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Hammer A3 (-26 -31 -41) Combo Machine Review

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Thanks for the review.    I am seriously considering a combo unit - the change over on that machine looks quick, I am in a one car garage, and my DS is big enough to do some light abrasive planing, so i have a back up in case I need to quickly thickness a board but don't want to switch the combo machine.

The fence is kind of a concern, but if it stays square I guess it doesn't matter... Have you had any trouble when edge jointing thicker/heavier boards?  I could learn to deal with the guard.  

I'd be happy with a 12" combo, but I think the tables on them are just too short....

 

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Hi Mike.

You're right, you get an extra ~15" in jointer table length by stepping up to the bigger machine.  But the extension tables are pretty sturdy, you might consider the 12" and just add extension table(s).  I have an enormous extension table on the infeed side.

I haven't had any trouble with edge jointing thicker / heavier boards.  I put some 16/4 maple over it and it was fine.  That was lumber I bought at a commercial yard and had a flat-ish edge on it already from initial rough milling.  I also put some wonky cletus walnut over it and that came out really nicely too.

I'm sure I'm benefitting from the segmented cutter head - I hope that's on your shopping list.

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2 hours ago, Mike. said:

 

I'd be happy with a 12" combo, but I think the tables on them are just too short....

 

I thought the same thing when I bought mine and even bought some things to make an extension table but never did. I have only done one project where it really would have been nice and that was the Roubo bench build when I was running the glued up slabs through i just used roller stands and a helper.

On another note I have not had any issues with the fence staying square to the table.

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thanks @ben_r_ and sorry Bryan @Woodenskye that I missed this!

Mine sticks out another 800mm to the right with the infeed extension.

And that 317mm  sticky outy thing at the back is the big pain in the ass that requires extra space and can get caught on things when you tilt the table.  I've ended up moving the clearvue CV06 mini that I had behind the Hammer so I don't catch on anything when I tilt the table.

 

 

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Just now, Llama said:

Must be some official jargon!  

well if you want to get pedantic, it's called a Hobelwellenabdeckblech - I only know that because I bent mine and had to order a new one!  Obviously that's german for "sticky outy thing."

 

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On 7/4/2017 at 5:16 PM, Cygnus A said:

My A3-41 arrives Friday. I'm stoked although I still don't have 240v run to the garage yet :(

That's fast! 

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Wow that's a beast!! I really like the new handle design and the fact that the tables now fold straight back. I love the cut these things produce I have had an A3-31 for about 12 years.

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Question for all Felder/Hammer owners. Did any of you upgrade from equal capacity machines to your hammer combos, or did you all come from 6-8" jointers with lunch box planers? Im struggling with stepping down from a stand alone 12" jointer with 80+/- long beds that weighs over 1000lbs with a companion 20" powermatic byrd planer to a 16" Felder--probably the 700 series. I havent used one in person, which is why im struggling so much to call it a wash. Kinda feels like a downgrade across the board except for increased jointer width. I want to believe in the Euro quality and genius, but boy, im having a hard time with it. I cringe thinking about slapping wide and long 8/4 on those flippy tables. 

 

How tough are the extension tables on the planer? Once again, a 20"+/- bed length on the planer sounds difficult to work with. My PM has 55", i think, and it certainly comes in handy with feeding and receiving boards. 

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56 minutes ago, Pwk5017 said:

Question for all Felder/Hammer owners. Did any of you upgrade from equal capacity machines to your hammer combos, or did you all come from 6-8" jointers with lunch box planers? Im struggling with stepping down from a stand alone 12" jointer with 80+/- long beds that weighs over 1000lbs with a companion 20" powermatic byrd planer to a 16" Felder--probably the 700 series. I havent used one in person, which is why im struggling so much to call it a wash. Kinda feels like a downgrade across the board except for increased jointer width. I want to believe in the Euro quality and genius, but boy, im having a hard time with it. I cringe thinking about slapping wide and long 8/4 on those flippy tables. 

 

How tough are the extension tables on the planer? Once again, a 20"+/- bed length on the planer sounds difficult to work with. My PM has 55", i think, and it certainly comes in handy with feeding and receiving boards. 

