|Review by Grovest||posted 05-02-2013 08:16 AM||4363 views||3 times favorited||11 comments|
I had difficulty assessing the relative performance of this machine since the machines I have the most experience with are not in the same class (bench-top versus floor machines). The only J/P that I have any hands on experience with has been the Jet JJP-12 and that was limited to a hand on dealer demonstration. The only full size machines I’ve used were those I used nearly 40 years ago in high school and a friend’s old Delta cast iron monsters. Thoughts regarding how this machine compares to machines like those from Minimax and Hammer are limited to comparison of specifications and design appearance. Please keep this in mind as you read through this review.
The Grizzly G0660x is the same machine as the Ixes Plana 7 and is manufactured in Germany by Scheppach. It is part of their professional series which although not as well-known as their highly regarded hobbyist series is still respected in Europe and is said to compete successfully against other European machines including Hammer and Minimax.
Shipping had not been kind to the machine. Although the crate didn’t show any signs of rough handling on the outside, the machine had broken free inside the crate and although no serious damage had occurred the paint had been rubbed off in several places where the body had rubbed against the crate. Grizzly shipped out replacement parts for those showing the worst damage and touch up paint for the minor scrapes.
While cleaning the machine one thing which astounded me was the German attention to detail and quality. Rather than the body simply being spray painted, the body panels are treated with a corrosion protective undercoat then powder coated to provide a long lasting durable rust resistant finish. I could see no sign of compromise being taken with regards to finish or construction.
Although the machine is relatively light compared to many of its competitors (by a few hundred pounds in some cases), it quickly became obvious the reduced weight was designed in to the machine (perhaps to improve mobility) since the weight savings would appear to have come from using lighter materials (such as aluminum) where appropriate, use of formed welded heavy steel plate parts instead of cast parts for things like hinges and reliance on a ‘unibody’ style construction where the panels don’t just make the machine look pretty but act as the frame for the machine.
Inside the same attention to detail shows. For example, drive chains are equipped with self-adjusting tensioners. I can’t speak with regards to Hammer, but I know that my last two bench top units and my friends Delta don’t so if the chain stretches even slightly it starts skipping sprockets under load and needs to be replaced.
As a quick check I ran a few scrap boards through to check calibration. I was surprised; the machine required only minor adjustments to calibrate all scales to within 0.1 mm and 1 degree. If it had not had such abuse in transit I suspect that it would have needed no adjustment at all coming out of the crate. Darn, isn’t spending a day tweaking a new machine to get it humming just right a big part of the fun? J
The first real test was an 8/4 white ash board 14” wide by 5’ long.
Step1: Square two sides on jointer.
Step2: Pass through thickness planer (two passes – 2.5mm, then 0.5mm)
Step3: Square remaining side on table saw.
Step4: Clean final side on jointer.
Voila, my first finished board… not even a trace of snipe. I am sure the length of the planer bed played a role as the Grizzly has one of the longest planer beds of any J/P close to this price point. If the machine keeps producing boards this free of snipe it I will change the way I work with wood. I have always been afraid to cut board to final length before thickening due to fear of having to cut the last few inches off.
Basic thickening during the testing went without a hitch. Thickness adjustment is by means of a ‘digital’ thickness indicator on the wheel crank which adjusts planer table height – this method is almost identical to the optional Digital crank available on the Hammer.
I have run boards as long as 10’ through the machine without extension tables (simply holding the end by hand) and so far have seen absolutely ZERO snipe. I know that a friend who has a large Delta achieves the same results, but that is with a 96” out-feed roller bed ensuring the boards remain level as they leave the machine. However, with the DW735 I have been using I have found it impossible to consistently avoid noticeable snipe with the snipe often being so deep the only option being to cut the last couple of inches off the board.
Although currently most, if not all, other machines in this class have serrated metal rollers this machine has rubber rollers. At first when I thought ‘rubber’ I thought of the low end rollers typically found on bench top machines – that is not the case here. The rollers are made using a patented vulcanization process which it is claimed overcomes many of the disadvantages of traditional rubber rollers while retaining the advantages of mark free finishing.
How well the rollers stand up over time is still to be seen – at the very least I suspect that they will need regular cleaning but this is an easy task with how accessible the wheels as would be replacing the rollers if required due to excessive wear. As for the claim to mark free finish, that was easy to test simply by passing the same board through multiple passes without adjusting the thickness setting. Even running an extremely soft wood through (I had a piece of balsa left over from building a model aircraft) a total of 5 times left absolutely no marks.
A classic problem reported with rubber rollers is that they fail to grip the board well enough to properly feed heavy boards. I have observed this problem at times with bench top planers where I have had to pull or push on heavy boards to get them to feed properly. To see how this machine performed I tried running the heaviest board I could find – a 10’ x 12/4×12” reclaimed barn beam I suspect to be Elm. After two passed each side I observed no sign of slip so at least when new it does not appear to be a problem with this machine.
Next test was to see how thin it was possible to plan a board. For this experiment I went with a challenging piece of maple with a bit of birds-eye (I had never had much trouble with Maple but I’ve been told it can be problematic for quite a few machines). The machine had no problem taking it all the way down to 3mm. The machine is supposed to be able to take it down to 1mm with a simple homemade jig I haven’t gotten round to trying that yet.
Calibration seems to hold extremely well when switching back and forth between functions. To check this, I thickness planed one board, then switched over and surface planed another on the jointer table, then switched back and tried to thicken the new board to the same thickness as the original. When I checked the two boards by eye they seemed identical – when I double checked with calipers the boards were within 0.1mm. To put this in perspective, with the Dewalt I was getting over twice this variance along the length of a single board immediately after planing.
Although I found the Grizzly to be a true class when it comes to thickness planing, it did have certain draw backs. However, these are common to all J/P machines so I guess I can’t be too critical. Every review I have seen points out the time it takes to switch between surfacing and thickening as if this is the ‘worst’ drawback – but with a small shop I find that the switchover actually saves me time compared to having to move machines around every time I want to switch machines. I have yet to find a review which is critical of what I have found to be the more bothersome difference – the height of the thickness table itself.
• As the planer table is located below the jointer this places it is at a less comfortable height than standalone planers, especially when you have a sore back.
• Since the thickness is adjusted by raising the planer bed rather than lowering the cutter head, using extension tables to support your work is far more difficult since you need to adjust the height of the extension table every time you adjust the thickness. One change that I would have really liked would have been provisions for adding an out-feed table extension so particularly for small boards you wouldn’t need to catch the board before it drops to the floor.
With how easily the machine flew through this testing I give it 9 out of 10. I would have given it 10 out of 10 if not for the previously mentioned concerns regarding the table.
The cutter head is a Leitz self-adjusting quick change Tri-Tec cutter block. The knives are disposable double edged with the same profile as Tersa Knives and can in fact be interchanged with Tersa Knives. It takes just minutes to change knives making it practical to switch knives to a ‘sharper’ set for final finishing.
Although Leitz HS blades are about twice the price of Tersa HS blades, Leitz claims they are made from a higher grade steel (18 Cobalt) which not only lasts longer but is suitable for a wider range of woods including most common hardwoods.
A suggestion that was made by Leitz when I spoke with them regarding blade life was that I may wish to consider running two sets of blades – one for dimensioning and the other for finishing. In this case they suggested considering Tungsten-Carbide knives for dimensioning which stay sharp longer and are available for around $800 per set for Leitz or $450 per set for Tersa. They recommended staying with HSS for finishing since ‘new’ these produce a significantly better finish. A helical head is also available but the cost works out to around $2,000 which is hard to justify on a $3600 machine.
I would only score the head 6 out of 10, but that is as high as I would currently score any machine which does not have a reasonably priced shear cut helical head.
Quality of Cut / Finish
I found that even when taking deep cuts the planer left the board silky smooth ready for final finishing. When taking shallow cuts the finish was nothing short of glassy perfection – as good as achieved with 220 grit sandpaper.
For some people this isn’t a big issue, but in my case it is an important point since I am hopeful that I will be able to use the machine as a finishing planer since I don’t have room for a large drum sander. With the fence and guard removed the width of the jointer table will allow almost any width of board to be finished.
With regards to tear out – I have not observed any, but the most difficult wood I have attempted so far has been birds-eye maple so it is too early to draw a strong opinion.
So far the machine deserves 10 out of 10 for finish.
To really try this out I would need to see how it handles a long run of oversized boards, however there was no hesitation taking 2.5mm off the full 14” width of a relatively hard wood (White Ash) so at the very least it can be said that the machine would appear to have adequate power. On paper the machine has about the same power as the Hammer A3 41.
One thing which is a little different about the design of this machine is that it has two motors – one for the cutter head and a second for the drive rollers. In the case of the Grizzly this means that you can start and stop the drive rollers while the machine is running independent of the cutter head. The advantage of this approach is more evident with the European 3-phase variants (the Ixes Plana 7 is offered both as single and three phase while the Grizzly is only offered as single phase) which offer multiple speeds (0 m/s, 5 m/s, 10 m/s) which can be switched at any time even in the middle of thickening a board. As the second drive is only 0.5kW this does open the possibility of someone electrically minded modifying the machine by switching to a variable speed drive which might be handy if you work with really difficult grains.
