The Felder KF7-F is a two-function combination machine, combining a full size panelsaw with a fully integrated shaper. The machine was delivered and setup by Felder USA after the Mid-Atlantic machinery show this past April.
The machine was configured with (2) 5.5kw 3ph motors, 1hp scoring unit, 2600mm(8') slider with outrigger table and two fences-1200 and 2600mm with mitering capability, plus some other features that will be mentioned later. As configured, it weighs around 1700lbs.
Since April, I've been able to spend a good amount of time operating this machine and would like to share my feelings about its capabilities and characteristics. This review combined with the review of the AD7-41 can also serve as a review of the Felder BF series combination machines which contain 5 functions in one machine, or the stand alone saws, jointers and shaper.
A recent article in Fine Woodworking mentioned that a Felder was made to the tolerances and precision of a good machinist's tool. After going over the machine thoroughly I have to agree with that assessment. All parts of the KF7 were finely machined and finished. Tables are perfectly flat; all fences set a exactly 90 degrees. On my machine you can slide the table the full length with no effort, and probably using one finger. Outside of the placement of one on/off panel, the machine is well engineered both functionally and ergonomically. Accessories and configurations are easily and quickly moved or changed. And access panels and controls are placed for easy access.
Speaking of accessories and options, there are an abundance of them. On the plus side you can configure the machines exactly the way you want, based on the type of woodworking you do. And a lot of accessories are interchangeable between different machines. For example the extension tables can be moved anywhere, and the eccentric holddown can be moved from the mortiser to the panelsaw. On the minus side, figuring out what you want can take time. It took me three configurations before I got it right. The machines are built to order and will normally go into production 2-3 months prior to the promised delivery date.
My KF7F has a 5.5hp motor driving the main saw blade. There is a 1hp motor driving a 100mm scoring blade at 10,000rpm. The addition of the scoring unit ensures constant chip free cuts in two sided veneers and melamine. The sawblade arbor is 30mm and can accept up to a 315mm(13") blade. The arbor also has two 9mm pins. You don't need all new blades for this saw. I had Forrest rebore my Woodworker 1&2 blades. And Carlo Venditto of Jesada rebored the 80t ultracut. I still picked up a Felder 315mm universal blade for cutting thicker woods.
Since I cut a lot of panels I wanted something that could handle a full sheet of standard material, which the F model does in both orientations of the panel. With the 2600mm crosscut fence, squaring a large panel is easily done. There are other lengths of the slider, from 48" to 124". I put the outrigger and slider to the test recently when I loaded an approx. 175lb slab of laminated maple measuring 84"x 24" x 2 1/2". The outrigger supported it with no problem and I was able to trim both ends to dimension. Cutting anything to an exact dimension is easy with the optical viewfinder on the fence stops. I opted for a digital blade angle adjustment wheel. I've found this really helps in resetting the blade to the exact angle if necessary.
One of the best features of the saw is that it has a built in dust collection provision that is very efficient. There is a rectangular metal duct just below the blade that funnels the chips into a 120mm (5") flexhose. Turn on the collector and the problem of vacuuming debris out of the base of the saw gone. Another nice feature is the European style riving knife or splitter. The knife moves with the sawblade and remains on for most operations. It also lowers completely with the blade out of the way when using the shaper.
The saw has a 37" capacity to the right of the blade. With optional extension tables it can be extended to 49". However with the 2600mm or larger slider and 8'6" crosscut capacity to the left of the blade, I've not used the ripfence side much.
Operating the saw is just like any other. Turn the lockable main switch on, and the machine hums as it self tests. With the selector on saw, just push the green start button and the blade starts, no jumping, no vibration. The only thing that I didn't like with the F series is the placement of the on/off buttons. They are a little hard to reach by being placed in front of the machine. A better placement would have been the side. There is a learning curve in getting used to a slider. But after using it for a bit, it becomes second nature. I also purchased the optional precision indexing miter table. The table is great for cutting miters and other angles. It's extremely accurate. But for straight 90 degree crosscuts it gets in the way. For most operations I recommend the 300mmx510mm table extension.
I'll have to admit that going from a router table to a large shaper was intimidating, especially after handling the 22lb shaper spindle and the 11lb shaper cutter. That's a lot of steel spinning at 8000rpm. However with all the safety devices in place, the shaper has proved to be a very versatile tool. I do treat it with a lot of respect though. I do recommend the additional router spindle, which will allow for full use of all the accumulated router bits.
Changeover from the standard 30mm spindle (other sizes are available) to the router spindle is relatively easy, but maybe not as easy as they show in the video. I've done it a few times now, and each time gets a little easier.
The "240" all metal fence can handle cutters with a diameter of 240mm. One nice feature is that it is microadjustable and if removed can be replaced at the exact same setting. The shaper has three speeds and a reward tilting spindle. Both control handles have digital indicators. The height indicator, which is accurate to .01mm, gives accurate repeatability. Set the height, cut, do something else, and go back to the previous setting and the cut will be exactly as indicated.
For shaping the table can be used in the sliding or locked mode. The shaper fence comes with the standard European guards and holddowns. I also have the optional powerfeed unit with tilt-away bracket. Since I have little experience as of this writing with the powerfeeder, I can only comment on the tiltaway. The feeder, which weighs about 150lbs, is bolted to the tilt bracket. To get the feeder out of the way you simply loosen a couple of handles, and with a good grip on the feeder, tilt the unit back, until it hangs against the side of the machine, out of the way.
I should also mention the dust collection capability. Shapers can throw a lot of chips. The machine has two ports. There is one 80mm on the machine base and other 120mm port on the fence. With the AF-22 collector, dust and chip collection has been very efficient.
At present the machine has no dado capability on the saw arbor. This provision I understand will be added as an upgrade. For dadoing I use the router spindle with various diameter bits. Using the slider I've been able to cut accurate dadoes in different materials. I've used straight bits, but Felder recommends upcut spirals for best results.
I have no regrets in investing in these machines. They are built to industrial standards and I fully intend to pass them on to my son and daughter. And again working with Tom VanAlstyne and the rest of the Felder USA team is a pleasure. There is never any pressure nor questionable sales tactics. I have tried to touch on the main features of the KF-7F.
Ive tried to make this review as concise as possible. If you are interested in the machine or have any other questions feel free to contact me.