A3 31 Jointer/Planer Combo Machine - Fine Woodworking Tool Review
  • Pin It
A3 31 Jointer/Planer Combo Machine

Hammer - A3 31 Jointer/Planer Combo Machine

Hammer's jointer planer features cartridge knife inserts that are easy to change, a Euro-style cutterhead guard and a 50 in. long jointer bed

$3,395 (As of 8/1/2013)

(8 user reviews) Write a Review

Editor Choice-Best Value

Editor's Review: Tool Test: Jointer/Planer Combo Machines

by Roland Johnson, Asa Christiana

review date: August 1, 2013

Hammer 12-in. Jointer-Planer (with Segmented Cutterhead) review from FWW #235 (October 2013)
by Asa Christiana
Hammer is the small-shop, value-oriented wing of the Felder Group, intended to bring Austrian engineering to a broader audience. Hammer’s latest offering is the A3 series of jointer/ planers, which packs state-of-the-art convenience and industrial milling capacity into a small footprint.

I recently tried the 12-in.-wide A3 31, equipped with the optional “Silent Power” segmented ($800 extra) cutterhead with carbide teeth. It’s a fantastic upgrade. This is a true helical head, with the teeth sharpened on a curve for a shearing cut. It’s quiet, and its shearing action left negligible tearout on the most ornery woods: quartersawn white oak, figured maple, and super-hard jatoba with interlocked grain. This cutterhead is also designed for better chip ejection, which might be the reason this machine has the best dust collection I’ve seen on a jointer or planer.

It takes roughly one minute to convert the Hammer from jointing to planing or back again, time mostly spent cranking the planer bed out of the way so the dust hood can rotate. That’s not bad.

The machine is a delight to use in either mode. The tables and bed have specially machined surfaces for very smooth sliding action, and the 4-hp motor teams up with the segmented head to power easily through cuts up to 1⁄8 in. And unlike some planer-jointer combos, this one has a very heavy extruded aluminum fence, machined dead-flat and straight. I was particularly impressed by the feed system on the planer: No matter the board or the depth of cut, the machine grabbed it and fed it smoothly out the other end, with no help from me.

Photos: FWW Staff

A3 31 Jointer-Planer Combo Machine review from FWW #190 (April 2007)
by Roland Johnson

I looked at the four jointer/planer combinations that are moderately priced and readily available. All four combo machines delivered excellent results in my tests. Using maple, white oak, and cherry, I face-jointed and edge-jointed long, wide boards without difficulty, and planed boards with no snipe. These combo machines don't sacrifice performance, and they don't command a steep premium.

This Hammer model uses a 12-in.-wide cutter head, with a 50 in. long jointer bed. It is very nearly the equal of the MiniMax USA. It's a well-engineered, well-made machine that's a pleasure to use. Its $3,582 list price makes it worth serious consideration. One useful feature on the Hammer is the gravity-actuated stops that prevent the jointer tables from dropping. I also like the height of the jointer tables. At 33-5/8 in., they're 2 in. lower than the MiniMax and 1-3/8 in. lower than the Rojek. For me, the reduced height made it easier to work around the Euro-style cutterhead guard.

Cartridge knife inserts-the only type available for the Hammer-are nearly as easy to change as Tersa knives. You loosen a set of locking screws, remove the cartridge, reverse or replace the disposable knife, reinstall it in the cutterhead, and tighten the lockscrews-with no adjustments needed.

On the negative side, the Hammer has a shorter jointer table than two of the others. Changeover takes a little more than a minute and entails 75 turns of the crank to move the planer bed.

Photo: David Heim

read full review

Editor Test Results:

Changeover time 1 min. 3 sec.

Manufacturer Specifications

Manufacturer Hammer
Manufacturer's Web Site www.hammerusa.com
Manufacturer's Phone Number 800-700-0071
Cutterhead Segmented cutterhead optional (+$800)
Replacement knives $31 to $57 per set
Other accessories Jointer-table extension, $160; Planer adjustment wheel with digital readout, $67

I have had my A3 for two years now. It is a good machine for a one man shop. I could not imagine using this tool in a professional woodshop. The first problem is an aluminum fence. Plastic handle broke after the first set up. Once you set the fence in square position you do not want to change it because it is flimsy secured with a few screws. Another problem is the bed. I asked Hammer to send me a lubricant so I can work on it with bigger pieces. Hammer made a mistake and sent it with a hellical cutterhead that I did not ordered. They offered to give me a discount so I can keep it. I am very happy with this set up. I am a hobby woodworker and I think this tool is OK for my needs but today I would buy a dedicated jointer like "Powermatic." DJR

Im an owner of the Hammer A3-31 jointer planer. Took delivery of the machine several years ago. Very satisfied, as I had the fortune to have my A3-31 installed with the BYRD segemented cutter block. Very big difference in cutting ability, and very quiet as compared to the 3 knife system as standard. As far as delivery problems- NONE. The delivery truck was lift gate available- when truck made the stop at my home, the driver used the lift gate to place the A3-31 at the end of my drive way- then used a portable dolly with lifting device to place the unit into my garage where I wanted it. All in all very satisfied with the delivery and install of the A3-31 machine.

I have nothing but respect for the quality of the machines manufactured by Felder. I do take deference though to the way they seem to often treat their customers. I lost a $1500.00 deposit on a machine order that I cancelled, due to my own dissatisfaction with some details about that particular machine. They did offer to credit me this amount toward the purchase of another machine , but weren't able to get me into another machine for any where near the same price point, so I took the loss and was not able to get back the deposit, since they make you sign a contract stating such. Unfortunately the problem here is the same problem most European companies have about customer service and satisfaction. It's not the same as what we're use to here in America. Here the customer "Is always right ", their your pretty much never right. They haven't yet learned to treat their American customers with the respect they are used to nor have they realized the value of good customer service. Case in point, one of my friends, who is a cabinet maker that just happens to manufacture most all of the store fixtures for Costco, purchased a machine from them and they were not able to make the machine work properly or replace it to his satisfaction since it had arrived at his shop with some damage. He was so dissatisfied with their lack of customer service and the way they treated him that he had them pick up the machine and swore that he would never do business with them again. Another European company( Laguna Tool), was beat up very badly on the internet a few years ago, for this same kind of attitude they were taking with their customers and the lack of customer service. When these European CO's finally get a grip on the level of customer service we expect here in America, like Grizzly has, they will do much better in their sales.

I was thinking of buying one but based on the way they handled the $100 shipping fee, who would want to buy anything from Felder? Situations like that tell us a lot about the kind of support this company is willing to give its clients after the machine is purchased.

I have been using my A3-31 for about 8 months. I bought extension tables for the out-feed of both the planer and jointer. Using the same out-feed extension for both proved to be unworkable since it had to be re-leveled each time the position was changed. The extensions really help with long boards and the extension for the planer is pretty much essential. I have the spiral cutter head. It makes extremely high quality cuts in any hard woods I have used it on (mostly cherry). The cutter is unusually quiet. I could not believe that I never get snipe with the planer. Even on 12 inch boards the planer cuts to max depth with no bogging down. The jointer works very well. The machine needed no tune up and operated exactly as expected at first use. A primary reason for choosing this machine was the 4 HP motor with which I could use my existing 20 amp 220 VAC circuit. (Just need to hold in the start button until full speed is achieved.) The 4 HP motor is more than adequate for any operations I have tried. The available 5 HP machines would have required rewiring the shop. The wheel set for the machine unfortunately only allows motion perpendicular to the long table dimensions. Hence, one can not move it though doorways. The wheels are convenient for moving it away from the wall and are used often since my shop is severely space limited. I made a very easily used wheel setup for motion in the other directions when needed. The only downside for the machine is the extra cost, clock like, dial used for accurately setting the planer thickness. The dial for English units (inches) is virtually useless. The dial does not register at the 12 o'clock "0" for each digital higher level increment. i.e. one complete revolution is does not result in the digital number changing by exactly one unit. This means that complicated calculations are required to figure out the exact setting in inches to the last useable digit. The reason for this is that the gearing for raising the planer table is all metric. Felder agreed to replace the English unit dial with their metric dial which works very well and only requires the simple conversion to inches. (I am a physicist and used to metric units.) In many cases, the analog vertical thickness indicator is good enough. I am extremely happy with the machine which is very well made. The extensive use of heavy, accurately machined, castings make the machine heavy but robust and stable. I have been very pleased with the Felder service.

I received my A3-31 in June of 2008 from Felder Ontario. The machine was delivered to my garage and placed in the exact spot specified, as I was away from home that week. I moved the machine downstairs to the shop and installed it on the mobile base I had fabricated. (The Hammer mobility kit moves the machine along the wide dimension, which didn't work for my location). Now that I've had many opportunities to use the machine, I doubt if I could convey how pleased I am with the performance and precision of the machine. The Hammer replaced two pieces or General equipment, an 8" jointer and 14" planer. No snipe, no tearout on difficult wood, a mechanical clockwork height gauge that is accurate to 0.07mm and knives that require no adjustment makes for a fantastic machine. Regards, Rod. Coupled with the exemplary service from Felder Ontario, I may just purchase a Hammer saw/shaper next.

