|Review by earik||posted 09-25-2012 05:08 PM||10507 views||1 time favorited||13 comments|
I’ve spent a lot of time reading posts on this site and making use of the many reviews here, and wanted to post my experience with the new Grizzly 10” jointer/planer combo since there are still not a lot of reviews on these yet. I bought this piece of equipment a couple months back without having owned any previous Grizzly tools, and based a lot of my decision on the tons of positive reviews I’ve heard about Grizzly, especially in the customer service department. I’ll rate each of the following items on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the best.
DELIVERY: 5 out of 5
The jointer weighs almost 300lbs, and comes delivered on a freight truck. I opted for the additional liftgate service so I wouldn’t have to fight with the crate myself. We live up a long steep gravel driveway, so I had to load the crate into the back of my SUV and drive it up to the house. The driver was awesome though, and not only helped me get the crate up into the truck, but also offered to ride up to the house and move it into my garage. First time that’s ever happened! Saia Freight rocks.
PACKING: 2 out of 5
The jointer comes in a crate made of very thin plywood. After unloading the crate from the truck, moving it into the car, and unloading a second time into the garage, the crate gave up the ghost and fell apart all on it’s own. It’s really only a step above a thick cardboard box, and I think a lot of my problems later on were due to packaging that really didn’t work very well. Seriouly, $20 more per box, and I bet Grizzly could save a lot of money on support calls. I’d give it 1 star, but nothing was broken, so it gets an extra star for that. There were some cosmetic scratches on the fence, but nothing bad enough that I felt like I needed a replacement.
ASSEMBLY: 4 out of 5
The jointer itself sits on a stand which you have to assemble first. You won’t be able to lift the jointer by yourself, so this is a two person job. I live out in the woods, and didn’t want to have to call anyone, so I managed to use a car jack and bricks to raise the whole thing up, then slid it over on 2×4s and lowered it down onto the stand myself. Not too much trouble, but would’ve just been easier if another person was there to heft it up with me. The tables were covered in protective oil, which takes 30min to remove with mineral spirits. You also have to assemble the fence and cutterhead guards and connect them. Took about 2 hours to do the whole thing.
FIT AND FINISH: 3 out of 5
You can see how Grizzly manages to get their price as low as they do on some of these tools. Basically, they cut corners in areas that they feel don’t specifically contribute to performance. So cheap packaging, plastic parts, various plastic pieces cut by hand rather than by machine (you can see where the lines waver). The bottom part of the fence on the outfeed table must be a little higher than the fence on the infeed side, since they are at different heights when jointing. If you look under the outfeed side, it reminds me of a freehand routing job – pretty much straight, but wobbly here and there, and definitely not crisp and clean. Yeah, it works, but no, it’s not pretty, and doesn’t give you a feeling of fine engineering and craftsmanship that you’d get with more expensive brands.
ALIGNMENT: 1 out of 5
I had quite a few alignment issues with this machine. Basically, everything that could have been out of alignment with this jointer was. First off, the fence wasn’t 90 degrees, and the 90 degree and 45 degree locks don’t actually lock in at those degrees. You’ll definitely need to straighten this yourself, and every time you adjust the angle of the fence, you will have to confirm that it is really at the angle that you think it is. Because of this, I don’t think I’ll ever use the 45 degree angle feature.
The limit switch, which turns the engine off when the outfeed table isn’t properly locked, wasn’t adjusted properly and wasn’t working. This resulted in a call in to tech support, and I received instructions on a fix. Unfortunately, the fix meant I had to take the jointer off it’s stand, flip it over on it’s side, then adjust a nut with a socket wrench to tighen everything back up. Given the amount of effort I made with my bricks and jack to get the whole thing set up in the first place, it was a bummer to have to redo that.
The tables weren’t parallel, and resulted in concave joints. The fix here is to first make sure the outfeed table, cutterhead, and infeed table are all parallel. This is easier said than done, and the manual even warns you that if you have to bother with this step, you need to have some patience because it can be a difficult job. The issue is that the infeed table is held up by 8 bolts on slotted holes, and to adjust the table you have to loosen all those bolts, hold the table up in the exact position you want it to be, and then tighen all the bolts just right. It’s a major pain in the rear to do it properly, and it took me two tries to get it close enough where I was happy with the result. Even so, I’m still slightly, slightly off of perfect, which is irritating.
The other difficult part about doing the table adjustments is that the side panels to the jointer need to be taken off, and they have a bit of flex in them. So taking them off is easy, but that flex means that it’s actually hard to line the bolts back up with the holes when you are trying to put the sides back on. This part was almost as annoying as getting that infeed table parallel.
After it was all said and done, it took me a good two weeks to get this thing properly set up to the point where I could actually use it. I blame a lot of this on the cheap crating job, but some of it has to do with the design as well. I dread the day I have to move the jointer, as the only way to lift it up it by the infeed/outfeed tables, and I’m sure that will mess with the parallelism and make me have to go through the whole process again.
If you are planning to get one of these, make sure to get a feeler gauge set from Grizzly as well, as you’ll need it when it comes time to get your tables coplanar. You need to be able to measure a 0.060” gap, which can be done using two stacked gauges.
CUSTOMER SUPPORT: 5 of 5
As expected, customer support was awesome. John was prompt, called me back every day to check on my progress, and made a lot of personal effort to make sure that limit switch issue got solved. This is an area that Grizzly has covered.
PERFORMANCE: 3 of 5
This machine comes with a European style blade guard, but it’s a little cheap and rickety. When jointing, it really only covers the part of the cutterhead you are not using, and leaves the working part wide open. Basically, there’s nothing between you and that 1” or so of blade by the fence. So made sure not to put your hands there! For surface jointing, you slide the blade guard all the way over the cutterhead, and then the wood goes under it while your hands stay above it. So for those tasks, it’s much better. It’s probably because my tables aren’t totally coplanar, or maybe just my bad technique (last time I used a jointer was in high school), but I can’t get clean surface joints at all. There are always cut lines, etc, in weird places. I have to be very careful about where I put weight on the wood, and things work much better if you put most of your weight on either the infeed or outfeed tables, but not both. Planing works well, but there is definitely some snipe, so you have to work with lumber that is a bit longer than what you need so you can cut that part off if it’s too bad, or be prepared to sand it down to fix it. Dust collection works pretty well, although you’ll still find quite a pile of shavings in the planer area after you do any amount of jointing. I think it’s probably just one of the qualities of a combo machine like this.
One thing I should mention is that the fence doesn’t have any way of permanently locking into place. You can push down on a lever to tighten it to the bar to clamp it down so it doesn’t move, but that lever doesn’t have any kind of positive lock, and will loosen itself over time. When you are edge jointing a long board and your fence starts to move on you halfway through, it can be a bit of a surprise, especially if your hands are anywhere near the uncovered part of the cutterhead. I make a habit of cranking down on that lever each time I turn the machine on after having experienced that once.
JOINTER/PLANER CONVERSION: 3 of 5
Converting from Jointer to Planer requires the following steps: Disconnect dust collection hose, remove fence, raise and lock outfeed table in upright position, flip up and lock dust collection assembly, re-attach dust collection, then raise planar table to the appropriate height. To convert backwards, just reverse the process. It takes about 2 minutes to do the whole thing. Disconnecting and reconnecting the dust collection hose is the most annoying part of the process, as you have to fight with the assembly each time as it sticks a little, and I’m wondering how long that plastic connector will hold up to me whacking it on the side to get the thing loose.
OVERALL: 3 out of 5
This machine takes a LOT of tuning to get setup properly, so don’t expect to be using it the same day you receive it. However, once it’s tuned properly, it does a decent job of jointing and planing. You learn to work around it’s shortcomings, and can get it to do the job done to reasonably high tolerances. Grizzly support is pretty great, so they’ll do what it takes to help you get it working if (when) you run into issues. Do I wish I had gone with a higher end unit like the Hammer I was looking at as my second choice? Yes, no doubt, but on the other hand, I saved $1500 by going with Grizzly instead, and that buys a lot of lumber. On the other hand, I’m a hobbyist, and do this for fun, and I really only have a limited number of hours that I can put into woodworking. My time is worth something, and I sure spent a lot of it trying to get this thing to work properly rather than actually working with wood, so if you factor in the value of my time, I’m not sure how much I really saved by going the budget route… If I had to do it over, and if I had to go with Grizzly again, I’d go for a parallelogram-style jointer instead, and avoid the headache of trying to get those tables coplanar. More likely, I’d go with a different manufacturer and get something built to higher standards.
Thanks for reading!