Combination Machine CF 731 Pro - Fine Woodworking Tool Review
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Combination Machine CF 731 Pro

Felder USA - Combination Machine CF 731 Pro

Felder's heavy-duty combination machine features a variety of machine functions, including a jointer, shaper and tablesaw.

$13,389 (As of 2/1/2003)

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Editor's Review:

review date: February 1, 2003

The Felder machine arrived from the factory with close tolerances in every way. Tune-up was easy, with each bolt and setscrew offering positive adjustment. The machine is built solidly and should stay aligned for years.

Felder offers more combinations of features and capacities than any other manufacturer: up to 10-hp motors (three-phase), digital readouts, a wide range of saw strokes and crosscut capacities, two types of scoring systems, variable speed and more. Felder also makes the Hammer line of combination machines, offered at a lower price.

The Felder sports refinement in its design. It was clear that every detail—from shipping to woodworking—had been considered carefully. Just a few highlights: All of the height dials and scales on the machine can be reset to zero at any point. The Felder sliding table locks in two positions: one for ripping, and the other for shaping. The saw’s internal dust hose has a flange that can be adjusted to hug a 10-in. blade as closely as a 12-in. one. The router and shaper spindles can be changed out quickly. This is the only machine of the bunch we tested with the shaper fence assembly pegged into holes in the table, so the assembly can be removed to use the saw and then returned to the previous setting. This machine’s base (and that of the Hammer) has gaps built in to accept a pallet jack for mobility.

Performance was a delight. All of the functions delivered clean, precise, almost dustless cuts, and none of the motors even threatened to bog down. The mortising unit was the best among these machines, with ergonomic clamping handles and a screw-driven hold-down (as opposed to a cam). It also was the easiest unit to attach and detach from the main machine, and its stops were the easiest to set and use.

However, the Felder doesn’t accept a dado head, so dadoing must be done using the router spindle and the sliding table, which takes longer. Also, the router spindle turns only at 15,000 rpm, which is too slow for small bits. However, if you opt for the variable-speed shaper, the router spindle will run at 19,000 rpm.

The 45-in.-long jointer/rip fence is a slight drawback. It had more flex than the Knapp rip fence, and when it was mounted on the jointer it came up too short on the outfeed side for my liking.

Additional Notes: Bells and whistles. Many thoughtful features, like magnified scales and accurate dials that read in 0.001-in. increments, make the Felder a pleasure to use. Price includes optional mortiser, single-phase power and router spindle.

Editor Test Results:

Manufacturer Specifications

Manufacturer Felder USA
Manufacturer's Web Site
Manufacturer's Phone Number 866-792-5288

Like Art, I have almost the same tool. In my case it's the saw/shaper combo, and the jointer/planer as a separate unit. The jointer replaced the truly awful Inca, which replaced the truly awful Delta DJ-15,which replaced a servicable and high value 6" Grizzly. The AD731, which is a 12" jointer, making it the smallest (!) in the Euro combination lines, is excellent. Easy to adjust, the fence is heavy and strong, easy to adjust. The guard is the far superior Euro type, which seems worse than the American type, until you get used to it. Now I won't go near an American machine without even more fear. I have it on casters, and it moves with a lever type johhny bar that moves this 1000 pound machine around my garage pretty well--I won't say great, a half ton is a lot of intertia to overcome. But it switches from jointer and planer and back singlehandedly, and easily. Changing blades is also easy, with either the 4 knife Felder system or a three head Tersa cutter. I have the Felder block.I then replaced my Delta 3 HP Unisaw with the 12" Felder saw/shaper. I had it serviced by a Felder technician (you pay for set up), then I tweaked it myself to learn about the machine. Although the motor is rated at almost 5 HP, and pulls 220v from a 30A line, it's really not as powerful as my old Delta, but I Would say it's maybe 85% of it. However, it does have to turn a 12" blade, not a 10", and it has a built in phase convertor, as Felders come normally in 3 phase (or so I am told). Contrary to the FWW review, you can get a dado arbor, and it easily slides on and off. The sliding table and intergral miter gauge makes crosscuts easy. You can buy some very expensive cam clamps that helps with large pieces, and they are worth the price. The sliding table is far more accurate than the Delta and cloned variety, meaning you can machine cuts far better than you would otherwise.The shaper unit comes with a separate motor, and spindles that run you several hundred dollars each, but they change over very quickly. I have the router spindle (which runs at 15000 rpm) and a 30mm. So I decided that my shaper bits would all be 30mm--easy enough. Felder has lots of cutters available, as does Amana. The shaper rumbles with power, but is not overwhelming in noise. It is very powerful however, and easy to use. The guard system is very well thought out. Many of Felder's accessories integrate with Aigner products, a German firm that makes ungodly expensive but well thought out gadgets available through Martin USA.It is a very expensive unit, but like Festool products, has you rethink just how you approach what is possible. The company is easy to deal with, and has a great system of sending you a technician to either service or set up the unit. You pay to set it up. However, when the motor burned out after a few weeks (it happens to anyone of course), they responded quickly, and sent a tech with a new motor within two weeks. Imagine Delta doing that. I know they don't. They told me to carry a DJ15 jointer to a service center miles away. Felder came to me. And it's worked great the last 2 years.The only thing I don't like about the unit is the blades Felder sells. They are not up to the cutting quality of the unit. I use a Forrest WWII for crosscutting, and my Amana EuroRip rebored for the Felder configuration (a 30mm hole, plus two pin brake holes).Buy th eunit, buy your own blades.

I have the slightly larger(16" wide jointer/planer)model CF741SP by Felder. I know the talent is in the operator and a good woodworker can use a butterknife and a bent nail to create a Sam Maloof chair....BUT, I find that cuts are easier and cleaner, accuracy is exact and it is a pleasure to use and fran kly even to just sometimes look at. I use it a lot and am asemi-pro (I sell stuff but still keep my day job). I upgraded from a very nice Italian Combo and that was a step up from a Unisaw and 7" Jointer. Each step in the progression has been a great and noticeabl;e improvement. In general, the 9 foot slider and the riving knife has saved my marriage. "YOU TWISTED THAT PANEL AND NOW THE EDGE HAS BURNED!!!!!" " Don't ask me to help if you are going to yell at me." etc etc etc. At any rate both for solids and panels , the m,achine is a dream. If it sounds like I am biased, well you can bet on it. It is my prized possession and it is rapidly paying for itself. Bigger than a Rolex but machined pretty much the same ! (Costly as a Rolex, yep). You might say I am glad I got it. Art Liebeskind, Baltimore, Maryland

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