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.
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
Thats all - surprised.
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
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.
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...
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
The Gallery is as good as always although again the emphasis on what
type of work is featured heavily has changed over the years.
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
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!
Thanks! Sometimes I get all mushy like that... ;-)
But in re-reading this, I noticed that I blew the punch line.
Then I went to the Furniture Store and looked at what was for sale.
Dazzle 'em with the windup and blow the pitch - Oh Well...
I try, but hey, I'm no Spring Chicken myself...
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
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...
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
I wonder if these machines are loaned, purchased by the author or
publisher, or blind purchased?
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
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.
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.
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
Nick Bozovich wrote:
That is a good point that any of us who order from Griz, Amazon or anyone
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.
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