LumberJocks

I like it but need to learn its quirks.

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Review by bill4123 posted 1078 days ago 7817 views 0 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch
I like it but need to learn its quirks. I like it but need to learn its quirks. I like it but need to learn its quirks. Click the pictures to enlarge them

This review is very long and specific. If you’re in a hurry I suggest reading the cons for both the planer and jointer, the finish quality cheat sheet, and the verdict and coming back to the review later.

The first thing I did was put it on the HTC3000 mobile base. The base fits as well as I expected but could use better wheel bearings as this thing is extremely heavy. My 135 lb. self can move it on my own with some hard pushing though. After I got off all the shipping grease I could I went right to work with my new entertainment center project. and some picture frames.

I ran a few test pieces of pine through and everything seemed to be setup well enough so I started with my walnut stock. the spiral cutter is listed as a 12” but when I started face jointing I couldn’t see how I could go any wider than 11.5”...the cutter just isn’t wide enough. I really like the cutters though: they are relatively quiet, leave a smooth finish, and the shavings are very small so there isn’t much chance of a clog in the dust collection.

When we were face jointing 11.5” black walnut I probably could have done it alone but only barely. The machine never bogged but I could barely push the wood over the cutter while removing about 1/32”. A softer wood with fewer burls and less width would have been like butter. I did a non-stop face joint of 1/32” removal on 6” wide black walnut for about 2 hours and although I felt warmth coming from the cabinet when I was cleaning up I felt no signs of the tool getting tired during its use.

When we were edge jointing the same 11.5” boards we felt the fence flexing. There was no flex in a direction that would effect the result of the cut but it’s still annoying. The length of the fence bothers me more than the stiffness of it. I spend most of my time with my hands on the outfeed side of the cutter so if my hands or push pads slip or the wood moves forward suddenly I naturally move away from the cutter. The fence covers the entire length of the infeed table but only a little more than a foot of the outfeed table. This doesn’t give me much to push against when edge jointing. When I’m edge jointing pieces only a few feet long or shorter this isn’t a problem at all but when I’m edge jointing stuff on the order of 6 feet long it would be nice to have a few extra inches on the fence. I would like a longer and stiffer fence.

Cons so far with the jointer:
The cutter isn’t a full 12”
The safety guard behind the fence is cheesy but effective.
The safety on the operator side isn’t mounted properly so even when fully closed some of the cutter is exposed.
The fence isn’t as long or as stiff as I would like.

I’m using the Rockler wall mounted dust collection system and although the Grizzly machine isn’t perfect, the dust collection never clogged and after filling up about 2 lawn and leaf bags worth of dust I only had about a soda can worth of dust so I’m pretty happy. There are a few stray bits of dust that spit out the front onto the planer table so I have to blow them away before planing my next piece but the planer dust collection works great with just the 1 4” hose. I get more dust spitting out when jointing than when planing but the jointer dust collection with 1 4” hose is about the same as a table saw using 1 4” hose so it’s still pretty good. I’m going to try using a y-adaptor while jointing to see if using both ports makes a significant difference.

We had a few instances of a board going in slightly crooked and it jumped a guard rail on the edge of the planer table and gouged the board very badly. Some of the boards had a jagged edge but several did not. Seriously, an extra 1/8” in height on the guard rails would have prevented all instances. I had to go from 0.82” down to 0.62” just to fix the gouge and this was on a 70”x11.5” plank of black walnut so it wasn’t a cheap gouge. I am having a few problems with the spiral cutterhead also. There are 32 cutters which seems nice until you check out the picture of the walnut I posted. Make note of the evenly spaced lines across the burl. These lines are from the cutter while planing. When looking at the spiral cutterhead you can see how there is room for almost double the number of cutters IF the head was machined further. Also in the picture you will see the tear-out in between the lines. This is because the feed rate is too fast. When I joint that fast I get the same tear-out. When I joint about half that speed I get a flawless finish. Grizzly really needs to slow down the feed rate on the spiral cutterhead model.

More on the planer feature: I also seem to have a problem with snipe about 3” away from the infeed and outfeed ends and I am convinced it’s from me using inferior roller stands. Thick about how this style of machine works. When you adjust the thickness you are raising or lowering the table and the cutter remains stationary. This means your stands also need to be raised or lowered to give you a perfect infeed and outfeed. If the stands are the wrong height then as soon as the second feed roller grabs when you are starting or the first lets go when you are finishing you get a change in the angle of the board relative to the table. The stands I was using weren’t meant for this much precision or accuracy particularly in a garage with a floor as non-uniform as mine. A few extra inches of infeed and outfeed (or an optional infeed and outfeed extension) would give me a better chance of combatting the snipe even while using inferior stands. I may very well find some type of infeed/outfeed attachment from someone else’s machine and adapt it to work with this one just so I don’t have to fuss with the stands so much.

