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 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.