I did go from a Jet 6" jointer and Dewalt Lunch box planer to the A3-31 so I understand your dilemma had I been in your shoes I'm not convinced you will be as happy as I have been. Sorry that probably doesn't help much but although it only takes a literal minute to switch if I had the room and could get the same cut quality at the price point I would go back to separate machines. For me I am concerned I wouldn't be happy with the cut quality of separate machines at the price point. Regarding bed length the only time it has ever been an issue for me was my roubo bench build but those were 11" by 8' foot heavy slabs so in my world more of a one off scenario.

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No, I think you did answer my question. They seem like great machines for medium furniture work, but dont necessarily shine with larger work pieces. Im going to start a thread later discussing a potential downsize, but the J/P combos just havent won me over yet. I think im pretty much sold on a Felder 700 saw/shaper, but not on the J/P. Jointers and planers naturally nest pretty well, so you can utilize the same infeed outfeed space. This stock martin photo is what im thinking for the next place. It is like putting two table saws back to back; the incremental working footprint doesnt change much. 

 

Has anyone monkeyed around with Hammer machines and Felder class stuff in the same sitting? Despite all the forum posts i read, im not fully grasping the build quality differences between the two. 

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I hope this helps... 

Here was my my thought process:

I was going to buy the A3-41 that Matt was kind enough to review for us. Then I got to thinking about the bed length and the damn pirate ship hand wheel.

Then I learned about the electronic mechanism to raise and lower the planer beds with digital readout. I needed this... I plan on having this machine for hopefully the rest of my life, and the thought of that pirate wheel really turned me off. 

So, that brought me up to the Felder AD741 because Hammer does not (yet) offer that feature on their line. So I was set on the AD741.

Then something great happened... The almighty AD941 went on sale. :o 

So, in the end I bought the AD941 due to the increased bed length (nearly 8') and upgraded planer mechanism. (not only the electronic mechanism, but the AD941 has a better design which is much more robust than the AD741.) The AD941 also included a little maintenance kit, the Euro comfort guard, and shipping assistance. (credit towards shipping). I ended up with the AD941 for less money than the AD741 would have cost me. Plus the extras were icing on the cake.

To address the other comments, the Hammer units are certainly geared toward the hobby guys looking for a really nice machine. The Felder equipment is what you'd see in a pro shop. Meant to really take a beating over the years. Truly a no compromise machine. All of this comes at a price.

Then we can get into why I chose to buy a combo unit... I'd be happy to go over that, but I feel another thread coming on... Maybe Tuesday? :) I'm more than happy to openly discuss the pricing if you're interested.

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10 hours ago, Llama said:

I hope this helps... 

Here was my my thought process:

I was going to buy the A3-41 that Matt was kind enough to review for us. Then I got to thinking about the bed length and the damn pirate ship hand wheel.

Then I learned about the electronic mechanism to raise and lower the planer beds with digital readout. I needed this... I plan on having this machine for hopefully the rest of my life, and the thought of that pirate wheel really turned me off. 

So, that brought me up to the Felder AD741 because Hammer does not (yet) offer that feature on their line. So I was set on the AD741.

Then something great happened... The almighty AD941 went on sale. :o 

So, in the end I bought the AD941 due to the increased bed length (nearly 8') and upgraded planer mechanism. (not only the electronic mechanism, but the AD941 has a better design which is much more robust than the AD741.) The AD941 also included a little maintenance kit, the Euro comfort guard, and shipping assistance. (credit towards shipping). I ended up with the AD941 for less money than the AD741 would have cost me. Plus the extras were icing on the cake.

To address the other comments, the Hammer units are certainly geared toward the hobby guys looking for a really nice machine. The Felder equipment is what you'd see in a pro shop. Meant to really take a beating over the years. Truly a no compromise machine. All of this comes at a price.

Then we can get into why I chose to buy a combo unit... I'd be happy to go over that, but I feel another thread coming on... Maybe Tuesday? :) I'm more than happy to openly discuss the pricing if you're interested.

Mel have you taken delivery of this machine? I would be interested in how well the electronic table mechanism works. Is the fence on this unit aluminum like my A3-31? 

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4 minutes ago, pkinneb said:

Mel have you taken delivery of this machine? I would be interested in how well the electronic table mechanism works. Is the fence on this unit aluminum like my A3-31? 

