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Good product and service

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Review by da3t posted 03-24-2015 04:15 AM 7761 views 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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After reading a number of reviews on this site I bought this machine last year from Calgarys location, and wanted to contribute back. I was looking to upgrade from a lunchbox planer and get more serious about this hobby by also acquiring a jointer, and I have a small shop so space is an issue. The main competitor I looked at was Rikon, which looked like a crude imitation of the A31 in person and seemed kind of clunky. Way cheaper but you generally get what you pay for with woodworking equipment.

Customer service was great. The main complaint leading up to the purchase was, as another reviewer noted, that Hammer lets their quality stand and does not bargain on price. At all. Further to that, they insisted that while the 20% deposit could be on credit card, I’d have to pay for the rest in cash or certified cheque. If they were willing to throw in the $50 plastic reducer or elbow, on a $5000 machine, I might not have have argued the point but I made some phone calls and it turns out Moneris and MasterCard have an issue with retailers doing this because they are deprived of their fees. And ‘please call back if they continue to refuse to accept payment, we will consider taking away their terminal’. So another phone call to Felder, and credit card payment was fine. It seems Europeans aren’t used to this business model. The reducer was on back order but when it came in, to their credit, the salesman hand delivered it. In the meantime i hose-clamped a plastic flower pot, with the bottom cut out, to my dust collection system.

It arrived, with a very chatty delivery guy, bolted firmly to a pallet. Similar to another reviewer, I went back and forth on a series of ramps to get it to the floor. It was mostly assembled when it arrived, so i finished what i needed to and plugged it in. The plug was another issue i had with trying to eke out the slightest deal with them. I’m not an electrician, so could they please put a cord about 8’ long on it before delivery. Yes, but they’d have to charge me . . .

I turned it on and was amazed at how quiet it was. My DC system is louder. I don’t even wear hearing protection if I’m just tidying up some edges and not worried about generating enough cuttings to have to turn on the DC.

Jointing: the euro style guard takes a bit of getting used to but seems a bit safer than pork chop style. I wish the fence had some sort of postive locking stop for 90. There’s a fence angle adjustment that I always leave locked at 90, but find there’s a bit of slop in the way the thumbscrew tightens against the rail on the end of the infeed table, so I’m frequently double checking with my square after I move it.

Planing: Two machines in one means that wheel has to be cranked, to either move the planing table out of the way or bring it 17 cm back up to facilitate planing. Its only supposed to be something like 30 seconds and, yes, if you have workflow set up perfectly it doesn’t happen often . . . but i’m not perfect. I think 1 turn is 1/8”. With the amount of engineering that went into this, and other jointer-planer combos, I think someone will eventually figure out a way to adopt a quick release, like a bracket on router table, or one of the nice Veritas table vises. I have had the occasional sniping on pieces despite not being too aggressive in the amount of material i take off in a pass, and lately the roller feed is choppy and uneven but that’s likely because i need to clean them. The only real issue I had was using a clamped block of wood to mill cherry strips about 1” wide down to 1/8” or so for bent laminations. Seems the anti-kickback devices don’t work with thin, narrow stock, in which case I was glad no part of my body was behind the machine when they were ejected backwards. It probably says not to do this in the manual. I used carpet tape the next time around and that reduced tear out and kick back but I think i had better luck with the old lunchbox planer and regular knives for this particular application, applying down pressure while feeding.

Accessories: i would have bought lots more (than 5”-4” reducer no one else makes) if they were willing to bargain at all. The digital wheel would have been nice but i haven’t had a real need for it yet. In common applications like taking 4/4 rough lumber down to 3/4”, or whatever lumber down to whatever thickness, everything is fed through sequentially, and in the last step you just cut and measure carefully until you get to the right thickness on one piece and lock it in, and mill all remaining pieces.

Overall a good machine and I have no regrets, just some minor frustrations with the process.




View da3t's profile

da3t

8 posts in 2111 days



3 comments so far

View Kaleb the Swede's profile

Kaleb the Swede

1832 posts in 1964 days


#1 posted 03-25-2015 02:16 AM

Great Review! That is a dream machine for me. Hopefully one day in the future I can purchase it. Thanks again

-- Just trying to build something beautiful

View NormG's profile

NormG

6111 posts in 2999 days


#2 posted 03-25-2015 11:23 PM

Well done review and balanced

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View iminmyshop's profile

iminmyshop

284 posts in 1989 days


#3 posted 03-27-2015 03:27 AM

Good review. I have the same machine for about a year now. There was some difficulty getting the machine adjusted properly and the manual that comes with it is pretty useless in that regard. The East coast office in Delaware sent updated adjustment instructions that were much more useful and I think (hope) those are being further updated too. Unfortunately, unless you are within easy driving distance of one of their offices, getting a tech to adjust the machine will likely add $500 – $900 depending on where you live and how much time it takes.

The reducer for the dust collector also is not quite a good fit for American hoses. I’ve had to add multiple runs of black tape to make it fit better.

But the bottom line is that once adjusted, the machine cuts brilliantly. It is rare that I ever have any snipe no matter how figured the wood. It is indeed an amazingly quiet machine. The Powermatic dust collector in the shop is much noisier. I do like the digital wheel and think it was worth the extra money. The extension on the out feed table for the jointer has also been helpful. I love the very wide jointing ability. Would I buy this machine again? Yes. It saves lots of space and is a terrific machine. If they would just put together a better manual it would rate an A+.

-- http://www.alansfinewoodworking.com/

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