I feel that this jointer is a great value. It is considerably less expensive than the Delta and Jet equivalents. Like I said, I was considering a Yorkcraft YC-8J, but with $170 shipping (to Houston) the price was about equal to the Grizzly and the Yorkcraft was out of stock for a month. And I read some user concerns over the extension of the Yorkcraft fence beyond the body of the jointer. I looked at the Delta equivalent at the Houston woodworking show, (some say the 6" and 8" Yorkcrafts are identical to the Delta versions) and didn't like the way the fence rack & pinion shaft extended out from the back. I did like the long, 4 ¾" tall fence, but I preferred the 65" long Grizzly table to the 72" of the other machines. For a garage shop an 8" jointer is big, but having the tables a little shorter makes for a better fit in my garage.
So I went to Grizzly's website and placed the order. This is my first large tool purchase from Grizzly so I was a little nervous about the purchase. With the tracking number from Grizzly I was able to call the shipping company the day it arrived at their docks and arranged for a pick-up. The shipping company wanted to charge $65 extra for liftgate service and I doubt that they would have been able to back the trailer in my driveway anyway. Plus I hate that "we'll be there between 12 and 5" stuff, and they usually show up at 6. So I used my little trailer and picked it up myself. The unit ships in two boxes. One box has the stand, and motor, the second, is a crate that hold the jointer table with fence and the other assembly parts. I was able to place the box in the back of Expedition and shipper loaded the crate on my little trailer with a fork truck. I was able to just back my little trailer into my garage and didn't unload the crate until after the table was removed. The unit was fairly well packed, although the table was not bolted to the crate and it could and I'm sure it did bounce around inside the crate. There were a couple of paint chips on the fence but all-in-all, great shipping. So far, so good.
I had downloaded the manual from Grizzly before the purchase and had already read it prior to the unit arriving. Assembly was fairly straightforward and easy. I called over a friend to help lift the table up on the stand (the table is very heavy, you'll need some help). I have the stand mounted on a Jet universal mobile base. After cleaning the tables, I put my precision straight edge on the tables and fence and found them to be extremely flat.
I was a little concerned with aligning the belts. There is no room for a straight edge. Per the instruction manual I made a plumb bob from a piece of string and a couple of 3/8" nuts. This seemed to get the pulleys close in alignment, but I still can't confirm that the pulleys are coplanar. An email to Grizzly resulted in a call from a technician. They assured me that this alignment would be satisfactory. The manual also says to not use any sort of leverage device to tension the belts. But I saw no way to get enough pressure on the motor mount to tension the belts. I used a spreader clamp inside the cabinet and put the recommenced tension on the belt. Grizzly also agreed with this method.
I have a brief note about the instruction manuals. I down loaded the latest and greatest manual from Grizzly's web site. The unit actually shipped with an older manual. The older manual was a manual for the G1018 (lever version) with an insert for the hand wheel parts. The older manual mentioned using a plumb bob. The new manual says use a straight edge. The new version of the manual covers the G0500, G1018 and the G1018HW. There are a few additions to this manual that help with assembly and check out. So go to Grizzly and get the latest manuals. But don't trust that they are the same. Make sure you read them both.
I do have a couple of minor issues with the machine. First issue was with the belts. I was planning to order some Power-Twist belts at the time of the jointer order. But I decided to wait and see what the quality of the belts would be. Unfortunately, they were not good. The machine uses two belts. The sizing did not match. One seemed to not be in full tension as the other. Also the joints in the belt were considerably thicker than the belts. I felt this was causing some vibration. You could see the belts vibrating and bouncing around on the pulleys.
I decided to go ahead and order some PowerTwist belts. Grizzly did offer to send a new set. Their customer service has been good throughout this process. They promptly answered emails and then volunteered to give me a call. The Grizzly tech also suggested that using the PowerTwist belts would help with vibration. In the end I decided to stay with the PowerTwist belts. I installed them the day they arrived and they have made a tremendous difference in vibration. The vibration is virtually gone from the table. I am not new to the PowerTwist link belts. I have them on my Jet Contractor TS, a Jet 14" CS band saw and on my old Delta 6" jointer. After reading some recent threads on rec.woodworking about PowerTwist belts, there seemed to be some question about the effectiveness/value of the belts. But I'm now convinced that they can make a big difference with vibration. I'm sure a quality set of V-belts would do the same, but the link belts are convenient and do work.
The second disappointment was with the dust hood. I feel that a machine of this caliber should come standard with a dust hood. I ordered the recommended hood with the jointer. I was impressed that the mounting point on the jointer was pre-drilled and tapped for some 1/4"-20 screws. However the hood was not drilled. Grizzly list this as the dedicated hood for this jointer, but it really is a universal hood that happens to fit this machine. It works quit well. But I was disappointed that I had go to my computer and lay out a pattern on Visio. I cut the pattern out and with a little spray glue; I used the pattern to drill the hood. The fit is perfect, but an extra unneeded step in my opinion.
The jointer has performed well thus far. I have no complaints. The cut finish is just perfect. I set the fence square to the table and each cut is perfectly square. I'm going to enjoy this machine.
I'm also glad I chose the hand wheel version over the lever version. The hand wheels are smooth and accurate. It is a real joy to use the infeed adjustment.
This purchase has convinced me to consider buying a Grizzly drill press and maybe someday upgrade my Jet Contractor TS to a Grizzly Cabinet Saw.