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POWERMATIC PM 54HH ONYX JOINTER - POOR QUALITY, VERY DISAPPOINTED

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Review by Rockne posted 12-11-2012 05:01 PM 4901 views 0 times favorited 57 comments Add to Favorites Watch
POWERMATIC PM 54HH ONYX JOINTER - POOR QUALITY, VERY DISAPPOINTED No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

There’s a poor quality video (shot with my iPad in low-light) of the jointer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cxtcw_xX874&feature=youtube_gdata_player

This is my first powermatic tool, and I’m very, very disappointed. For frame of reference, the other main woodworking tools I have in my shop are (1) Sawstop Professional TS, (2) An American-made Delta bandsaw (probably early-mid eighties), and Rockler wall-mount dust collector. I also have the Incra TS-LS Supersystem and a whole bunch of Woodpeckers accessories (really love the Incra and Woodpeckers stuff). All of those tools and accessories have exceeded my expectations – so I’m not one of these perpetual whiner-types who is never happy with anything. But, when I pay more than 1,000 for a “premium brand” tool, I don’t expect to have to try twice to get what I want.

As I said, this is my first Powermatic tool. I’ve read rave reviews of them and was excited to get going with the new jointer. I actually paid MORE for the ONYX version because a) I bought it when there was 15% off all powermatic tools (except the ONYX ones) and b) there was free shipping on the non-onyx tools. But I liked the look of the black a lot better than the yellow, so I sprung.

The first thing I noticed about the thing when I pulled the plastic off was that there was oversprayed paint on the jointer bed, mostly on the infeed side. I took my fingernail (and only my fingernail) to see if it would come off, and sure enough, it did, but it took other paint off with it!!!! As I looked a little closer, I could see where the paint had cracked off in a lot of different areas on the machine. I say “cracked” and not “chipped” because basically all you have to do is press on it and it “cracks” off, just like rust or candy would. In the short term, this probably wouldn’t be a big deal, but if it looks this bad in the first hour, imagine how bad it would be in 7 1/2 years (the length of the ONYX warranty). It would be rusted all over!

Add to this the fact that of the three bolts that hold the jointer to the base, only two worked (the third was improperly threaded – yes, I know how to recognize an improperly-threaded bolt), and you have a very, very disappointed first-time Powermatic customer. I’m a relatively young woodworker (33 years old) and could have been a lifelong powermatic customer. As it is, I’m sending the jointer back (I spoke with Powermatic Customer Service, and I was als not impressed with them: “We can send you a can of paint and a razorblade.” ) Really?

FWIW, I’m not alone in this. I noticed this review (look for Kevin’s review from the trade show toward the bottom of the page). Looks like he was right and I should have listened: http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?169863-New-Powermatic-colors




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Rockne

27 posts in 1297 days



57 comments so far

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Grandpa

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#1 posted 12-11-2012 05:08 PM

I would be the same way. I bought what I thought was the best and got less.
Thanks for the review and sorry it had to happen. Now we know that they are not serious about customer service.

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ChuckC

691 posts in 1589 days


#2 posted 12-11-2012 05:25 PM

I’m sorry to hear about your experience with the jointer. Did you get a chance to use it? I would be interested to read about that too.

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Rockne

27 posts in 1297 days


#3 posted 12-11-2012 05:33 PM

ChuckC: I didn’t even get to the point of setting it up, unfortunately. It was pretty late, and I stopped everything when I noticed the bad bolt.

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geoscann

258 posts in 934 days


#4 posted 12-11-2012 05:58 PM

You now if this equipment was still built in the US not just assembled here they would probably have sent out a rep who would have repaired, and set up the machine for you. but no more its to expensive to send some one from china. shame on them hopefully they will loose some sales over this, To bad their fault. good luck.

-- BIG geo ---Occam,s razor The simplist answer is often correct

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Furnitude

339 posts in 2161 days


#5 posted 12-11-2012 07:06 PM

I’m sorry you’re disappointed in this machine, but with all due respect (and I’m sure I’ll regret this), we’re talking about a bolt worth a couple dollars and some paint. I think some perspective is in order here. You didn’t talk at all about the most important thing, the thing you bought the machine for: how it performs as a jointer. The customer service person probably could have done a better job (though, to be fair, we’re only hearing your side of it). As far as the paint goes, I think the transition point from the highly polished bed to the side of the machine is notorious for chipping (other jointer owners, please feel free to weigh in). If the bed or fence were warped or if the motor was burned out or something major like that, then I’d say absolutely return it. But now the company has to absorb an enormous shipping cost while they were good enough to offer you free shipping in the first place. I just think customers returning machines like this for such minor problems is one of the things that makes it hard to operate a business and makes equipment more expensive for everyone. I have a friend who owns this exact jointer, and it does a stellar job, producing a glasslike finish on even the most difficult wood. He loves it. I’ll have to ask him if he got any bad bolts or had a problem with the paintjob. Knowing my friend, who does woodworking for a living, he probably would have just gotten a new bolt and started jointing. Anyway, that’s my unsolicited take.

And to Geoscann, also with all due respect, what company in the U.S. would send out a rep to set up a sub-$1,500 machine for you? To be competitive, their margins are already razor thin. How could they possiblly stay in business doing that?

-- Mitch, http://furnitude.blogspot.com Also blog at http://www.craftsy.com/blog/author/mitch-roberson/

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Rockne

27 posts in 1297 days


#6 posted 12-11-2012 07:41 PM

FurryTude: I appreciate your perspective (see below). Just to clear things up: I paid for my shipping (the “free shipping” was only for the non-onyx jointers. But, with a tip of the hat to Adam Smith, there is no such thing as “free shipping” it’s getting rolled into the costs somehow – businesses aren’t benevolent societies, and thank goodness for that). One other thing about margins: They must be substantial enough to offer 15% off all of their tools and still turn a meaningful profit. Margins are narrow on groceries, not on hard goods. Avg cost of Capital in the U.S. is about 12%, so there’s probably (at least) 50-85% markup on the machine. Not that that is in any way determinative of my decision. But anyway . . .

Everything you said crossed my mind, and remember I put up $1,200 to buy the thing to begin with (and unpacked the beast of a thing), so I wanted to like it a lot. And, to be honest, it wasn’t my idea to return it. That’s what the powermatic guy wanted to do (what does that say???). I was waiting for a, “Can we replace it with a regular one for you?” But it didn’t come, so I didn’t push it (It’s a reasonable to expect that if they can’t get the main bolts right, they won’t have gotten all of the rest of it right, either – they may have gotten the rest of it 100%, of course, but I never got that far, so I won’t know.

When you compare the quality of this to my sawstop, it doesn’t even come close. They’re both made overseas, so this is not a “USA vs. foreign” thing. The sawstop’s fit and finish were excellent. The powermatic, quite the opposite.

Finally: Rust, Rust, Rust. Oh, and Rust, Rust Rust. Tools aren’t made to look pretty, no question. Some of my favorite non-Woodworking tools are pretty beat up tools from my grandfather (he was a machinist for Goodyear for 49 years). But the quality of this even LOOKS cheap.

It just hit me!!! I’ve been trying to remember where I’ve seen this paint thing happen before – it seemed so familiar, but I couldn’t place it – I just remembered: I used to work in a sporting goods store in High School and then some in college. I worked in the fitness and team sports section, and I sold some Barbell/Dumbbell sets. These things were NOT made (or packed) with precision, and whenever you took them out of the crate (hoping the box didn’t fail and drop some of the weights on your toes), there were always a ton of paint chips – just like this. And you know what? Those things rusted WHILE sitting on the showroom floor of the store! Not in the warehouse, on the main floor. I’m glad I finally pieced that together. I feel better about returning the jointer now. Sorry for the walk down memory lane!

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ducky911

223 posts in 1443 days


#7 posted 12-11-2012 07:42 PM

I have a Powermatic 54. I bought it used, it is probably 8 years old. Seems brand new, works great. I not sure what better would be on my dream jointer if I went to replace it.
I may put a spiral head on it come spring.
Powermatic makes a very good jointer.

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PurpLev

8476 posts in 2302 days


#8 posted 12-11-2012 08:02 PM

sounds like the concept of “we’ll paint it a different color and charge more for it” doesn’t quite roll out as planned…

that said, I’d be more inclined to check the flatness, squareness, and motor/cutter performance, as those could potentially surpass all other jointers in that class. although, for a new machine, I’d rather avoid the paint coming off on day-1

as for rust rust rust… oh rust rust rust… unlike the dumbells that are mfg. with protective (at least to the eye) plastics/paint, jointers and most WW equipment has lots of unprotected cast iron (beds/fences) that requires constant care and maintenance. so the chipped paint in this case (not that it should be considered OK) is not the invitation for rust , nor would it add rust if you maintain your machines properly.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

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JoeyC

3 posts in 762 days


#9 posted 12-11-2012 08:21 PM

Now that you’ve got that settled, can I suggest the Grizzly G0490X? Excellent jointer for a similiar price plus it has 2 more inches of capacity. If you cannot do 220v they make a 6” 110v, for about $500 less than the PM. This has been an excellent machine without any adjustments/issues after unpacking. I wouldn’t trade it, unless I got the 12” version.

