Emco Star

Multipurpose woodworking machine

This is a bit of a trip down memory lane for me, does anybody remember the Emco-Star? A search on the web turns up really very little about this very special woodworking machine.

Emco star - woodworking centreIt was a multifunction combination machine comprising a lathe, circular saw, bandsaw, disk sander, scroll/fret saw, spindle moulder, jig saw, belt sander and had several other attachments such as a planner/thicknesser and mortising unit.

My father inherited one of these machines from his father in the early 1970's. Dad never really has been a great woodworker, Golf was his passion, so it sat in the shed at the bottom of the garden looking a bit unloved.

Then one day when I was aged about 10 a project at school to make a model trebuchet (roman catapult) came up, most kids in the class made one in cardboard but not me, I wanted a full working version in wood. With a help from dad we made one using the Emco and that was the start for me, woodwork had me in it's grip. The Trebuchet worked well and I recived a prize at school but even though I had done at least 80% of the work on it no one was prepared to believed me.

After that I spent many a happy hour trying to seriously injure myself with the "machine" and not altogether unsuccessfully, but fortunately I still have all my fingers, it helped me learned all about the need for a rest when turning wood !! etc etc

I had thought that our Emco had long ago gone to the great recycler in the sky, but it turns out that it did exist in the shed until 2006. but was unusable and it finaly went to the tip late that year. I spent 20 years in Australia you see so had lost track of it.

The Emco had many faults in it's design, but these were because it tried to do everything in one small space. More modern machines are more successful specialising in just two or three specific tasks, the Emco did them all.

The table saw blade was too small, as was the table it's self. It had a habit of slipping belts when under load, the table was also a bit high, but it was a table saw all the same and cut plenty of timber for me.

Emco-star - combination woodworking machineThe bandsaw was also too small and very nearly impossible to track, I now know that most of the problems with out machines bandsaw where due to a poorly set and very blunt blade, you live and learn, but as a result it got very little use.

The lathe had just two speeds and the slow speed wasn't slow enough. I turned many bowls on it though, it was a start. It also had no way of locking the spindle so that you could unscrew the working head. My solution was a large hammer and a spanner but it wasn't ideal. The tool rest was very flimsy and broke, a friends dad was a tool maker at the Austin rover group and he milled a new one up for me out of a block of aluminium.

The belt sander was a real success it was only 3 inches or so wide but very usable. as was the disk sander, ours had the removable table for that which improved it no end.

The scroll saw and jigsaw also worked well.

The Emco was as start for me and I would love to use one again, but it;s technology has now well and truly been exceeded.

The Emco company does appear to still be in buisness and I have read that the star was in production until at least 1979, but I don't know if the company still support the product, highly unlikely i'd say. I think they do do some spares though.

But anyway here is a link Emco Group

Emco Rex

Emco Star/Emco Rex manual



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