In March of this year, this website turned a decade old. And before writing this, I noticed there are 1,099 articles (posts) on this website. So much has changed on this website. I’m on my 4th or 5th major theme change and 4th hosting provider. It’s interesting to look back and see how things have changed and, more importantly, why they changed.
The same holds true for my shop. A lot has changed from the beginning days. My first shop was the living room and kitchen in a single-wide mobile home. My second shop was in a run-down 3-bed 1-bath apartment in the apartment complex where I worked maintenance. My third shop was 2-car garage in our first home. And my 4th and current shop is a 1200 square foot 30’x40′ pole barn. So much has changed, and I feel like all I did was blink!
Tools have changed along the way as well. Be it for good or bad, we live in the time of abundance. You can basically have anything you want, so long as you earn it. I tell my daughter that every time she asks for something. We have options for everything. Some options are pursued simply because you want them, and other options are pursued because it’s the best fit for the situation. When I got the Hammer A3-41 it was the best option for my situation and checked a ton of boxes for me. It’s such a fantastic machine.
The Hammer A3-41 is a combination jointer and planer machine. The 41 in the name identifies the cutting width of 41cm, which is basically 16″. A 16″ jointer! Sign me up for that!! And so I did sign up for that and got one. That machine replaced my 8″ jointer and my 13″ planer. It took up the same space as the jointer while freeing up the space needed for the planer. I was in a 2 car garage with limited space, so the combination aspect was a huge motivating factor to get it. The major downside was the time it took to switch back and forth between jointer and planer mode. That and the small planer table, which can easily be remedied with an axillary bed.
I got the A3-41 in late 2018 if my memory serves me well. Shortly after getting it, I moved to my current shop, which is exactly 3 times the size of the last shop. That negated the need for a combination machine. Shortly after moving here I also got a full-size CNC machine. A CNC that can also flatten large and heavy boards and slabs much easier than running them through the jointer.
I don’t like to take on commissioned work but I do have a woodworking friend who is also my one and only paying customer. I flatten a lot of epoxy table tops for him with my CNC machine and occasionally do some VCarve work. For a while now, he’s been saying “Let me know when you want to sell that jointer” and “Are you ready to sell it yet?” One day he caught me in the right mood because I agreed to sell it to him.
Why did I sell a machine that I personally considered a “forever” machine? Well, first, I’ve realized the only thing in life that is “forever” is family. And second, the major selling points (outside of the great performance) were the space savings and the jointer capacity, neither of which are a concern anymore. I’ve used the full jointer width a time or two and my shop isn’t starving for space anymore. If I need to flatten anything around 16″ wide I’m opting for my CNC. Switching back and forth became an annoyance as well. During the majority of builds, I would have to unecessarily switch back and forth a few times because I either, A, damaged a piece and needed to re-create it or, B, I simply forgot about another component. Switching back and forth once per build is not that annoying, but when your brain is as scattered as mine has become, the constant switching became an annoyance.
So what’s going to replace it? A dedicated jointer and a dedicated planer. No more switching back and forth. I’m done. No more. I added a bit more money and purchased an Oliver 15″ helical head planer and an Oliver 12″ helical head jointer. I’ve had them set up for a few weeks now and have completed 2 projects in the shop with them in place in a new shop layout. I’ve got all of my machines and working area on one side of the shop and the entire other half of the shop is a giant flex space for assembly and whatnot.
I’ll show them and their placement in an upcoming shop tour video. In the mean time, I figured writing this article would be a good way to explain my madness, and also provide a good landing place to point people to for the upcoming questions that I know will arrive soon.
That’s all for now. I’m clicking publish on this post so I can fire up Davinci Resolve and edit another video for the outdoor kitchen build. It’s all coming together and we’re really enjoying the space now. Take care, and I’ll talk to ya in the next one.