Stiles expands its Ironwood brand

16_ironwood_01Stiles Shop Solutions, a division of Stiles Machinery, has expanded its Ironwood line of machines for the elite craftsman and small shops. Anyone who has attended IWF and AWFS recognizes Stiles as a large CNC manufacturer under brand names such as Weeke, Holzma, HoIma, Altendorf and many more. In 2009, the company introduced Stiles Shop Solutions for the smaller shop with boring and drilling equipment, and straight-line rip saws. Now the company has added five shapers, two planers and two jointers.

"The beauty of this Ironwood program is one of the driving factors focuses not only on the future customer, but also the future of our company," says Chris Dolbow, Ironwood's product manager. "If we can reach these smaller woodworking shops and the smaller guys with our shapers, jointers and planers, we can bring them to the next phase that, in four years from now, maybe they're looking at a CNC router. And then maybe five years from then they're looking at a larger CNC system. Whatever it may be, it allows us to introduce ourselves to the operator and a customer in a shop earlier in their profession and allows us to grow with them."

Among the nine new machines are five shapers, ranging from a 5-1/2-hp, five-speed model with an interchangeable spindle to a 10-hp, six-speed machine with a 40 GB hard drive for storing motorized controls of spindle height, tilting angle and infeed fence.

"A lot of people look for shapers in a lot of different configurations," Dolbow says. "We want to come in at a competitive price point. The FX550 entry-level model is in the $5,000 price range. We wanted to make sure that we had half the series of equipment under the $9,000-to-$10,000 range and we also had the higher end - the HSK, the CNC models - for the higher-end customer. They are meant to be dependable machines."

The jointers added to the Ironwood line are a 5-hp, 12" machine and a 7-1/2 hp, 16" model. Each machine comes standard with a spiral cutterhead with carbide inserts.

"With the jointers, we really wanted to beef them up, make sure they were heavy duty, that they could offer smooth cutting during these intense operations when working with the raw lumber and raw material. The jointers have cast-iron tables, a heavy-duty steel base, spiral cutting system, the parallelogram table design that allows the operator to keep the table traveling in the same arc as the cutting circle, and maintaining the clearance between the table fingers and the cutterhead."

The jointers also offer an interchangeable cutter guard. The machines are delivered with the standard European-style phenolic bridge guard that pulls out of the way and allows the operator to walk around the machine quicker. In addition, they include an interchangeable version of the more traditional spring-loaded swing-away guard, a steel guard that is more familiar to the American woodworker.

Two planers round out the new offerings, including a 7-1/2-hp, 20" wide model and a 10-hp, 24" wide machine. The planers have a cast-iron base constructed with four jack screws. Standard features include a segmented infeed roller and chip breaker, outfeed pressure rollers, anti-kickback fingers, spiral cutterhead, variable-feed speed controls and digital controller.

Dolbow admits that the Ironwood brand is a change in the company's philosophy, although there is absolutely no intention of abandoning any of its CNC machinery lines.

"It is a big switch. When I started building this program a couple of years ago, there were a lot of obstacles I had to get around and let people in here know that this will work. There are a lot of suppliers and a lot of other brands out there right now, but we have the support and a lot of capabilities that our competition does not.

"We're expanding our capabilities and we're investing in the future of our industry and our customer. We're trying to introduce ourselves at an earlier point. The marketplace at this level deserves all equipment at an affordable price tag, but they also deserve the support. The sooner we can get that customer to understand the capabilities, the offerings and the value of Stiles, the more we can help them grow to the next level - and that depends whether they want to grow to the next level or whether they are content where they're at."

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This article originally appeared in the July 2010 issue.