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.
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.