Over the weekend, I took the opportunity to visit Felder’s East Coast Sales & Support center – the other two in the US are in California, I believe – for their Fall Open House. I was there for about 3 hours, looking at a large array of woodworking equipment, and speaking with current users, prospective users, and some of the Felder support team. Most interesting, I spent a long conversation with one of their Service Technicians.
I have no financial interest in Felder, and my intent here is to recommend to new, and not-so-new, woodworkers to give the Euro-style equipment a hard look, and to look beyond the initial cost – as the equipment IS expensive (quality is expensive, once).
First, I’m a believer in the European’s approach to machine design and functionality. IMO the design emphasizes both safety and functionality, and certainly delivers on precision quality. The equipment is expensive, from a US competitor perspective, but I believe there’s usable quality received for the additional money. Frankly, I haven’t ponied-up for the cost of one of these; however, I’m demanding more of my woodworking skills; am more concerned about shop safety (including ambient dust and handling of large panels); and, also looking for equipment to help me where it can, so that I can concentrate on the end-goal (a Blanket Chest, an Outdoor Bench, a fine Deacon’s Bench). That I may never commit $5K for a Table Saw (TS) is a separate issue to my respecting what that $5k can purchase.
The Felder line-up includes 3 levels: Hammer – the serious woodworker; Felder – the woodworking professional; and Kappa – CNC production, commercial/industrial grade; and an array of Table Saws (sliders), Jointer/Planers (J/P); shapers, and full combination machines.
The simple observations are: 1) this is great equipment – the TS clearly exposes the weak points of my Unisaw & Miter Saw, and would greatly ease panel work I do for bookcases and shelves; the J/P have advanced cutterheads, full-cover cutter guards, and larger surface areas for the Jointers (typically 12” to 16”) – which if you’re planing a board that wide, you’ll need to flatten one side, first.
The Open House was well-attended: no less than 30 visitors during my time there. Of course, Felder personnel were geared-up for this. As mentioned, above, I sequestered one of their technical people, and I received an excellent hands-on, inside-cabinet review of several machines. I was impressed by their passion for their equipment and the woodworking craft.
Felder equipment, to me, is a buy-once investment I wish I had made several years ago – I’ve been through more table saws and bandsaws that I care to recount. Certainly, Felder is not the only manufacturer of Euro-style equipment; and my recommendation for others to consider this type of equipment extends to other manufacturers, as well.
I know this sounds like an advertisement; and this is not my intent. To a certain extent, this shows my frustration with the US-manufacturers, who I believe have downgraded the quality of their stationary equipment and given-up on innovation.
-- Lead By Example; Make a Difference