Woodworking Shop Upgrades Part 1: Unpacking of Grizzly Jointer and Planer

More than ten years ago I bought a Delta 22-560 12 1/2” Planer and a Grizzly 1182ZX 6” Jointer. Both tools have served me well, and helped me create some great projects. I need some more capacity now that I’m taking on some bigger projects, and I was really interested in spiral cutterheads with carbide inserts. It’s a great innovation in woodworking tools and I’m excited for the noise reduction and convenience of the replaceable carbide inserts. Both were well taken care of and would be great tools for someone starting out. After a couple days on craigslist I’ve already sold them to a guy from Portland. Wifey will be pleased that soon she’ll be able to park in the garage again.

Attack of the Clones and the Lack of American Made Tools

Both the the new jointer and planer are critical pieces in any hybrid (power and hand-tool) shop. It’s important to start with square stock and these are the tools that do the bulk of that work. I looked at many manufacturers, and looked hard for American-made tools. Steel City and Delta were promising, but both seem to be made in China. The Delta DJ20, Steel City 8” Industrial Jointer and my Grizzly look like they come out of the exact same factory. I couldn’t find a jointer or planer made in the USA, and that’s too bad. I’m not worried about Grizzly quality for a few reasons: the tools I’ve owned have worked well, I talked to a lot of people about the tools, and they just did best in the Fine Woodworking Bandsaw tests.

So on Halloween night I ordered my long awaited Grizzly Polar Bear Series 15” Spiral Cutterhead Planer and 8” Parallelogram Spiral Cutterhead Jointer. They were delivered on November 5th, so that’s a speedy delivery. The UPS man (they bought a local heavy freight delivery company) unloaded them right into my garage with a pallet jack. I had taken the day off, so I was ready for them with a nice big spot all cleared out.

Wooden Crates and Greasy Steel

The Planer came in one large wooden crate and the Jointer came in two separate packages: a large cardboard box for the base (including the motor) and a very long wooden crate for the jointer bed, fence, and accessories. They were well packed and I was ready with cutters for the steel bands, a pry bar & hammer, and an empty truck ready to be filled with the Chinese version of Baltic birch plywood. The pallets were rickety and the boxes were easy to open, but the tools were well protected inside. I was not looking forward to lifting these heavy tools or dealing with all the grease, but I was keeping my eye on the prize: shiny new iron that cuts smooth and quiet.

Grizzly G0453PX 15

Grizzly G0490X 8

Unpacking an Aircraft Carrier

After a short time, I had the boxes mostly broken down. The jointer bed is bigger than I expected, and I’m glad both tools have integral mobile bases. Here’s the bed of the jointer, bolted to the bottom of the crate. Again this is covered in grease and the jointer will require more assembly than the Planer. Mike and I lifted this onto the base today, it was a little awkward because it is 76 1/2” long, but easier to lift than planer. I’ve never owned a Parallelogram Jointer before, and I’m excited to put it to use. This looks like an aircraft carrier in my garage, and I’m thinking if getting some model planes and toy soldiers to line up on the deck.

Grizzly G0490X 8

Check out this comparison shot, I think this is a great upgrade.

Comparison shot of Grizzly 8

Here’s the planer. Completely assembled except for the caster, height adjustment wheel, table extensions, and dust hood. Bolted to the floor of the crate and covered in grease. The P in the model number designates the Polar Bear series, and indeed this Planer was made in China. The black bars on either size of the logo pull out and are meant to facilitate picking up the Planer with a forklift. My buddy and I ignored that recommendation and lifted this off the pallet ourselves today.

Grizzly G0453PX Planer

This picture shows one of the major reasons I made these purchases, spiral cutterheads with carbide inserts. Quiet, clean, and convenient.

Grizzly G0453PX Planer Spiral Cutterhead

Initial Impressions and Recommendations

These tools were easy to order and arrived quickly. It was was easy to coordinate delivery with UPS and the driver had no problem taking these right into my garage. The packing material was intact which made me feel good about the contents. The crates were made well-enough but came apart easily with a hammer and pry bar. My recommendation is that as soon as you remove a panel from the crate dispose of it immediately. There is a lot of packing material and if you don’t get it in the back of the truck immediately it will get in the way. I took all the packing material to the dump today, it weighed in at 240 pounds including the pallets.

