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Grizzly G0490 8" Jointer (2006)

I sold the G1018HW jointer and took delivery of a new G0490 jointer. There was really nothing wrong with the G1018HW, but when the 490 came out this year for only $750 I thought I'd try to get one. In conversations with Grizzly it was confirmed that this jointer comes off the same manufacturing lines as the DJ-20, but it costs about 1/2 the Delta and it has some nice upgrades (discussed below).

    Delivery & Setup:
  • There was NO damage to the crate or carton during shipping. Everything was packaged securely and arrived without issue.
  • The size and weight of the tables made them a challenge to get into my basement shop. I had to recruit a couple muscle-bound friends to help.
  • The cabinet is designed in such a way that it's very difficult to check that the pullies are aligned properly. There's not enough room for a straightedge, so I used a piece of string (which I never feel is as accurate as a straightedge).
  • The knives were all set properly from the factory. The outfeed table needed to be raised just a few thousandths of an inch - no big deal.
  • The 90 degree stop on the fence was off by a degree or two and needed to be adjusted. I don't use the 45 deg settings so I didn't even bother to check those stops.
  • I had none of the issues mentioned by a few of the other new G0490 owners on line (bent motor supports & caster wheel bracket problems).
  • Does its job well. It turns crooked boards into straight boards.
  • Cutting depth adjustments are easy and fast due to the smooth parallelogram tables and the big easily operated table lock levers. I change depth of cut for almost every board, so this is a nice feature for me.
  • The built-in mobile base works well and allows the jointer to be moved easily.
  • The pedestal switch is placed in a convenient location. No more stooping down to turn the unit on/off. I was a bit worried the switch would be in your way when edge-jointing, but it doesn't present any problems. The switch housing also makes for a convenient place to store the two pushblocks.
  • Magnetic switch is a nice safety feature. The DJ-20 does not include a magnetic switch by the way.
  • 3 Hp motor. I'm not sure why you need a motor this large, but I suppose it's better to be oversized than undersized. I never had bogged down the 1-1/2 Hp motor on the G1018HW, so I'm not sure this is a necessary upgrade.
  • The long infeed table is great for supporting heavy boards and helps get the straightening process underway poste-haste.
  • The tall fence provides a bit more support than most jointer fences, and it seems to help keep boards perpendicular when edge jointing.
  • The machine includes a dust hood. Minor point but it's nice not to have to purchase an extra accessory hood.
  • The tables and fence are as flat as I can measure with my 24" Veritas straightedge.
  • Excellent manual. Definately one of the finest users manuals from any of the tools I own. