JIM’S VERY FIRST ORDER nearly paid for his new 4-HEAD WOODMASTER 4000

Jim Medeiros reaches under the hood to make adjustments to his 4-Head Woodmaster 4000.

Jim Medeiros reaches under the hood to make adjustments to his 4-Head Woodmaster 4000.

“I never expected my business to grow like this”

“You read some testimonials and think, ‘Yeah, right.’ But my situation is, the very first wood order I did with my Woodmaster 4000 Planer/Molder earned me all but $2,000 of the purchase price!

I never would have expected my business to grow like this. The usual situation is small lumber producers like me can never get the opportunity to get into the market. Now, all of a sudden, I can make products that people desire. And they can’t get it at the store.

I run a small wood operation that’s grown and morphed in the last couple years. I started making rough sawn lumber but I soon saw that value-added is where the opportunity is. That started me down the path of adding the Woodmaster 4000 Planer/Molder.

Now I’m making siding, flooring, lumber, reclaimed lumber, shiplap interior paneling, and more for remodeling and new construction.

Everything we make is on a custom basis, we’re not in the commodity market. We recently made some quarter-sawn sycamore. We had a 3,200 board feet flooring order for a contractor — southern yellow pine. Last week, we made oak flooring from reclaimed beams.

Diversification is key

It’s a good time to be in the lumber business. Now that the economy’s coming back, people are starting to do home improvements again. And they want wood products.

Plane and mold 4 sides in 1 pass

Plane and mold 4 sides in 1 pass

Lift the hood to swap out pattern knives quickly and easily

Lift the hood to swap out pattern knives quickly and easily

We have a good, varied base of customers. Some are retail stores, some are contractors, and some are D-I-Y homeowners who want wood with character; wood they can’t get at home improvement stores. One of my customers is a contractor who builds 100 homes a year. That’s a great opportunity for me. I try to keep the work varied, not just one product. Diversification is key. If one of our products or one customer is off, other parts will keep us going.

Shopping for production machinery

When I started looking at different 4-head planer/molder machines, I looked first at older, industrial ones like Weinig molders but I had two concerns: first, if something fails on an old, vintage machine, parts are hard to find. Second, the capacity of older machines is not big enough. Some handle 8” wide workpieces but some people want 10” flooring. That turned me away from older, ‘heritage’ machinery.

Then I looked at imports like Baker and Logosol. I leaned toward Baker because of their capacity but neither one’s made in the USA.

Woodmaster rumor

I heard a rumor that Woodmaster was building a new machine – a 4-head planer/molder. Frankly, I thought maybe it’s too new a product; I didn’t want to be a guinea pig. But after I ruled out vintage and imported machines, I took a good look at the Woodmaster 4000. I contacted Woodmaster and talked to the tech guys. I learned all about the ins and outs of the machine’s design theory, its physical design, maintenance, and more. I got a really good understanding of how it works, how it’s built, how the components all function. I saw that good sense went into it.

Raise the hood and you can mount 2, 18" cutterheads with planer knives. And mount 2, 2" side cutterheads with molding knives.

Shape 4 sides in 1 pass. Raise the hood and you can mount 2, 18″ cutterheads with planer knives to plane a board’s top and bottom sides.. And mount 2, 2″ side cutterheads with molding knives.

Good design sense

I decided the 4000 was one to go with. Now that I have it, I can see it’s built with good design sense. For example, you can get your hands right in there when you change the planer and shaper blades.

(You know how frustrating it is when a machine isn’t user friendly? For example, I have a feller buncher that’s really hard to work on. I just about had to rig a harness to get at a 10mm bolt to take the starter out. And I had to use a 15” socket extension! Whoever designed that machine obviously never had to change its starter…)

Gobbles wood

In the value-added market, you need speed and efficiency in labor and output. I wanted a machine that gobbles wood and I can run the 4000 at 22 linear feet a minute. That’s more than 1,200 linear feet an hour. In a typical day, we run 3,000 feet even with a couple of dimensional changes.

Here's a closeup look at one of the two, 2" sidecutters. At the upper right of the photo you can just see the 18" top planer knife. The other two cutterheads are not shown here.