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James

138 posts in 1579 days


#10 posted 12-11-2012 08:30 PM

I see both sides of the argument. Rockenlaw is right when you pay $1200 for a 6” jointer, you expect it to be flawless, this includes cosmetic defects as well unless it was sold as a one off. Customer service did not do their part either, they could have offered to send a replacement jointer or possibly some free accessories to make up for the defects. I would have liked to see a review on how well the jointer performed and if its worth paying twice as much the cost of some other jointers.

View saucer's profile

saucer

59 posts in 1601 days


#11 posted 12-11-2012 09:13 PM

I plan on buying a Powermatic jointer but it will be a used one that was made right here in my town. I dont blame you for sending it back, that seems to be the only way for them to understand they have to do better or we will spend our money else where..

-- It has been deemed bad for you hence there for it is illegal.

View lj61673's profile

lj61673

231 posts in 1053 days


#12 posted 12-11-2012 09:31 PM

I’m sorry you’re disappointed in this machine, but with all due respect (and I’m sure I’ll regret this), we’re talking about a bolt worth a couple dollars and some paint. I think some perspective is in order here. You didn’t talk at all about the most important thing, the thing you bought the machine for: how it performs as a jointer. The customer service person probably could have done a better job (though, to be fair, we’re only hearing your side of it). As far as the paint goes, I think the transition point from the highly polished bed to the side of the machine is notorious for chipping (other jointer owners, please feel free to weigh in). If the bed or fence were warped or if the motor was burned out or something major like that, then I’d say absolutely return it. But now the company has to absorb an enormous shipping cost while they were good enough to offer you free shipping in the first place. I just think customers returning machines like this for such minor problems is one of the things that makes it hard to operate a business and makes equipment more expensive for everyone. I have a friend who owns this exact jointer, and it does a stellar job, producing a glasslike finish on even the most difficult wood. He loves it. I’ll have to ask him if he got any bad bolts or had a problem with the paintjob. Knowing my friend, who does woodworking for a living, he probably would have just gotten a new bolt and started jointing. Anyway, that’s my unsolicited take.

+10.

This review section is starting to become a haven for clueless whiners and malcontents.
Not only isn’t there a single word about the operation of this machine, the owner didn’t even attempt to use it. Instead, he saw some chipped paint and a damaged bolt and ran off crying to the manufacturer. Then, of course, he sat at his computer and proceeded to type 1500 words none of which are relevant to the actual function of the tool.

Another in a long line of useless reviews…..yawn…..

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MJCD

452 posts in 1025 days


#13 posted 12-11-2012 09:50 PM

Whether this should be in the Review or Forum section is a bit pedantic. This is a legitimate gripe, and PM’s becoming famous, or infamous, for lowering the quality bar. The amount paid is significant, the expectations reasonable, the result is unsatisfactory. He’s telling us to beware the quality, and trading on an old trusted brand name. Thanks, RockneLaw.

MJCD

-- Lead By Example; Make a Difference

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MJCD

452 posts in 1025 days


#14 posted 12-11-2012 09:52 PM

MJCD

-- Lead By Example; Make a Difference

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CessnaPilotBarry

890 posts in 764 days


#15 posted 12-11-2012 10:33 PM

Why would the country of origin have anything to do with whether a manufacturer would send out a service tech? There’s an awful lot of high quality stuff that comes from all over the world.

As Mitch pointed out, it’s the price of the tool that makes the difference. Even though tools like this seem expensive to us, sending out a tech with a typical “loaded” dispatch rate of $100+ an hour, on a tool that retails for a grand, to replace a bolt, is kind of far fetched… Remember, Powermatic probably sold this tool to the retailer for $500-600…

We consumers demand rock bottom tool prices. This necessitates world-sourced manufacturing, phone service, and shipped parts. Think back to the 70’s… How many brand new machines, like this jointer, cabinet saws, stationary planers, etc… did you see in home shops?

BTW… LOTS of those old tools were delivered and accepted with very little thought to cosmetics, or complaints about tuning after setup, or chasing a thread here or there during setup.

Just sayin’... we need to have reasonable expectations.

-- It's all good, if it's wood...

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