FWW Review of 8" Jointers Follow Up


Greetings,
A few days ago, there was a thread regarding the most recent issue of FWW containing a review of 8" jointers. The OP expressed some surprise that Grizzly won top honors. This led to a discussion in which I chimed in to the effect that I was also somewhat surprised, that Grizzly makes some real good stuff and that they often are recognized as a top value, but not so often as the top machine, and that I was not being critical in saying so, nor did I find it surprising given that their machines are often much less money than the competition.
I asked whether anyone knew whether FWW purchased their test machines anonymously, so that they obtained a random sample, or whether they in fact identified themselves when they procured tools for testing/comparison. The point being, I felt, that most manufacturers are capable of producing nice flat jointer beds, but any manufacturer is also capable of producing the occasional pretzel-shaped jointer bed, and, it seemed to me, that the jointer going out to say, FWW for their jointer test might get a slightly more careful going over by the QC people than the one going to say, me.
Nobody really knew,so I volunteered to put the question to the Powers that Be at FWW and report back. Today I received a response from Andy Engel at FWW. I've reproduced most of my question and the response below. My question is edited so as not to bore the s**t out of those of you who are still awake. The response is edited at the request of FWW, who requested that I simply omit the identity of the specific brand which does not loan tools for testing. That identity doesn't matter anyway, since the main point is that Yes, FWW does identify themselves when procuring equipment for testing.
Sent: Monday, November 07, 2005 1:30 PM To: FW Editorial Mailbox Subject: Question about a past issue
Greetings: Re your latest issue containing the review of 8" jointers. I was somewhat surprised to see the Grizzley win the top slot... (snippage) I've rarely seen them take top honors for flatness of castings, for example, or fit and finish... How does FWW procure the equipment it uses for tests and comparisons? Is it via an "anonymous" purchase, or do you make no effort to conceal your identity and the purpose of your purchase? In fact, is it even a purchase, or do you simply ask the manufacturer to loan a machine for this purpose? (snippage)... I've subscribed for about six years, but I don't ever recall reading any sort of explanation of how these tests are conducted with respect to this issue. A clarification of this point would be appreciated I suspect by many readers.
RESPONSE:
Interesting question. *********** will not loan tools, although most other manufacturers do so. So, ***************** was a purchase, while the other machines in the test were loaners. To answer your broader question, we are somewhat concerned that manufacturers might send ringers for tool tests. Given the number of lemons we've gotten from manufacturers over the years, I doubt that many do so.
Andy Engel
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I oughta do some snipping here, but I won't...

I find that sorta scary...not that the mag would get lemons, but that they'd get lemons when the manufacturer KNOWS that the machine is going for a review!
If it was me, I'd like to think that I wouldn't send a souped up machine, but that I'd at least have it checked out pretty well before shipping.
Just a thought...
Mike
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Actually, a good thought, Mike.
Perhaps it is an ego thing where the manufacturer actually thinks every product they make is perfect, so no need to check. I do know that when we send samples to a trade show, they are taken from regular production inventory, but each piece is looked over first. The best of companies can make a lemon.
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Edwin Pawlowski said:

I believe you make a valid observation on the ego thing - at least as it concerns woodworking machinery manufacturers and a few others.
They apparently don't hold a candle to the computer industry, where review items often get tweaked to perform in benchmarks, sometime at the expense of real-world performance.
And very red faces when they're called on it.
A lemon... Or two...
Greg G.
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"Edwin Pawlowski" wrote in message

machine,
In this the age of the MBA, it may likely be more arrogance than ego, closely followed by clueless.
--
www.e-woodshop.net
Last update: 11/06/05
  Click to see the full signature.
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Swingman wrote:

The perfect twins: clueless and arrogant. It may be a requirement for graduation with an MBA.
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Charlie Self wrote:

With excellent hair...
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The Davenport's wrote:

I can attest to the fact that lemons arrive for testing. In the early days of several companies, there was about a 50-50 chance of getting such a machine. Today, the likelihood is down in the neighborhood of my chances of winning the Mega Million jackpot tomorrow evening.
What you get, 99 times out of 100, is a crate straight from the manufacturer in whatever country, unopened since the last nail or staple was driven. You can generally figure such a tool is a stock unit. I have had distributors tell me they need a week extra to 'tune-up' tools, usually small tools (routers, etc.). I sometimes wonder if the new age sellers of larger machinery have anyone on this side of the Pacific who can actully do a decent tune-up of the tools anyway. If they do, they're occupied elsewhere.
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Hey Charlie, I show your posting time on this message as being 5:44. I usually see messages from you about this time. Do you always get up this early or are you more prone to staying up really late?
Passed my 50th birthday a little more than a year ago. I've found that I don't sleep as much as I used to. Either that or I'm just too stupid to climb into bed and get to it. Hope it doesn't get too much worse as I get older or I'm in big trouble, because I'm a s.o.b. when I don't get enough. (sleep or sex) Which probably accounts for my miserable attitude most of the time. :)
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Upscale wrote:

Yes, well...I promise, I wasn't staying up late. Seldom happens. I get to 10:30 about once a month. I'm usually in the sack shortly after 9, up around 4. After all, I do live in the country and don't watch much TV, so when I reach a stopping point in a book I'm reading, I go to bed.
Works for me. Others hate it (I used to come HOME at this time..drink, dance and generally fool around, then stop and have breakfast on the road home).
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[...snip...]
Given the number of lemons we've gotten

I think Andy has a point, at least with Grizzly. They have certainly had machines get dinged on points that could have been tweaked out in past reviews.

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snipped-for-privacy@volcanomail.com said:

<snip>
Thanks, Andy, for doing the leg work on this. That was interesting, On Topic, and I've often wondered about this very issue. ( I have a suspicious mind.)
Greg G.
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snipped-for-privacy@volcanomail.com wrote:

Now I know why so many of these companies have financial trouble. <G>
I know that if _I_ were sending an item for review, I would make sure I was putting my best foot forward.
Barry
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There's a very interesting thread at the Sawmill Creek forum on this topic, and interestingly enough the president of Grizzly is an active participant, with quite interesting comments about his relationship with FWW. He confirmed FWW must have purchased, and also said he knew nothing about the test in advance. He was surprised, given his past dealings with FWW, that THEY would choose a Griz machine as best, but not surprised that it was... :-) .... Go take a peek, long thread, interesting (and on topic) reading. Mutt
http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?t%821
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Pig said:

Could it be that FWW is trolling for advertising dollars? Perhaps to replace other, more inconsistent pocketbooks.
FWIW,
Greg G.
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This all reveals quite a bit about the current state of play in the woodworking machinery field. If a company does not concern itself with a thorough pre-shipping inspection of a unit to be evaluated by a national magazine, one can't help but wonder what sort of pre-shipping inspection befalls purchases by anonymous customers.
Perhaps this is the way business must be conducted today to compete on price. I recall the early days of semiconductor manufacturing when barrels of untested transistors could be bought quite cheaply but if you wanted them tested, the price rose several fold. It would be interesting to see a company like Grizzly offer a pre-assembled (and then unassembled) and tested product at a higher price as an alternative to the roulette game we have come to know.
It is also difficult to believe magazines don't extend some form of special consideration to their regular advertisers. But on the other hand, if the manufacturers don't bother, maybe the magazines don't either.
Chuck
Pig wrote:

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And I suspect it's because the manufacturers don't send a brand new machine to every single reviewer and show. The demo models can get pretty beat up.
snipped-for-privacy@volcanomail.com wrote:

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