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Hammer A3-31. First impressions

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Hornbeam

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I had my previous 12 inch planer thicknesser for at least 15 years and it has served me really well. I had spent the last 10 years thinking about buying a felder or similar replacement but always baulked at the price.

With some of the deals around at the start of lockdown I decided to go for it and having previously checked out a number of different machines went for the Hammer A3-31 with spiral block. 2 weeks ago I got the call from Milton Keynes to say it was ready to collect. While the purchase price was a very significant saving, Felder were quoting nearly £400 to deliver. Way too much for a tight git like me. I have a large van so half a days holiday and 6am start down to Milton Keynes and the machine wrapped in polythene on a palletwas quickly loaded by FLT through the side door. Back home for 1.30pm and straight into work.

So now to get over 300Kg of new machinery out of the vane safely. Big thanks to Norris who bought my old machine and after half an hour of careful manoeuvring we rolled it out onto a make shift transfer table and lowered the table. The pallet was moved on roller into my workshop and the machine rollered off the pallet. At all times care was taken not to put ant significant load onto the tables.

I checked all the tables for flatness and adjustment. All seems good and only minor adjustments to the fence stops were required. The surface finish on the cast tables is excellent

A electrician friend helped me wire it in in exchange for me machining some new slats for his garden bench. Ready to fire it up. The noise difference to my old machine is incredible whether free running or planing. The machine is much quieter than my panel saw and you don’t really need ear muffs. 4 hp should also provide more than adequate power

I tried some 6 inch wide American ash. The finish was so much better than from my previous 2 knife block. Some of this is down to brand new cutters but only a small portion. . I like the overhand guard but the plastic adjustment knob is just too small so will probably change it. The planer fence seems really nice and solid and doesn’t need to be removed when changing mode which is really easy both ways

The thicknesser feed rollers seem to have a lot more pressure than previous planer-thicknessers I have used. This means that if taking less than 0.5mm off then pressure marks from the infeed roller can just be seen. At 0.75mm removal these had gone. I expect this will vary with the hardness of the wood species. There is a very minimal amount of snipe just visible on both ends of the piece being thicknessed. I will make a thicknesser table extension as I think support is one of the key contributors..

Chipping extraction. I had always felt my extractor was a bit undersized for my old machine. With the Hammer there were hardly any chips left in either planing or thicknessing. This may not be the case if working at max capacity.

The machine is very compact and due to the size of my workshop that is a positive. Being able to leave it with both tables lifted gives me quite a bit extra space/access

The positives. Noise or lack of, small footprint, quality of finish, overall quality of machine

Negatives. The lever for engaging the thicknesser seems a bit flexible. The tab for stopping the tables dropping when in thickness mode is a bit poor. A couple of the bolts for the overhead guard protrude a little bit and I expect the plastic covers will fall off at some stage so may need to do a bit of fettling. It is quite a lot of hand cranking to lower the thickness table for changeover but I don’t think it’s a big issue

Before I bought I had looked at quite a few alternatives. Given that the machine cost a bit over £3k am I happy. Definitely yes.

If anybody is thinking of purchasing one and wants any further information give me a call.

I have a couple of cuft of walnut, another 5cuft of ash and 3cuft of oak to put through in the next couple of months so I will have a much better view by then

Ian
 

AJB Temple

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Good. Keep us updated Ian. I would like an upgrade as I am still using a pretty old trade Axi 10" PT that I bought second hand
 

Peter Sefton

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Sounds good, the Silent Power block is excellent I would definitely specify one if I were in the market. A few of my students have gone on to buy them and all speak very highly of it.
Just a note of caution, the blades are so good one of my mates didn't need to change them for two years but when the time came a few grub screws had fused to the block, so I suggest giving them a quarter turn every few months, be interesting to know if others have had that issue?

Cheers Peter
 

Doug B

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I’ve found keeping the thicknesser bed clean & lubricated really helps with the thicknessers performance, I use Felder’s super glide but there are cheaper alternatives.
Also their table extension accessory is well worth considering if you’re running long lengths it’s easy to set up & simple & quick to install & remove.
Happy planing.
 