I bought the Hammer A3 31 in March of this year after reading the review in Fine Woodworking as well as review in a Furniture & Cabinetmaking (a UK magazine). I actually went to the Felder USA showroom in East Sacramento, CA to take a peek at the tool before plunking down the money. I was impressed by the build quality of the tool and put in my order that day. After a couple of weeks, the tool was dropped off on a pallet in my driveway just as scheduled. So far, I have been completely satisfied.Although the A3 31 may be considered an "entry level" tool by Felder, it is a serious machine designed for the woodworking enthusiast. You will definitely need some help getting the 600+ lb. machine off the pallet and into your shop. The main components of the tool come assembled, although I did have to remove the cast iron tables to get the tool through the door and down the hallway (not recommended). With the minor exception of the stick-on letters, the overall fit and finish are excellent. The knobs and handles all have a very solid feel. Keep in mind that the tool requires a 220 outlet and Hammer recommends a 30A circuit.In the jointer mode, the 12" wide surface is a pleasure to use compared to the 6" Jet jointer that it replaced. The cutting action is smooth and powerful. The depth gauge is a somewhat crude, but it's not something that I really miss. The European style blade guard takes a little bit of getting used to. When jointing the face of a board, you have to learn to walk your hands (or push blocks) over the guard. The dust extraction (using an Oneida Dust Gorilla) is excellent.The conversion to planer mode is simple. The two wings are lifted out of the way, the dust collection shroud/cutter head cover is flipped, the planer base is raised by a crank and the clutch for the feed rollers is engaged. The reason that the planer bed has to raised and lowered at all is to accomodate the dust collection shroud/cutter head cover. It needs about 7.5 inches to clear when it flips around. The planer bed moves about 1 inch/10 cranks, so the whole process takes about 2 minutes. The planer function works extremely well. The 4HP motor takes care of business without hesitation. Once again, dust collection is impressive. I did purchase the digital depth guage that fits into the crank handle. It is extremely accurate and I recommend it highly. One of the most noticeable differences between the Hammer and the Dewalt 13" portable planer that I was using is the complete absence of snipe. With the Dewalt, the leading and trailing 1.5 inches were always a loss due to snipe. The Hammer's planer bed and cutter head are so rigidly fixed that snipe is non-existent. I have no hesitation to send a board through that's already been cut to the proper length. The outfeed table is a bit short, so I purchased the accessory outfeed extension table. It can be used as an extension table for either the planer or the jointer, but I've only used it for the planer.In summary, the Hammer A3 31 has been a pleasure to use and has given me excellent results. In spite of the minor hassle of switching from one mode to another, it outperforms the two tools that it replaced by a wide margin. For a small shop like mine, it was the perfect solution to save space, but also make a quality upgrade. It wasn't cheap, but the machine looks like it's going to provide many years of service.John M., Seattle, WANovember 2007

This rating is not about the machine, but about the extremely poor and unsatisfactory customer service I am currently recieving from Felder USA.I ordered my A3 31 on July 2 of this year based on the review of an owner of the machine and the review in Fine Woodworking. Felder USA is very thorough with their contracts and policies for purchasing and shipping the tools, and I was happy to sign and send along all the paper work they required. As I arranged for final shippment for the week of August 6th, I inquired about a residential delivery with a lift-gate service and included the extra 100.00 to cover this fee. The machine arrived exactly when they said it would, however the lift-gate was not working and without it I was unable to off load my new machine. Trying to accomodate the shipper, I asked where he was going next and I was able to secure a dock in the next town that he could use and I would make further arrangements to pick it up at a later date. The driver signed off on the faulty lift gate and dropped my machine off at a local furniture company. Since that day I have been trying endlessly to receive a 100.00 refund from Felder USA and even though I have been told they sent a check and even tried sending out a second check, I have still received nothing on my end. Every time they sent out paperwork for me to sign and/or a request for funds the envelopes had no trouble finding their way to my door but it seems that a check cannot find it's way. When I first called Felder USA about the refund I was told it was not their fault that the lift-gate wasn't working and that I would have to get the money from the shipper personaly. I called the shipper on it and I was told that they would offer a refund of 50.00 but it would credit the account of Felder USA because that is who paid them for the shipping . It turns out that the shipper had only charged 50.00 extra and not 100.00 and when I inquired about this I was told that a MISTAKE had been made in my favor originally and I was getting a DEAL on the shipping. It seems very suspicious to me, and having seen the contracts and thorough paperwork that had been processed, I doubt that the folks a Felder USA make mistakes like that. Bottom line...... I paid an extra 100.00 for a service that I did not receive and I beleive I am entitled to be refunded that money. I have been going through many hoops for this money and it seems to me that the folks at Felder USA are hoping I will simply forget about the check. Due to a busy work schedule I haven't even been able to pick up my A3 31 and get it set up. I am sure that I will be very happy with the performance of the machine and I will be happy to give a review of it when it's up and running, but for now I would just like to inform anyone who is on the fence about which machine to get that they may want to use my expierience as aid in your final choice of machine. This has been a valuable lesson for me and I now know for a fact that nice guys really do finish last. I am trying to stay somewhat positive with Felder USA, not only for my money, but in hopes that I will receive fair customer service in the future if the machine needs service.

Click on a thumbnail to see a full sized image

Become a Better Woodworker

Save up to 56% on Fine Woodworking