Thank you everyone for giving me suggestions on how to reduce tear-out. I haven’t yet tried any but I can safely say my cutters are plenty capable of giving a beautiful finish and the feed rate on the planer is my problem. I tried face jointing a scrap about the same feed rate as the planer and got similar tear-out. I then tried a much slower feed rate while face jointing and got a beautiful finish with absolutely no tear-out. I am 100% pleased with the finish the cutters leave at this slower rate. I have seen varying results on the finish quality depending on the types of wood I am planing. I have a cheat sheet below.

Finish Quality from Planer:
Black Walnut – lots of tear-out (C-)
medium figured Cherry – some tear-out (B-)
mildly figured Red Oak – nice finish (A)

Cons so far with the planer:
The guard rails on the edges of the planer table aren’t tall enough.
The guard rails are painted white instead of being raw metal.
I really want more infeed and outfeed on the planer bed.
The feed rate is much faster than I would like. It gives tear-out on the burls of the walnut and cherry I ran through it. It is the biggest con of this machine and I would consider it THE deal breaker if you can afford the Jet model.

The Verdict:
I love how easy the machine is to use and how versatile it is. I will hone my craft on it over the next few years at which point I may or may not switch to a dedicated planer.

Best Piece of Advice for This Machine:
Face joint and plane your boards to about 95% of perfect and then use the joiner to SLOWLY face joint both sides. This eliminates all snipe issues, allows me to feed the wood as slowly as needed to avoid tear-out, allows me to get rid of the streaks left on the cast-iron side of the planed board left by particles sandwiched between the board and the iron, and leaves the surface much smoother in general.

Last updated and revised 5/16/2012




View bill4123's profile

bill4123

24 posts in 1192 days



13 comments so far

View MedicKen's profile

MedicKen

1599 posts in 2066 days


#1 posted 1078 days ago

Burl is really hard to plane, joint etc. The grain is all over the place. I have found for difficult areas or boards to take VERY light cuts, slightly skew the piece or dampen it with water. The water will soften the fibers and not tear as bed.

-- My job is to give my kids things to discuss with their therapist....medic20447@gmail.com

View AttainableApex's profile

AttainableApex

338 posts in 1437 days


#2 posted 1078 days ago

good tip on the water ken

-- Ben L

View rsdowdy's profile

rsdowdy

105 posts in 1800 days


#3 posted 1076 days ago

Bill,

I have the G0490 8” Jointer. When you say: “The safety on the operator side isn’t mounted properly so even when fully closed some of the cutter is exposed.” You are referring to when you move the fence in a ew inches and then the safety guard won’t close all the way, right? In order for that safety to close all the way, the fence has to be towrd the rear of the bed. If you find that you will want the fence foward of the bed most the time you use the cutter, maybe the Safety Guard for a smaller Grizzly Jointer would work? I’m just now starting to use my jointer and have throughly enjoyed it.

Royal

View dbhost's profile

dbhost

5378 posts in 1836 days


#4 posted 1076 days ago

Well, if you don’t like that Planer / jointer combo, you could always store it in my shop! That is on my wish list… But yes, the issue with the guard is a bit of a concern…

As far as the burl goes. you are going to get tear out when jointing / planing. The grain isn’t all going one way, and if the grain is going the wrong way the knives will get under it… You are far better off using a thickness sander on burl…

-- My workshop blog can be found at http://daves-workshop.blogspot.com

View schuft's profile

schuft

121 posts in 1211 days


#5 posted 1076 days ago

I had heard the spiral cutter was supposed to handle interlocked grain better than a straight blade cutter. Is that not the case, or is walnut burl just that much tougher?

View bill4123's profile

bill4123

24 posts in 1192 days


#6 posted 1076 days ago

DANGIT! I forgot about thickness sanding! It’s a good thing I can still go a little thinner on these boards so I can run them through the drum sander. It never occured to me to use it since the non-wild-grained parts of the boards had such a smooth finish I was going to go straight to hand sanding.

As for the cutter guard…when the fence is all the way back I have about 1 cutter exposed at the infeed edge of the guard. When the fence is about halfway towards the operator I have maybe 2 cutters exposed. If the guard was shifted to the infeed end but about 1”-2” you would still have the entire cutter covered by the outfeed edge of the guard…move the fence toward the operator and you would still have the whole assembly covered. I intend to call Grizzly with my concern but I can’t seem to find the time between work and using this machine ;) . It bothers me enough that I might try drilling and tapping a hole on the edge of the table further towards the infeed and shifting the guard slightly and seeing how well that works.

My review above is going to be a review in progress so I’ll be periodically updating it.

View charlton's profile

charlton

78 posts in 2013 days


#7 posted 1022 days ago

Isn’t this the G0634XP jointer/planer instead of the G0634Z?

I have the same jointer and for the most part the machine seems excellent. That said, I’ll need to do more tests to give a verdict on the cutterhead. I think the inserts are spaced way too far apart and give you almost effectively just a single blade around the cutterhead. Grizzly changed the configuration of the cutterhead so that it is more like the Holbren in that the blades are actually rotated to give a shearing cut. I’m finding that there is tearout even on non-figured stock which has me a bit concerned.

View bill4123's profile

bill4123

24 posts in 1192 days


#8 posted 1020 days ago

Nope, this is definately the G0634Z. Take a close look at the picture of the cutter guard and you’ll see the spiral cutter head. There is definately a spiral to the little cutters, however, there is a reason the Jet model costs more…

The Grizzly model has:
22 fpm planer feed rate…too fast for burly black walnut and some parts of a tame piece of cherry :( .
32 cutters…the gaps between the cutters leave obvious streaks where the wood is cut slightly differently unless you spend tons of time and money sanding :( .

The Jet model has:
12 fpm planer feed rate…yes please!
56 cutters…yes please!

View charlton's profile

charlton

78 posts in 2013 days


#9 posted 1020 days ago

Is the first photo not a photo of your own jointer? The front of the machine has G0634XP written on it. The G0634XP has an end-mounted fence (as opposed to centre-mounted) and includes the spiral cutterhead.

Agreed about the cutters. 32 is too little.

View bill4123's profile

bill4123

24 posts in 1192 days


#10 posted 1019 days ago

Thank you for pointing out the mismatch in model numbers. I have edited the title accordingly. I didn’t grab the model number from the front of the machine or the Grizzly site but rather from an ad in the front of a magazine. The Grizzly site shows it as the XP model. Either way, the manual covers both the spiral and 3-knife cutters so the machine is the same otherwise.

View charlton's profile

charlton

78 posts in 2013 days


#11 posted 1019 days ago

Yeah, the Z and the XP are basically the same machine except for the fence being centre-mounted and the XP being end-mounted. Both have spiral heads. The regular 634 (no suffix) has straight knives.

View JLP's profile

JLP

1 post in 932 days


#12 posted 932 days ago

I have the same jointer/planer (Grizzly 634XP). Aesthetically it is a nice machine, and is impressive in weight and fit and finish. However, I am like Bill, the machine has it’s little quirks. Snipe is always a problem and surface finish doesn’t seem to be what I expected. But, I can live with that. What I don’t understand though, is that it clearly says it is a 12” planer, but that is not the case. There is only 11 1/2” between the guard rails on the planer bed. I did face joint a 12” board, but when I flipped it over and prepared the machine for “Plane”, my board would’t fit. I made a “booster” board to raise the workpiece above the guard rails, and was able to plane it. This was a real dissappointment. I haven’t contacted Grizzly about this. Mainly because I don’t know what they could do about it, and I don’t want to return the machine. For some obscure reason I’ve grown attached to the machine and will continue to be proud to own it, but if you are counting on a full 12” planing capacity, you will be disappointed. By the way, I have mine mounted on the “Rough Terrain” Rockler mobile base and it works like a charm. joe

View charlton's profile

charlton

78 posts in 2013 days


#13 posted 649 days ago

Agreed. My comments having used the machine now for quite a bit:

1. Fit and finish is pretty good.
2. I feel they cheaped out on the cutterhead (the number of cutters is way too low and hence the propensity for tearout).
3. The porkchop cutter guard is pretty bad. It clearly isn’t the right shape to keep the cutterhead covered over the width of the jointer (I modelled what it should be and the shape is very different). The guard has a ledge and thin stock can sometimes get caught under it. There is also no way to control the spring tension of the guard so it can come slamming back on the fence pretty hard (unless you reposition the guard every time you move the fence).
4. The planer speed, as noted is too fast to yield a truly good finish so the tip provided by Bill is what I do as well.
5. Dust collection isn’t too good in jointer mode as quite a few shavings fall to the table underneath (maybe my DC is too weak).

Anyway, it’s got its quirks but I, too, still like it.

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