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Chopper Adjustments

You probably take your chopper for granted. After all, it's cut great joints for you for many years, maybe even decades. You put on a sharp set of knives and it cuts like new again. However there are two places we've noticed neglect or lack of understanding that could save you some aggravation and even money.

The Right Height

After your knives start to get worn down from resharpening you may find that there is a little triangle at the bottom of the stroke that doesn't quite get cut off. Don't run out and buy another set of blades yet, you may well have years of life left.

The head with the knives mounted on it is connected to the foot pedal yoke by a metal rod with very long threads on the bottom. Depending on where it's set, you quite likely can adjust it to pull the knives down further. In fact, we recommend that when you have new knives you adjust the height so they only extend past the bottom of the actual cut by about 1/8" or so, and re-adjust when you notice they aren't making a full cut after a fresh sharpening. This maximizes the height and width of moulding you can cut, as well as limits the amount of travel (and leg lift height) for your everyday chopping.

Tight But Not Too Tight

Surely you've noticed that the tip of the knives actually cuts "into" the fence a bit, in that little slot where they meet? If you've been having trouble with chips on the back side of your cut it may well be that you knives are not getting quite close enough to the fence. Think about a pair of scissors − if they aren't tight enough you get a ragged cut. The same thing happens with moulding if the back side is not well enough supported as the knife goes through. Thankfully there's an adjustment for that too.

Here's a picture with the pieces pointed out and labeled so you can follow along with the instructions:

Labeled chopper diagram

If the adjustment isn't too much you can probably do it all with the Cam.

  1. Put the knives all the way in towards the fence, lower them, and lock them down with the factory hold down
  2. Loosen the locknut
  3. Carefully move the cam back and forth (180° is the full extent of its adjustment) and watch the knife block move back and forth
  4. Take a small piece of regular 20# bond paper and slip it in between the knives and the fence. One side may be closer than the other − use the side with less clearance so you don't end up running into the fence with the knives: Bond paper between knives and fence
  5. Adjust the cam until the piece of paper is just snug
  6. Maintaining the location of the cam, tighten the locknut. This is a delicate operation and you may need to do it several times to get the setting just right. You want the knives as close to the fence gap as possible without touching

If the cam doesn't give you enough adjustment, you will need to take one step back and use one of the coarser adjustments.

With the knives still all the way in towards the fence and locked down and a slip of paper between the knives and fence:

  1. First, adjust the cam to the middle of its adjustment range and lightly snug the locknut
  2. Loosen the handle adjusting bolts
  3. Grab the back of the knife block head and pull it towards you until it hits the paper on the fence
  4. Tighten the handle adjustment bolts and go back to point 1 in the instructions above for adjusting with the Cam

How High?

It's great that you can cut 4" tall moulding on your chopper, but do you really need to raise your leg that high to cut those little mouldings? Your chopper should have a hold down mounted in one of the slots that the foot pedal travels in. You can move this to a height that will give you clearance on your typical mouldings and temporarily raise it when necessary

Sometimes you will wish your chopper would cut just a little bit higher or wider. Loosen the hold down and raise the knives all the way up. Reach around to the back side of the hold down, take the bolt all the way out from the front, remove the hold down and voila! another ½" or so.