Here’s a closeup look at one of the two, 2″ sidecutters. At the upper right of the photo you can just see the 18″ top planer knife. The other two cutterheads are not shown here.

OK, I was nervous about the 4000 because it’s new. But I know guys who have other Woodmaster machines and they have a good reputation. I told Woodmaster I was really going to work it hard, and that I had a customer coming to me with 100,000 board feet of lumber to turn into flooring. But the 60-day money back trial was comforting. They’d take it back if it didn’t satisfy me. It comes with a 5-year warranty too. A company that’s willing to give all that is showing how confident they are. And, believe me, if there had been a problem, I wouldn’t have been shy about returning it!

This 4000 delivers. Construction is solid and I‘m very happy. I run some flooring at half speed. Not because the machine couldn’t handle it but because it’s capable of running wood faster than you can keep up with. It’s nice to have someone at the output side to catch the boards!

Opportunity for the little guy

Woodmaster’s people listen and take suggestions. They send you updates and give great customer service. And they delivered on time!

This machine really does create opportunity for the little guy. You can offer the consumer what they want with confidence. You know there’ll be no problems for you or your customers. You’ll want to feed the machine what it’s set up for to produce an excellent finished product. A 4-head planer/molder like this has precision tolerances on the feed end. You’ll want to feed it consistent quality dry wood with tolerances to fit. Do that and you’ll make phenomenal products.”

— Jim Medeiros, Woodmaster 4000 ownerWhite Oak Meadows, Wilsons VA

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We spoke recently with Jim Martin, one of the first production woodworkers to operate one of Woodmaster’s new WM4000 4-Head Planer/Molder. Here’s his experience with this revolutionary new machine. 

“I’m a master millwright and I’ve worked in every trade there is. Electrical, plumbing, pipe fitting, pipe welding, any kind of welding or fabrication work, I’ve done it. I’ve run cranes and heavy equipment my whole life. Now I’m a Shop Manager, turning reclaimed barn wood into flooring with the Woodmaster 4000 Planer/Molder .

4-head planer/shaper — shape 4 sides in 1 pass

This machine has 4 cutterheads. There’s a cutter on the top, a cutter on the bottom, one on the left and one on the right. The top and bottom cutterheads hold 18” planer knives. The two side cutterheads are 2” shapers, one on either side. It’s extremely flexible. You can plane with the bottom cutter by itself. Or you can plane with the top cutter by itself.

You can shape with one side cutter by itself, or with the other side cutter by itself. Or you can run all 4 operations at the same time. You can cut 1 side, 2 sides, 3 sides, or all 4, all in one pass. All depending on what you want to do.

You can change any of the knives easily, whatever pattern you want. Each cutterhead has its own motor. So that’s 4 motors, plus one that drives the variable feed rate. Everything’s all tied together on one panel. You can choose from several motor sizes – we chose a 230 3-phase unit because it’s efficient electrically.

And its adjustable feed rate is a wonderful feature. It’s standard, not an option. It really helps when we’re running a big stack of different kinds of wood. I can speed up or slow down as needed without changing anything besides the feed rate.

“Best reclaimed barn lumber in the USA”

Mike Hudson opened this business about 6 years ago. He saw there was a market for reclaimed barn wood and took down probably 40 barns board-by-board. The business has grown and now we’re buying barn lumber from others. We take it all: sheet metal, rafters, rafter nailer boards, wall boards, beams, columns, everything.

We pride ourselves on having the best reclaimed barn lumber in the country! We cut barn material into all kinds of products. Veneers, 2” material for bar tops and counters, 1 to 3/4” thick for flooring, and even 1/2” for wainscoting.

We have lots of different kinds of customers. Retired folks fixing their homes, to young people remodeling older homes. One customer’s a flooring installer who does restoration on 1850 to 1880’s homes. Then we have contractors and do-it-yourself homeowners who need reclaimed Douglas fir flooring to match their home’s original flooring.

We even sell to a contractor who’s working for the National Park System, doing restoration work on the state park buildings. I just made him flooring for a hunter’s cabin in a state park in Wyoming.

“This machine does what you tell it to – does what Woodmaster says it will”

We enjoy the 4000; it does just what you tell it to do and what Woodmaster says it will. As far as we know, we’re one of the only businesses in America running reclaimed barn wood through this machine. We’re really putting this machine through its paces.

Best Woodmaster for tough, high-production manufacturing

There’s very little setup with the WM4000. And it’s a fully commercial duty machine. That’s important because the barn wood we’re putting through it is very hard, very difficult. After all, barns were put up with green wood 100 or 150 years ago. Over the years, as barns sat in the weather, the wood got harder and denser. Some material we cut, you can’t drive a nail through it.

World’s first American-made 4-head planer/molder

This was our best choice for the kind of work we do. And the fact that this machine is made in Kansas City, USA is a big deal. Parts are easy to get. Other 4-side machines like Logosol are made overseas so getting parts for others can take a long time. If I need parts for this 4000, they’re here the next day.

Quality output, easy to run, fast

Once the machine is set and you start cutting, the cut stays where you put it from first cut to last. I just cut 2,150 square feet of Douglas fir and the first and last pieces came out just the same. I started with 4,805 linear feet of Douglas fir and turned into 2,150 square feet of individual Douglas fir boards.

Once you get the machine set up, you run a sample. Get it where you want it, push start button, and go. You better have somebody on the other end who’s ready to run. It’ll eat Douglas fir at 36 to 42 linear feet a minute. It’ll run one man’s tail completely off. If you run white oak, it’ll run 15 to 20 feet per minute. I can run red oak at 18 to 32 feet per minute, depending on density and how many knots are in it.

Running it is easy, all from just one control panel. There’s a start button and a stop switch that shuts everything down. It has safety features built in to protect the machine and the operator. There are 2 safety switches. There’s an over-thickness gate on the front. If the board hits it because it’s too thick, that’ll stop the machine. If you open the lid it shuts down.

You learn to run it by ear, not by eye. You can hear the lumber as it goes into each cutterhead. It hits the bottom cutterhead first, then the right cutter, then the left. Then the top cutter kicks in. Each cutterhead makes a different sound. Then they all tune in. Even with ear protection, learn to listen. You can hear if the heads slow down – that’s where variable feed comes in. You listen and dial the right feed rate for each individual board.

Woodmaster makes big promises – are they true?

Yes, it’s everything they say it is. We’re feeding the most difficult wood in the world — rough, dense, hard, knotty woods like elm, walnut, sycamore, and more. We’re making it exceed Woodmaster’s promises. This machine was made to work and I really work it.

It does what I expect it to do. As a welder, I push things to the extreme every day. I’ve pushed this machine past my expectations. I’m pushing it harder than everyday woodworkers would. After using it, I wouldn’t give you my 4000 if you gave me 2 Logosols!

Advice for other woodworkers?

We’ve had a very good experience with everybody at Woodmaster. They’ve all been polite, easy to get along with, and helped with any issues. You won’t believe this machine until you see it operate. It will exceed your expectations even if you know what machinery will do. It will surprise you by how well it handles any material you put in it. It’ll surprise you every time you use it.

Are you happy with it?

On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d give it about 9.95. We’ve used it and have zero issues with its mechanical ability. Setup is simple. We keep samples of wood products we’ve made and use them to set up the same cut the same pattern the next time.

It’s easy enough to set up that an accomplished woodworker can set up the machine and have it running production in 15 minutes.

A knife change-out for top and bottom planing knives take the same time it takes a regular planer, 10 or 15 minutes. To change side molding knives, the cutterheads come out. You unbolt them, take them out, and change knives in 5 or 10 minutes. Everything’s really easy to get to.

There are no shafts to change out. You add or remove knives, change knives, but you never have to change shafts. It’s a planer/shaper. Not a gang saw, not a rip saw. It’s a 4-head planer/molder. If that’s what you want it for, it’s great.”

— Jim Martin, Shop Manager, City Limit Antiques and Reclaimed Materials, Higginsville MO

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