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Rule

Looking to add a beveler to the shop to make life easier. Would appreciate any info from the list as far as the bevelers you are using out there and the pros and cons. Been eyeing the one JW makes and the Bellinger.  Any insight will be helpful.  (Mark Heskett)

    If you have the time and energy, you could make your own.  I finished up mine a few weeks ago, using Al Medved's basic plans, with a few minor modifications like wheels and a full cage of Lexan so that I could pipe in my vacuum cleaner hose for dust collection.  I've run a few test strips through, and they came out pretty darned nice, and the dust collection system works real well.  (Mark Wendt)

    I am in the process of making my bevelers, roughing and tapering and owned a JW. If you are mechanically inclined and want to save a few bucks, actually a lot of bucks, I'd suggest you make a "Medved" rougher. There a few plans out there and it works great, it's easy to covert to quads and you get a router to boot.

    If you have money to hide from the IRS, I'd take a close look at the Golden Witc../Bellinger rougher and taperer. Good design and Russ is a pleasure to deal with.

    Before you do that though, I would INSIST you get the "Roughing and Tapering under Power" video. PRICELESS, simply priceless. Anyone considering using bevelers should get it, IMHO.

    No financial interest, I'm sorry to say. However, based on my experience, you can rely entirely on what Russ, Erica and co. have to say. (Eamon Lee)

    I had a Bellinger and it is a very nice machine. However, I now use the JW Beveler. It is really a much more versatile tool. I use the squaring block to straighten up my strips, and I can use the grooved block to put an angle in the strips quickly. I get straighter strips with it, and you could even take the enamel off if you are careful. It works for hex or quad (with the bed) and it is much easier in my opinion, to work with by yourself. Router bits are dirt cheap compared to $28 each for 60 and 90 degree cutters. The machine is also cheaper.  (Bob Maulucci)

    I had some doors that didn't fit after my house was flooded so I bought a Black and Decker hand power plane.  A friend of mine used a power plane on his first rod, so I tried it and it works great for roughing the 60 degree angle.  I have a 4 foot roughing form that I use for the first side, then I use my first wooden adjustable form to get the second angle.  I make two passes on each side and I'm ready to heat treat.  I set a folding table up outside and let the chips fly, no worry about noise or dust.  Some cleanup with my #3 bench plane may be required to get the strips a uniform width, but not much.  After straightening and before power planing I square one side of the strip to better fit the first form.  In less than an hour you can do all the strips for one rod.  Now if I just had a power straightener?  (Bob McElvain)

    There is no question that a tapering beveler is nice, but you can save a lot of time and headaches with a Medved beveler. They are not difficult to build, but may require some tinkering and practice strips before you become comfortable. You will save a great deal of money as well, even if you use an expensive router.  (Jeff Schaeffer)

    JW's beveler is top notch and very affordable to replace cutters.  You will not be disappointed.  (Adam Vigil)

    The Bellinger rough beveler is great and a real time saver. It is expensive though. This is however an expensive hobby. It doesn't have to be but it  seems to end up that way.  (Marty DeSapio)

    I second JW's beveler.  If you happen to have a real job then the time saved has quite an impact on the overall process.    (Doug Hall)

    JW's beveler is top notch. The beveler is also set up to do quads or you can do hollowing also, just a nice simple setup for those who do not wish to build one. No financial interest, da, DA, DA.  (Chuck Irvine)

Rule

I am looking for opinions on the bevelers offered by JW and Golden Witch.  Who uses which one and what are their opinions, that is pros and cons of both.  I am torn between making my own beveler or purchasing one or the other from either JW or Golden Witch.   (Bret Reiter)

    Bellinger beveler is one pass and can have some tear out on the start up. Cutter are expensive. It is more expensive. JW's is a good price take about 4 passes. Can be use to square up the spline before beveling, use for hollow building, and be used for quads. The cutter can be purchased cheaply and locally.  (Adam Vigil)

      Once you get used to using the Bellinger you seldom if ever have any tear out. At least I don't. You must "pencil sharpen" the strips prior to use and get the feel for feeding them at the start. (Marty DeSapio)

        I use a Bellinger mill for roughing and tapering, one pass for roughing and one pass for tapering. Tear out hasn't been a problem unless I let my mind drift to some  non-rodmaking thoughts....politics, snowfall, grits, and such.  (Doug Losey)

Rule

If a person was going to buy a rough taper beveller, something that would reduce strips to a taper, under power, what's available out there? and how much?  (Jerry Andrews)

    The Bellinger is the best commercially available. I do not think JW has the roughing set up yet, but I may be wrong. I think that one could make there own pretty easily if they were a decent machinist. See Eamon Lee’s mill on the Bamboo Tips Page. It is top notch.  (Bob Maulucci)

      Hal Bacon has a roughing beveler that he sells, will do a 60 in one pass. Last I checked they were about $950 (don't hold me to that, you'll have to check with him.  (Bill Walters)

Rule

Just a quick question for those that have either used a tapering beveler or the Morgan Hand Mill.  I have some money burning a hole in my pocket, and being a rodmaker with no self control I have decided to invest in one or the other.  The Hand Mill has the allure of being able to do more than just hex rods.  The quad cutters and hollow fluting tool sound quite attractive, yet the speed of the beveler also sounds attractive.

Any thoughts or suggestions on bevelers or the MHM would be appreciated.  (Jim Brandt)

    I have a beveler (milling machine, true bevelers use saw blades, mine uses side milling cutters) that I built myself, so I am a bit biased. I rough mill, then taper on it, but haven't been able to get a clean enough cut or accurate enough patterns to mill to final dimensions on it. I can get to within about .040 of final taper, then hand plane to the correct dimensions. It does go quickly, once I have the strips straight and flat, and I mean straight and flat, I get 18 strips ready to plane in about 10 minutes, I then heat treat the already machine tapered strips before final planing. I find that heat treating before I'm done with the machining leads to too much node work. I have no experience with the MHM, but I hear that the strips have to be as good or better than they do for milling to avoid problems.  (John Channer)

    Being a rodmaker with even LESS self control than you, I ended up with both. The MHM has more options for rod geometry, but a new one will set you back a bit more than a beveler. I think that the thing to remember is that the MHM is a hand tool. Every strip is tapered by hand so you are working. You are doing two sides at once so it goes fast, but by hand. Another issue is that there is a learning curve with the MHM. You can't just plane and go and expect great results. But it can handle any rod configuration you can think of. Hexes, pentas, quads, and even octagonal rods are possible. And some of the best makers on the list use them exclusively.

    The beveler is a power tool that greatly speeds up the process of producing hex blanks (assuming you have one hex planing form). It really eliminates the drudgery of triangulating and rough tapering strips. You can really crank them out if that's what you want. 

    If you want to make a bunch of hex rods fast and hate rough planing, go with the beveler. If you want to produce perhaps fewer rods, but with different geometry’s, go with the MHM. However, you need to be good at producing absolutely straight strips. For many, that leads to sawing, or making a squaring rough beveler.  (Jeff Schaeffer)

      I have to agree with everything that Jeff has said about the MHM and I am an avid proponent of them!  He is right on the money regarding the beveler as well. After trying a couple of other designs, what I did was to build a beveler much like Bill Benham's beveler.

      and I love it!  It makes beautiful strips. What I do is split a bunch of cane with a 6 way splitter, sand, saw, press, straighten etc. and then rough bevel a large supply at one time. This gets all the preliminary out of the way in a big hurry so I can concentrate on tapering with the mill and the finishing touches. I feel I have the best of both worlds, speed and flexibility. I figure I average about two or three hours work per rod to prepare it for the tapering process on the MHM. My recommendation is to go for both. (Dick Steinbach)

      Jeff has it right RE: the Morgan Mill. There is a learning curve, which has to be confronted. Once you get the hang of it you can make the strips very consistent in dimensions and quite efficiently. Strip preparation is very important and how you push the mill is also important. Tom has new machine shop making his mills and as I understand they are quite superior to the originals. He has incorporated several new features which make the mill more precise and easy to use. Unfortunately this has increased the price considerably (basic Kit $2,495). There are a number of nice Medved style rough bevelers out there.  (Doug Easton)

    Just his past year I purchased a rough and tapering beveler from Bellinger. My situation sounds just like yours. I have been building rods for a few years and was looking for a way to speed up the time between splitting cane and gluing strips. I had a few bucks and was Jones-ing for a new tool. I made a call to Chet and let him try to convince me the need for this beveler. Well after a couple of weeks of kicking it around I ordered one. My first time using it I R&T four rods in the same time it would have taken me to do one by hand. There is a learning curve, I'm still there, but if you follow the directions closely and pay attention to using the correct roller size on the tension arms you will save your self some hair pulling and can kicking. You know how us Troglodytes are. The only thing keeping me from going out to the shop and firing it up now is it's almost 10:00 PM and I must act a little civil for my neighbors. As far as the allure of building other tapers, I think you should pick out what you want to build (hex, quad, penta) and get good at it before you start to concern yourself with other tapers. In other words get good at one discipline before you blend that knowledge to other tapers.  (Mark Heskett)