There was no rust at all because of all the grease. I suspect the factory workers get “grease dispersement bonuses” because even painted surfaces were coated. I have no idea how I am supposed to get the grease out of Planer Rollers and Anti-Kickback Fingers, and I already have a few little cuts on my hands from the sharp carbide inserts. I would like the option to have these cleaned and setup in at Grizzly in Bellingham (2 hours or so North of me) and then delivered clean and ready to go to my shop. I would have paid extra for that.

The manuals are clear, contain ample pictures, and are up-to-date. They encourage you to call if you have problems and that’s pretty rare in my experience, companies usually discourage phone calls by directing you to their website or punishing you with automated phone trees. I haven’t had to call, but they have a good reputation for technical support and customer service.

Stay Tuned for Part 2

Check back for updates in this blog series. I still have to complete cleaning, complete assembly, tune everything with my A-Line It, wax the beds, hook up the electrical, and make initial cuts. I’d like to hear from you: do you own Grizzly tools and how have they worked for you? Do you know of American tool manufacturers? Any tips for cleanup or setup? What are your favorite brands, and why? Leave a comment and let me know.

10 thoughts on “Woodworking Shop Upgrades Part 1: Unpacking of Grizzly Jointer and Planer

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  2. Bobby

    Awesome! That reminds me of when I ditched work to accept delivery of my Delta X5 Jointer a few years ago.

    Currently I use a DeWalt DW735 planer and I bought carbide knives for it. It does a fine job, but it’s not extreme duty, and can tear out difficult grain if the blades aren’t sharp. I’ve been looking into the helical cutter idea for awhile now. I’ll be really interested on how the planer works out for you. They have a G1033X 20″ planer, still 220V single phase but it’s $1000 more. Not sure that extra capacity is worth it. Still in the “looking” phase though.

  3. Torch02

    These are very close to the Grizzly jointer and planer I bought a few months ago. I actually held on to the plywood from the planer crate to use for shop jig & templates. I’ve made a few trays from it as well.

    I only had two things to fuss about with the assembly of the jointer: 1) Getting the pulleys between the jointer cutterhead and the motor was a huge PITA, because you’re fighting gravity, and 2) the wiring diagrams for my planer took multiple takes to read correctly (my jointer came prewired 110V and I wanted to use 220V).

    Looking forward to what you think post setup!

  4. Elijah

    A tip for cleaning all that Cosmoline off is to use WD-40. I struggled with Mineral Spirits b/c I thought that would clean the stuff off, however a message board suggested WD-40 and it is a whole lot better.

    I have the same jointer you have and boy is it a dream machine. I’ve never bogged it down, dust collection is good, and the extra length of the tables has helped me on some of my longest boards while making dining room tables for people.

    One thing I did though, was add a link belt and it made the jointer more quiet. Others also recommend the belt upgrade on the other forums.

    Good luck and you have some GREAT tools now!

  5. Jim Blue

    I bought the same planner and a 8″ jointer last month. You are going to love them. The instructions recommend a citric based cleaner for the grease – that worked well for me, however good luck getting the grease off of the planner head. I finally ran several poplar boards through it to remove most of the grease.
    Nice site – look forward to learning more from you

  6. ecrusch

    Great series.
    I am going to order my Grizzly jointer in about three weeks.
    I enjoy reading your blog.
    Thanks a bunch.

  7. Brett S

    Speaking of Clones, That Grizzly Planner looks exactly like the used 15″ Reliant 15″ planer I just purchased. I gues reliant is not a brand that is sold anymore but I want to see if I can confirm if there are interchangeble parts available for my planner. I mainly want to put a spiral cutter head in it. Does anyone know what other brands might be an exact clone of the Reliant 15″ auto feed planer?

  8. Matt Post author

    Hey Brett,

    Thanks for stopping by. I think your best bet is to call Grizzly customer service. They are very helpful and knowledgeable. Good luck!

  9. Eugene Dickson

    I would like to read Part 2 plus any more. Have you written them yet?

    Thanks, Eugene

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