Imaginos

Jointer/Planer reccomendations thread for week ending 12 May

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I have a garage shop. Table saw, router table, bandsaw, clearvue, lots of hand tools, festool for most hand helds. My DW735 is drawing my ire lately because it shares my milling experiences throughout the sub division and I've not been successful at managing the snipe. Combined with the fact that I jointed and dimensioned the boards in my Roubo with a No 7...feeling I don't have a lot left to prove so I'm in the market for either a jointer, a planer upgrade, or a combo machine. I make furniture for my house and as gifts, although I have recently made some small commissions, and since money was involved I have therefore graduated to level of Anonymous Beginner with a design certification of Casually Dangerous. I don't depend on woodworking for my livelihood, only my sanity, yet, as they say, Retirement is Coming.

My Technical Director (pronounced Google) has narrowed the list of recommendations. I'm looking for feedback from anyone who has direct experience with these machines, particularly someone who has used more than one.

My randomized priorities:

-Footprint. The shop feels crowded as it is. Plus, I value the assembly space, particularly with a bedroom overhaul on the horizon.

-Spiral head. Done lots of reading on this. More than I should. Contentious, yes, but generally less drama it seems. Fits in the desired-but-not-required category.

-It's rare that I need to joint more than 5ish feet. It's equally rare that I buy rough lumber less than 8" wide.

-Grizzly. I don't want to wait until next Febtober for delivery, although I could be convinced based on the fact that this company is all-in on their products and seem to do better than average on customer support.

Already sounds like a freight train for a combo machine. So first up is:

Jet JJP-12HH Jointer Planer Combo for $3k(ish) knowing that woodcraft has sales frequently enough. There are clones from Rikon, now Bailigh, some others. 12" capacity in both modes with 55" footprint. These machine are utterly baffling to me. If this was a competitive technology, why have they not eclipsed the wedge bed jointers? Seems like jointing all 6+ feet of a single board is a rare for hobbiest, and I'm not willing to give up 70+" of wall space for just milling. What am I missing about these machines? Incidents of negative experiences don't seem to move the needle more than anything else. So why are these not all the rage? What is given up to make them go both ways for the same cost, and does it matter? I'd like to hear from owners and people who pass them over.

PM15HH, maybe a Laguna 16" w/Sheartech, some sort of wider(er) cabinet planer.3- 4$k(ish), which is obtainable with some planning/delay. I'm ok with a sled and some hand work, but I want to minimize it. I don't see a lot of these with a mobile base that will let me pull it horizontally away from the wall to clear the garage door inset, but the Rocker All-Terrain base is rated up 800 lbs. I feel I can make that work. Then edge joint with my trusty No 7 or tracksaw. That said, in many ways, this machine guarantees there will never be a jointer in my current shop.

Hammer A3-31. It's the 1 of 1 in this category. This particular device seems to have garnered a Festool-like following where it's expensive, excellent, reliable, and hobbiest gravitate to it out of the sheer inability to continue life without it. For $5K, this is approaching Honda Money. Someone around here has one. Question for you is, for the extra investment, will I realize the benefit over the years. If so, how? Is the jointed/planed surface that much better? I'm not seeing why this tool is considered in a category of it's own, or the animus which other combo machines are replicating.

I nearly got the JJP-12HH at the Green-box sale this weekend. Nearly. But then I had to go put my thinking cap on. I want the A3-31. The PM15HH seems like a smarter buy.

What a mess. Your thoughts?

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I have the A3-31.  First some background:  This is my first machine for milling, so I don't have any experience with standalone machines.  I work out of my 2 car garage, part of which serves as general storage, so floor space is very valuable. 

Cost wasn't a big concern for me, but after doing the math, I am convinced that these machine represent good value, in that you get excellent quality for both planing and jointing, with a full 12" of capacity, for much less than the cost of equivalent quality standalone machines.  Again, I don't have much to compare to, but in my mind the surface quality is excellent - I have the spiral cutter version.  They are also relatively quiet, with my dust collector actually making more noise.  Switching between the two functions is very easy, and takes about 35-40 seconds.  Dust collection is excellent with a decent DC attached.  You need 220 outlet.

