Doc's Tool Review or "The Wall of Shame"
My rating system is simple. I want a tool to work, right out of the box and to last longer than a couple of years, and give me accurate results. My milling machine was made before I was born, so was my metal lathe. They both work perfectly.
Cheap (and it works some of the time)
Grizzly 12 Disk Sander.
I purchased this about a year ago. I needed to sand the ends of my bowl segments. The disk had so much run out that I just could not use it. I contacted Grizzly and they were real good about it. They said "it's under warranty" so I boxed it up and sent it back. They shipped it back to me and said the run out was acceptable, and if I wanted a machine that runs true, I needed to buy their $500 sander. Right! Sure I will.
I removed the disk and turned it true on a lathe. Now it runs true but it is so out of balance that the sander shakes everything (including itself) off the work bench. I bolted it to the table, and bolted the table to the floor, so now it shakes things off the shelves but at least it stays on the table. No mail order the next time, I want to see the disk spin before I take out my wallet.
Update my stepson made me a new disc out of solid piece of aluminum. It runs true now.
1/12/08 Today the on/off switch broke.
Rating = Avoid
Grizzly 20" Disc Sander
I purchased this used from a southern Pennsylvania machinery company. The owner told me that it had .020 run out in the disk. When I said that was not acceptable to me. He later contacted me and said that his shop had reworked the disk and it had <.005 after the rework. I trusted him and went and bought the machine without testing it myself. Big mistake! When we got it in the shop and put an indicator on it it almost went off the scale.
If I tightened the screws on the hub with an indicator on the disk, it would run the indicator to its max. I took it apart and discovered they had worked on it. Instead of facing the hub they bored the hole for the motor shaft bigger and stuffed a shim in the gap. Then they left the screws loose because the tighter they where, the more run out it had. I put the hub in my scrap metal barrel and ordered a new one. It now runs true over about 95% of the disc and the low spot has less than .005 run out. I am ok with that.
Update: spring of 2014, it burned out the capacitors. Gable's electric got me a new set in a day, works ok now.
Rating = ?? You get what you pay for, but in this case I have more money in it now than a brand new one would have cost me.
Grizzly 14" band saw.
I've had this one for about two years.
I don't know why they call this a 14" saw. It will only cut a little over 12" unless you remove the fence and then It will only cut a little over 13" I'd call that a 13"
I have the 6" extension on it. That went on without a problem. but if you cut anything close to 12" thick. (Its capacity with the extension) the saw is grossly underpowered and will stall the motor if you put anything but the lightest pressure on the stock.
In my opinion the table is too small, and the locks for the tilt are pure junk. They just do not hold the table tight enough and the table needs to be adjusted constantly to keep it square, if you are cutting big stock.
The bearings are constantly freezing up on the lower blade guides. I suppose this is because I cut a lot of green wood, and the moisture gets into the bearings. I will replace them with a domestic sealed bearing and see if it helps. Note: I found that roller skate bearings are exactly the same and are cheap. I bought about 50, so I will replace them regularly.
Rating = "Cheap"
Grizzly 13 Plainer/Molder
I've had this for a few years. It was the first planner I have used/owned so I did not know what to look for in a planner. Now I do. I like this tool except for two things listed below. I cut 6" off every board to get rid for the snipe and burn it. You get lots for firewood with one of these anyway. Note: if you need a 6' board you have to start with 6.5" or 7'. I use rollers on both end. See my note below.
Rating = "?" I would not buy this again. Except for the snipe it works fine, But for the money I spent I'm disappointed. This was NOT cheap.
Grizzly 6" jointer
This has been the best of my grizzly tools. It is about three years old. The only bad thing was that the stock belt was junk and made the machine vibrate and rattle. A good quality belt fixed that problem and the machine has worked perfectly for me.
Rating = "Buy"
Craftsman 10" table saw
I've had this for over 20 years and use it constantly. After about 18 years the motor went bad but the local motor shop fixed it. It will never win an award for being a super accurate tool, but it has paid for itself many times. This will be the next tool in my shop to get replaced. I would not recommend a tool with an aluminum table, the table leaves marks on light colored wood.
Rating = "Decent"
Delta Knife Sharpener
I got this to sharpen the knives on my planner and jointer. It is a nice machine, but setup gave me some trouble. The table was so far out of square I had to rework the machine to get it to work. Once I corrected the problem it has worked fine.