I would score it 10 out of 10 for power.
Finished boards were within 0.1mm of the same thickness at every point that I could measure both across the width and down the length of the board. As a point of comparison, a similar board I ran through a DW735 had variances of 0.6mm across the width of the board and 1.1mm variance along the length of the board (this improved significantly by running the board through multiple times with the same thickness setting). Obviously they are a completely different class of machine – but still I never realized before how ‘bad’ a job the Dewalt was doing.
(With regards to the Dewalt DW735 – To be fair, it was a loaner from a friend which has no had a good life as it is a field machine spending much of it’s life banging around in the back of a pickup truck. I suspect that the head lock may not be working properly anymore as the variance increased down the length of the board.)
I would score it 10 out of 10 for accuracy.
The fence is well designed (as expected on a European machine) crafted from aluminum and although end mounted does not appear to suffer the same problem as reported for J/P machines from Asia – excessive give when pressed against. The small amount of give is not enough to be annoying and is unavoidable with this style fence.
Although the fence is easy to adjust, and the angle was dead on, I really miss having the full range of angles from 45 to 135 available rather than being limited to 45 to 90. This seems to be a common limitation with most mid-priced J/P machines.
An auxiliary fence is available for around $200 which I intend to pick up after ‘simulating’ one by clamping a board to the table and finding that it really does help when working small boards. Once mounted, the auxiliary fence is always present as it mounts permanently to the main fence and simply flips up out of the way when not in use.
The quality of construction of the fence I would place somewhere between the Hammer and the Felder – slightly more refined than the Hammer, but not quite as substantial as that offered on the Felder. It puts machines like the Jet JJP-12 to shame.
I would score the fence 8 out of 10.
The European style guard is taking some getting used (I used one years ago but recently wave been using the North American pork chop style). The arm itself seems to be well crafted but adjusting how far the guard extends over the blade (which is something done frequently when edge jointing) is a bit of a pain as it doesn’t slide easily. I have reported this to Grizzly and they are looking in to it as they have not heard of this being a concern before so it might be a problem with my machine in particular.
There is also a rear guard mounted to the fence which covers the exposed portion of the cutter behind the fence. This guard is not found on the Plana 7 and is a real pain in that it extends nearly 12” behind the machine when the fence is right back limiting how close the machine can be place to the wall. For these reasons I removed this additional guard as I don’t see what value it really serves.
I reserve any opinion on the guard until I have worked with it longer.
Boy is it nice to have a jointer as wide as the planer and both as wide as the widest board I work with. Suddenly boards are dead square when surfaced and what a difference that makes to when it comes to assembly.
The jointer table adjustment is true parallelogram style with quick single handed lever adjustment of cut depth. In the past with how much of a pain adjusting cut depth can be I got in the habit of just setting and forgetting the depth – with how easy the adjustment is on this machine I will definitely be adjusting the depth of cut in future. The only down side is that only the height of one table adjusts, the other is fixed level with the blade.
Although the bed is relatively short for a 16” jointer at only 68”, it is significantly longer than the beds on most if not all 12” machines (Hammer
55", Minimax 59”, Jet @ 55”). I have always questioned the reason for exceptionally long beds for most woodworkers. Once the bed is long enough for the longest finished board you typically work with what value does additional length have? On the few occasions you are working longer boards you can always use bed extensions of some kind and in a smaller shop in my opinion the space savings of not having a huge bed makes up for the inconvenience.
As for the surface of the table, as can be seen in the photos it has a rather unusual machining. The tiny “grooves” machined into the surface are supposed to help keep the boards from twisting when moving down the table. Not sure if it played a part or not, but I did find that wood slides extremely easily and tends to like moving in a straight line perpendicular to the cutter head even when not run tight against the fence. This is nice since to reduce tear out with complex grains it can be useful to run a board across the cutter at an angle in which case the fence cannot be used.
I would score the table 9 out of 10.
Although switching over takes a bit of time – flipping the dust shroud around being the time consumer as you need to crank the thickener bed most of the way down to complete this action – it is reasonably easy to do. It does mean planning your work a bit to minimize the number of switch overs not as much because of the length of time it takes but because of how sore your arm will get after spinning the crank for nearly a minute each time you switch. That said; it is a damn site quicker than shuffling two machines around which is what I would have had to do if I had gone with two separate machines.
One real nice thing with this machine is that you don’t need to mess with the fence when you switchover – just slide it forward slightly if it is right at the back then fold the two halves up (no need to lift it off and find a home for it).
