Fine Woodworking Sees Green - Go Figure

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I picked up a copy of Fine Woodworking yesterday and nearly fell out of my chair. Not only did they feature a Grizzly G0500 in their review of jointers under $1,400; they even declared it their choice of eight machines they tested! In a video featured on their web site Bill Duckworth even points out that the Grizzly provided the kind of cut you want in a jointer.
RonB
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RonB wrote:

And your point is????
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Just surprised. FWW is a fine magazine but many of their product reports seem to be limited to a rather predictable group of manufacturers. I think they are doing their readers a service when they expand to include other good equipment.
Thats all - surprised.
RonB
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RonB wrote:

I still fail to see why. I believe Grizzly has at least been in virtually all stationary equipment reviews I can recall over the last several years...and I strongly suspect if/when they haven't been, it's because they (Grizzly) haven't responded to requests for equipment from the reviewers.
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I honestly do not remember them being included that much. I say that as a fairly new subscriber who has been buying news stand copies or mooching reads from a cousin for years. To test a hunch I did a simple magazine index search on the word "grizzly" in their website. It came back with 17 hits that included about 14 issues. This goes back to 1995 and includes some smaller items like sanders, brad nailers, router bits, etc. This might not be an accurate way of determining actual appearances but it doesn't seem like much when compared to mainstream woodworking magazines.
Before anyone goes nuts, I do not consider FWW to be a mainstream magazine. It might have a fairly large following but the projects and skills shown fit a smaller sample of woodworkers than most of the mags. The magazine has an elitist tone that probably serves the skill level of writers and contributors; but perhaps not all of their readers. This is not a complaint because, in a way, it adds to the appeal of the book. I do find it a little curious that they chose to rerun a very early article regarding "woodbutchers". It might have seemed appropriate in their early days but it probably insulted some of their readers that do fit the mold of a mainstream woodworker. We are amatures, we know it and we are trying to improve our skills with FWW.
RonB
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RonB said:

I too, read that article and wondered why they ran it. It definitely came off as an elitist slur against anyone who might be an amateur.
Very few are truly 'Masters' of anything - and only the most hubris would claim otherwise. You stop learning (and making mistakes) the day you die.
Besides, it's not a mistake, it's a feature...
Greg G.
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"Greg G." wrote:

As a subscriber since about the fifth or sixth issue, I'd say the level of "elitism" has waxed and waned somewhat over the years, but the level was _much_, _much_ higher years ago than now. I recalled the endpage article and at the time that was essentially humour...
I think over the last two or three years the general content has gone down quite a lot in order to try to be a broader base audience and I also think the overall quality of the regular contributors isn't quite what it was in the early days. But it takes quite a fella' to replace a Tage Frid.
The Gallery is as good as always although again the emphasis on what type of work is featured heavily has changed over the years.
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Duane Bozarth said:

I had the uneasy feeling of not being sure if they were joking, or specifically picking on me... ;-) I was haunted for days by the fear that I, too, was unworthy of cutting into a chunk of cherry and discovering a hidden gem, or whiffing the sweet smell of sawdust.
That my tools were mocking me, laughing behind my back at the dullard who clumsily handled them. Every remotely visible glue line, every slight distortion in the plane of a glued-up table top, each table leg that varied the slightest of a centimeter from it's kin, shrieked "Incompetent!" at me. The siren song of the wood catalogs suddenly waned - sounding now to be no more than brazen schemes to filch a gold coin from my pocket.
Then I went to the store and look at what was for sale. Bahh!

I grew up surrounded by truly talented people. Some were kinda weird, but when it came down to knowledge, skill, and competence - they had what it took to do the job - everything else became irrelevant.
My father would drag me around to different electronics shops and distributors as a child - and I never heard him speak more than a few hundred words in his life. But I met a multitude of people, and these became a major part of my education. They were just ordinary people you wouldn't look twice at on the street. But if you paused to look closer, they stood out as shining stars in the night.
But I see more and more of these people dying off and retiring, and there is no one replacing them. Depth and breadth are like a receding tide...

The Gallery is one of the first things I flip to. We don't need no steenkin store bought plans, and don't have a desire to build the perfect replica of a stale old design. I look to this section for inspiration. Although the 'melting' lamp and chest were pretty strange, try calculating angles and tweaking the fit on that puppy!
Greg G.
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Snipped for brevity
Every remotely visible glue line, every

Great post!

And that's where we come in, to keep alive some shred of creativity, and quality.
Grab that torch!
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Stephen M said:

Thanks! Sometimes I get all mushy like that... ;-) But in re-reading this, I noticed that I blew the punch line.
Shoulda been:
Then I went to the Furniture Store and looked at what was for sale. Bahh!
Dazzle 'em with the windup and blow the pitch - Oh Well...

I try, but hey, I'm no Spring Chicken myself...
Greg G.
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to sprucing up the big guy's quarters in heaven.
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RonB wrote:

I thought Krenov was still alive?
*ducks*
er
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Respectfully disagreeing with you, but there are PLENTY of magazines aimed a lesser experienced woodworkers. FWW is more mainstream than you know, and I think there are more folks capable of doing that level of work than you know.
When I first started woodworking, I used to pick up FWW in the supermarket (Day-um!), feel like I'd never be able to do that sort of work, put it down, and leave with "Wood" or "American Wooddorker".
Years, classes, books, and lots of scrap later, I really enjoy FWW and "Popular Woodworking". With some formal instruction outside of the BORG / "Family Handyman" realm, I can now pick up an advanced technique, practice it, and apply it to future projects. I still occasionally find a technique or idea in "Wood", so I look at it on the news stand.
To me, many of the projects in the simpler magazines, especially Woodsmith, look "home made". I can use technique and style ideas obtained from FWW, PWW, and some of the British mags to make stuff that looks great to non-woodworkers. We can appreciate the hard work and diligence that goes into the ugliest item. I yearn to make things that people think is really nice before they find out I made it. Since I live in a region of the USA that's very rich with beautiful antiques, do so can be that much harder.
Over the years, I've probably spent $1500-$2000, $200-300 at a time, on formal classes. My wife typically puts up with a 2 1/2' high stack of books and magazines next to my bed. <G> I feel the investment in school and books has saved at least it's cost by enabling me to quickly and cheaply make jigs that some folks spend thousands on.
Almost all of the jigs in the recent Woodhaven catalog that showed up in my mailbox are simply commercial versions of items that have appeared in magazines and "hints and tips" books. The commercial jigs are GREAT for production, but typical part-timer (like me <G>) is better served spending the money on instruction and a smaller number of high-quality tools.
I don't see an elitist tone at all in FWW. Especially when many of the articles feature basic tools being used to complete complex tasks. Many of these tasks add or build on a basic skill that a good woodworker should know. Many other magazines feature expensive commercial jigs and single use tools.
Not at all looking to beat you up...
Thanks! Barry
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RonB wrote:

The fact that they picked the tool they did tells several things:
* FWW can do objective reviews. Many imports were not all that great in the past. Companies like Grizzly are steadily improving quality while some old guard brands are slipping.
* Some companies who sell direct may be smart enough to triple check a machine, especially if there's a chance it's going to be a review subject. Companies who sell through dealers may not have that opportunity. The machine that gets reviewed may be their best work, or maybe not.
I wonder if these machines are loaned, purchased by the author or publisher, or blind purchased?
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On Thu, 03 Nov 2005 16:37:00 GMT, with neither quill nor qualm, B a r

I complained to them last year about not having Griz products in their tests. Maybe they finally listened to me. <bseg>

Charlie Self may be able to answer that question. He's BTDT.
- Don't be a possum on the Information Superhighway of life. ---- http://diversify.com Dynamic Database-Driven Websites
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RonB wrote:

Dave
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David wrote:

I was (mildly) surprised by this result too. DISCLAIMER: I am not "anti-Grizzly." I think they make some good stuff; I've bought stuff from them over the years with varying degrees of satisfaction. But I was surprised to see them earn the "best" prize in this review because, while they often have the best VALUE equipment, they don't often have the very best in terms of absolute quality, flatness, finish etc. This is understandable considering that their equipment is often priced substantially below comparable competitors' equipment. So here's the question this review engendered in my mind:
When FWW (or any other magazine) does these tests, do they purchase the equipment anonymously? It's an important question, I believe, because while every manufacturer is probably CAPABLE of producing a perfect machine, there probably are differences in how likely it is you are to receive a perfect machine, given varying degrees of QC, etc. So, it would seem to me that any manufacturer would do a little extra work to make sure that the jointer that gets sent to FWW, for example, is as close to perfect a specimen as they are capable of producing. Of course, any random jointer off the line might be just as good, or (more likely) might be a little more "off-spec." I don't recall reading anywhere how FWW procures the test samples for their comparison tests. In general, I find FWW reviews to be among the best, and I tend to trust them a bit more than most other magazines. But again, if they identified themselves and their purpose in securing the machines, that would not necessarily mean that I'd discount the entire test result, but it would be another data point that I'd consider in evaluating the test results.
Of course, every other manufacturer presumably would have had the same opportunity to present FWW with their own "perfect specimen," but then that result is a different test; the best each manufacturer is capable of producing, rather than the machine you are likely to get as a result of their quality control standards.
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Bradnh - You make a valid point, and I've wondered that same thing myself when I've read reviews in FWW and other magazines. It is interesting though that FWW found defects in the jointers they did get, however it was they acquired them. The article said that several - at least 4 or 5 if my memory is right - had blades that were nicked and had chunks out of them. They also found tables that needed to be shimed to be correctly coplaner. If the mfg knew they were going to FWW for a review, why would they have let them go out with defective knives, and in a condition that they had to be shimed?
So, it makes me think that they (either the mfg or FWW) somehow just pulled the various machines at random. Like you, I do find FWW's reviews a little better and more believable than some others. I'd really like to get that Yorkcraft 8" - I've seen it at Wilke (near my home). I just have to get my 6" Jet sold first.
Nick B

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Nick- I'm in the same position as you, which is why I read the FWW article with more than a little interest. I've got to sell my Jet 6" too to make room for an 8" jointer. I'd decided that a jointer is not a machine to try to economize on too much, as the quality of the castings is everything. A few years ago that would have made the choice fairly easy; either a Delta DJ-20, with its cool parallelogram system and excellent castings, or a powermatic. But these days the choice is not so simple; I've read more than a couple of unhappy DJ-20 reviews. This is why, no matter how well the Grizzly scores in any review, I would not be inclined to buy one; it just seems that with any manufacturer, you could get a bad casting, and then you'd have the hassle of returning by shipper. I'd rather be able to just load it back in my van and bring it back for a new one. I don't necessarily think Grizz is any MORE prone to this possibility, but neither is it any less so,and the return hassles are enough to stop me.
I think I may write to FWW to see if they will shed any light on their procurement procedures for these tests. I will report bak if I learn anything....
Nick Bozovich wrote:

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have to consider. I suspect that is why Grizzly has developed a very good support and delivery operation. The initally had to overcome both the mail order and the off-shore bias. Seems like they have done pretty well.
Sideline - My Son-in-Law bought a G0500 and one of their bigger surface planers about 1-1/2 years ago. Since, he has run a house full of victorian base trim and door mouldings across them without a hiccup.
RonB
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