It will be here on Tuesday. Fence is aluminum, but has a more robust fence slidey thingy. :) 

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1 hour ago, Llama said:

It will be here on Tuesday. Fence is aluminum, but has a more robust fence slidey thingy. :) 

Awesome! Congrats that looks like an amazing machine that may solve the only two shortfalls I have ever had with my Hammer. Might have to start saving :) 

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Just now, pkinneb said:

Awesome! Congrats that looks like an amazing machine that may solve the only two shortfalls I have ever had with my Hammer. Might have to start saving :) 

I wish I had them side by side to do an honest comparison. I still don't know it's worth double the Hammers cost... It was a tough decision, but it was in stages... little more, little more, little more... BAM!!!!!!

You could check it out when I get it if you want :) I'm not that far away! 

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3 hours ago, Llama said:

I wish I had them side by side to do an honest comparison. I still don't know it's worth double the Hammers cost... It was a tough decision, but it was in stages... little more, little more, little more... BAM!!!!!!

You could check it out when I get it if you want :) I'm not that far away! 

Careful now I may take you up on that...I used to live in Denver and get back there several times a year on business and to see friends,  in fact i will be there Aug 16th - 21st :)

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1 minute ago, pkinneb said:

Careful now I may take you up on that...I used to live in Denver and get back there several times a year on business and to see friends,  in fact i will be there Aug 16th - 21st :)

Offer was genuine. I mean, you can't sleep here, but you can spend the day in the shop then we can grab some refreshments at the brewery :) 

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On 7/28/2017 at 11:35 PM, Llama said:

I hope this helps... 

Here was my my thought process:

I was going to buy the A3-41 that Matt was kind enough to review for us. Then I got to thinking about the bed length and the damn pirate ship hand wheel.

Then I learned about the electronic mechanism to raise and lower the planer beds with digital readout. I needed this... I plan on having this machine for hopefully the rest of my life, and the thought of that pirate wheel really turned me off. 

So, that brought me up to the Felder AD741 because Hammer does not (yet) offer that feature on their line. So I was set on the AD741.

Then something great happened... The almighty AD941 went on sale. :o 

So, in the end I bought the AD941 due to the increased bed length (nearly 8') and upgraded planer mechanism. (not only the electronic mechanism, but the AD941 has a better design which is much more robust than the AD741.) The AD941 also included a little maintenance kit, the Euro comfort guard, and shipping assistance. (credit towards shipping). I ended up with the AD941 for less money than the AD741 would have cost me. Plus the extras were icing on the cake.

To address the other comments, the Hammer units are certainly geared toward the hobby guys looking for a really nice machine. The Felder equipment is what you'd see in a pro shop. Meant to really take a beating over the years. Truly a no compromise machine. All of this comes at a price.

Then we can get into why I chose to buy a combo unit... I'd be happy to go over that, but I feel another thread coming on... Maybe Tuesday? :) I'm more than happy to openly discuss the pricing if you're interested.

I bet ill be tossing and turning in my sleep over the next few months. The fact that im even considering it is a monumental step. I am waiting on your review and hopefully a follow up a few months afterwards. A few things: In general, im skeptical of european design and manufacturing quality. I have machines from several different origins, and i dont perceive wild differences in quality. My bandsaw from italy is really nice, and i like my american unisaw, but i cant tell you my american made supermax sander is the best thing ever. Im sure the machining is up to par, but the table and in particular the table height mechanism sucks for a tool in the $5-6,000 retail range. Conversely, my taiwanese jointer and planer arent pieces of crap next to the western made tools. I actually think they are pretty good. I guess im trying to validate and express the inherent expectation that asian equipment sucks next to euro/usa. In similar class of machinery, i havent found that to be the case. It makes me wonder if the hammer planer is better designed and manufactured than my PM209, or if im paying more for the name and Horst Franke's salary in austria. Or wait, the front guy's name is Harry from the videos. 

 

Eagerly awaiting the review in a couple weeks. Very few people talk about Felder machines in america. There are less than a handful of reviews on forums etc, which is very odd for tools. I want to believe $10,000-15,000 buys you pure awesomeness, but im skeptical it buys you $5,000 of awesomeness and $10,000 of euro marketing. 

 

For the record, i dont think the powermatic 209hh is the pinnacle of planing, which is why im considering european stuff. The gearbox drips oil at a slow rate and the byrd head isnt the end all be all cutterheard everyone makes it out to be(straight knife dewalt 735 leaves a better finish, seriously). 

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