|Review by lumbermeister||posted 01-03-2014 03:57 AM||4458 views||0 times favorited||2 comments|
NOTE: First posted this review a few weeks ago; now updated with my experience adjusting tables for Coplanarity, and updating my overall take on the machine.
Duration of ownership at time of this review – 3 months.
Reason for purchasing this unit – Parallelogram design for longer beds than dovetail of same width; 6” wide and 55” long would fit in my relatively small shop and, additionally, be easier to maneuver to a downstairs basement (compared to an 8” machine).
Ordering – Ordered off the web; simple and uneventful.
Delivery – Approx. 1 week later, informed by UPS that the machine was ready for pickup. I did not want home delivery, as I wanted to unload the machine from the back of the minivan, down an ramp to the inside of my house via the interior door of the garage (home delivery would have meant going from the floor of the garage and up a few steps to the inside of my home). From there, downstairs to the basement was easy.
Assembly – The good points: Instructions were accurate, parts went together well, threaded inserts welded to the cabinet were appreciated; i.e., not having to fiddle with loose nuts saved time and smacked of a quality unit.
- The not-so-good points: We’ll see if you agree or if you think I am knit-picking here, but the basics of how to maneuver large components into position could have been detailed by the experts (I am talking to you, Grizzly), rather than leaving it to the customer to figure out. Cases in point:
- Lifting the jointer beds to the cabinet. The manual simply states that one should, with an assistant, lift the beds and place on cabinet. But, looking at the beds themselves (see picture), they are packaged upside down in the foam with no hand grip areas in the foam. How does one get this out of the packaging and onto the cabinet? Well, Mrs. Lumbermeister and I carefully tipped the cardboard box with the beds (the box was on its pallet) and rolled it sideways, carefully guiding the beds as they rolled 180 degrees and emerged upright on a waiting piece of foam. From there, were able to lift the beds to the cabinet.
Was there a better way? I don’t know. Would it have been appreciated if Grizzly had addressed this step in the manual? We would have appreciated it, rather than having us, the customers with zero experience, left to figure this out for ourselves.
- Bolting the beds to the cabinet. Notice the 4 holes on the top of the stand in one of the pics. Also see, again, the pic of the upside down beds, and notice the mating holes (3 of 4 are visible). How does one blindly line up the mating holes, in 4 places no less? Placing a bolt in the cabinet hole and sliding the bed around until, voila, it fits, is a needle-in-haystack operation, and is dangerous, given the potential for inadvertently shoving the beds over the side of the cabinet. I drew a mark with china marker on the surface of the cabinet adjacent to each hole, and similar marks on the on the periphery of the cabinet beds adjacent to each of its holes. I then lined up the marks and, having placed a bolt in the first set of aligned mating holes, the remainder went quickly. Again, the best method? Hey, Grizzly, how about you tell me? Meantime, I am telling you, Grizz, that your having placed marks/engraving placed on cabinet and beds for hole alignment would have helped a great deal. Unless, of course, you have a better idea…
Fit and Finish – 1 Complaint: Seems that post Parallelogram jointers have “lips”; I.e., aluminum inserts at the ends of each bed, adjacent to the cutterhead, while dovetail jointers do not (see pic of inserts at jointer beds and cutter head – oops – just noticed that only 3 pics allowed per review. Hopefully you will know what I am talking about.). Anyone know the reason for this (even the tech I spoke to at Grizzly did not know why this is)? At any rate, when I first started using this machine, I noticed that narrow (1.5” wide) pieces of wood would sometimes hang-up at the insert on the fence side of the infeed bed. Sure enough, this insert was not set flush with the surface of the infeed table; the fence side of the insert was proud approx. 0.004” to the bed, causing the hang-up. I fixed it by applying painters tape to the inboard bed adjacent to the insert, and then sanding the insert with 120 grit paper applied to a sanding block. All is now well.
Calibration from Factory – The beds and fence were flat; i.e., within a thousandth or 2 in a few local areas at worst. For all practical consideration, perfectly flat with no high spots (except for the insert – see above). That said, the infeed bed sags downward approx. 0.020” along its length. For the first few months I have been using it as-is, knowing full well of the sag. The reason for this is that I wanted to ascertain how much this deviation from coplanar impacts the result, given that there are many discussions re. the degree of permissible error in a calibrated machine. In short, I have machined relatively short pieces (picture frame members, 36” or less, and approx. 1.75” wide), yet, verifying the result with my Veritas straight edge, the pieces have been fine (smooth and flat). I will soon calibrate this unit (hey, isn’t that a key advantage of the parallelogram design, ease of calibration?) as I will soon start on a solid wood cherry bookcase for my wife, but I believe that, for working with wood, getting within 0.005” of parallel will likely be fine (will know for sure later on). Meantime, I have been paying careful attention to my technique, placing the force of the pushblocks for a brief time on the infeed table and, as soon as possible, shifting to outfeed. This has no doubt compensated some for the out of parallel condition. FWIW, I do not blame Grizzly for the deviance to coplanarity; i.e. anything that is shipped can be thrown out of wack, and part of owning and maintaining a machine is the ability to perform standard calibrations (I will post an update following my calibration efforts, should be within the next few weeks).
