I got a big boy jointer! After much research, consideration, advice from fellow LJs, I finally got a full size jointer.
Previously I had been working on a bench top Shopfox Jointer, still available for sale through Grizzly and stocking Shopfox dealers. It was a great tool. The beds were flat, the fence had a tiny twist but still gave good results. It was a full 6” wide and, though it was a lot of work, you could even adjust the tables to be perfectly co-planar. No real complaints, and I build many successful projects with it. As my projects got bigger, the short bed became more of a real limitation, so I decided to upgrade.
I wanted an 8”, but hours with a tape measure, graph paper, scale dolls, and even a Sketchup model proved to me it just wouldn’t fit in my limited space. So 6” it was. I found the Jet ‘long bed’ 6” jointer, and the Grizzly model with parallelogram beds, both at 55” to be the ones I liked most. It seemed a good compromise of extra length, but still small enough to fit in my shop. I was basically decided on the Grizzly 604, then it went on ‘closeout’. Long story short, it was fully discontinued before I got to order it. My next choice was the Jet, which I was hoping to catch on the Woodcraft 15% off sale. Our local Woodcraft didn’t stock it, and wanted to charge me shipping and tax to have it sent to the store, which greatly cut in to the value of the deal. So I surfed the net, and found on Amazon, of all places, this Shopfox W1755S
I ordered it and it came Prime, though not 2 days. It took about a week. The price was very good considering it includes the spiral cutterhead and has a built in mobile base. Yesterday after work, my brother came over and helped me assemble it. I would like to share a few things I learned.
-The machine is heavy for one person. I think the total weight is about 250lbs, with a goodly portion of that being the beds. Easy to lift with two, potentially disabling for one. In fact, there are a number of points where it would be very difficult to assemble alone. Get a couple of hours of help from a buddy if you can.
-The packaging was adequate. They even include most of the tools you need to put it together. Though longer wrenches and hex keys are a great idea if you have them.
-There was about 50lbs of cosmoline on it.
-The assembly instructions are easy enough to follow. Surprisingly so for something made in China. My Shopfox band saw and the smaller jointer also had good manuals. They must have someone in the US who re-translates them. That is a good thing.
- There are a few steps the manual gets wrong. I can save you some major time if you do the following: – The manual has you assemble the beds on to the base, set the outfeed table height, then assemble the fence etc. At the end, you are supposed to check the beds for parallelism. The only problem is that the rabbet table and fence assembly block your access to the adjustments on the infeed table, so you have to take them back off to make the adjustment. So, AFTER THE BEDS ARE ON THE BASE, SET THE INFEED PARALLEL TO THE OUTFEED. Save yourself a lot of time and lifting. – The instructions also tell you to start your parallelism adjustments with the outfeed table. But you’ve already gone through the trouble of making sure it was set to the right height and parallel with the cutter head. So don’t do that. MAKE YOUR ADJUSTMENTS TO THE INFEED TABLE. – There is a step in the instructions that says to put the motor cover back on the base after you have the upper belt guard installed. The problem with this is that you haven’t installed the start/stop pendant yet, and will just have to take the back cover off again to do so. I assume they do this because their lawyers say you could get yourself caught in the belt, but the power wire literally isn’t even installed at this point!
Aside from that, set up is pretty easy. Took about 3 hours. I checked the beds for flatness, and they are flat to less than 0.0015” (the smallest gauge I have. The fence has a slight concavity in the middle, just more than 0.0015 but less than 0.002”, I set up some winding sticks on the front, back and middle and verified the whole surface is at least in the same arc, meaning even the concavity is perpendicular to the bed. It is such a small amount anyway, I don’t think there will be any problems what so ever making good edge joints. My small one had a bit of twist to it, but I still never had problems getting a 90degree edge.
The machine runs really quiet thanks to its induction motor. The cut is even a lot quieter thanks to the helical head. I’ve only test run it so far. I need to set the fence stops (using my fancy Wixey digital angle gauge that my wife said I’d never use), and convert it over to 220V. Then I can make some real test cuts and see how it goes.
My initial impressions are quite good. I was super pleased the grinding jobs were done well and I wouldn’t have to argue about replacement parts that were flat (the most common problem people have with jointers of all brands, according to my research). Once I’ve got some machine time on it, I’l post a review. Until then, i hope this blog helps someone decide what machine to get, and saves some effort in setting one of these up!.
-- Part of engineering is to know when to put your calculator down and pick up your tools.