Hornbeam

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I will be making my own table extensions with a tufnol surface. Felder/Hammer ones are way too expensive for me
 

PAC1

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Regular cleaning and maintenance is key especially the the screw threads for the rise and fall table. Six months ago I got to the point of finding raising and lowering the thicknesser table hard work and wished I had gone for the electric version. I then spent half a day cleaning and regreasing the machine especially the rise and fall mechanism threads and chain. I can now wind it up and down with one finger with no effort:oops:
 

Blackswanwood

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Ian I have got one of these on order - delivery last week in November - am counting down the days. Are you set up with 120mm dust extraction? My set up is all 100mm so looks like I need to get a reducer coming off the machine.
 

Baja-king

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Mine is due 1st week of October (my 50th birthday) I got a good deal too with the 'lockdown' pricing and 1/2 price on all the accessories.

I've been in the market for a A3-31 for many years and came close to the odd secondhand model but wanted the spiral block and 1 phase.
 

Nelly111s

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I’m interested in an A3-31 or even A3-41. Wasn’t aware there were deals on - are they advertised or should I enquire at MK?
 

Hornbeam

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I think they were offering some very good deals just at the start of lockdown when everything ground to a halt for a couple of weeks. I did a bit of haggling and got a bit more off. I think all machine prices have gone back to normal or even up now
Ian
 

Hornbeam

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Ian I have got one of these on order - delivery last week in November - am counting down the days. Are you set up with 120mm dust extraction? My set up is all 100mm so looks like I need to get a reducer coming off the machine.
I bought a 100/125 reducer for £5 from Axminster but it is slightly too big for the Hammer outlet so I have packer it with a rubber gasket. I didnt think my extractor would be good enough but so far it has been excellent. My extractor is right behind the planer and the duct run is only 2 metres
 

Blackswanwood

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I’m interested in an A3-31 or even A3-41. Wasn’t aware there were deals on - are they advertised or should I enquire at MK?
They don't seem to publish any prices and I just called them. They had a deal on that ended I think on the last Friday in August that I got in with - that's not to say this wasn't a sales ploy and they don't have more "offers" now.
 

Sean33

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I’m interested in an A3-31 or even A3-41. Wasn’t aware there were deals on - are they advertised or should I enquire at MK?
Hi There, Now dont get me wrong if i had had the budget i would have bought the Hammer at the time but i didn't. I ended up going with the Axminster, with the spiral cutter head, noise and finish of both machines are both exceptional. I have had the Axi for just over a year and it has taken everything i have thrown at it, have only just turned the cutter heads for the first time too. I dont think this is anything new as most threads i read seem to rate Axminsters service, but honestly was so impressed with them i actually bought there trade bandsaw over the Hammer just because of the service,
 

Hornbeam

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I thought the axminster machine was a very good machine but the Hammer was only 20%more and seemed much more substantial. It is 50Kg heavier and you could see that in the castings etc. I also thought a lot of the axi fittings were underengineered. My preference is always to buy towards the top end of my my requirements rather than try and flog a smaller machine
I note that teh axi block was a totally different design and has a lot more inserts for the same width
I also rate axminster service until your equipment goes out of date and then nothing
Ian
 

Ollie78

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Hi Ian.
I am glad you are pleased with the machine so far, mine is due in very soon. I have a question about what van you have as I also refuse to pay £400 for delivery.
I have a renault master and am hoping to use that, so I don`t need to hire a luton with a tail lift, I can get it forklifted out at my end. Do you think it will fit my van ok?
Blackswanwood - Ask them nicely and they might throw in a 100mm adaptor for free.....

Cheers
 

Doug B

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Hi Ian.
I am glad you are pleased with the machine so far, mine is due in very soon. I have a question about what van you have as I also refuse to pay £400 for delivery.
I have a renault master and am hoping to use that, so I don`t need to hire a luton with a tail lift, I can get it forklifted out at my end. Do you think it will fit my van ok?
Blackswanwood - Ask them nicely and they might throw in a 100mm adaptor for free.....

Cheers
If it helps Ian I fetched the bigger A3 41 in my transporter, they forklifted it into my van sadly it wasn’t as easy at the other end.
 

Ollie78

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Cheers Doug thats reassuring, I thought it should fit but had visions of some awkward packaging or something and it not fitting in.

Ollie
 

Chippyjoe

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Cheers Doug thats reassuring, I thought it should fit but had visions of some awkward packaging or something and it not fitting in.

Ollie
Felder should have emailed you with the pallet size the machine is on and the weight they normally do.

Mark.
 
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