This post will be somewhat of a “cheat”. It is a cheat, but also appropriate as I am combining two posts into one.
The next two machines needed for this hypothetical “Tiny Shop” are the jointer and planer.
When I first outfitted a shop, long ago, I elected to do so by purchasing a European combination machine. It was the old Robland X31 offered by laguna tools. it was a 10″ sliding table saw, 3hp Shaper, 12″ jointer , 12″planer and slot mortiser all in one machine. it was a remarkable piece of engineering even though it was at the bottom of the combination machine market at the time.
It also confirmed for me the value of combination machines in the modern wood shop.
This is a philosophy that flies in the face of the normal American ethos of “More is better”. More separate machinery equals a better equipped shop. I am here to tell you, that is not always the case. Especially in tight quarters.
All this leads me to the subject of this post.
I am of the considered opinion that, in a confined shop space like the one proposed for this exercise, combination machines are an excellent way to get better versatility and capability than you might be able to with separate machines.
I am so convinced of the combination machine’s value in the small workshop, that when it came to buy for my own shop, I set out to find a machine that I had lusted after for years, but could never afford. The Inca 510 jointer / planer.
So it is with the hypothetical shop that I recommend another combination machine. This one also happens to be from Grizzly, but there is actually a fairly good selection of combination machines available out there these days.
The Grizzly Jointer/Planer is a good template for this type of machine. It bears very close resemblance to Belgian, German, Swiss, and Italian versions of this combination of machines. Jointer beds on top, sharing a cutter head with the planer bed below. Jointer beds flip up to convert to planer mode. The footprint made even smaller and less invasive into a small shop by positioning the jointer’s fence on the end of the infeed table rather than the conventional center mounted arrangement.
These particular machines, while Asian clones of the wildly more expensive European counterparts, have a loyal fan base here in the States. Reviews of the Asian combination machines in general, and Grizzly in particular have been mostly glowing. The exceptions being Asia’s attempts to clone the Inca machines.
The more of these machines that find their way into the small professional shops and increasingly better equipped hobby shops, the more I think that American’s will embrace the logic and versatility of combined machines.
To be able to have the capability of a 12″ jointer (a dedicated 8″ jointer being a luxury in most small shops) and a 12″ planer (plenty wide enough for most small shops) in less space than one dedicated machine might normally take up, is truly a godsend. A godsend only if the machines can provide the means to square a board precisely.
In Grizzly’s jointer / planer offering, the consensus among those that own them is, that Grizzly has been able to provide a high quality combination machine at a cost that makes them attractive and viable options to those looking for a way to have the capability that a larger shop enjoys, but not at the expense of an inordinate amount of precious floor space.
In my opinion, for a small shop, there is a very strong case to be made for putting a combination jointer/planer into service rather than separate machines. this is both from a financial perspective as well as a logistical perspective.
For me and my hypothetical “little Shop” I would choose the Grizzly in a New York minute as my jointer and planer.
Like me on Facebook @ Madcapwoodwright
Follow me on Twitter @ mdcpwoodwright