Operation – smooth and quiet. Motor delivers plenty of power to the cutterhead. Dust collection is excellent (I have a 1HP Shop Fox W1727).
- Cutterhead Guard – weak spring barely returns unit to fence set at very back of beds. Grizzly promptly sent me a new torsion spring, no change. Minor issue.
- Fence stops – A bit of a pain, and I do not trust them (same goes for my table saw, maybe its just my mentality). I use my Wixey digital angle gage and a triangle for each setup – measure twice, cut once.
-Adjusting Coplanarity of Tables – Wow – What a maddening and addictive experience (addictive in a masochistic sort of way – had trouble walking away from the jointer until I was finished, and that took a long time). As mentioned under “Calibration”, the infeed table sagged from cutter head to infeed side; 0.20” on the fence side, and 0.15” along the operator side. After many hours of attempts to adjust the individual cams bring the this table coplanar with the outfeed, I was nearly ready to give up; i.e., I could not obtain the range of adjustment on the infeed-operator side of the indeed table – needed another 0.007” of height (I even tried to get the other 3 cams of this parallelogram jointer even with this oddball – no-can-do after many attempts). Called Grizzly tech support – they could not be certain that it was the cam, but did send me 2 replacements and offered, if the problem persisted to replace the machine. Not wanting to go through that hassle, I told them I would give it the ol’ “college try”.
Then It hit me – maybe the outfeed table need to be adjusted to somehow get it the range of the infeed’s adjustments. Eureka – It worked. I already managed to get the tables in parallel across the fence side and across a diagonal leading from the outboard fence-side corner of the outfeed stretching to the operator’s corner if the infeed side of the infeed table, while the opposite diagonal as well as the entire operator’s side were out of parallel. I raised the operator’s outside corner of the outfeed table and then readjusted the infeed table; this time, resulting in straightedge/gap variation within 0.002” across the infeed’s entire length. Glad that’s over with!
Oh – almost forgot – the jointer is supposed to come with 2 set screws per hole to secure each cam – only 1 per hole was present (though it was tight). Grizzly has already sent me additional set screws, along with the cams mentioned above (though, it turns out per above section, that I will not be needing or using the replacement cams).
- Knife readjustment – Uneventful, but also painstaking and tedious. I used the Oneway Multigage to set each of the 4 blades approx. 0.002” higher than the cutter head – and I recommend this method for its simplicity and accuracy (though there will still be a back-and forth tuning of fence each end of each of blade until they are even). Most noteworthy: Good thing I decided to not use a Jointer Pal magnetic jig, because the adjustment springs were nowhere to be found within the cutterhead (Yoo-Hoo – Grizzly – Are you listening? I will be calling you on Monday…). I know that Grizz will send me the parts but, c’mon, there is no room for this BS.
Overall – The fence is taller/longer than many competing models in its class, controls easy to reach (some flex on the post when pushing on/off buttons – a minor issue), integrated mobile base works well, motor is smooth and vibration free, and dust collection is excellent with my single stage, 1HP dust collector.
Now that the jointer is calibrated, surfaces emerge smooth and, well, “flat as a board” I do not blame the manufacturer for the tables arriving out of parallel, as this could happen in shipping, or even, when lifting the jointer bed onto the stand. BUT… The missing components (only 1 set screw per adjustment location when the manual and Grizzly How-To video clearly state 2 per cam), and the missing knife adjustment springs are inexplicable, save for incompetence at the factory. I like Grizzly’s tech support, and their willingness to satisfy the customer (see section on Adjusting Tables), but this should not be necessary – Let’s get it right the first time.
Final verdict – I am glad I purchased this unit, and I am not sure I could have gotten so much jointer elsewhere for such a reasonable price, and it remains a very solid performer, relatively easy to adjust (would have been more difficult if I had to place shims under a model with dovetail ways). Recommended model, especially for those interested in 6” width (its 55” tables are rather long for that class), but I advise any would-be purchasers to call Grizzly at time or order and request/demand that the unit be inspect against missing set screws and springs.