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Thread: CWI 16" Jointer/Planer Combo Machine Review

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Location
    Denver, CO
    Posts
    2

    CWI 16" Jointer/Planer Combo Machine Review

    I just got a new 16" jointer/planer combo machine from Canadian Woodworker, CWI-JP1604HC, and since I couldn't find much information about it when I was shopping I thought I'd share my experiences here. In sum, it's been a mixed bag with the machine having a great set of features on paper but arriving with a lot more quality control issues than I'd expected.

    Here's the machine:
    IMG_4345.jpgIMG_4344.jpgIMG_4343.jpg

    Background
    I needed a jointer and was interested in upgrading from my DW735 planer to something with a helical head. I work in a dedicated 2 car garage shop, so consolidating machines to save space was appealing. I couldn't bring myself to buy a jointer smaller than the planer and replacing the DW735 without also increasing planer capacity didn't seem like much of an upgrade.

    The decision mostly boiled down to the Hammer A3-41 or the CWI machine. My other big machines are from Grizzly (G0514x2b bandsaw and G0623x slider) and have had good experiences with those imported machines. The CWI jointer/planer is very similar to the popular Jet and Rikon models, but with 16" capacity, a Taiwanese helical cutterhead, and couple other nice features.

    The Good
    The CWI jointer/planer came with a number of features included that you had to purchase separately from Hammer and really increased the price difference. The CWI machine includes a built-in mobile base and lifting bar, plus has the wheels oriented so you can actually get it through a narrow doorway. It has an electronic planer height readout near the power switch that can be converted between metric and imperial units, in addition to a mechanical digital readout on the crank handle like Hammer. The cutterhead is a 5 row true helix cutterhead with 80 inserts. The fence is center-mounted and appears plenty sturdy unlike the complaints I'd read about the end-mounted Hammer fence. Finally, CWI had the machine in stock, shipped it cheaply and quickly, and I didn't have to pay US sales tax. Hammer wanted to charge me 4x as much for shipping and I would have had to wait another 6-8 weeks.

    The Bad
    The machine arrived without any apparent damage to the box it was transported in, but several concerns appeared after opening up everything. The paint job was generally worse than the Grizzly machines I've purchased, with various patches of overspray, missing paint, dings and scratches. The fence had a quarter-sized gouge along the bottom edge that affects alignment with the infeed table and catches on material when referencing off the fence.

    The Ugly
    The two bigger concerns were the state of the cutterhead and jointer tables. 8 of the cutterhead inserts came with significant chips and knicks, often on more than 1 edge. The jointer table castings have 3 major blemishes in the surface polish with noticeable pitting and dips at each. The biggest is about 5" x 2". The oil paper covering the tables was undamaged when I took it off, so I think this was a poor attempt at the factory to cleanup casting defects rather than damage during shipping.

    IMG_4153.jpgCutterhead.jpgIMG_4346.jpg

    Manufacturer Response
    I shared all of my concerns with CWI and went back and forth with their representative a few times before posting this. They told me the paint condition was to be expected and that I should sand out issues with the fence. They offered to send me 5 replacement inserts (8 need to be replaced), and said that there was nothing they could do about the jointer beds. All of these issues have really damped my enthusiasm for the machine, but I'm not sure what else can be done at this point. I'd love to hear what other Creekers think about the state of the machine or what you'd do in this situation?

    In sum, I would probably buy the machine again since I think it's still the best value in 16" jointer/planers and just hope for better luck on their quality control. Not sure I will look at CWI again for other tools though if there's a comparable offering from Grizzly or other importers.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    WNY
    Posts
    6,108
    Anything less than perfect with a new machine is always a disappointment (and why I buy used in most cases), and the refusal by the supplier to replace the fence and all the damaged cutters would really tick me off. On the other hand, the machine looks good to me, except for the knicked cutters. Paint is paint and as long as there's no bare metal it's just cosmetics. Same with the blemishes on the tables. As long as they are smooth and don't affect lumber being pushed over the tables it's just cosmetic, and will likely be joined by several new ones you add over the years. The fence would be the greater annoyance to me, since it affects use, and I'd go back at them again for a replacement. But if that fails, I would clean it up so it works OK and put the machine to use. If the tables are flat and parallel and everthing works as it's supposed to then the machine should perform well and that's what really matters.


    John

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Alberta
    Posts
    1,073
    Ryan I kind of agree with John. If the thing works well then just clean up the dinged fence and use it. I also buy most (96%) of my machines used,so maybe my expectations on appearance are lower than some people. I have actually looked at that machine in the last couple weeks at the Canadian Woodworker store in Calgary Alberta. Let us know how it performs.Agree that all the damaged cutters should be replaced,and the fence if it is beyond useable. Interesting is that CWI sells Centauro bandsaws exactly like the Minimax ones here as well.

  4. #4
    In pic #4, there looks to be a divot on the infeed table? Or is that just a reflection?

    Have you gotten a feeler gauge out and seen if any of those table blemishes put it measurably out of flat?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    San Francisco, CA
    Posts
    8,700
    Are the cutters proprietary, or can you buy them from some other source? It'd really tick me off if I had to send them money to fix their bad parts.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Ellsworth, Maine
    Posts
    1,587
    The table blemishes would only bother me if they created a noticeable dip at their locations. I'd be curious what size feeler gauges you can get under a straight edge at those locations. I can't understand why they would replace cutter heads that were obviously chipped? That makes zero sense and they should not be in business if they treat customers that spend money on their equipment. That would be like buying a brand new vehicle with 3 flat tires and the company only replacing 2 of them. Very strange stuff!! Glad I have not had that experience with a woodworking company.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Doylestown, PA
    Posts
    5,879
    At least the chipped cutters can be replaced and they're back to new condition. I don't see a reasonable way to repair the jointer table gouge. As long as the gouge doesn't impact function I guess I'd live with it but certainly wouldn't have the warm-n-fuzzies for the company.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Location
    Denver, CO
    Posts
    2
    Thanks all for chiming in, I don't have any feeler gauges but as best as I can tell the jointer bed blemishes are at locations with pits in the casting rather than broad dips. If you look hard at pictures 4 and 6, you can see a pit in the casting that I think someone tried to sand out.

    Mike, I did see that CWI sells the Italian bandsaws! In general, it seems like they've picked a nice set of products to bring to market and with price points/features that match what I'm interested in.

    I was able to use the machine quite a bit over the weekend and noticed a few more things. First, the manual is awful but since it's basically a larger version of the Jet JJP-12 machine, the manual for that one is actually a better reference. The dust collection in planer mode was initially terrible, and after poking around I actually came across an old thread from Curt about the diverter flap getting lifted up by the suction and causing the chips to back up. Turns out there are holes in the hood where I could stick bolt and lock the diverter in place. Doing that results in perfect dust collection in planer mode.

    The planing results are also very impressive so far. No trace of snipe at all and I've tested on walnut and curly maple with some challenging grain direction. I did have to back off the infeed roller pressure quite a bit but now it feeds cleanly. I'm getting a little bit of snipe on the trailing end of the boards when jointing, but I think I just need to figure out how to raise the outfeed table.

    In general, I think my impressions are improving. Hopefully the machine can get some wear and tear from me, and the factory blemishes will just fade into the general patina.

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