The Hammer A3-31 is currently fulfilling the role of the Jointer and Planer in the lab. The main reason that I chose this machine is its small footprint yet large capacity. As the name implies, the machine is capable of working with rough stock that is a maximum of 310mm or 12 -1/4" wide.

 

The Options

Of the available options for cutterheads, I chose to go with the "Silent Power" cutterhead. This is a helical cutterhead, the main advantage being that it uses replaceable carbide inserts. If an insert is ever chipped or dull all that is required is loosening a torque bolt and rotating the cutter 90º. Another advantage is that the inserts are designed and positioned in such a way as to make smaller chips, put less strain on the motor and reduce tearout all while being a quieter than a straight blade.

In the future I do plan on purchasing the "digital height gauge" as well as extensions for the tables when jointing or planing longer boards but for now I manage just fine without them.

The Good

This machine has been great from the start with only a minor problem but I will get to that later. After locking the fence in to 90º I have gotten consistent 90º edges without having to double check the fence (although I still do on critical edges).

 

The Euro style jointer guard is great! I have used many North American "porkchop" style guards but these all have the problem of exposing the cutter as you pass the board through. With the Euro style guard the cutterhead is always covered, which in my opinion is much safer.

Converting the machine to a planer is quite simple and in my situation, the lost time was made up for by having the extra floor space. To change you simply release the table, flip the table up, then flip the dust collector over to the planing mode, simple as 1-2-3. 

My first time running a board through the planer I learned something CRITICAL about this machine. I ended up with SNIPE! Now the snipe wasn't terrible but disappointing when I was expecting to have no snipe. I assessed what I was doing and realized I didn't fully tighten the table height adjustment knob. Once this was tightened I ran the board through and ended up with a perfectly planned board with NO snipe. TIGHTEN THE TABLE LOCK! 

The Bad

Although this machine has been great there was one problem upon delivery. One of the parts connected to the fence required a bend and during the manufacturing process it was off by a few degrees. This meant that my fence would adjust from 0 - 11 1/2" but not the full 12". I contacted Felder and they were quick to send somebody out and replace the part so no problems there. 

The only other negative aspect that I have come across is the time it takes to raise and lower the table each time you switch from jointer to planer. This is hard to knock them for though as a larger (and faster) thread pitch would make it harder to make minor adjustments. This is a minor complaint and by no means takes away from my happiness with this machine.

The Mobile kit... now the kit works, but on this machine in particular it is mounted to the front. This means that you cannot move it through any opening less than 60" wide, kinda a pain. Another thing to note is that the axel and fasteners for the wheels are made of untreated steel. If your shop is not climate controlled these will rust if you don't take preventative measures. I am happy with where my machines are located right now so I will be taking the kit off but If I decide I want to keep them as mobile I will be machining these parts out of stainless steel which is what I believe they should have been made of.

Overall

I think this is a great option if you are looking for a Jointer and Planer for a small shop. If you have the budget for the larger A3-41 I would go with that but there will always be a board thats just a bit too wide.

Hammer A3-31