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Thread: Which to choose, Minimax FS-30C Xylent Cutterhead or Hammer A3-31 Spiral Cutterhead

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
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    Ellsworth, Maine
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    1,648

    Which to choose, Minimax FS-30C Xylent Cutterhead or Hammer A3-31 Spiral Cutterhead

    I'm sure this type of question has been beat up around here but figured I'd ask opinions for myself.

    I am about to pull the trigger on a Minimax FS-30CX from Elite Metal Tools. After doing a little more research I keep getting tempted by the Hammer A3-31 with their spiral cutter. In all honesty I think the Hammer has a slightly cleaner look to it but that is by no means a reason to pick that over the Minimax. In my past I have always heard great things about Minimax from a friend of mine that owns their bandsaw and tablesaw therefore my first place to look for this combo machine was Minimax.

    I can get the Minimax shipped to house for $4500. I literally almost pulled the trigger on that price last week but hesitated and asked Felder for a quote on their A3-31. When looking at their site it appears there are no machines in stock so would have to wait 4-8 weeks for the Hammer, according to their site. I haven't received a reply on the Hammer yet so don't know how their price is going to compare. But I will say if I buy the Minimax I won't have to wait 4-8 weeks to get it.

    Does anyone here have any experience with the Minimax FS-30CX or the Hammer A3-31? I assume there will be much more experience with the Hammer but am not sure what the reasoning behind this is. I'd love to get some opinions on which machine I should pull the trigger on. I assume I'll be happy with either but which machine will I ultimately be more happy with?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Kansas City
    Posts
    736
    I have a FS-30C, not with the xylent cutterhead, and it is hot garbage. Beds are not flat, it loses calibration a lot etc. And minimax had zero interest in making it right.

    I also have a minimax bandsaw, and after it would start, I have had zero issues with it and it is my favorite tool in my shop.

    I would at least seriously consider the Hammer.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Newtown, ct
    Posts
    15
    A3-31came off the pallet and just works. Have no experience with Minimax.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    On Canada
    Posts
    81
    I've had my Hammer A3-31 for just a little under a year and could not be happier. It does have the silent cutter head and the digital accesory for planer height adjustment. I can plane the wood to the exact setting i had previosly with the digital diplay its Great. The switch over time is very quick from jointer to planer. You may want to check into some deals that may be coming soon for the IWF show in Atlanta from Felder Group it may be worth the wait. I'll add one more vote for the Felder/Hammer machine

  5. #5
    If there is a show?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    Posts
    52,878
    I have an older FS350 with the Tersa head and have never felt the need for a spiral head. I actually like the quick change/quick adjust capability of Tersa. The company has always taken care of me, too, including recently when I needed to replace the idler wheel where the tire wore out from just plain age and use. The Hammer is a very nice machine, too. You can almost toss a coin on this one. For the Minimax, you may want to consider dealing with Sam Blasco if you're not already doing so.
    --

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

  7. #7
    Very happy with my Hammer A31-41. Worked great right off the pallet.

    SB

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Perth, Australia
    Posts
    7,342
    Tony, I have had the A3-31 for several years now. It was ordered with the spiral “Silent” head and digital gauge. Remember, all Hammer/Felder machines are a kit insofar as you need to specify the components at the start.

    A big reason for the choice of Hammer over MM was that there is a Felder agent in my town, and they demonstrate at the local wood show. These guys have been absolutely fantastic over the years since I have owned Hammer equipment (also have the N4400 bandsaw and K3 slider). I think that access to backup service is a reason to purchase one or other make/machine.

    In action, the A3-31 has run flawlessly for its life. While it generally lives in one spot, it does get shifted at times, and it have never lost a setting. I work with hard and interlocked timbers, and the finish has always satisfied me .. and I am fussy. The carbide cutters last a long time. mine are about halfway through their lives after 5 or 6 years. I have a replacement set waiting in a small box, but it will be at least 5 years before they are needed. It takes very little time to turn a cutter. The digital gauge is accurate, and this makes it easy to return to an earlier thickness.

    The A3-31 runs off 15amps and 240 volts.

    I cannot say which is the better machine - it is a meaningless issue in my context. The performance and service are right. Price would be a factor, it these areas were comparable.