As far as downsides, I find the fence to be a little weak.  It is aluminum, and I find I check it every time I move it, and often have to make minor adjustments to make it square.  Having said that, once adjusted it stays square as long as you don't actually move the fence.  Although changing between modes is quite easy, it does mean you have to plan your workflow because you lose your planing width every time you go back to jointing mode.

Overall, I am very happy with my choice and would recommend this machine, but if I wasn't constrained by space, I would definitely prefer standalone machines, but the price would hurt.  

Having a 12" capacity in all of your major machines (jointer, planer, bandsaw) also makes sense to me.

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I took delivery of a Hammer A3-41 in late October. I've been more than thrilled with it. I did lots of research and had a specific budget I wanted to stick to. I was looking at the A3-31. They went on sale and I placed the order for the last one they had in stock, only to get an email about an hour later saying another branch had sold it minutes earlier. Sigh.

After talking to the rep and my wife I bit the bullet and ordered the 41. No regrets. Unlike some, I've had zero fence squaring issues. I took the time to make sure the rail was mounted exactly parallel to the table, adjusted the stops and it's held ever since. 

I did make a poor man's table raising and lowering mechanism for about $18, including the HF drill motor I dedicated to it. Link here. Going from jointer to planer is a 45 second - a minute switchover. I highly recommend the aluminum wheel with gauge. Very precise. 

I replaced a DW-735 and a Jet jointer. I have to say that the reduced noise level alone almost justifies the price. It is quiet. The spiral head produces a nearly ready-to-finish surface. Only on the most gnarly grained mesquite have I noticed any tearout, and it's very minimal.

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I think a couple factors prevent these machines from being "all the rage." Like most things in this area, the combo units offer a compromise to fulfill a specific need. And no one is always happy about a compromise. The obvious is the bed length on the Jet at 55". I've read many a gripe about how short that is. For me, and in actual use, I find it to be of little or no concern whatsoever. Then again, I'm not milling 8' - 10' sections for any reason. I usually rough cut my parts before milling. Another compromise is the switchover. Again, to me, no biggie, especially given my small shop size. However, the switchover also inherently brings with it the possibility to introduce more errors. Each time you switch, something is moving, and when something moves, eventually it'll lose its calibration. I understand this and am fine with tuning as needed. Finally, the fence, either on the Hammer or the Jet, seems to be the most common complaint. In order to facilitate an easier changeover, the fence is usually lighter, or it has to move (it must be removed on the Grizzly). The lighter fence can be more prone to errors. Again, I knew this going in and accommodated for it during setup and regular checks. Finally, perhaps it's the 12" planer limitation on the Jet. For me, the Hammer was just way too pricey for this stage of my woodworking and the Jet fits my stage perfectly.  

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21 hours ago, Art said:

Cost wasn't a big concern for me, but after doing the math, I am convinced that these machine represent good value, in that you get excellent quality for both planing and jointing, with a full 12" of capacity, for much less than the cost of equivalent quality standalone machines.

So this piqued my interest. I don't know how to interpret "excellent quality" for jointing and planing. In my shop power is rarely the last tool to touch the wood, so I'm assuming it means that a board will come off the tool flat and square without major defects such as unreasonable tea rout or snipe. A nice bonus would be that it requires minimal additional effort to be finish ready

The cost equivalence, however, that one hit me today after discovering that Hammer has regular annual sales in the late-ish summer and around Christmas. Assuming 10-15% off, that's 2/3 the cost of a 16" spiral jointer at the tradespace of 40" of table length and the horses. Combine that with another 3K for a 15HH and now the real advantage comes clear. Problem is that it feels like a false choice; having both of those tools weren't realistically in scope of what I was after, so an A3-41 (and to some degree and A3-31) are excellent solutions to a problem I may not have. That said, if the sale thing is a fact, I may be drifting toward an A3-41 despite the fact that I was again at woodcraft this afternoon looking over a JJP-12 and again within minutes of buying it.

22 hours ago, Mick S said:

I replaced a DW-735 and a Jet jointer. I have to say that the reduced noise level alone almost justifies the price. It is quiet. The spiral head produces a nearly ready-to-finish surface. Only on the most gnarly grained mesquite have I noticed any tearout, and it's very minimal.