      Regarding the MHM, you can bang out a strip (if you plane wet ala John Bokstrom) in five to ten minutes, from square straightened strip to final dimensions.  With all the possible cutter heads you can do hex, quad, penta,  and octa,  flat cut for double building or hollow flute.  As long as the strips are reasonably straight chip out at nodes will never be a problem (I have built dozens of rods on mine and the edges, including at the nodes, are clean and knife sharp, with never a chip out).

      Speaking of wet cutting the cane, here's what I do: flame the culm, split the strips out, then soak for 24 - 72 hours.  straighten the strips over the heat gun, then rough plane to .025-.035 over sized.  Pop 'em in the oven to do a final temper, and about four passes gets me to final dimensions for glue up.

      The straightening and the cutting go much smoother and faster with wet cane, which cuts like butter, and doesn't dull the plane or cutters the way dry cane does. (Chris Obuchowski)

    A beveller to rough 60 and to do an initial taper is what I have gone to, and then make the finish cuts on the handmill.  I have the best of both worlds, speed and precision.  (Joe Byrd)

    I have been asked off line by a couple of people to comment my mill.

    First, the MHM is a wonderful machine. It is not hand planing so if you are hung-up on the allure of, made by hand, then this machine breaks that paradigm for you. It is a hand driven mill, in fact a double edged scraper, it is a lot of work. If you are older or have wrist, arm, or shoulder problems, then this may not be the machine of choice.

    I have watched several people with Bellinger mills of various kinds try to work their magic, and all have a love-hate relationship with their machines. Wait until you try to get those milling blades sharpened.

    Both of these machines have great allure because of the reputations of their original makers.

    I guess not many of you are aware that JW makes a finish taper mill. It turns out finished strips in one pass. Like all machines this is dependent on the enamel side preparation. It is quite reasonably priced.

    The JW CNC machine is expensive, but for those who are interested in experimenting with tapers on one inch intervals it is about the only game in town. I am aware of other machines that use template (batten) can do 1 " segments, but if they don't do finish work, you must go back to the bars, or MHM, and you are back to linear 5 in intervals.

    This is not a commercial, just wanted you to know that there are more than 2 alternatives to milling. and only one if you are looking for one pass finished strips.  (Jerry Foster)

      The Bellinger beveller is now router based and the bits should be no problem getting sharpened. Chet claims they can be sharpened three times before replacing.  (Mark Heskett)

        Yes, I was aware of his new beveler, is it a finish mill?

        Well, if I were you. when the bit gets dull, I would send it back to Chet and have him get it resharpened for you.

        If the others on the list that have tried to get their bits resharpened would speak up, I think you will find that resharpening these woodworking bits is usually a disaster. You will have to find a metal working machine shop that will set up for you. The major woodworking company's have no concept of "exactly" 60 or 61 degrees, and absolutely don't grasp .001 in. tolerances. And balance is a whole other issue.

        I personally know of three people who have tried to have custom bits made, and they were no better if not worse than stock Amana's. which will work, but are really junk for our purposes.

        I have only seen one of Bellinger's router bits and my only comment would be "eh".

        If it works great for you then, wonderful.  (Jerry Foster)

          Failing that, I'd look in the phone book for a cutter/grinder, preferably a curmudgeonly type that mumbles a lot. None of those concepts are foreign  to them.  (Larry Blan)

    Great thread on the Bevelers Vs MHM , I had one of the MHM and it is a great tool with a learning curve , I built my own finish mill and there is a huge learning curve to get out accurate strips .  there are so many variables patterns, hold downs , speed, that I cant list them all.  My mill will hold +- .001 on 1 or a 100 strips of the same pattern its usually pilot error that causes problems.

