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Thread: The perpetual question: Minimax v. Hammer, does it really just come down to price?

  1. #1
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    The perpetual question: Minimax v. Hammer, does it really just come down to price?

    So I've decided the time has come to upgrade my little lunchbox planer to a J/P combo machine. I've read every thread on this website and every other thread that I can find anywhere else, watched every video I can find, and anything else that I can lay my hands on that discusses the two models (Minimax FS 30c v. Hammer A3-31). I've talked to the reps (thanks for Sam's contact info btw) and compared the machines with the segmented cutter blocks. One has a little wider working width, one has a little longer beds, one has a little bit more of this, the other a little bit more of that. You can find folks that are fans of either machine and also find folks that weren't happy with the alignment, flatness, machining, etc. of their machines when they came.

    As far as I can tell, there doesn't seem to be a compelling reason to go with one over the other. Does it really just come down to price and which color you like? Right now, it seems like Hammer is willing to give me more of a deal than Minimax. So is that what it really comes down to?

    Maybe that's a great thing b/c it means that I'll likely be happy with either. However, before I pulled the trigger, I thought I'd ask just once more if anyone has a reason that I should choose one over the other.

  2. #2
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    Longer beds for sure.
    Aj

  3. #3
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    Jeff, I’ve got no first hand experience but just went through the same process and ultimately ordered a hammer A3-31 with silent cutter head. I struggled with comparing this machine to the minimax f30 classic as well as just going separates like a Powermatic 15” planer and 8” jointer. In the end, I made my ultimate decision based on sticking to my initial desire to compact space and secondly based on a need to limit sound. So, comparing the two combo machines I found better pricing on the Hammer with the segmented head. Also found nothing but positive remarks on either. Tough call but I picked based on the comparative cost of the two segmented head machines.

    Then, lo and behold, I start searching for info on sliders to potentially upgrade next year and found my first bad Hammer review last night. Not sure what to make of it but will share it so others can comment since it has me a little nervous about my pending order. Not posting it to scare you away as it may be an isolated situation but hopefully the Hammer owners of the group will address from their first hand perspective. My experience with Hammer/Felder so far has been top notch. In fact the sales rep has been the most attentive, thorough and hands on wood working tool person/company I’ve ever worked with. He personally calls me with updates and status changes as my order process through.

    http://rogerxue-eim.blogspot.com/201...table-saw.html
    Last edited by Greg Parrish; 08-28-2018 at 7:16 AM.

  4. #4
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    What a strange review. Perhaps I am being defensive, or have lower standards, but he was extremely picky. Some of his criticisms were based on inaccurate understanding (such as the height of the slider being 0.5mm above the main section as a major fault), and others due to disappointments at the compromises he did not expect (such as the shaper being further away from the slider than he would have like when it was set up instead as a router). It was clear he regretted selling his SS to get a B3. In any event, Greg, you have purchased an A3-31, which is a very different machine. I have one and it has performed faultlessly for 3 years.

    Regards from Perth

    Derek

  5. #5
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    Like Greg, I too went through an exhausting search for information before purchasing a Hammer A3 31. What sold me on Hammer was the Silent Power cutterblock. FWIW, I put more stock in videos than written testimony. Every video I watched that focused on quality of cut and noise (two major points with me) showed the Hammer performing impressively well. To be fair, I did not see as many videos on the Minimax. I attributed that to the possibility there are more Hammer models out there or maybe more Hammer owners who made videos.

    One comment here that bothered me stated that the Minimax reps weren't all that helpful and, after purchase, if you call them with a problem they will tell you to call SCM. Other factors: I liked that the Felder website was more informative and listed options and accessories. Felder also produces the videos you see on their website whereas SCM videos seem to be made by owners of their equipment. (At least the ones I saw on the f30 page were.) That kinda made me wonder if SCM was too cheap to make their own.

    And then there is where the machines are made. It is my understanding Minimax are Asian made while Hammer machines are made in house in Tirol, Austria. I also like the idea that Hammer has Austrian engineering behind it. As for color, I like Format 4 blue

    If you decide to go with the Hammer A3 31, I was told by the Felder rep they won't be in stock again until October. I guess they sold a lot during the IWF weekend. So if availability is a big factor, you may want to call the reps and confirm who has what in stock right now.
    “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness..." - Mark Twain

    Diapers and Politicians need to be changed often... Usually for the same reason.

  6. #6
    Jeff, I think you're right that only minor differences might pull someone one way or the other based on personal preferences.

    After having a real loud lunchbox planer, I really appreciated the Hammer "SilentPower" cutterhead. Although others might say that they prefer the quicker knife changes of the MM.

    If the Hammer is cheaper and you don't have a reason to prefer the MM, I can't see how you'd be going wrong that way.

  7. #7
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    Hi, in my experience the shipping damage is unusual, and normally Felder take care of any that does happen.

    My machine was on schedule on arrival at Felder Canada, then it took a couple of weeks for a slot in the delivery schedule. (Felder delivered it themselves and left it on the pallet, in the garage for me, as instructed).

    I didn't expect any blades when I bought my B3 and I had my old blades bored for $20 each, and I purchased a scoring blade because I never owned a saw with scoring before.

    I don't understand the blade tilt issue, mine works fine with the standard factory throat plate. Since I ordered the dado option it came with a second throat plate for that.

    The tenon issue is one I'm not sure about. I ordered the tenon hood and table for mine, the tenon table adjusts right up to the cutter head, as does the tenon fence. I haven't checked however I believe the tenon table would have enough adjustment to even go up to a router bit.

    Yes I've dropped screws, and once I dropped the arbour washer down the dust hood, I don't think it's a design issue, I think it's an operator issue in my case.

    The sliding table is factory set to be slightly above the fixed table to reduce sliding friction. The specs for my machine indicate it should be between 0.0 and 0.35mm, mine is at 0.20mm. I have no issues with ripping accuracy.

    The manual, yeah, the manual has lots of information in it, however they're really designed for the user, not the Tech. I think the assumption is that the machine will be commissioned by a Felder Tech, and they will know what all the hardware is for. Felder have been producing some assembly and uncrating videos which help, obviously a bit more info would be helpful.

    I don't have any rip fence issues.

    Sorry to hear that the OP isn't happy, it doesn't reflect my experiences with 4 Hammer machines delivered to my house............Rod.

    P.S. The riving knife issue, the OP doesn't have a riving knife, K3/B3 machines come with a splitter that mounts the Euro saw guard. If you want a riving knife, you order one, they come in different thicknesses, I have both. When I'm using the Euro guard, the splitter is on the saw. When I'm using the overhead guard, the riving knife is on the saw so I can perform non-through cuts.
    Last edited by Rod Sheridan; 08-28-2018 at 4:32 PM. Reason: Added Post script

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Derek Cohen View Post
    What a strange review. Perhaps I am being defensive, or have lower standards, but he was extremely picky. Some of his criticisms were based on inaccurate understanding (such as the height of the slider being 0.5mm above the main section as a major fault), and others due to disappointments at the compromises he did not expect (such as the shaper being further away from the slider than he would have like when it was set up instead as a router). It was clear he regretted selling his SS to get a B3. In any event, Greg, you have purchased an A3-31, which is a very different machine. I have one and it has performed faultlessly for 3 years.

    Regards from Perth

    Derek

    Oh, I know, but I am also interested in a K3 (or B3) machine one day too. Most likely a K3 though. Anyway as mentioned I’d not seen one bad or disparaging review of the Hammer machines and honestly I’ve been quite enamored with them after watching all the videos and thinking of how my shop would benefit from this change up. I’m going through a major renovation again in my shop to make the new jointer/planer fit and to eventually change out my beloved fully restored 1972 PM66 for a 48” slider one day. I really like everything I’ve seen about them so far with regards to my personal usage and project interests.

    Thanks for the inflection on the review though as I thought it might be a one off situation and wanted to get comparative responses to it.

  9. #9
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    Jeff, in my opinion it comes down to support.

    Unfortunately my experiences with the local Minimax dealers drove me away from them. I'm sure there must be a lot of really happy Minimax customers, however they must have had a far better experience than mine.

    Which supplier will give you better support? Parts, service staff, commissioning or repair, check out those considerations in your area, that's what's really important.

    I live in Toronto, Felder Canada is in Toronto, it's hard to beat that level of support for me, and their customer support sold the first machine I bought from them, followed by three more........Rod.

  10. #10
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    Thanks Rod. That helps me, and probably the OP to hear. Didn’t want to discourage anyone by linking that review but did want to at least get feedback since I came across it last night. Puts my mind at ease to see reasonable responses that are not just “fan” based glossing over. Your real experience is invaluable to those of us just taking the step somewhat blindly.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rod Sheridan View Post
    Hi, in my experience the shipping damage is unusual, and normally Felder take care of any that does happen.

    My machine was on schedule on arrival at Felder Canada, then it took a couple of weeks for a slot in the delivery schedule. (Felder delivered it themselves and left it on the pallet, in the garage for me, as instructed).

    I didn't expect any blades when I bought my B3 and I had my old blades bored for $20 each, and I purchased a scoring blade because I never owned a saw with scoring before.

    I don't understand the blade tilt issue, mine works fine with the standard factory throat plate. Since I ordered the dado option it came with a second throat plate for that.

    The tenon issue is one I'm not sure about. I ordered the tenon hood and table for mine, the tenon table adjusts right up to the cutter head, as does the tenon fence. I haven't checked however I believe the tenon table would have enough adjustment to even go up to a router bit.