You're really tugging at my heart strings. I grew up 3 hours South of you in Socorro (with family there still) and I miss the desert every day, particularly the night skies. It's also fortunate that you mentioned meqsuite as that is one of the chosen woods for the bedroom redo.

What about other care and feeding aspects of the 41? Any snipe of note? Wandering fence? Ever sprung a joint on it, although I suspect Huey's approach it outmoded by spirals? I've read that people either love or hate the guard...not seen someone say it was just meh.

11 hours ago, Mark J said:

And here's a review thread of th Hammer done by @MattK.

In point of fact that's the video that put the Hammer on the map for me. Seeing another hobbiest go soup to nuts on the thing made it more realistic to consider, however, what I suppose I'm looking for is the same video done in a shop at +5 years, or better yet, hobbiest that sold one in favor of separate machines  (or vice versa) to get at the form/fit/function aspects. I've not owed a cabinet jointer or planer, so I'm trying to figure out what about these tools are the important information to spend on.

 

9 hours ago, jplemons said:

Finally, perhaps it's the 12" planer limitation on the Jet. For me, the Hammer was just way too pricey for this stage of my woodworking and the Jet fits my stage perfectly.  

That's what brought me to option 2 of getting a 15 or 16" cabinet planer and jointing via skip planing and/or a sled backed up by a bench plane. With the combo machines I'm actually going down about 1" in planing capacity in order to gain an equal jointing capacity, and I'm tacitly committing to not having a larger planing capacity out of the floorspace constraints.

To get more planing capacity the next common niche is around 20", which is $5-6k for a spiral. That's right back to Hammer money where I could have a 16" spiral jointer and planer. If the Hammer's performance is comparable to the cabinet planers, I'm fairly sure I can make do at 16". After all, the shakers would have used a combo machine.

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44 minutes ago, Imaginos said:

You're really tugging at my heart strings. I grew up 3 hours South of you in Socorro (with family there still) and I miss the desert every day, particularly the night skies. It's also fortunate that you mentioned meqsuite as that is one of the chosen woods for the bedroom redo.

What about other care and feeding aspects of the 41? Any snipe of note? Wandering fence? Ever sprung a joint on it, although I suspect Huey's approach it outmoded by spirals? I've read that people either love or hate the guard...not seen someone say it was just meh.

Small world. There's another A3, a 31 in Socorro owned by a fellow that works at the VLA. He offered me a behind the scenes tour next time I'm in the area. I'll see if I can round up his info for you.

I spent about 3 minutes truing up the tables when I installed it. There are some castle bolts that the table rests on when you lower the tables. I had to adjust one (of 4) to bring the near side infeed table up. Since then, no snipe. As with any combination J/P I've ever used except the Inca, the coplanarity (??) of the tables can be influenced to some degree by how tight you fasten down the clamps. In practice, it has not been an issue at all, but I suppose you could achieve a spring joint by over or under tightening the clamp. 

The fence. Much has been said about the aluminum fence. I'm not trying to step on toes, but I know from observation that technique has a great deal to do with results. I teach at the community college here and see students every day struggle to get a square, flat surface on a jointer I just used with perfect results. Many people put way too much pressure both against the tables and against the fence. Slightly more force than the weight of the board is usually enough to flatten a board. Unless you're jointing stacked veneers or something similar, same for edge jointing. If you're flexing the fence, you're almost always doing it wrong. Most of the complaints I've heard on the A3 fence have been about getting and keeping it square. Drilling down, it usually is because the front rail is not parallel to the table. As the fence slides forward and backward, the fence rail either rises or drops throwing the face out of square. Maybe I got lucky, but I have not had fence issues.

I set mine up using a combination square set to a midpoint of the travel in the bolt holes. Snug one end, measure and snug the other, recheck, adjust. Five minutes. 

The guard. I'm in the love category. I had an Inca 570 for years and quickly got used to the Euro guards. I've never liked pork chop guards. That said, a friend has a Felder AD741 and never uses the guard. He cut off the end of his finger on it last year - by not using it.

As for care and feeding, I've only had it for 6 months, so no long-term experience. Like any machine, keep it lubed and waxed (or other means of surface care). If you haven't already watched it, the video I linked previously really saves a lot of cranking for almost no time or money.

