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.
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.
Check out this comparison shot, I think this is a great upgrade.
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.
This picture shows one of the major reasons I made these purchases, spiral cutterheads with carbide inserts. Quiet, clean, and convenient.
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.