    Yes I've dropped screws, and once I dropped the arbour washer down the dust hood, I don't think it's a design issue, I think it's an operator issue in my case.

    The sliding table is factory set to be slightly above the fixed table to reduce sliding friction. The specs for my machine indicate it should be between 0.0 and 0.35mm, mine is at 0.20mm. I have no issues with ripping accuracy.

    The manual, yeah, the manual has lots of information in it, however they're really designed for the user, not the Tech. I think the assumption is that the machine will be commissioned by a Felder Tech, and they will know what all the hardware is for. Felder have been producing some assembly and uncrating videos which help, obviously a bit more info would be helpful.

    I don't have any rip fence issues.

    Sorry to hear that the OP isn't happy, it doesn't reflect my experiences with 4 Hammer machines delivered to my house............Rod.

  11. #11
    Greg, one other comment about that review you linked: it seemed like the writer was disappointed that blades, collets, etc, were not included. I think that is just a reflection of the more a la carte business model. In my case, I bought a C3-31 with the "comfort" package, which included literally every accessory I could imagine needing (main blade, scoring blade, extra j/p cutters, shaper spindles, spacers, 1/2" and 1/4" router bit collets for the shaper, guards, push sticks, an insert shaper head with various knives and limiters, etc, etc...). But I think it reflects a more literal and precise view of things: they send you exactly what is listed, so if there is something you want, make sure it's on the list of what you're buying. If it's not on the spec list, they assume you intentionally did not order it, so they don't send it.

  12. #12
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    Realistically, in todays competitive market, two woodworking machines of roughly the same price will have roughly the same level of quality. Taiwan or chinese machines may have a labor advantage so the extrusions and build might be heavier but sometimes QC issues offset that. Machines at the lower end of the model choices in particular will be very close in specs as that is where the volume is. Felder used to rely on the 7-700 series for the bulk of its sales, now Hammer is the volume leader. There is a big jump to the 900 series but much less to the 700. I've been told by Felder users that the at least for certain machines, the advantage of 700 to Hammer is less than it used to be. I think the Hammer to MM comparison is less relevant than the comparison among the various models offered by each and cost benefit analysis applied to that. Dave

    PS. It is also tough to do a real comparison. You will never know the relative quality of the cast iron or steel used, or the size and quality of the bearings. To judge motor quality you need to pull the motor and have it looked at by a motor guy. You would need to know the tolerences for the grind- all info that is hard to get. Look at both machines, talk to the companies and find a few owners to get their take. There is much more risk when buying a car or choosing a spouse so keep it in perspective.
    Last edited by David Kumm; 08-28-2018 at 9:40 AM.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Friedrichs View Post
    Greg, one other comment about that review you linked: it seemed like the writer was disappointed that blades, collets, etc, were not included. I think that is just a reflection of the more a la carte business model. In my case, I bought a C3-31 with the "comfort" package, which included literally every accessory I could imagine needing (main blade, scoring blade, extra j/p cutters, shaper spindles, spacers, 1/2" and 1/4" router bit collets for the shaper, guards, push sticks, an insert shaper head with various knives and limiters, etc, etc...). But I think it reflects a more literal and precise view of things: they send you exactly what is listed, so if there is something you want, make sure it's on the list of what you're buying. If it's not on the spec list, they assume you intentionally did not order it, so they don't send it.

    Thanks for that. But especially because I’d been wondering what the “comfort” model meant when seeing it on their site. LOL

  14. #14
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    I really do think it comes down to desired features and price between these two name plates. The gear is otherwise similar. "Support" is an interesting concept these days simply because for stationary tools, it pretty much comes down to parts availability. With rare exceptions, the owner is responsible for the physical work if anything goes wrong. That's even true for most mass-market stationary tools, even when bought through a local retailer in so many cases.

    I got involved with SCM/Minimax in the early 2000s so I have a natural affinity toward that brand and the people. (I've known Sam for a very long time, for example, and he's even visited my shop and I've visited his shop) But from a machine standpoint, I could be very happy with Hammer/Felder if I was shopping for something new. While it's less applicable to a J/P, the singular thing that I'm guarded about with Hammer/Felder is that some of the tooling, such as saw blades, etc, is Felder-specific whereas I can run regular blades, etc., on my MiniMax slider and source Tersa knives for my J/P from multiple sources. The sales philosophy is slightly different, too. SCM/Minimax says, "here's what you get". Hammer/Felder says, "how do you want it built...here's the long list of options". Both are valid ways to do business and both have their advantages and disadvantages.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  15. #15
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    the singular thing that I'm guarded about with Hammer/Felder is that some of the tooling, such as saw blades, etc, is Felder-specific whereas I can run regular blades, etc
    Jim, I'm curious - how are the saw blades different?

    Regards from Perth

    Derek

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