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silz

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Edited to clean up the thread.
 
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Hornbeam

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I have literally collected a brand new Hammer A3 31 with spiral head. It is still in my van waiting unloading. I tried out a number of machines before I bought this. Sedgewick MB spiral and Hammer A3 31 which I both used for half an hour, Axminster 12 inch spiral, as well as a numbe rof older standard blade machines
Spiral on the Sedgewick and Hammer noticeably quieter to use. I thought the fittings on the axminster were bit poor and you had to remove the fence to change from planer to thicknesser. One of the things I dont like about some of te cheaper brands is that they constantly seem to change models so I dont know what spares will be like in the future. Sedgewick, Felder, Hammer I wouldnt expect this to be as much of an issue. Having said all that the Itech 260 seems to be a lot of machine for your money.
Cant comment on the finish from any machine as only machined fairly straight grained beech. It does seem that there are lots of variations on helix and spiral cutters.
ian
 

Trevanion

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Hmm, doesn't buying a Hammer A3 31 be more expensive as you have to deal with the import & if something goes wrong, the company is offshore?
You'd be dealing with Felder in Milton Keynes, there won't be any importing (Nothing you'd have to worry about anyway) and the after-service is excellent, for the most part.
 

Oaktree11

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Hi there,
I bought an Axminster AT310SPT secondhand recently and have used it quite a lot since I got it.
in general it is a really good machine. Quiet, brilliant finish and very efficient.
Be aware that you have to remove the fence to change between planing and thicknessing. It’s easy but some people find it tiresome.
When I got it, it was completely out of adjustment, and I mean completely. Both infeed and outfeed tables were out. There is a lot of scope for adjustment so it’s a nightmare In one way and a blessing in another. Nightmare because if you are having to fully adjust the tables, if you are not systematic, you can get lost in a frustrating circle of one adjustment altering another BUT, if you get it right, there is the range of adjustment to get it spot on.
i. Don’t much like the table locking mechanisms and it seems that they form part of the adjustment in that the tables are deflected by locking them down.
all in all it took me two weeks of fiddling to get it right. Admittedly learning as I went. Most tutorials you see assume that the machine is not too far from right to begin with so just go into the basic adjustments And maybe I was just unlucky!

I don’t know about the Itech in this respect, I considered it but then stumbled on this one at half new price so snapped it up

now it’s fettled it is a joy to use, I love it and the results are brilliant. If you do buy one and need help with adjustment I am glad to assist.

good luck

John
 

SamTheJarvis

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Can't recommend the iTech 260s - I got a 310s from Scosarg (who graciously took it back for free) - whole host of issues, primarily the outfeed table wasn't at the right height and isn't adjustable. Other than that, some cutters appeared to be blunt (left rough streaks in the wood), rollers seemed to make a mess of the wood, paint flaking off in places etc and alu fence was (slightly) twisted. As far as I know these are most likely all issues from the factory so, can't recommend them personally.
 

NigelParry

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I spoke to Scosarg (Mark Gibson) last week - super helpful. He confirmed they had stopped selling the 310s due to too many arriving well out of true but confirmed to me that the 260s did not have the same issues.
I wasn’t aware of a lack of adjustment on the outfeed - will check if it’s the same on the 260s - as you say that would be a concern !
As you can guess I’m also looking at the two types but had been heading towards ITECH due to previous positive reviews and what seems a better design.
 

Oaktree11

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@Oaktree11

Thank you for such a detailed response, it's really helpful to hear other people's experience in this area!

I am leaning towards the AT at the moment despite its disadvantages!

The used one that you found, how did you sort out transport for that?
hi there. Transport was an issue because of lockdown. Initially I was going to hire a tail lift Luton. It was 4 hours away from me in Hull. I didn’t want to risk that so I waited a few weeks (which was really frustrating) and eventually paid to have it collected by a similar vehicle. It was about £300. I had a heavy duty mobile base for it so unloading was just a matter of wheeling it off And pushing it into my workshop. It’s bloody heavy!

john
 

Oaktree11

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Rereading my initial reply I just want to clarify a bit. I think I might have appeared a bit hard on the machine. My problem was twofold. Inexperience was a big issue, I had a lot to learn one the job’, the other issue was that for some reason, my machine was so far out, I had trouble establishing a baseline to work from. I don’t think a new machine would be anything like as bad. It’s hard to describe. The good news is that both tables are comprehensively adjustable. the one thing not to mess with is the rotor which I used as the reference for everything.
hope this helps
John
 

Bristol_Rob

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My itech 260s arrived about 3 weeks ago. All good no issues.
Happy to answer any question you might have.
 

mikefab

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Just something else to consider...

I recently bought a planer and was considering a spiral head. I was strongly advised by the machinery dealer (JMJ woodworking) to stay away from a spiral head if there was going to be any softwood used on the machine, as all the little cutters and screws will fill up with resin and be a total pig to change. He also warned that while the makers promote the idea of only changing one cutter if there is a chip, in reality you have to change several since the new one will be slightly higher than the old ones around it and there will be a groove in the wood as a result.

We went for Tersa knives instead which are brilliant. I can change the 4 knife block in a couple of minutes, so much better than the HSS knives I had on the old machine which took forever to adjust. I’ve never tried a spiral cutter so have no personal experience but i am pleased with the alternative.

It’s not the same scenario as you: this is a machine used professionally by a few people so it needs to be bombproof and downtime for knife changes is lost money.

Tersa tends to only be an option on quite hi spec machines, but Hammer offer quick change knives (not tersa but similar) as the standard option on their machines and it may be worth considering these rather than the ‘upgrade’ to spiral. However if the noise is really important (and genuinely much better with spiral) then perhaps that has to be the overriding consideration for you. I bet they still aren’t quite though!
 

Bristol_Rob

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@Bristol_Rob

Thank you for your time!

What was the lead time in your case? Is there any major part of it that isn't adjustable, such as the table? I think that'd be my main concern :)
Good question on leadin times. I waited about 8-10 weeks for mine. But once you've paid and are locked in they hold you in the delivery slot. I wasn't messed around but did have to wait.
Was the itech 260s worth the wait? For me yes as I really wanted the dual top lift, but surprised by the small footprint when not using the table.
The guard folds down the rear side and fence slides over. Meaning nothing sticking out when not using it. Means a lot to me in my single car garage space.

The biggest seller is the top just lifts up without having to remove and store the fence like you do on the Axminster.
I visited Axminster and fully tested theres, so glad I waited for the Itech.

I did buy the Axminster mobile stand for it (400kg version) I had to cut the bars with a hack saw and now it fits perfectly around the base of the itech. So glad I pre-bought that. The itech is 200kg in weight and too heavy to move without it.

Love the simple leaver adjuster for the in-feed bed = very smooth and easy action.

So far all good with smooth results and no snipe out the box.
 

Bristol_Rob

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@Bristol_Rob

Thank you for your time!

What was the lead time in your case? Is there any major part of it that isn't adjustable, such as the table? I think that'd be my main concern :)
Oh yes, I checked the beds with my Veritas Steel straight edge, I found the in-feed bed had a 0.5mm dip in the middle of the bed. But the rear edge and the edge by the cutter block perfect. So good enough for my needs.
 

Bristol_Rob

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@Bristol_Rob

Thank you for your time!

What was the lead time in your case? Is there any major part of it that isn't adjustable, such as the table? I think that'd be my main concern :)
I'm not sure about adjusting the table.
I took a couple of photos of mine which shows an adjustable bolt to the outfield table table on the lock side and 4 large grub screws to the hinge side which maybe the method of adjusting.
It definitely doesn't have the kind of adjusting you see on the larger professional grade machines.

If you give me you email I can email the photos I took.
If you are near Bristol, you are welcome to pop over and get a hands on inspection of mine
Or if you have and iPhone we could face time and i could let you see mine that way. Let me know if i can help.