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8 minutes ago, Mick S said:

...As for care and feeding, I've only had it for 6 months, so no long-term experience. Like any machine, keep it lubed and waxed (or other means of surface care). If you haven't already watched it, the video I linked previously really saves a lot of cranking for almost no time or money.

I've had my A3-31 for twelve years and had to change the start capacitor last year easy fix and less than $40 for the part. Other than that no issues the reviews above represent my experience using the machine.

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2 hours ago, Imaginos said:

So this piqued my interest. I don't know how to interpret "excellent quality" for jointing and planing. In my shop power is rarely the last tool to touch the wood, so I'm assuming it means that a board will come off the tool flat and square without major defects such as unreasonable tea rout or snipe. A nice bonus would be that it requires minimal additional effort to be finish ready

The cost equivalence, however, that one hit me today after discovering that Hammer has regular annual sales in the late-ish summer and around Christmas. Assuming 10-15% off, that's 2/3 the cost of a 16" spiral jointer at the tradespace of 40" of table length and the horses. Combine that with another 3K for a 15HH and now the real advantage comes clear. Problem is that it feels like a false choice; having both of those tools weren't realistically in scope of what I was after, so an A3-41 (and to some degree and A3-31) are excellent solutions to a problem I may not have. That said, if the sale thing is a fact, I may be drifting toward an A3-41 despite the fact that I was again at woodcraft this afternoon looking over a JJP-12 and again within minutes of buying it.

 

 I mean quality in terms of fit and finish, engineering, etc.  And to be honest, manufacturer reputation also played into it.  With almost no setup I am getting perfectly flat and square stock right off the machine, and no snipe that I can appreciate.  Obviously not finish ready, but a few swipes with a scraper or some sandpaper is all it takes.  It gives me glue ready edges with no problem.

For sure, you are giving up some jointer bed length, but there are bed extensions available.  They are't cheap, but when compared to the cost of an equivalent capacity jointer, the cost is still significantly less.

When I was looking around, I was looking at a decent quality 8" jointer and a Dewalt 735, but when I realized that for about $1000 more I could get 12" capacity in both, with a spiral cutterhead, and have a smaller footprint, the decision was made for me.  The reduced noise was a huge bonus.  I also got a fairly good deal on my machine - I believe it was about $4200 CAD.

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1 hour ago, Mick S said:

Small world. There's another A3, a 31 in Socorro owned by a fellow that works at the VLA. He offered me a behind the scenes tour next time I'm in the area. I'll see if I can round up his info for you.

I spent about 3 minutes truing up the tables when I installed it. There are some castle bolts that the table rests on when you lower the tables. I had to adjust one (of 4) to bring the near side infeed table up. Since then, no snipe. As with any combination J/P I've ever used except the Inca, the coplanarity (??) of the tables can be influenced to some degree by how tight you fasten down the clamps. In practice, it has not been an issue at all, but I suppose you could achieve a spring joint by over or under tightening the clamp. 

The fence. Much has been said about the aluminum fence. I'm not trying to step on toes, but I know from observation that technique has a great deal to do with results. I teach at the community college here and see students every day struggle to get a square, flat surface on a jointer I just used with perfect results. Many people put way too much pressure both against the tables and against the fence. Slightly more force than the weight of the board is usually enough to flatten a board. Unless you're jointing stacked veneers or something similar, same for edge jointing. If you're flexing the fence, you're almost always doing it wrong. Most of the complaints I've heard on the A3 fence have been about getting and keeping it square. Drilling down, it usually is because the front rail is not parallel to the table. As the fence slides forward and backward, the fence rail either rises or drops throwing the face out of square. Maybe I got lucky, but I have not had fence issues.

I set mine up using a combination square set to a midpoint of the travel in the bolt holes. Snug one end, measure and snug the other, recheck, adjust. Five minutes. 

The guard. I'm in the love category. I had an Inca 570 for years and quickly got used to the Euro guards. I've never liked pork chop guards. That said, a friend has a Felder AD741 and never uses the guard. He cut off the end of his finger on it last year - by not using it.

As for care and feeding, I've only had it for 6 months, so no long-term experience. Like any machine, keep it lubed and waxed (or other means of surface care). If you haven't already watched it, the video I linked previously really saves a lot of cranking for almost no time or money.

