Cutting Surfaces & Material Feed Systems

With the upcoming move of the Brother DB2-B791-015 edging ever closer it was time to tackle the next big addition to the production facilities roster. Because the new location would afford the Brother ample room for larger and even more complicated endeavors, it was time to build specialized platforms to aid in those excursions. The most important aspect to consider was the height of the tables and the ability to level them with ease. Since building tables would allow us to start from scratch the first thing that was assessed was the height of the tables in relation to the Brothers table-top height. While we did not want the height of the Brothers table-top too high, we did not want the height of the cutting surfaces too low either (to reduce the amount of bending over while cutting and trimming material). These two heights needed to be seamless across the singular plane so that materials would feed from the machine and so forth with no interruptions – again these two surfaces need to be the same height. At the max, the Brother looks as if it will go no higher than a 33″ bed/table-top height, this is due to comfort and tactics when actually sitting at the table and sewing (not to do with the tables ability to adjust further – that, it will do). The tables themselves could have easily gone higher, but 33″ is still good, we’re gaining about 2″ from the last set up at this rate. In order to ensure that the tables (two for cutting and feeding, one being the actual table-top of the Brother DB2-B791-015) would all be level throughout their tops, it was necessary to build adjustment into the design of the tables frames/legs. This was done by employing leveling mounts which would serve as the feet of the tables, and could/can be adjusted with a 5mm Allen wrench to dial in the height (The particular levellers used here are Häfele base levellers which you may need to track down via your local architectural design firm). Lastly, the other reason that having the tables as close to perfectly level was so that when the two cutting mats butt up to each other, it will be as near seamless as possible (any discrepancy here will result in small divots where the blade of a knife or cutting wheel will not reach, and you will always be reminded of this while you sit snipping tiny little sections of uncut material).

The next consideration after height and the ability to level to the smallest microns, would be to have the tables tops the most efficient size for your type of work. This can be very arbitrary, everyone will have their different set of standards to determine such a value, which is why sail making shops have the most unusually large tables, really just stages, or have their sewing machines sunken into the floor so that all of the walking surface is also cutting surface. In the case of the Brother, the table sizes were determined by how large the two largest cutting mats are. The two mats measure about 36.25″X60.25″ – with that in mind the tables combined needed to be at least 72.5″X60.25″. Which brings in to question why there are two tables* – the feeding issue. One of the greatest advantages of having space to sew, is to have table-tops to catch and receive the material as it feeds through the machine, instead of dropping onto the floor and pulling it erratically, or bunching up against a wall. Two tables would allow this excess to easily spread about, but also, by staggering the two tables, the table of the machine could be nestled into them, so that there was also surface area to the left of the machines table to hold up large pieces before stitching took place. Again, imagine making a sail, there is a lot of fabric that needs to be supported as evenly as possible in relation to where it is fed through the machine, thus in sail shops the machine table-tops are completely integrated with the height of surrounding platforms. The two table-tops would have a staggered stance, each having 20″ of excess to cradle the left side of a sewing table, whilst the neighboring table took up what was behind the machine head. Of course the tables could be much much larger, but because there will be little, to no, walking on them, there is no reason to make them so large that you can not reach the center with a cutting device.

The last major consideration was how much of the table actually contacted the machine, and/or it’s stand. The Brother DB2-B791-015’s stand happens to stick out from underneath the table-top by about 2″, therefore even with the stand completely against it’s neighbor, the table-top does not span across the distance (a gap is left). So these tables would be built with a 3″ over-hang on each end, this would allow them to completely meet the table-top of the Brother, and hopefully others in the future (These tables were based on this tutuorial, and still await lower shelving units).

Enough said? – A quick rundown of the overall dimensions and final materials list:

Two tables, each, -37″widthX80″lengthX32″-33.25″height. (with the Brothers table-top the length comes to 100″):
-1lb of 1.25″ wood screws
-1lb of 3″ wood screws
-two 37″X80″ OSB table-tops (cut from two 4’X8′ sheets)
-four 84″ 2×4’s
-eight 12′ 2×4’s (cut dow to sixteen 72″ lengths for ease of transport)
-eight Häfele base levellers.

