to it.

This machine might be fitted with joiners, planers, saws and shapers. Individually, all of these pieces of equipment would have a large collective footprint, which can be a problem in a small shop where limited space is available. The combination of multiple functions into one machine can save shop space for a woodworker to make more room for projects and other activities. It can also allow the woodworker to have one large machine for handling big projects rather than being limited to a set of smaller machines that might not work as well on bigger projects.

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Woodworkers can select from several functions when they use a universal woodworking machine, and they might be able to swap out blades and make other adjustments to meet their needs. The universal woodworking machine might have additional features such as engraving tools, depending on the machine and the company. Quality can be variable. Sometimes, combination equipment is of lower quality than the standalone machines would be, but in other cases, a woodworker might be able to access better quality than would otherwise be affordable by buying equipment in combination rather than alone.

It might be possible to test a universal woodworking machine in a woodworking shop or at a store. This can be helpful, in addition to looking at reviews to see what other woodworkers have to say about different makes and models. Woodworkers who are not sure about how useful the equipment will be might also want to ask other members of the community if they have experience with combination systems. Every woodworker has a slightly different working style and approach; some might find universal machines very useful, but others may prefer individual pieces of equipment.

As with other woodworking equipment, a universal woodworking machine needs maintenance to perform at its best. This can include replacing dulled or bent blades, oiling components and cleaning the machine regularly. Close inspections also can help identify frayed wiring and other potential issues so that they can be addressed early. Proper safety precautions, including eyewear and gloves, also are important while using the machine.

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