However if you are near S&G's sales office I think they have a demo machine you could look at.

Or I can give you the mobile number of the sales guys who helped me. He didn't know everything, but did go of and get me my questions answered
 

Doug B

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I recently bought a planer and was considering a spiral head. I was strongly advised by the machinery dealer (JMJ woodworking) to stay away from a spiral head if there was going to be any softwood used on the machine, as all the little cutters and screws will fill up with resin and be a total pig to change.
Really interested to read this Mike & as I’ve run an lot of pine through the planer thicknesser over the last couple of months certainly 10+ large extractor bags worth so as I’m in the workshop I’ve popped the tables up to look & took a photo
878EE725-77FD-47D2-BFE8-1F8B824C0CA6.jpeg

Whilst there’s plenty of resin build up in the gullets under the tips the screwheads are clear & the general build up of resin in the gullets is certainly no worse than I used to have to clean out prior to blade change on my old Wadkin.

He also warned that while the makers promote the idea of only changing one cutter if there is a chip, in reality you have to change several since the new one will be slightly higher than the old ones around it and there will be a groove in the wood as a result.
I just say in fairness to Felder/Hammer they did explain it wasn’t just a case of swapping one tip if one got chipped.
Previously on my Wadkin planer I found just general planing of any knotty wood could lead to small chips in the blades I have not experienced in 9 years of having spiral blocks a single chip in a carbide tip.

However if the noise is really important (and genuinely much better with spiral) then perhaps that has to be the overriding consideration for you. I bet they still aren’t quite though!
With regard to noise & I can only comment on the machines I’ve used but can confirm the spiral block is considerably quieter. The best example I can give is with my Wadkin running I couldn’t hear the extractor & would look round to check the shavings were swirling around the extractor bag about 5’ away, with the spiral block I can hear the extractor above the noise of planer
 

mikefab

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Really interested to read this Mike & as I’ve run an lot of pine through the planer thicknesser over the last couple of months certainly 10+ large extractor bags worth so as I’m in the workshop I’ve popped the tables up to look & took a photo
Well that’s interesting to see Doug. It certainly doesn’t look too bad and the noise levels sound great!
 

Spectric

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Hi there

If you don't want spiral head cutters then another option is to use the ESTA knife system from ESTA Knife System.

This uses reversable blades that fit into a holder which replaces the std holder and self aligns so no fuss with jigs or bits of wood etc. I have them fitted on my Record PT107 and it is a massive improvement. They do a range of sizes to fit many other machines.



 

Bristol_Rob

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I had an electrican advise me on my electrical needs and he installed a proper 16amp socket for me.
He advised that the machine will create a huge load on start up (exceding 16amps) and then dropping down to much lower levels once the cutter head is up to speed.
On that basis I strongly recommend you also install the proper 16amp socket.

S&G's customer service is OK. They respond in a reasonable time and yes, they took the full value of the sale months before shipping. Maybe I could have paid a deposit - not sure, I never asked. But I did put it on my credit card in case anything happened! (for the insurance ;)
 

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Trevanion

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Bear in mind that a spiral cutter block needs that much more power to plane timber as the cutter block is in constant contact with the timber as opposed to a traditional HSS knife cutter block which strikes only as many knives are in the block per revolution and doesn't require so much power whilst being able to take a much larger cut at the same time. Anything that's around and over 2kw really needs to be run off a 16A supply, and any half-decent PT is going to be that much.

I'd personally shelve the spiral cutter idea and just get a machine with a traditional cutter block, the spiral cutter really only has a massive advantage when working extraordinarily hard and non-compliant timbers that the likes of Custard would be using with a small positive of being a bit quieter, they're only a lot quieter than a brushed motor lunchbox thicknesser, when compared with a like for like machine and the ony difference is the block there isn't a hell of a lot in it.

Good machining practice with a traditional cutter block will have much the same results as a spiral, at a fraction of the cost.
 
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