review date: February 1, 2003
Note: Since our original review (below), Hammer has made many changes to the Combination Machine C3-31 under the same model number. Those changes are not reflected in this review.
UPDATE 12/2005: Hammer USA, a division of the Felder Group, has retooled its entire line of European-style combination machines to remedy many of the problems with the tool that were identified during our tool test. Changes include a beefier fence, reverse rotation for the shaper spindle, a dado system that keeps the blades at the edge of the sliding table, and a 4-hp motor.
Original Review, February, 2003:
The Hammer, while overall a nicely made machine in its price range, arrived with two major problems. For starters, there was severe vibration in the saw unit, resulting in very rough cuts. A company spokesman said this was due to a defective motor, so I tried another machine. I got much better rip and crosscut results, but the quality still was rough. The other problem was damage to the steel tracks in the sliding mortising table, which resulted in a bumpy ride. Hammer sent a new table that moved smoothly. There were smaller assembly problems that needed attention, too: a loose height-adjustment support block on the saw unit and an internal dust hose fastened in the wrong position.
The Hammer also has a few design problems, which have since been fixed by the manufacturer in its current model. The rip fence, which pivots to become the jointer fence, flexed under pressure and had three closely spaced clamp levers, which were annoying to deal with. The splitter also had too much flex, due to its placement on a long, weak arm. The mortising table didn't travel quite high enough to center a bit in 3/4-in.-thick stock, but this was remedied by inserting a scrap spacer between the workpiece and the table. Unlike the Rojek and MiniMax, the Hammer didn't offer reverse rotation on its shaper spindle, which would allow cutters to be flipped for safer orientation of certain workpieces. Also, using the five jack bolts underneath, I was unable to get the sliding table level throughout its stroke with the central saw table.
Editor Test Results: