Hammer A3 31 updated review

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Hornbeam

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I have now had the Hammer A3-31 for about 3 months so after my initial review, Hammer A3-31. First impressions have my thoughts changed

During the last 3 months, I have used the machine regularly and machined oak, American white ash, American walnut, Iroko and cherry.

One of the reasons I went for the Hammer with lifting tables was its compact footprint. I usually leave the machine in thickness mode with the tables folded up. Had I known how compact this was going to make it I might have been tempted by the larger A3-41.

I have split my comments on the machine into sections

Planer.

Despite being an aluminium extrusion on a rail at the end of the infeed table, the fence is very secure possibly due to the additional securing knob on the guard. I had to adjust the stop screws on the tilt mechanism when I set it up but these have remained perfect.

Adjustment of the infeed table is by a lever with no locking facility. In practice this is very easy and quick and doesn’t move in use. The table finish is very good but does seem quite soft (for cast iron) and has marked from a resinous knot

The bridge guard is quite small but totally adequate and is easy to transfer your hand over and onto the outfeed side when planing.

In all I have found it extremely user friendly and easy to produce material with 2 square edges



Thicknesser

My comments on the thicknesser are slightly less positive. The thickener table was heavily impregnated with dirt, possibly corrosion inhibitor/oil. Despite numerous cleans it is still slightly present but reducing (very visible on white ash)

At times the thicknesser struggles to pull the timber through. Most of this has been solved by cleaning and waxing the table

Snipe. There is a very small amount of snipe present which can be eliminated by careful feed and removal of the workpiece. To my thinking the thicknesser bed is too short so I will be making and fitting extensions. The outfeed side is quite easy as this is already drilled for Hammers own table extension, but the infeed will need a bit of thought, particularly given the position of the handwheel

I bought the handwheel dial gauge as an extra which is really nice. One revolution of the handwheel is 2mm. It would be nice ii the handwheel handle was at the top/bottom for full millimetre measurements. A minor niggle but one I have got round by marking the handwheel



General

Change over from planer to thicknesser. This is really quick except winding the thicknesser table down to 170mm. It is a bit of a pain but not a major issue. The fence stays set at all times so this is areal bonus. One pain is the locking lever for the fence guard arm sticks out and I have caught my face on it as i crouched down to check thicknesser setting

The finish from the spiral block is excellent even on interlocked and swirling grain

Noise. my extractor is louder

Extraction is very good, however my extractor is not quite up to the job and I will be upgrading this next year.

Power. The thicknesser will take 1mm cuts on 10 inch wide American ash which is quite a tough timber. I havent tried any really hard exotics. I have not had any noticeable resin build up around the cutter block inserts however I haven’t been planing resinous timbers

Controls. There are only 2 buttons on the front of the machine. I would prefer an additional stop button on the outfeed side (of the thicknesser) so it can be knocked off with a foot



Still very happy with it and should have bought it a lot earlier ( I mulled it over for several years)

If anybody want any more information drop me a pm.

Quite happy to let someone have a demo if they are thinking of buying (once Covid restrictions have finished)
 

woodieallen

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I seem to recall seeing a 'mod' done to the digital control where you used an electric drill to wind it up and down quickly. I have a combi and which has similar workings. I agree with a lot of what you said...my two gripes are the fence is not that good at maintaining zero and I'm concerned about the lever that puts it into thicknesser mode as it is getting harder and harder to move between settings.
 

Doug B

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I seem to recall seeing a 'mod' done to the digital control where you used an electric drill to wind it up and down quickly.
Could have been mine I made this


8B61494F-71BF-41D3-8A83-BFA0F129A758.jpeg


This is it in action though I tend not to run it this fast & I use the torque setting on the drill just in case anything on the planer should jam.

 

Ollie78

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Hi Hornbeam

A good write up and I can agree with most of it having owned my A3-31 for a similar time.
I have managed to all but eliminate snipe by adjusting the roller tension but I find that there is a sort of sweet spot between zero snipe and the rollers having enough grip to pull heavier stuff through.

I wonder if any machines have a rough and fine mode lever which would be great for getting everything square and then putting it on fine mode for the last pass.

My machine has performed extremely well, I have a couple of niggles. First I am not super keen on the handle for engaging and disengaging the rollers, I find it a bit awkward and sometimes forget to disengage it when planing.
The other is the bridge guard, my planer sits fairly near the table saw and so the guard can sometimes stick out too far and get awkward, sometimes I have to take it off ( I know its not ideal) . This is not a major problem and I am sure fine if you have more space but some of the Felder machines have guards with hinges in them for this exact reason. I am wondering if I could make a 3d printed hinge and adapt it.

Other than that it's a great machine.

Ollie
 

Derek Cohen (Perth Oz)

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Snipe. There is a very small amount of snipe present which can be eliminated by careful feed and removal of the workpiece. To my thinking the thicknesser bed is too short so I will be making and fitting extensions. The outfeed side is quite easy as this is already drilled for Hammers own table extension, but the infeed will need a bit of thought, particularly given the position of the handwheel

I have had a A3-31 for about 7 years now. Never experienced snipe. Not once. I also do not use extensions for either the infeed or outfeed - I have one, but never needed it, and it went on my K3 slider.

If you experience any snipe, you need to adjust your outfeed bed. The length of the bed is long enough for most boards. I rarely joint longer than 3m.

Regards from Perth

Derek
 
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