To avoid the table slamming shut, in addition to the hinge supporting the table, the machine has a gas strut much like the rear door on most minivans. This is a nice touch not only because it takes part of the weight but also how it improves ‘feel’ ensuring a smooth lifting and lowering of the table.
I would score Switchover 9 out of 10.
One thing I could not believe was how quiet this machine is when running. With the dust collector running you can’t hear if the J/P is running or not… even when thickening it is just noticeable. The noise rating for the machine at 2m is 80dB when idling and 86dB when processing which seems to be correct as I know the DC is sitting around 84dB.
Although not as quiet as a machine with a helical cutter, for a conventional knife machine it is about the quietest planer I have heard.
In addition to being quiet, it runs incredibly smoothly – I tried the nickel the classic coin test and found I could easily balance a penny on its edge on the machine while the machine was running.
I would score noise it 8 out of 10 due to how quiet the newer helical headed machines can be.
Currently I have this machine hooked to a conventional 2 HP Dust Collector with Thein modification. Interconnecting pipe consists of 6’ of 6” hose connected to 10’ of 4” solid pipe then 10’ of 5” hose. In the above configuration the DC should be able to move a little over 800cfm which is well above the 540cfm which is required for the machine to meet EU dust collection standards. So far I have not had any problems with dust containment.
Just to see how much of a problem an undersized dust collector would be, I tried running the machine with only a 1hp light duty DC connected. I then ran through a pair of scrap 2×8 dimensional boards I had laying around with depth of cut at maximum. What a disaster… I only got about 5’ down the boards when the pipe plugged and I had wood chips and dust all over the place. In other words, the chip production of this machine really does require the 540cfm minimum stated in the specs.
Only challenge I has was sorting out how to deal with the European dust port which was metric (140 mm). Down to Busy Bee to see what adapters they had and turns out that inside diameter of a 6” adapter is just a little larger than the outside diameter of the dust port which made attaching a 5” hose fairly easy with a couple of layers of duct tape (thanks Red Green). We can all thank that peanut farmer Jimmy Carter for keeping the imperial system alive in North America – transition to the metric system was ready to roll when during his administration he allowed the movement to be vetoed.
I would score the machine 9 out of 10 simple for dust containment.
As I am still getting use to the machine it is hard to comment on annoyances since many may just be the case of getting use to the machine. Two small points not raised previously are:
• The scales on the machine are entirely metric. I find that I have to keep referring back to unit conversion tables.
• The mortise attachment has been discontinued which is an attachment I had considered adding at some point.
Overall I am happy with the performance of the machine and have no problem recommending it for anyone in my situation.
Although this machine has its fair share of quirks, the build quality is outstanding and don’t forget the current price (only $3600 once discounts are applied). In my opinion, the price more than make up for the few shortcomings and from what I have seen the machine is a huge step up from those from Asia.
For all practical purposes, with the ability to joint and plane up to 16” wide, this is not a machine that anyone is likely to outgrow. I can’t get over how nice it is (even with wide boards) to take rough lumber and turn it into truly square finished wood – and by flawless I mean as good as you can get using 220 grit sandpaper.
The simple blade changing mechanism with automatic blade setting is a joy, the machined cast iron tables are easy to adjust and dead accurate, and the rubber coated feed rollers leave absolutely no marks on the surface of the wood.
I have just started the first complete project with this machine – a small side table for my daughter. I never knew before how much easier it was working with wood when boards are truly square. I cannot highlight enough how much of a difference having machinery which is able to both surface and thickness plane the full width of widest rough lumber you are likely to work with is will make to your productivity.
Overall Rating: 8.5 out of 10
• Country of Origin: Germany
• Cutter Block Motor: 2.5kW S1
• Cutter Head: 410mm x 80mm Leitz 3 Knife
• Cuts per minute: 19,000
• Roller Drive Motor: 0.5kW S1
• Max Cut Width: 410 mm
• Max Cut Depth: 5.0 mm
• Table Size: 1775×440 mm
• Fence Size: 1100 mm x 160 mm
• Fence Angle: 45–90° Positive Stop
• Depth Adjust: ‘Digital Hand Wheel’ calibrated to 0.1mm
• Feed Rollers: Vulcanized Rubber
• Table length: 655 mm
• Feed speed: 5.5 m/min
• Max Cut Width: 400 mm
• Max Thickness: 230 mm
• Min Thickness: 1 mm (with jig) / 3 mm (without jig)
• Min board length: 230 mm
• Stock Removal: 0.1 to 5.0 mm