Combination machines are often underrated, or overlooked when considering workshop machines. If you have the space, then a machine dedicated to one task must be better than one trying to be all things to all people right?
It is the public gym vs infomercial war all over again, in some minds: don’t buy a machine that can only do one thing, buy this workout zone for home and get 99 functions in 1. Sounds great, but we also know for these sales pitches, the resulting contraption is built cheap. After all, you don’t get 1 for 10 easy payments of $99.95, but they will throw in a second one for free, and an exercise mat to boot.
If you have the workshop floor area, why would you consider a combo machine, when 2 or 3 individual machines, each dedicated to the one task must be better.
Well that is not always the case.
There are a number of reasons to consider a combo machine in the workshop.
Overall, it will typically be a lot more expensive than one of the machines it is replacing, but add them all together, and the price starts becoming rather competitive.
2. Floor Space
Unless you own the Taj Mahal of sheds, we are all space-poor to one degree or another, and some machines can be combined to minimise their overall demand on space, especially where they can share common infeed and outfeed areas.
3. Increased Capacity
If you buy a jointer, a 6″ jointer is a reasonable price, an 8″ adds about 60% to the price, and a 12″ about 4x the price.
It means as a stand-alone machine, few will be able to justify a 10″ – 12″ jointer. But if you get a combination jointer-thicknesser, a 10″ or 12″ capacity for the jointer is not uncommon.
It makes me really wonder why the stand-alone jointers of that size are so expensive? You can buy a 15″ thicknesser for a fraction of the price of a 12″ jointer.
4. Access to machines you otherwise wouldn’t get
A combo machine like a jointer/thicknesser is just that, a couple of machines combined. But what about the multi-machine combinations?
The MiniMax C26 for example combines a 10″ tablesaw (with sliding table), a 10″ jointer, 10″ thicknesser, a spindle moulder, and optionally a mortiser to boot.
You may be looking for the typical combo of the saw, jointer and thicknesser, which means the spindle moulder and mortiser are bonuses – you may not have planned on buying them otherwise, but who’d say no if they are included?
So let’s look closer at the C26 particularly, as it is one that I saw at my recent road trip to Gabbett Machinery.
|10″ Saw w sliding table||$5400||$1900|
|10″ Jointer||$1400 (8″)|
|10″ Thicknesser||$1500 (15″)|
|$2000 (10″ combo)|
Ignoring the mortiser, as that price is a total guess, the C26 at $5400 compares very closely to $5200 of the stand alone machines (if you still consider the combo jointer/thicknesser), or $6100 of totally independent machines. There are
2. Floor Space
|10″ Saw w sliding table||5.2m2||4.9m2|
|(or 10″ combo)||0.8m2|
C26 footprint 5.2m2 (that includes the area of the sliding table with the arm out at an operational position).
Standalone machines 8.3m2
And this is just the foot print of the machines themselves, not including the typical amount of space you’d leave around each machine for access, or the infeed and outfeed areas, which is significant!
There is no question about it – a combo machine saves a fortune in shed space.
The increased capacity is primarily around the jointer – getting a 10″ jointer or larger is exceptionally expensive stand alone, but not so much so when part of a combination. The 6″ jointer I have has always been quite a limitation for me – couldn’t justify getting a larger one, but have often found it to be a limitation.
As to machines you wouldn’t otherwise have, that is a personal issue. For me, I don’t have a mortiser or spindle moulder, so that would be the win from having a combo (not to mention the increased jointer capacity). The other thing I don’t have is the sliding table, which can prove exceptionally useful if you are trying to do a lot of crosscutting on the tablesaw.
So unlike cheap exercise equipment sold on late-night TV, a serious combo workshop machine is something well worth considering when looking at setting up a workshop. They are not cheap, but as shown, it is comparable to the machines they replace, and they save a fortune in workshop real estate. As I am discovering with the current shed build, workshop floorspace is worth a small fortune, and being able to save many multiple square metres is worth a lot, much more than the cost of the machine.
The Minimax C26 in particular was from Gabbett Machinery.