I'm a man of iron

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I'm a man of iron

Post by Forrest_Addy » Wed Jan 08, 2003 1:47 pm

I'm a man of iron will and here's why I say so.

I'm tired of flatening by hand planing lumber too wide for my ol' 6" Monkey Ward jointer I tried three times to make into a precision machine.

A guy needs a jointer wide as his widest likely board and I have local maple up to 20". Since even I know the affordability of a 24" jointer. the target got set back to 12". I went up to the Grizzly showroom at Bellingham WA to look at 12" jointers with my model ship building friend Richard to look over the toys.

First thing anyone notices in the Grizzly woodworking machinery showroom is the gang of geezers in plaid shirts most with white whiskers browsing slowly to and fro. I didn't know there was a dress code but I met it out of sheer luck, apparently my youthful and studly persona didn't stick out to embarrass myself.

There's were a couple of chairs handy to a coffee pot and a tabel full of magazines for the wives to they can wait for their husbands for an applolgetic few minutes between consultations as to style and color and would this planer go will with the stuff in the shop. Maybe the wives would reflect their present irony copmparing their present situstion to others where their husbands waited on frail chairs in countless lengerie shoppes.

Nother noteworthy observation is the number of out-of-state cars in the customer lot. Grizzly is a place of pilgrimage where the faithful gather once in a lifetime to spend their children's legacy. I saw one guy who was carrying a thik envelope of what appreared to be years worth of notes and wishes. he seemed to be outfitting a shop. I would liked to have talked with him but there was a yelping pack of salepeople surrounding him like hyenas assisting a gnu.

A visit to Grizzly's showroom is like going to Las Vegas. Everywhere you turn are enticments to spend money thrillingly and painlessly. The place has a warm and cosy look of a gentleman's club decorated with warmly finished wood. Like a video store when you see something you like to collect the coupon from the little receptacle on each machine. Then you get a collection equal to the GDP of Char, for example, you take the coupons to the front desk for impoverishment. Almost immediately a smiling warehouseman has you selection loaded in your rig before you can muster a second thought. How like LasVegas - but minus the keno girls and hard eyed bouncers.

I went with my PLASTIC in my pocket and it was charged with enough to get Grizzly's finest offering in the line of jointers. Comporting myself with due reverence in the sacred precincts of the Grizzly showroom, I prowled the waist high groves of green with flat ground tables of satiny cast iron. I had but two hours because of the 2 1/2 hour trip back. Mecca should not be easily accessible lest easy access blunt the journey's effect on the faithful. Myself, I hardly notice a trip to the orange box anymore.

I looked and poked and peered at the two 12" jointers Grizzly had on the floor. These were real machines all right. I could see that Grizzly struck a careful balance in design and the manufacture and fitting of their higher end stuff. This is not quality machinery but it's not bad for the most part and certainly at a good price. A good tinkerer could be well satisfied with his purchase by the time he had gone through any of Grizly's better machines and corrected all the petty problems.

My focus was the 12" jointers. For about $2000 you get a conventional jointer of the usual construction having inclined dovetails. These dovetials are about 10" long (not 14" as I wrote elsewhare) and if fitted carefully would provide durable and precise support for the tables - providing the cast iron is long term stable.

The table handwheels are awkwardly placed, I have to half crouch and reach under to adjust the infeed table anf there are plenty of corners waiting to bark the knuckles. Here are no handle on the handwheel to rapidly adjust the the depth of cut. The fence seems sturdy and stiff and the adjustment is simple. I'm very skeptical of the setting. I'd still want to set the angle with square or protractor.

The other offering, "ultimate jointer", uses a parallelogram mechanism having a handy side handwheel. The supporting structure is a stound bathtub of cast iron clear to the floor no flimsy sheet metal here. All the mechanism is fitted to it and all is stout and smooth running. This machine costs $2500. If your eye was on quality differences, the extra $500 is a paltry sum for it is impressive. It's significantly lower in cost than the functionally comparable Delta DJ 30 and I think a little larger in table size. We can't determine actual differences between the two machines without a side by side run-off involving a couple hundred lineal ft of lumber.

