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The machine makes a T-shaped slot, using an oscillating cutter.
Except for beds, most U.S. woodworkers don’t dabble in knock-down hardware to build itinerant furniture. Instead, we leave that to the Europeans and IKEA, who’ve mastered the art.
Now Swiss tool maker Lamello has introduced a tool in the U.S. that makes knockdown furniture a breeze. Called the Zeta, Lamello’s machine operates like a biscuit joiner to cut slots for the company’s specialty knock-down fasteners, the Clamex P connectors. It’s a nifty tool that just might make you rethink knock-down furniture.
The Zeta is heavier than most biscuit joiners I’ve used, and that weight took some getting used to, especially when holding the tool vertically. But it works as easily as a biscuit joiner. Use tick marks to lay out the connector locations in the mating parts, align the center mark on the Zeta’s base plate with the layout marks, and start cutting. When you’ve reached the full depth of the slot, the Zeta kicks into oscillating mode, moving the special T-shaped cutter up and down to form a T-shaped slot that will hold one half of the Clamex P connector.
The two-part Clamex P connector is joined with a metal, cam-action lever turned with a hex wrench. To gain access to the lever, you need to drill a hole in one part using an included jig.
I build a small plywood box with the Zeta and Clamex P connectors and was surprised by the ease of assembly and by the strength of the system. It was able to hold up well against my girth, and there was no racking. I could see it working with knock-down desks, bookcases, maybe even for shop cabinetry. The Zeta machine also can be used as a standard biscuit joiner. You simply have to replace the T-slot cutter with a standard biscuit cutter (not included).
The engineering marvels of the machine and ease of its use, however, are severely offset by the cost of the system (hold your breath!): $1,400 for the Zeta and all the tools needed to get started (including the T-slot cutter). The reusable connectors will set you back a few more bills: 18 pairs go for $55; 80 pairs cost $170.
You can check out the Zeta and the Clamex P system at AWFS this July, where Lamello will be demonstrating the products (Booth#8104).
The two-part Clamex P connectors slide into the T-shaped slots.
The system comes with a jig to drill access holes for the cam levers. The jig fits snug in the slots.
The system comes with a properly sized drill bit and stop collar to set the depth.
Just slip in all the connectors, being sure to orient the cam lever's hex bolt in line with the access hole.
The Clamex P connectors join via a metal cam lever that is turned with a hex wrench.
Use the supplied hex wrench to loosen or tighten the connectors. With the system, furniture assembly and disassembly is easy and quick.
Lamello's Zeta machine is designed to cut slots for their Clamex P connectors, a knock-down joinery system.
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Lamello has a video showing the Zeta as well as the Clamex P in action you can find through Google. For those who like the fasteners but can't afford the Zeta, Lamello also makes "Clamex S" fasteners that are screwed in place instead of sliding into a curved T groove. While not as quick as the Zeta it would still give one the knock down ability and could be done with most biscuit joiners. You would need the fasteners which cost the same as the Clamex P as well as a special 8mm cutter that costs $170 and possibly Lamello's drill jig at a cost of $120, but if you need knock down fasteners and already have, and are used to using a biscuit joiner, the Clamex S is a less expensive option for a similar joint for less than a quarter the price.
Tage Frid had a clever and cheap solution to knockdown - in his book 'Teaches Woodworking'.
He took a dowel, maybe 5/8 - 1/2 or so by 1". Drilled it out with a 1/4 hole. Tapped a 3/16 T-nut in one end. Drilled a dowel matching hole in one edge. Glued the T-nut/dowel in that.
3/16 bolt in to that through the other piece.
Nice knockdown joint - if a bit of work. Beats $1400!
The slot made by the cutter is actually a sort of curved T-slot--it's not a regular biscuit slot. The connectors have flanges that slide into the arms of the T, so that unlike a regular biscuit, they can't be pulled straight out of the slot.
Why can't you just use the connectors with your regular biscuit joiner?
Wow, super heavy comments on this fine quality tool and way of doing your thing, I'm impressed. Are you all so proud of you home depot Chevy Chinese quality? My goodness and if it would fit into my doing thing as woodworker I would defiantly give it a try.
The real creative woodworker looks over his fence and is never to old or to stubborn to learn new things.
Not too long ago I took some hits because I said the Festool RO sander was too pricey and no value for the money. This tool is even less value for the money when you factor in the cost of the fittings. If you want IKEA furniture just buy it, you will never beat the price trying to build it yourself. What happend to staying on the fine furniture thread like the title of the magazine?
Actually, I'm surprised that your surprised at the high price! It's been fairly obvious that many of the tools and machines that have been coming out of the Germanic countries are often over priced,ie, Festool, Lamello,Fein, Felder, etc, etc. Perhaps to support their standard of living. Don't know for sure, but I've never been able to justify the cost to value of these overpriced tools in comparison to others on the market.
I build a lot of custom bookcases and built ins and this tool would easily pay for itself after a couple of jobs. I saw these at AWFS two years ago and they make a strong joint, the next time I need to move a 12' wide built-in shelving unit from my shop to the 2nd floor of a residence these would be pretty slick. Also makes a great selling point to clients, they can now easily disassemble, move and reassemble thier pieces. Maybe re-use that shelving unit in a dorm room or first apartment...
I think this is a great tool and is geared a little more towards the professional market.
Nope, no use for this one, would be nice to look at it though. Guess you would have to build quite a lot of Ikea style furniture in order to justify something like this..
Crazy price. I think i could get quite a lot of wood for that price. Dont see myself ever using one of those things, its for the less skilled craftsman !!!
Yikes!! And I thought the Domino was pricy. I guess it's a steal at almost half the price!! (I'm guessing Festool has or will have some type of reusable connector.)
Don't worry, there will be a Chinese knock-off in 12 months for a $140.00
Gee for the price of the Zeta, I'm half way to that sawstop I can't afford either. Maybe IKEA has bought all they needed and Lamello is trying for a new market.... ANY market.
Wow. I'm not afraid to spend serious cash on tools on tools that work. But those prices took even my breath away.
Neat - but $1,400 will buy a lot of 1/4-20 steel barrel nuts and connector bolts at McFeely's...:>)
Heck no -but what an ingenious little device! Wish I had one just to horse around with! Cheers, Ed
You've got to be kidding me. Definitely not something for the casual woodworker.
Carl Swensson's woodworking skills go very, very deep. But they go wide as well.
Grids and cutouts define a practical piece
Fast, fun approach to making a comfortable, casual seat
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