About 16 months ago I took delivery of a Felder AD7-41 jointer planer. Now that I have some experience operating it, Id like to give my impressions of this machine.
The Felder AD7-41 is an Austrian made jointer/planer with a 410mm(16") capacity. The table measures 63" but this can be extended to 103" with the addition of two cast iron extension tables which can be taken off depending on the board length. These same tables can also be used during planer operations. The basic machine weighs 1200lbs. It is now powered by a 5.5hp(4kw) 3phase motor. The original specification called for a 4hp 1ph motor. However through an error this motor was not available and another motor was mistakenly installed. When the mistake was found shortly after installation, Felder USA immediately shipped a new 5.5hp motor, new electric panel, a Kay Industries Phasemaster converter, and a technician came here and installed everything. I would say that that is great customer service and product support.
My impressions of this machine are excellent. The overall finish is just about perfect. No rough edges or poor machining. The tables are perfectly flat. This was verified by a dial indicator and machinist straight edge. The tables also align perfectly with the cutterhead all along the 16" width The cutterhead has 4 double-edged knives. Blade changes take about 5 minutes. From what I understand Felder patented this cutterhead, and have licensed Esta USA to sell the retrofits in the USA. Because the Felder cutterhead is designed for these blades there is no adjustment. They fit into their slots and that's it.
Changing over from jointer to planer operations takes about 1 minute. Unlike other combination JP's, the Felder table is a single lift. Loosen the two locking levers and the whole table pops up and aided by lifting springs the jointer table is lifted up and locked in place. Then flip the dust collector hood over and you are ready to plane. The machine comes standard with a two speed feed rate. A variable feed rate is available. Adjusting the planing height is through a wheel. Easy operation, it even has a digital indicator that gives readout in hundredths of inches. I've checked this digital indicator against a dial caliper and it is accurate to well within .01"
The AD7-41 has several safety features to prevent inadvertent starting or unauthorized use. There is a lockable main switch. Turn it on and the machine hums at it goes through a self-test of the electrical breaking devices. There is a green "on" button, and a red "off" button that must be reset before a restart can be made. There are also limit switches to prevent starting unless the dust hood is in place or the table locked. At first the limiters were a bit finicky, but after an initial readjustment they have given me no further trouble.
Turn the machine on and its up to full power instantly. It has a surprisingly low noise output. The 4-knife cutterhead produces a glass smooth finish. Felder ships the machine with steel knives. I purchased an extra set of six HSS knives, since I mostly work with hardwoods. In Europe softwoods are more common, hence the regular steel knives. The Felder knives I've found are also a lot less expensive than the Tersa knives. I paid $100 for a set of 6 HSS.
I've run over 1000bf of hardwoods through the machine. Long boards are no problem. The main table in 63" but with the addition of two cast iron extensions the table extends to 103". Once adjusted these tables are exactly co-planer with the main table. Even after removal and reattachment they remain in their original setting. The repeatability of the digital indicator is another feature I like. Dust collection through the 120mm(5") port is excellent. When planing wide boards you will need a powerful collector to keep up with it. I have a stationary Felder AF22 collector hooked up to this machine. Other options such as the variable speed feed, electronic and computer controlled planer tables are available. Felder has engineered their machines so that if an option is not added initially, it can easily be added later.
Although they are minor points now, the only complaints I had about the machine concern the placement of the infeed table adjustment lever, and the standard jointer blade guard. The adjustment lever protrudes slightly into the work plane. The standard cutterhead guard also juts out during some edging operations. I would recommend the optional Euro Comfort guard. Other than that the machine is about perfect and I expect to get a lifetime of use from it. For those of you reading this who are familiar with the INCA, I like to consider the Felder as a 1200lb Inca.
The machine came with the mortising chuck and reversing switch. In April I added the mortising unit and the transporter unit. The mortising unit is well built and weighs over 120lbs. I highly recommend the transporter unit. With it the mortiser is easily wheeled to the AD7 and locked in place.
The mortiser comes with a standard holddown clamp, but I recommend the single lever clamp. The table moves precisely and easily through a single lever. The table uses the same rails and bearings found on the panel saws. Using the mortiser is easy. Select the bit, mark out the mortise, set the stops and depth and you're ready. I've used both the German made mortising bits from Felder and those from England made by Clico, available through Garrett Wade. The Felder bits give a slightly cleaner mortise, but they are not suitable for deep initial plunging. They operate in either right or left rotation. This is my first experience on a mortiser and it just about makes you want to completely quit chopping them by hand.
Finally I'd like to put in a good word for the Felder USA sales and technical team. My sales rep was Tom VanAlstyne. Tom is very professional and knowledgeable. I looked at this machine for about 18 mos. before buying it. During that time, Tom never tired of my questions or inquiries. Also I never heard him say a derogatory word about a competitor. I was also fortunate to have the machine delivered at the Mid Atlantic Machinery Show in Philadelphia. Felder USA took care of the delivery and setup. While this is not typical I was impressed that they made sure everything was perfect.
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.
John Renzetti - 6/27/98