I Tawt I Taw a Combo Saw

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.

1. Price

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?

Minimax-C26-Genius

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?

8556475411_a08c5d1d84_z

So let’s look closer at the C26 particularly, as it is one that I saw at my recent road trip to Gabbett Machinery.

1. Price

C26 Stand-alone
10″ Saw w sliding table $5400 $1900
10″ Jointer $1400 (8″)
10″ Thicknesser $1500 (15″)
$2000 (10″ combo)
Spindle Moulder $1300
Mortiser +$500? $860

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

C26 Stand-alone
10″ Saw w sliding table 5.2m2 4.9m2
10″ Jointer 1.3m2
10″ Thicknesser 0.9m2
 (or 10″ combo) 0.8m2
Spindle Moulder 0.5m2
Mortiser 0.7m2

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.

 

4 Responses

  1. I agree that a serious combo workshop machines look impressive in size and ruggedness. Unfortunately, most people can’t spend that kind of money so they fall in to the infomercial category. Then graduate up to something with some accuracy and convenience where they don’t have to keep making set up changes for every different use. Unfortunately again they still can’t afford $5400 chunk out of their budget for a hobby, so they buy $1200 items one at a time.

  2. I have found the combo machine great (minimax CU310) I have been using it for several years now and have found it great on panel work etc. but you still have some limitations in changing set ups between operations, realy would be good it they had left tilt blade, chanel groove down both sides of blade, dado blades cant be fitted eather. All this aside they are solid reliable machine that has never let me down and would recoment this model to anybody looking to improve the quality of there work or setting up a workshop for the first time.

  3. I’ve received a quote for this machine of $7617 with a show price listing at $6295 plus $400-$500 for freight charges to my city. Am I being taken for a ride? In this article the machine is listed at $5400.

    • On the iwoodlike.com website (Australian site), it is now listed as $5299, so make sure you are comparing apples with apples.

      Moreso, the Australia dollar was about 14c stronger than it is now compared to the US dollar when the article was written.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: