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Hammer A3-31 Owners, Please Help

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Forum topic by Matt Przybylski posted 11-26-2014 02:11 AM 3264 views 2 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Matt Przybylski

528 posts in 1839 days


11-26-2014 02:11 AM

Topic tags/keywords: hammer a3 31 jointerplaner

Hey everyone,
I’ve been contemplating upgrading my setup to the Hammer A3-31 for what seems like 6 months now. I have read and re-read everything I can find about it, watched every YouTube video I saw, and gotten quotes from the reps twice now. The latest “review” of the A3-31 that was recently posted, taken down, and re-posted in a total different light didn’t help any of this. As this would be the biggest tool purchase I’ve ever made (for obvious reasons), I have some questions I wanted to see if I can get answered before making a decision. Here they are and I’d REALLY appreciate it if someone could shed some light on any and/or all of these:

1) If you have this machine, would you buy it again? Is there anything with it that you regret or would like to change?

2) I’m looking at buying the spiral head rather than the straight knives. The Felder rep told me that you can only purchase replacement cutters directly from Felder. Is this really the case? Can I not purchase the Byrd cutters as I’ve read that this is possibly a Byrd head?

3) If you’ve purchased this or other machines from Felder/Hammer, how has your support post-sale been? Did the machine arrive with any issues? If so, how did Felder handle it? I’ve read extremely conflicting reports on their service and I’m at a loss here.

4) Does the Felder Owners Group (the “other” FOG) still exist? I’ve read that it is a Yahoo group but I can’t find it ANYWHERE. I found a “Felder Users Group” but it only had 113 members and the last post was in May. If this FOG exists, how/where do I sign up?

5) I’ve also put the digital hand wheel in the order as well as two extension tables. I figured one on each side as I regularly work with long stock between 6’-8’ long and as I understand it the stock beds are rather short. Is this a good move? Have you possibly made your own infeed/outfeed for it and would not recommend these? Are there other accessories you’d suggest?

6) Is there another machine along the lines of the A3-31 that I should be looking at? I looked at the Jet (not as favorable as this machine in terms of reviews on performance whereas this machine performance wise usually gets very high marks), the Grizzly (not interested due to having to take off the fence), and the MiniMax FS30 (more expensive, can’t find that much info on it, I spoke with a customer once and he was all over the place so I worry that an actual MM rep couldn’t call me to talk it through and they had a customer call me instead, or as he termed it an owner that is now a local rep, whatever that means). My main criteria are a spiral cutterhead, ease of changing over from jointer to planer and vice versa, not having to take the fence off for the changeover, and 12” capacity.

7) How did you make this machine mobile? I have read mixed reviews about the Hammer mobile base and was going to make my own base with machine leveling casters (http://www.woodcraft.com/Product/149511/WoodRiver-Machine-Leveling-Caster-Plate-Mounted-4-Pack.aspx). There is a stem variant of this (although not sold by Woodcraft) as well which I understand may also be possible and the machine is already pre-drilled for them. Is this true? If so, how easy is it to install them?

I know I’m asking a LOADED set of questions but considering that I may be spending a down payment for a nice car on this tool I’d really like to make the right choice and not feel bad about it. Again, if you could help me in the decision making process by answering some of these questions I’d be forever grateful.

Lastly, I apologize if you saw this post on another forum but I cross-posted to the forums I frequent most often in hopes of getting the most answers possible from users that may not visit this forum so that I may get more insight and finally make this decision once and for all.

-- Matt, Illinois, http://www.reintroducing.com


12 replies so far

View Manitario's profile

Manitario

2397 posts in 2344 days


#1 posted 11-26-2014 05:14 AM

Have you considered the Minimax jointer/planers? I haven’t seen any reviews for them (although I haven’t searched) but I know the Minimax bandsaws get great reviews, I also have an older 12” Minimax jointer which is a rock solid, well built machine.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View Mario's profile

Mario

129 posts in 2857 days


#2 posted 11-26-2014 06:31 AM

Hi Matt, this is my experience, I had some recent complaints about customer service, became really concerned with technical support and replacement parts and so mentioned it on a previous thread. I was contacted by Felder’s CEO down here and have to admit he went clear and straight to solve my complaints. As far as the machine quality goes it is right on the money, it performs perfectly, I’ve had this machine since 2009 and has never let me down. I use it extensively in black walnut, mahogany, Spanish cedar, teak, maple, rosewood with no problems whatsoever, just remember to keep a sharp set of blades and you are good to go.
1) I would buy it again, this particular design is hard to beat, 11.5in wide jointer and 8in thickness planer in such a compact unit is awesome for the small shop.
2)I use the straight standard knives, and can only get them from Felder, can imagine the spiral head might be better but the one I got gets the job done.
3)As mentioned before, I had some issues with technical support and replacement parts, it’s been taken care of from the top, problem solved. As far as the machine goes, no problem whatsoever.
4)Don’t know about this group.
5)For 6-8ft lumber I don’t think you need the extension tables, I work a lot of 10-14ft lumber and rely on a roller support for stability.
6)I looked hard into other brands before buying the A3-31, this particular design works if quality is up to the standard, don’t save your money here.
7) I use the dolly attachment from Hammer, it moves the unit back and forth perpendicular to the table length so a little maneuvering is required to move it around, if you don’t like heavy work, better build yourself a mobile base with good quality casters.
Bottom line, it works as advertised and the company is willing to work with you in case you need it.

View Matt Przybylski's profile

Matt Przybylski

528 posts in 1839 days


#3 posted 11-26-2014 05:19 PM

@Manitario: I had considered the MM and even have been contacted by a rep on SawMill Creek. My biggest issue with the MM FS30 is that there is no spiral cutterhead option.

@Mario: Thank you for your valuable input. More and more I’m leaning towards not getting the extension tables as in reading even more about this machine it seems they are a very nice to have but not a necessity. I figure I could also create some of my own if I see the need or use rollers like you do as I already have 2 of them.

I’m glad to hear that their CS seems to be better as of late in terms of reaching out to its customers and working with them more closely.

-- Matt, Illinois, http://www.reintroducing.com

View runswithscissors's profile

runswithscissors

2177 posts in 1486 days


#4 posted 11-27-2014 01:32 AM

I have the JJP 12-HH, and it came with the helical or spiral head, which to me is worth every penny. Not only is it much quieter, but nicked cutters are easily rotated to a fresh edge, or replaced. I had no brand prejudices, but this one came up as a terrific deal that I couldn’t walk away from.

If you happen to be in the Pac NW, check out planers on CL. The Jet-Powermatic outlet center in Auburn, WA (south of Seattle) advertises discounted stuff all the time. I paid $1800 for mine—cheaper than Grizzly, even. Supposedly it was “scratch and dent,” but it looked pristine in every way. It appeared to have never had a plug put on the power cord. And I do like that it doesn’t require removing the jointer fence to switch modes.

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

View uwelk's profile

uwelk

2 posts in 1419 days


#5 posted 02-10-2015 02:22 PM

Matt,
I find myself in the same position you were in. I am about to order a Hammer A3 31. Got a quote and then started second guessing about a Minimax FS30. Price is about the same. Silent power head vs tersa carbide blades seem to be a coin toss. What did you end up doing and what tipped the scale for you?

Thanks

View Matt Przybylski's profile

Matt Przybylski

528 posts in 1839 days


#6 posted 02-10-2015 02:37 PM



Matt,
I find myself in the same position you were in. I am about to order a Hammer A3 31. Got a quote and then started second guessing about a Minimax FS30. Price is about the same. Silent power head vs tersa carbide blades seem to be a coin toss. What did you end up doing and what tipped the scale for you?

Thanks

- uwelk

I ended up ordering the A3-31. I have not taken delivery yet as I intentionally ordered it for delivery sometime in April because I won’t be in the shop til then. There are a few reasons why I did this:

1) I met a local guy who had an A3-31 with the Silent cutter block. I was very impressed.
2) Outside of #1, I just wanted the silent cutter block. I want a spiral head and I want it on both my planer and jointer so it was a no brainer.
3) I was being pushed hard by a MiniMax rep on a Tersa head and he sent me some stuff that supported the Tersa head. When I began digging into it a bit more and asking questions about what I saw on the MiniMax site (most specifically that a spiral head is available but at extra cost for the FS30) he stopped replying.
4) One of the items he sent me was a YouTube video to a FS30 user with a Tersa head showing it off. I commented on the video and asked the user, who seemed to really like the machine, how he liked it. He said he likes it fine but would prefer a spiral head and in buying again he’d buy a spiral head machine.
5) If i’m not mistaken MiniMax is less supported (or at least it seems like it) here in the US.
6) If I’m not mistaken part 2, the FS30 tables go up separately and you have to take the fence off to go into planing mode. I prefer not removing the fence and tables going up together on the A3-31.

Those are the things that I can think of off the top of my head which helped in making my decision. Hopefully that helps you out as well.

-- Matt, Illinois, http://www.reintroducing.com

View MrFid's profile

MrFid

804 posts in 1366 days


#7 posted 02-10-2015 02:39 PM

Hi there,

I don’t own one of these machines, but one of the bloggers I read does. The links below are from Rob Porcaro, who posted a 6 part blog on the A3-31. I linked to part 1, dig around and you’ll find the other parts.

http://www.rpwoodwork.com/blog/2014/06/23/jointer-planer-combination-machines-part-1/

He also posted this regarding the same machine:

http://www.rpwoodwork.com/blog/2014/12/31/jointer-parallelism/

Hope this helps! I am envious of you all with my lunchbox planer and 6 inch Jet jointer.