The new inserted tooth "spiral cutter head" which contains 90 little sharp edge square carbide inserts was not on display. This cutter head is available for an extra $900 or so on this machine and many other of Grizzly's larger jointers and planers. I sure would like to have run a few boards on one of those heads. Imagine! Ding a tooth and ridge the board. Stop for a second, index the offending tooth (if you can find it) and you're back in the business of making flat boards. Ding the same tooth 4 times and you simply replace it for $2.50.

Think about it. The teeth are $2.50 each in quantity. 90 of them costs $225. Conventional 12" carbide jointer knives aren't cheap. Ding one and you have to send the set to a specialist for sharpening for you can only offset them a limited number of times. You get four indexes with the inserts meaning you get four carbide knives at $225. Next question is the cut quality. Well, that's as far as I could go without a machine with the fancy head and a plank of say, some figured hard tropical silica laden wood.

I praise Grizzly for their excellent product line in larger woodworking machines. I praise them for putting high end features in the hands of the home shop owners and small cabinet shops. I praise them for pushing the frontiers with features like the spiral cutter head and making them affordable (how much is a similar head on the Delta?). I curse them for their ever-following cloud of botched metallurgy, subtle defects, and the necessesity for the customer having to be the final inspector and detailer.

You get a fair amount of bang for the buck you spend at Grizzly but like fire wood you get a double benefit from shopping there.

Getting back to my purchasing a 12" jointer, I didn't. I kept my money in my pocket. As I said, I'm a man if iron and can resist a trivial impulse like overwhelming temptation. Besides I left the truck home. Richard, however found a mini wood lathe and a stack of books he couldn't live without.

The two sets of 3/4" shank end mills I bought don't really count because I am a man of iron and I say so.

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Re: I'm a man of iron

Post by gglines » Wed Jan 08, 2003 3:13 pm

Great description Forrest. Someday I'll have to find my way into their showroom. Always enjoy their catalog.


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Re: I'm a man of iron

Post by brent » Wed Jan 08, 2003 8:28 pm

forrest,with your description of the showroom,I`m feeling a need to drive to Bellingham !! Brent

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Re: I'm a man of iron

Post by JoelLenoir » Thu Jan 09, 2003 3:39 am

I used to travel to Seattle on business, always found time to run up to the Grizzly showroom to prowl around.

I've had a 6" jointer for years, excellent machine. I made lots of money on it during my professional woodworking days. Still going strong as I work with my 4 kids on projects.

My 20" Grizzly drill press isn't the best, but paid for itself on 1 production run making some parts for a local company. Switch burned out, so I replaced with another driving a solid state relay. Managed to fit relay and heat sink in the original plastic switch housing on the front.

Forrest is right, you need to see the machines before you buy. I've not be impressed at all with the lathes and mills I've seen. I do have one of their 9x20 lathes in the freshman engineering shop, got to admit it's done just fine for the last two years of hard abuse. Just needed 2 belts, 1 new leadscrew, and a gear in the carriage replaced. Not bad for $900 bucks, I guess. They've built over 100 wobbler steam engines on it so far.

No one followed me around the store, I didn't know the dress code. I've got that engineering professor look: bearded geeky with the smell of limited funds...

Joel Lenoir
Bowling Green, KY

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Re: I'm a man of iron

Post by Dee » Fri Jan 10, 2003 11:35 pm

Well I will see if I am able to wade in and make my first post with the new board.

I too have made the treck to the Grizzly Showroom, and as a Antique Machinery and Tractor guy I have been very impressed with the Griz Showroom, It was just rebuilt a couple years back and it is pretty impressive! Not going to get rid of my South Bend or my Logan just yet but some pretty nice machinery.



Re: I'm a man of iron

Post by Preston » Sat Jan 11, 2003 6:48 pm

[img]/ubb/images/graemlins/crazy.gif"%20alt="[/img]I drive by the showroom two or three times what a temptation. When I do stop the owner likes to visit my tool van. Always wants to know what I do with my Lathe. the last time we talked he was in the process of buiding a Gitar in his home shop. Boy I bet that is a dream shop he must have. The windows of the show room are of bullit proof glass and tested by the owner with a 9mm shortley after they were installed.

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