Rating = "Buy" if you can fix it yourself.
Craftsman 12" Wood Lathe
I bought this used from an uncle. It was in very good condition. It works good and I use it daily. The tailstock could use lots of improvement. I think it is the worst tailstock arrangement I have ever used. This one has a 1/2 HP motor. I think it would be much better with a 1 hp motor. The lowest speed is also too fast. I think it is about 650 RPM should be about 200. I paid the going price of 100.00 for it. It was worth that. Except for the things listed, it works okay. I use it for finish sanding and applying finish, but I never turn anything on it.
Rating = "Decent"
Atlas 10" metal lathe converted to a wood lathe
I got this lathe from my dad. It has been in our family for almost 50 years. It had been used as a wood lathe in a factory maintenance shop before that.
I once saw an ad on EBay advertising one as a "Heavy Duty Metal Lathe" I don't think so, I worked in a machine shop for years. The tool carnages on these were very light duty and flexed with anything but light cuts. They were nice little hobby lathes. Today they are cheap and there are lots of them around. Parts are on Ebay every day. It works, You just have to take small cuts.
Rating = obsolete
18" "shop built" Wood Lathe
I built this lathe in my shop. it has a 1hp DC variable speed direct drive motor and a 18" swing. I built it for coring bowls. It works great and I use it all the time. I used an atlas spindle and a Vicmarc 1.5" chuck. Since I got the Nova I only use this for finishing. When I have a lot going on in the shop is is nice to have several chucks set up so I can put a fresh coat of oil on several bowls before I close up for the night.
Rating = ??
Nova DVR XP Lathe /w outboard attachment
My wife bought me this a few years back. Had some trouble with a lose connection on the board at first. My soldering iron fixed it.
I have really liked this machine. It is probably the best thing in my shop
Rating = Buy
8.5" Master Mechanic Miter Saw
My wife bought me this for a Christmas gift a coupe years ago. A great tool. Very accurate. I like it.
Rating = Buy
Van Norman # 10 Milling Machine
I got this a couple years ago.. It works good, I use it to make fixtures and stuff around the shop. In its day it was the Cadillac of mills (Power feed even), it is still accurate. It converts from horizontal to vertical, and will take off stock in a hurry. I like it and it was affordable. I have spent a couple hundred dollars in tooling and parts for it. I like it, but ... after years of using Bridgeport, I sure miss having a quill. If I ever see a deal on a Bridgeport nearby, I may trade.
Rating = obsolete
Boyer Shultz Surface Grinder
For making fixtures and stuff in the shop. It works good, but it takes some muscle to rock the table back and forth on this one. I think if you used this thing all day long you would get a very big left arm. I need to learn how to scrape ways.
A great old machine.
Rating = obsolete
I bought this new on EBay cheap. No name brand on it anywhere. Has a 1 horse motor, and two vertical bags. I run a separator and a 30 gallon trash can to catch the chips before they go to the bags. I have a plastic pipe system running to each machine with a gate on each. I keep the collector and separator in a separate room so I do not have to hear it running (its noisy) I use a wireless remote (Wal-Mart Christmas tree unit.) to turn it on and off. Works good as long as I only open one gate at a time and the bags don't get too dirty. Only problem with having it in another room is that I sometimes forget to turn it off when I leave the shop because I can hardly hear it. I may put a light up to remind me when it is running.
This was a great buy for the money, It has lasted for years. Next time I will go a little bigger.
Rating = Buy
Delta 18/36 Drum Sander
Just got this, in April 2009. Had trouble right out of the crate. I spent half a day on the phone with tech support, should have sent this thing back. Will not stay in adjustment. Anytime you move the table up or down more than 1/8", you have to readjust the corners for flatness. That takes hours. I'm sorry I bought this. At the time they were getting great reviews. Now that people have had them for a while they see the problems, and most hate them. I now see several reviews using the word junk.
Rating = Avoid
Other woodworking tools in my shop include a belt sander over 40 years old and going strong, a shop made drum sander, a press and a drill press. I still have my great-grandfathers wood lathe that I learned to turn on in the 60's but I don't use it anymore. It has sleeve bearings, and will only turn 8" diameter.
I have a few powered metal gouges 2030 & 20060. I like them, they hold an edge very well.
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Last modified: 01/22/15