View Poll Results: Which combo Euro J/P and Bandsaw to get

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  • Hammer A3-31 with Hammer N4400 Bandsaw (12.6" resaw, 4hp)

    15 36.59%
  • MiniMax FS-30 Smart with MM-16 Bandsaw

    9 21.95%
  • Hammer A3-31 with MM-16 Bandsaw (who cares about combined shipping)

    7 17.07%
  • Hammer A3-31 w/ other bandsaw (Laguna, Agazzaggi, etc)

    7 17.07%
  • MiniMax FS-30 with other Bandsaw (MM-20, Agazaggi, etc)

    3 7.32%
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Thread: Advise on choosing a J/P combo - Hammer A3-31 or a MiniMax FS30 Smart

  1. #1

    Advise on choosing a J/P combo - Hammer A3-31 or a MiniMax FS30 Smart

    I am ready to purchase a J/P combo, a big heavy Euro machine. I was 99% convinced the Hammer A3-31 is right for me; I would get it outfitted with the Byrd cutterhead and digital wheel.
    And then the MiniMax USA rep called back and offered me a FS-30 Smart for the same price as Hammer is offering the base A3-31 w/ Byrd head ($3,800.00).
    I am okay with the shorter jointer bed of the Hammer.I've heard the new, redesigned A3-31 has a better fence (with center lock) which about the only negative I've heard about the Hammer. It also now has a single lift (both tables lift at once). Not sure if this is good or bad. Looks like it sits closer to the wall, but lifting both tables at once looks heavy-ish.

    I've also heard hearsay that the FS30 is more of a machine, not quite on par with Felder, but more machine than a Hammer. Those comments seem to be vauge and/or come from people that have seen one, but not the other.

    Any adivse on choosing a euro J/P combo would be appreciated.

    Charles

  2. #2
    The changeover on the FS30 seems like a Rube Goldberg machine. You know, it really makes be wonder why they all don't execute the changeover like the Jet. Mine takes about 10 seconds. The Minimax is like, "Pull this fence there, move this table, then that one, flip the shroud, disconnect the dust hose from one shroud and put it on the second shroud...Tada!". My Jet is "Lift the table, flip the shroud". Period. No mucking with the fence...no anything.

    Even the Hammer forces you to pull the fence back, but that's not a big deal.

    I'm sure the tables have a counter spring on them so I wouldn't worry about the weight.

    Hey, if you do decide to get that FS30, order it with the European guard. Once you try it, you'll never go back to a pork chop guard again.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Toronto Ontario
    Posts
    6,502
    Hi, I've owned an A3-31 for 3 years great machine, great company to deal with.

    I'd go for the Hammer and the N4400 band saw.

    Is there a reason you want the Byrd head on the A3-31?

    Unless you have real specific needs I would stay with the Hammer cartridge knife system.............Rod.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Central WI
    Posts
    3,003
    Can't speak as to the JP but all the bandsaws you listed are good machines at their price points. I've never heard of an unhappy Aggi owner. Their saws are very well made and recently have been beefed up some to compete with the MM units. For resawing the MM16 and 20 are the best saws. Maybe not as refined as the Aggi but real heavy which is what you need with wider blades. The N4400 has gotten really good reviews although I would argue it isn't quite the saw of the others. Should be less expensive though. Don't forget to check out used JP. The heavier machines from each manufacturer get better reviews on both the Felder and MM user groups. Obvious I know, but used prices are pretty low now. Dave

  5. Hey Rod,
    Thanks for the input. I don't know that I "need" the Byrd head. My only experience is with old-school straight knives. Word is on the street it is a quiter cut - sound level is important to me.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Grand Forks, ND
    Posts
    2,029
    A3-31 and a N4400 would be a nice combination. As David stated the Agazanni is a well liked bandsaw. I have a A3-31 with the straight knives, no regrets. Well made machine and superb customer support.

    Where are you located?
    A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. My desk is a work station.

  7. #7
    Have had a Aggi B-18 for three years and love it. The N4400 wasn't available at the time, sure it's a fine machine, especailly if you get a better price on a combo with the combo.

    Good luck, don't think you can go wrong.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    north, OR
    Posts
    780
    Quote Originally Posted by John Coloccia View Post
    Even the Hammer forces you to pull the fence back, but that's not a big deal.
    Not true on the new ones, watch the video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vvakH...yer_embedded#!

    Its also spring assisted so lifting them isn't really that hard, I can do it with one hand. Lowering them is similar, they lock separately so once they're down you just lean on it with one hand to overcome the spring and flip the latch.

    imho the worst part of the hammer is the flip stop because I have to put your fingers in close proximate position to a pinch point and - yes - this a very minor nit and no I've never actually pinched myself. Well that and having to drop the table to flip the dust shroud, but that seems to be a universal issue with combo machines and if you get the "digital" handle its very easy to accurately repeat.

    I have no experience with the MM machine so I can't compare.

    So far the Hammer with the straight knives has been quite good. If you go straight knives, do get a set of the cobalt knives as the HSS ones that it comes with will nick pretty quickly (the cobalt seems better, but I've also been more careful so ymmv). I did nick the factory straight knives within about 4 hours of use...

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    LA & SC neither one is Cali
    Posts
    7,133
    First on the bandsaw side, no brainer. Get the MM16, best smaller (medium sized) saw on the market, period. Did I say period? Yep and I meant it. The N4400, the Laguna LT16HD and even the Aggazani B-18 just aren't built as strong.

    On the J/P side the Hammer has some significant advantages not the least of which is the new fence and table design. That would be my choice. I would also get the Byrd head. Simple fact, how many people do you know with a Byrd head that say they long for straight knives? Talking to the Felder guys they only have Byrd heads for the A3 series but they want to add them for all their machines, from their perspective it is probably just to satisfy demand, but the demand is there, possibly for a reason. That said the disposable knife head takes out the pain of knife setting but then you have to toss out the blades when dull (on both sides). The more exotics or tough grain domestics and/or the more volume you put through the machine the more cost effective the Byrd becomes, at some point it will be cheaper. I think it is a positive for resell with the number of people that worship at the insert head church.

    As far as shipping goes probably the only difference would be an extra liftgate fee since they aren't a spatula and baby teething ring Amazon can throw in the same box. Common carrier freight is mainly cubes and weight.


    BTW if you have the money moving up in the Minimax bandsaw line is always a good thing but before I bought the MM20 (which I love) I would consider whether I would get more use out of the A3-41, being a bandsaw guy it pains me but I think I would rather have the MM16 and the A3-41 than the MM20 and the A3-31 and the A3-41 is priced well right now.
    Last edited by Van Huskey; 02-27-2012 at 4:58 PM.
    5,306 miles from where the greatest things with 4 wheels are born
    5,328 miles from where the greatest things with 2 wheels are born
    5,301 miles from where the greatest things with 2 wheels and a band are born
    Seems to be more than a coincidence to me...

  10. Hey Jeff, Located in Denver - so shipping plays into the game. I'm about 98% ready to jump on the hammer "band" wagon. I'm new to SawMillCreek and find its great to hear what the community, individuals like yourself, really thinks.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Livonia, Michigan
    Posts
    174
    I have an FS30 with Byrd Head. The head is terrific, cuts the sound, and eliminates tearout on figured wood.
    I can do the changeover in less than 3 minutes, and that includes fumbling around with the D.C. hose.
    Minimax support and service is terrific also.

    Good luck with your selection.
    John

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    LA & SC neither one is Cali
    Posts
    7,133
    BTW I did not mean to give the impression the N4400 is not a good saw, it is. It is the best saw at its price point. The MM16 is a pretty hefty jump in price and if one never expects to need the extra capacity and strength of the MM (or need the extra throat capacity of the Hammer) then the N4400 may represent better value to someone. But on a pure which one would I rather have price/value excluded I would pick the MM16 or better yet the MM20. As another wrench in the works I think the Aggazani B-24 is the best "buy" in new Italian saws, large wheels and just under 17" of resaw and a pretty steller price (last time I checked). YMMV
    5,306 miles from where the greatest things with 4 wheels are born
    5,328 miles from where the greatest things with 2 wheels are born
    5,301 miles from where the greatest things with 2 wheels and a band are born
    Seems to be more than a coincidence to me...

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Central WI
    Posts
    3,003
    A Felder guy just posted an A3 31 on the owners group today. $2400. Had a new Hammer slider as well. Dave

  14. #14
    Hi Charles,

    I am fortunate to live close to the east coast office of Hammer/Felder but that's not why I finally bought the N4400 and the A3-31.

    A little background: I do a lot of hand work, including milling wood with a #7 and finishing with a #4. I do not have a table saw - I do have the Festool saw and track system. Although I may ultimately buy a tablesaw, and it will be either a Felder or a Hammer, my plan was to mill woood using my bandsaw and J/P. Milling by hand, I did an entire wall of walnut cabinets in my kitchen by hand, just took too long! So, about two years ago I bought a bandsaw, Chinese manufacture, which had some clever features, but was not of great quality despite being pricey; e.g., table was out by 3/16 inches. Got a new table, after they went through 5 to find one flat one, and sold it!

    I decided then and there that I would buy only quality machines - for home shops. I also wanted a good value. When I first looked at the Hammer N4400 (when I bought the first BS), I passed becasue it did not have a foot pedal emergency stop - I am very concerned about safety (I make more mistakes than you could imagine). When I began looking again, they had updated the saw with the foot brake and a larger resaw capacity. For me, the saw is the perfect size. I have resawn 12" walnut with no trouble and, for the first time, recently put on a 1/4 inch blade which ran fine on this big saw. Fit and finish are superb. Importantly, customer service is exceptional - just as good as the machines.

    After buying the N4400, I bought the A3-31 - no more milling by hand! I love this machine too. Heavy duty, easy to operate, crisp, smooth finish and switching between jointer and planer is very easy! As some of the other posters have mentioned, I also use the straight blades and have had great results.

    I voted for the N4400/A3-31 package above. You have listed quality machines, so you will not be disappointed, but I think the value is with Hammer. A great product for a great price that will do the job and last forever and a superb team to back up their products.

    Good luck!

    Chris

  15. Thanks Chris, I appreciate giving a little background, knowing your point-of-view helps me to understand your advise. I too do (did) a *lot* of handwork, the only thing heavier than my #7 is a Stanly 608 Bedrock. At the beginning I started with a scrub plane and worked down through a set of bench planes. At 45 my woodwork has changed; I handle sheet goods with a Festool saw and track, recently cut the TS rails down to a smidge under 27 (from 36) just to make it all fit into 1/2 of the garage. I make a lot less ply-cabinets and more solid furniture. A pinched neck nerve and a year of recovery has taught me I can't do all the milling by hand. Now that I've heard what the community has to say and slept on it, I think I'm ready to order some new machines.

    I'm curious what you think of their outfeed accs tables. I'm considering ordering 2 of the 400 (15") and rails for both A3-31 and BS. In my gut I also think they probably aren't needed for most all jointing and seem to be a nicity for thicknessing outfeed of short peices and cool they work on the BS too. The word on the net is the digital readout for the thicknesser is a "Have to have" and not really an "optional accessory" - I'm getting the metric version - $70 cheaper and Festool has already converted my thinking to metric.

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