*Unfortunately or fortunately, economy and means of production also play a large factor in how these things are built (were built). Possibly in the future a custom piece of lumber will be ordered that is just one single piece of the appropriate dimensions, until then, there is a lot of sewing to be done to raise the funds. Bear in mind also, that at a sail shop, they are not concerned with cutting mats (that would be one huge cutting mat), because they have more sophisticated ways of cutting their patterns – like; CNC machines & BlueStreakII’s

Chicago Industrial Sewing Machine Shops

Here are a couple of visual updates to an old post that mentioned a few industrial sewing machine shops in Chicago Illinois. They are scattered about from the far south end of the loop, to the near northwest side. We’ll start with a few screen captures off of Google Maps, and then the appropriate business cards.

Hwangs Sewing Machine is a little shop on Lawrence just east of Elston ave. They have good and honest prices for thier industrial machines, but Presser feet were a bit costly. At least there are a lot of options to choose from; they had a perfectly smooth running Pfaff 145 for about $650, very clean bar-tackers, several manual and neumatic grommet/rivet setters, and plenty of more common-place straight stitch machines sergers, etc.. Call ahead to make sure they are open, as their hours are not entirely dependable, you may also need to ring the doorbell when you arrive. They do carry needles and bolt-on folders, but not much thread for sewing purposes, the only thread they had seemed to be for sergers.

M.G. Sewing Machine Co. is an even smaller store front than Hwangs, luckily it is very organized and an effecient use of space. Although they buy and sell, and trade, all of the machines in the shop were new machines. The owner said that used machines are for sale, but on a limited basis. All makes and models are dealt there from Consew and Juki, to Pfaff and Singer. He also does very good repair work for any machines you have at home. The presser feet are generic, but a much better price than Hwangs, and the needles are a plenty, ranging in all shapes and sizes. M.G. is in the first floor retail space of an old apartment building so it is easy to miss, keep your eyes peeled and find the buzzer to be let in.

Ace – Alberoni – & Best

Here are the last three shops to enter the dialogue of the Brother DB2-B791-015 site. They are Ace Sewing Machine Co., Alberoni Sewing Machine Inc., and Best Sewing Machine. All of which are good shops and deserve their credibility.

Ace is an otherwise regular destination. They have a very well organized retail area where you can pick up a lot of things that non of the other shops offer, like small tools, button and craft notions, miscellaneous threads (and in smaller amounts than 6000 yds.), quality grommet presses, pattern making kits, shears and snips in all price ranges, pattern paper, and other products. Ace is always well staffed with plenty of people to help out and answer questions. They have a fair amount of plastic models (compact/transportable “home” machines), and some basic industrial machines. If there was a downfall to their shop it would be the lack of used industrial machines. But that does not mean it isn’t worth a look inside, they have a good selection of presser feet, and thread for overlock machines (sergers), not to mention some various heavy tools for fabrication of who knows what in regards to sewing machines, but the kind of stuff that you would expect to see in a hardware store.

Alberoni is a non-partial destination, you can find just about anything new that you may need there. It is a mail-order company also – so when you arrive, expect to stand at a counter and talk to salespeople, who can find what it is that you may be looking for in their database. The sales floor is small but does have some machines on display, along with the proverbial case of presser feet, which are always a weird experience. Apparently when presser feet are in a display case, they suddenly become more expensive, even when a few blocks away you can find the same feet for ten dollars less. No matter how you cut it, Alberoni is a very clear place to find newer equipment and have clear communications about it.

Best Sewing Machine is perhaps the newest retail space of all. Not much can be gathered at this time except that the salesmen there was clearly knowledgeable and was willing to answer questions. It has a very clean retail space and is easy to browse about their many used machines and small parts.