Jointer/planer or separate machines

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Forum topic by jjames posted 03-13-2016 01:38 AM 519 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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10 posts in 228 days

03-13-2016 01:38 AM

Hello all, first post here.
I have seen some posts on this topic but I have a more specific question i want to throw out there. I am a hobbyist woodworker, still learning a lot. I have narrowed a purchase decision down to a couple of specific tools. They are:

A Hammer A3-31


A pair of Grizzly machines
GO453ZW planer
GO490XW jointer (maybe a GO495X)

My question is not really around the differences between the combo machine versus separate machines. Although I welcome thoughts on that. It is more around the quality of these tools and the performance, reliability and longevity I can expect. I do not like fiddling with tools. I appreciate using top quality tools. The Grizzly machines would save me some serious money, about $1,300. But if the Hammer unit has a measurable difference in the areas i mentioned, its worth it to me. I have heard nothing but good about the A31. And mostly good (by a high margin) but with some spotty bad posts on Grizzly in general.

I stared off making bad decisions when I first started buying tools. Do not want to go down that road again. But also do not want to over spend just because I can.

Any thoughts from all you experienced folks would be appreciated. thanks in advance

3 replies so far

View runswithscissors's profile


2127 posts in 1447 days

#1 posted 03-13-2016 02:55 AM

There is a Powermatic/Jet outlet south of Seattle that sells “scratch & dent” machines via Craigslist. The discounts are significant. I bought the Jet 12” combo machine with the helical head, and paid about $1800 for it. I had to haul it myself (about a 2 hour drive), because they don’t ship.

The advantage of the Jet is that switching between functions is about as quick and easy as you could make it. The jointer tilts up as a unit, and the fence doesn’t have to be removed. The only way it would be quicker to change over would be to have the dust hood redesigned so that it wouldn’t run into the planer table when you go from planing to jointing. Not sure how that could be done, but I’m thinking about it.

I love the helical head, and would be sad to have to go back to straight knives. The jointer bed is almost 56 inches long, whereas the Hammer’ is only 50 (which may be okay in a really small shop). I’m planning on making removable table extensions for it. The fence is aluminum, but it seems plenty sturdy and rigid, and I have no complaints. It does use the Euro style blade guard, like the Hammer, but I’d rather have the pork chop style.

It is possible to overload the machine by taking too deep a bite when planing. This sometimes happens to me when I’m trying to plane a board of uneven thickness (after jointing). The claimed horses are only 3, which is less than both Grizzly and Hammer. There is a sort of clutch (basically an idler pulley on a lever) that makes the drive rollers go that you have to remember to engage when planing (i’ve forgotten a couple of times). I try to remember to disengage it when jointing, but it probably doesn’t matter that much.

All in all I really like the machine. Though 12” is a narrow planer by today’s standards, on the other hand, a 12” jointer is truly a luxury.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

View MJCD's profile


483 posts in 1793 days

#2 posted 03-13-2016 02:59 AM

This is a bit of apples-to-oranges; in the sense that Hammer is well-past the DIY quality; whereas Grizzly not so much – IMHO. Don’t misinterpret the Grizzly comment – many, many a fine woodworker on Lumberjocks has completed an equally-impressive number of fine projects with their equipment.

I have the Hammer N4400 bandsaw, and it will handle anything and everything I throw at it. Also, I’ve seen the A3-31 in action, and it is quite capable – it is a buy-once piece of machinery.

Having said this, Felder can be tough to deal with – they have a very Teutonic (German/Austrian) approach to Customer Service, and their accessories, if you need them, are expensive. But you get the quality and consistency that flows into your woodworking.

I prefer separate machines: at some level, I’d have the carbide-insert cutters for Planers and straight (non-helical) cutters for Jointers – for all that I’ve read, straight cutters still provide a smoother finish than the segmented carbide. Also, when I’m on a project, I don’t want to spend time converting machines, one-to-another.

One thought is to get your feet wet with the Grizzly machines. Then, as your experience matures, and your projects become for complex (more demanding – tolerances and machining requirements (2” or 3” Hard Maple, Jatoba, ...)), you can sell the Grizzly machines, and see what your equipment Bucket List looks like. For me, I’m at the end of my 6” Powermatic Jointer and Delta Cabinet Saw; and looking for the Powermatic 3000 table saw and Martin Jointer and Planer – my current woodworking begs for different tools now.

Ask Felder to make you an offer – you can always walk away … or not.

-- Lead By Example; Make a Difference

View JBrow's profile


748 posts in 342 days

#3 posted 03-13-2016 03:01 AM


With the budget you have, I suspect that either way you go will serve you well. First as a hobbyist, there will not be much stress put on the machines. Second, based on the Grizzly bandsaw I bought, it appears that Grizzly puts the extra money they charge for their higher end machines into the machines. I suspect the two Grizzly machines on your list would be fine, although I do not have first-hand knowledge of either. However, I think the jointer may not be available at this time.

Personally I like separate machines that perform only one function. That way the machine is ready whenever I need to mill some stock. Nonetheless I looked at the Hammer hoping I could save some space by upgrading my jointer and replacing my planer. However, I thought the planer bed might be a little too low when planing a large stack of lumber. Also, I thought the jointer guard might get in the way. My decision to forego the Hammer in no way was based a perception of inferior quality.

It seems to me that going with the machine(s) that best meet your requirements and preferences is the way to go. I do not think you will be disappointed in quality no matter which way you go.

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