    Edit to add: The "silent" head is aptly named. The Hammer can run and the level is such that it is possible to have normal level conversation alongside the machine. That was a big reason for getting spiral heads. My previous thicknesser-planer was a lunchbox with straight blades, and rivalled a 747 starting up.

    Regards from Perth

    Derek
    Last edited by Derek Cohen; 05-31-2020 at 3:02 AM.

  9. #9
    I'd wait for a quote from Felder. I don't think their website prices or inventory are necessarily the best offer they can make.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Reno, NV
    Posts
    252
    A main reason I bought the A3-31 with the "Silent" cutter head was because Felder had a showroom near where I lived. After 6 years, I am on the 2nd edge of the cutters and have a set on the shelf for replacement. The finish quality of the spiral cutters is much better than my older jointer and planner with straight knives. It was moved long-distance to another shop location and has not loose its calibration. I also move it around the shop a lot without lost of calibration. Support from Felder, though not for this machine specifically, has been excellent. Good support from the manufacturer is important to me. There is also an active Felder discussion group with a lot of knowledgeable and helpful people.

    I think the infeed and outfeed table lengths are OK, better with the Felder aluminum extensions. I have jointed 8-foot long lumber with some effort, but not impossible. Dust collection is dependent on the vacuum power of your DC. On my 5HP cyclone, almost all chips are extracted. On my 2HP portable cyclone, some chips are left in planer mode to be cleaned up later.

    It has done exactly what it is designed to do from day one. If this machine is your choice, consider buying extension tables and the digital gauge along with the machine.

    I have not used any SCM product to voice any opinion.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    San Francisco, CA
    Posts
    9,155
    Quote Originally Posted by Derek Cohen View Post
    ..The carbide cutters last a long time..
    What? Hammer sells carbide knives for the A3-31? I only have ever seen HSS -- one they call a chrome steel, and the other they call a cobalt steel.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Perth, Australia
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    7,342
    Quote Originally Posted by Jamie Buxton View Post
    What? Hammer sells carbide knives for the A3-31? I only have ever seen HSS -- one they call a chrome steel, and the other they call a cobalt steel.
    Jamie, the answer is yes. You may be mixing up straight blades with the inserts ...

    "Each tungsten carbide cutter (in the Silent-Power cutterblock) has four cutting edges. "

    https://www.felder-group.com/en-au/s...e-cutterblock#

    Cost of replacement cutters (these I have): https://www.amazon.com.au/Hammer-Fel.../dp/B06XKJP3PT

    Regards from Perth

    Derek

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Wayland, MA
    Posts
    1,908
    I have the MiniMax FS41 with the spiral insert cutting head (bought used) and I couldn't be happier. If it has snipe it's not measurable without a better instrument than I have, the finish on the boards coming out is as good as I've ever seen. I've run a fair amount of figured wood through so far with outstanding results. I love being able to dial in a thickness and have it come out within a small fraction of a mm of what the DRO said. A very robust machine. I haven't had to interact with SCM for service, they were able to provide me with a manual and parts book for free without hassle.

    Haven't used the Hammer, I'm sure it's also good.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Santa Fe, NM
    Posts
    169
    I've had the A3-41 for a couple of years and am very happy with it. No issues and the digital gauge works perfectly. I would recommend ordering a short outfeed table to put on the outfeed side of the planer.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    New York, NY
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    1,837
    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Shea View Post
    I literally almost pulled the trigger on that price last week but hesitated and asked Felder for a quote on their A3-31. When looking at their site it appears there are no machines in stock so would have to wait 4-8 weeks for the Hammer, according to their site. I haven't received a reply on the Hammer yet so don't know how their price is going to compare. But I will say if I buy the Minimax I won't have to wait 4-8 weeks to get it.
    4-8 week’s lead time is pretty normal for Felder. They don’t typically stock any machines in the US so you’ll be waiting for a freight container to get filled with other orders.

    I’ve owned a Minimax FS 41e with a Tersa cutter block for some years, planed many many feet of wood and never felt the need for a spiral one. Tersa knives are inexpensive enough to have spares on-hand and can be changed out within a few minutes.

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