    For sharpening the carbide cutters find a cutter grinder shop that uses CNC sharpeners, have them finish grinding them with the finest grit wheel they have, they are the only way to go and they come back exact, also make sure your cutters are made from High density carbide.  (John Pickard)

    I have a beveller, like the Tony Spezio’s Hex Beveller, but of course it can made only triangular untapered strips. The point is that I am unable to find a mill capable to produce finished tapered strip to the final measure, to a reasonable price. Moreover the "true" mills needs jigs in wood to reproduce the correct tapers. Nice system to produce a large number of rods, but not exactly exciting for a craftsman.  Also the Bellinger Hand Planer's Friend, according the Bellinger web page, can only made "rough and taper bamboo strips down to .050” (tips) for final finishing on your planing forms."! Probably the solution can be to have a untapered strips beveller and a MHM. I think that mills to produce final strips like the models use by T&T, Payne etc. are out of ours shop size (and pocket).  (Marco Giardina)

    I have personally owned a Morgan Handmill since I first started making rods in 1998.  What I have always appreciated about Tom Morgan is that he supports what he sells.  No matter how dumb the question was in the beginning; Tom answered willingly and cheerfully.  Tom felt that an upgrade was needed to the plane that required the plane to be sent back to the machinist.  Tom sent everyone money in the mail for shipment costs.

    I got so frustrated with a power machine that I owned, and the lack of support for it that I have since designed my own, and just received shipment of it Friday.  This way if I come up with an upgrade or modification, it is me that I can get upset with.

    Back to the topic.  It all goes back to a matter of personal preference.  Beveling by power sure does speed things up, and I am all for that.  (Joe Byrd)

Rule

I have been playing with bamboo for about a year. I have decided that hand planing is okay but would like some additional tools for speeding up the process a little. I would like to make a beveler for roughing to size. Seems like a fairly simple project.

I have looked at the Adam Vigil plan and the Don Schneider article in October Power Fibers. Which one would be better. Seems like both could have advantages. Could someone guide me?

I have also looked at the JW Bamboo's beveler and it seems real close to the Adam Vigil plan for someone that doesn't want to make one.  (Barry Janzen)

    Regardless of the design you choose, you can make construction easier by using Delrin plastic instead of metal for some of the parts. I made the bed of my Medved beveler and some of the adjusters out of Delrin and it really worked well. You can tap it, cuts easily, and it has minimal friction for things that must slide. Also, a good source for roller wheels are the replacement wheels for sliding shower curtain doors. Available at bigger hardware stores. I have a Bellinger, but still use my Medved style beveler for squaring and straightening oversized strips.  (Jeff Schaeffer)

Rule

For me it is time to buy a new beveler as a addition to my MHM. So I stay between the Bertram, Bellinger and JW beveler. Did some one work with all of them did you have the possibility to compare them and could recommend one? Or are there some others I should take a look on?  (Olaf Kundrus)

    I would really recommend you look at the one Forrest Maxwell makes. It is a combination beveler/tapering machine. In my opinion it is the most sturdy and holds the strips in place much better than the others, The cutting head with replaceable carbide inserts makes such a very smooth and precise 60 degree cut. The tapering I have taken down to .035 with no difficulty whatsoever. You can reach Forrest at 503-585-6667. a very masterful machinist.  (Gary Williams)

    I did a product review of the new Forrest Maxwell mill for Power Fibers.  (Scott Bearden)

      The Maxwell beveler is a great  equipment But I'm looking only for a roughing beveler I don't need a tapering machine and I do 90% only quad rods. Maxwell is very difficult to reach by email and to call him its difficult for me. He had plans to make a rougher only who is also doing quads he told me this one year ago and I don't thing this will happen.  (Olaf Kundrus)

    If you are only looking to rough bevel, make one yourself.

    I made mine out of an old 1/4 HP 1750 RPM washing machine motor, a milling cutter and ran a groove in a piece of maple that the strip slides in. The maple elevates to change the cut. Simple and effective and cost me about $60.00.

    Just make a 90 degree groove in stead of a 60. I made a set of Medved like hold downs for the strips and change cutter (have the sharpened) about every 20 rods. So far guys have done about 400 rods on the thing and it keeps going.

    I plan on making a new one every once in a while but I am too cheap to throw this one out since is still works. In one of the Power Fibers newsletters Tony Spezio did an article on a very similar one that would work very well for you.

    Don't need to buy one.  (Gordon Koppin)

    If you make mostly quad rods, check out this 90° router bit from Grizzly Tool Co.

    You could make a router powered beveler quick, cheap, and easy! I tried to get them to make a bit like this in 60°, but they won't do it!  (David Dziadosz)

Rule

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