-- Bailey F - Eastern Mass.

View soob's profile

soob

223 posts in 670 days


#8 posted 02-10-2015 03:00 PM

I am seriously considering the Hammer. I noticed they had a “sale” on the website recently but that it’s no longer showing up. Can somebody advise about how their pricing works? How often do they have sales? If I ask for the sale price will I get it? Do they negotiate on their prices?

View uwelk's profile

uwelk

2 posts in 1419 days


#9 posted 02-10-2015 03:40 PM

I got a quote last week and it was at the “promotion price”. It did not specifically come up but it was my impression that the promotional price was still available. I think my quote is good for a week or two. Part of my second guessing was the cost of accessories. I got a quote for the base machine, silent power head, digital read out hand wheel, mobile kit back wheels and front lifting bar wheel, one 400mm extension and two extension rails, plus shipping. Those brought the price from up by about $2200 most of which was the silent powerhead and shipping.
I offered about $400 less and they kindly responded that there was not much room for negotiation.

This caused me to think about the Minimax FS30 which is about the same price (maybe a bit less without some of the accessories). I like the possibility of having several knife sets for different situations. However, I have not heard of many regretting the spiral segmented carbide type of cutterhead and have heard many praises for it. I think that ultimately this is the deciding point for me in favor of the Hammer.

I will probably order the Hammer this week with delivery in the April time frame. I am contemplating eliminating the mobility accessories just to cut the costs. (I have the ability to weld up my own mobile base.) Everything I have read suggests the digital handwheel is something that you will regret not getting. The extension tables most suggest are not that necessary. However, I like the idea of keeping it on the outfeed of the planer and being able to move it to the outfeed of the jointer if needed. I suspect that you could make something yourself for much less but I will probably still order them.

I have had minimal contact with Hammer but so far it has been very professional even though they weren’t willing to negotiate, they did so in a way that did not turn me off. Minimax responded to my request for information very promptly and professionally with a base price. I have not contacted them for a firm final price. Good luck on your decision.

Apparently, Hammer does have some sales, I have no idea when or how often. One of the areas that they were willing to negotiate was a reduction of about $30 on the extension which was the “January Sales Price” that they would extend to me.

View Matt Przybylski's profile

Matt Przybylski

528 posts in 1839 days


#10 posted 02-14-2015 04:29 PM

@uwelk: I tried to negotiate as well and was denied. She did however lower the shipping cost by $100 for me and after sending the new quote I asked to throw in the replacement cutters set (about $55) and we had a deal and she did.

I, like you, had all those accessories originally as well but took them out. I am going to make my own extension as when I saw the machine I realized it’s very easy to do/attach and as for the mobility kit I am going to get some of the Great Lakes casters with the stem that should screw up into the base (i believe two holes are pre-drilled, the other two will need to be drilled, don’t quote me on that though, that’s what I’ve gathered from my research).

-- Matt, Illinois, http://www.reintroducing.com

View RichRiddle's profile

RichRiddle

13 posts in 1720 days


#11 posted 02-15-2015 03:54 AM

I have both Hammer and MiniMax tools and here are some thoughts.

1. MiniMax tools seem a bit higher quality than Hammer but on par with the Felder line.
2. MiniMax customer service trumps Hammer USA by a long shot. Hammer was supposed to address three issues two weeks ago. I haven’t heard back from them on any of them.
3. I have the Minimax jointer/planer with a Byrd Shelix head. Byrd will manufacture a head for you if you get them the specs you need, any head. Byrd parts cost less than Minimax or Hammer/Felder.
4. Either Hammer/Felder or MiniMax will offer superior quality as compared to most competitors.
5. If service is important to you, go with MiniMax, hands down.

-- Thanks, Rich

View daddywoofdawg's profile

daddywoofdawg

1010 posts in 1036 days


#12 posted 02-15-2015 06:10 AM

I was reading a blog the other day about the hammer and the guy had to adjust the out feed table table and was saying how a 1/2 hr job turned into a 4 day job because the way the table adjustments are located you have to remove part of the machine to get to the adjustments and then the adjustment had thread lock on it. when he call the manufacturer he was told they never get out of alignment so that is why it’s so hard to get at and why there is thread lock on it.his was out like 5 thousandths to the fence,so you could never get a 90 on two edges.
I think before you buy that or anyone model download the owners manual and read how to do normal adjustments and maintenance. most tools now days are built by designers,marketing people,and have never and will never use the products they sell.so They have no Idea what is used or how easy it is to do.

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