Needed advice on a 5 Function Combination machine

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Forum topic by Jim Burke posted 09-09-2011 09:21 PM 2637 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Jim Burke

2 posts in 1495 days

09-09-2011 09:21 PM

Topic tags/keywords: combination machine laguna mini-max hammer tools 5 function machine felder

I have a small shop, it’s an over-sized one car garage (it’s about 12 feet wide) and I’m looking at buying some essential wood working equipment. The heart of every woodworking shop is a nice table saw. I also think I need a jointer, a planer, a band saw, and a drill press. When I started looking around I had myself convinced I was going to buy a new Uni-saw ( it looks like an incredible piece of machinery). Then I looked at a SawStop, and was convinced I needed the safety of that unit. When I looked at either saw, with an attached side table, it was really looking like it would take a ton of space. Then if a bought a separate jointer, and planer it seems like I might not have enough room in my little shop. So, now I started looking that the entry level 5 function combination machines from Hammer, Mini-Max, and Laguna. These machines seem to pack lot of equipment in a small footprint. They also pack alot of costs in a small footprint as well. My question, is there anyone out there that has gone though this decision making process and if so, what did you decide? If you bought a combination machine, which machine did you buy? Are you happy with your purchase? would you do anything differently?

I would really appreciate any help you can give me.


Jim Burke

-- Jim, Arvada Colorado

8 replies so far

View Loren's profile


7967 posts in 2691 days

#1 posted 09-09-2011 11:00 PM

I’d say it depends on how attracted you are to mechanical side of
machine woodworking. I’ve had combo jointer-planers by Robland,
Makita, Belsaw, and INCA. The Robland was the older XSD310
and while I really liked the mortiser on it, the jointer tables were
a bit fussy and the planer lacked refinement. It was very powerful though.

In terms of table saws, the tablesaw-shaper combos don’t make much
compromise in the saw function and the shapers are powerful and there
when you need them; and the slider is there for tenoning and whatnot.

It’s easy to buy more machine than you need. If you’re doing full-scale
furniture making and building entry doors, those combo machines are
made for that kind of work. For sheet goods, only the higher-end
5-way combos are equal to a small dedicated slider.

I still have the INCA and only use it for the jointer. All my other machines,
presently, are not combos.

Resale value on bought-new combo machines is about half the new price –
and there’s a lot of sellers gnashing their teeth at the losses they’ll
take on these behemoths if they price them to sell for cash on the
second-hand market. Most of the used machines were bought new on
credit by inexperienced hobbiests or naive would-be pros, so condition
of the used machines is usually pretty good as they’ve seldom been
used much.


View Minorhero's profile


360 posts in 1648 days

#2 posted 09-09-2011 11:28 PM

What you buy depends a lot on what you plan to make. You do not have to have a 72” extension on your table saw. Most woodworkers get by just fine without it. Quite a few garage woodworkers get by without a bandsaw and use a jig saw instead (again depending on what you plan to make).

If you are new to woodworking you might want to buy only the bare needed machines, like just a table saw, use it for a bit and decide if you really want to buy the rest. There are a lot of projects that can be done just fine with a table saw and finished lumber.

View bandit571's profile


10166 posts in 1726 days

#3 posted 09-11-2011 04:21 AM

Maybe a Shopsmith is what you would like to look at. New ( they still make then here in Ohio), or used. Not sure about a planer for them, though.

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View Woodketeer's profile


7 posts in 59 days

#4 posted 09-25-2015 10:23 PM

I have to agree with Loren that resale on the 5-tool combination machines is limited. Still, as he aptly points out, they can be substantial machines. I own the Laguna Platinum with the 10” table saw, shaper, mortiser, and 12” jointer/planer. I bought the demo model at their store in Southern California… sweet story… I bought my wife the best engagement ring a high school teacher could afford, she’s a doctor and bought me my dream woodworking machinery. I’d been in love with the Laguna since I saw it at the shop of one of Jim Krenov’s alumni.

On the pro and con side of the combination machines by any maker is that they make it necessary for me to think my machine sequencing through to avoid frustrating back and forth’s in set ups. That turns out to be a helpful discipline as I am not by nature a linear thinker.

On the point of their footprint in the workshop. That’s trickier. Ultimately they take less space than 5 comparable machines, but they don’t break down as small as five individual machines. That’s only a problem when you relocate—which I’ve done three times—or if your shop is difficult to access, such as a basement or—heaven help you—an attic.

On the important question of machinery purchases for folk new to woodworking, Minorhero nails it that less is most often more, especially with the new generation of Festool caliber tools that give such high quality performance. Given how often I’ve ended up relocating I sometimes look with envy at the bench-top tools.

The problem is that I like to be able to dimension my wood beyond the usual thicknesses sold and have used bandsaws (I own the Laguna LT18 with the resaw table) for veneer cutting and leg work (a chair, not my own).

My sales and support experience with Laguna has been good. I bought the 5 tool combo, the LT18 bandsaw, their cyclone dust collector, and their ceiling dust filter. I already had a drill press. I’m told they’re phasing out their 5-tool combos, but like Loren said, you can generally find them at embarrassingly good prices if you’re good at that sort of thing.

I’m using one side of the garage and that get’s a little tricky sometimes but I get an odd satisfaction with my small shop, it feels cozy. Good luck with your decisions.

-- Glenn, South Delaware

View Clarkie's profile


194 posts in 884 days

#5 posted 09-25-2015 10:33 PM

Hey Jim, start with a good old Unisaw and a bandsaw. From there perhaps your space will grow. The multi-machines always start out as a good deal, but quickly turn into a shallow help. I’ve had my share of multi machines and always seemed to make excuses for the let down experienced by one or more parts of them. Nothing like a good Unisaw, on wheels and a substantial workbench to get started, then you’ll find place for the items you need from there.

View pintodeluxe's profile


4104 posts in 1856 days

#6 posted 09-25-2015 10:43 PM

I really prefer dedicated tools. I would rather dance around a tablesaw and jointer than try to mess with adjusting a combo machine. I usually hear that they are okay, but not great. Sure there are exceptional combination machines but the price point is equal to adding another 2 bays to your shop space!

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View MT_Stringer's profile


2607 posts in 2274 days

#7 posted 09-25-2015 11:04 PM

I guess we will never know what Jim decided. He hasn’t been back since he made the original post.

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View b2rtch's profile


4635 posts in 2092 days

#8 posted 09-25-2015 11:33 PM

I had and I still have in France a Lurem 5 operations combination machine,.I used it for year as a semi-professional.
This si the perfect machine for small space and it worked very well with 3×3HP motors and a 12” jointer/planer.
The problem with this kind of machine is very fast it gets very old to change back and forth between the different function and except for cutting at length and cutting a tenon in one pass , one can do only one thing at the time.
Again, if your space is limited , this is the perfect solution and contrary to shopsmith and the like ,these are real professional (and expensive) machines.

-- Bert

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