Thanks for the explanation about the front fence rail.  I'll have a look at mine and see if it can be improved. 

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I have a PM 8" spiral jointer and a 735. I did want to go with a combo machine but i was held back by where my shop is located. I have a basement shop and moving a large heavy item like that through my house just isn't possible. Some day I'll replace my dw735 with a 15HH.

The only time a combo machine would bother me is when i'm flying by the seat of my pants and have no organization. Some time's it's nice to be able to go back and forth between the jointer and planer. With a little thought that would be a non-issue.

If your going to go combo go for the Hammer, not saying the jet is bad but it sounds like you can afford it so treat yourself!

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It is sometimes hard to add value to a thread on this subject after the first 10 posts.  I will just add that the jointer bed length and fence are of special interest to me when sorting through the contenders.  Your requirements will vary with what you do.  I would say my requirements are average; I focus neither full-wall built-ins nor do I specialize in Kleenex boxes but, I build a little of both.  Mostly tables, hutches, chests of drawers and so forth.

The closer the jointer bed length is to my majority requirements the less often I need outboard material support.  My 40-plus inch infeed provides all the support I need for furniture prts 90-plus percent of the time.  I also use a jointer for things other than making a flat face and a perpendicular reference surface.  This means a long, tall fence that can hold its position under stress was also high on my list.

Table length and fence design win the most complaints from combo machines under the $4k to $5k tier.  If you are moving up to something like a Felder 941 these problems go away.  the Hammer A3-41 seems to be the popular entrance level tool at this tier.  If I could justify it, I would go there but, alas, I only make 2 or 3 large pieces a year so, while sustaining the shop, my efforts are not going to let me retire early ;-)

Space is a concern for some but, I hear only a few of the folks who move to the lower cost combos talk about how happy they are to have made that decision.  Most trade rag reviews bear this out but, we all look at those with the requisite grain of salt.  In the end your needs will drive your choice.  I have an 8" jointer and a 15" planer and only rarely fond the jointer a bit narrow.  Good luck and enjoy the hunt.

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On 5/7/2018 at 4:27 PM, Imaginos said:

Hammer A3-31. It's the 1 of 1 in this category. This particular device seems to have garnered a Festool-like following where it's expensive, excellent, reliable, and hobbiest gravitate to it out of the sheer inability to continue life without it. For $5K, this is approaching Honda Money. Someone around here has one. Question for you is, for the extra investment, will I realize the benefit over the years. If so, how? Is the jointed/planed surface that much better? I'm not seeing why this tool is considered in a category of it's own, or the animus which other combo machines are replicating.

I know there are some who really love this machine, however I am not the biggest fan. Bed lengths are rather short and don't get me started on that shitty fence. Sorry, but it is the glaring weak spot of this unit.

 

I have an A3-31 with the bed extensions, digital readout, mobility kit, and the spiral cutter head. The accessories are actually rather nice additions to the machine with one exception, the bed extensions are shit. The manner in which they secure to the side rails is simply not rigid enough if you start using 8/4 and 12/4 material as the weight of the wood is enough to cause them to sag over time. One attachment point is insufficient as there was too much emphasis on quick release capabilities with little thought as to the implications it may have for the rigidity of the mounting. 

 

If you could increase the bed length and outfit this machine with a much more substantial fence then honestly I think you would have a real winner without any compromises in a combo machine. As much as I bitch above about some of the short comings of the unit, it is still probably the best of the combo units you hear of much use with here in the states. It has plenty of power, some good features in a small package and most of the materials are nice and well built. I personally look forward to the day where I can redo the machine setup with a new garage and transition over to two stand alone machines.

 

You also have to ask yourself how much you really enjoy swapping over between functions. While easy, it still takes a good minute or two unless you're rushing it with each change over. 

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On 5/8/2018 at 6:23 PM, Imaginos said:

That said, if the sale thing is a fact, I may be drifting toward an A3-41 despite the fact that I was again at woodcraft this afternoon looking over a JJP-12 and again within minutes of buying it.

The sale thing is a fact. I got a total discount of $1348 last summer. I paid $6047.50 (not including $800 freight) for my A3-41with the Silent cutterhead, aluminum handwheel, digital readout, mobility kit with lifting bar, two table rails and a table extension. 

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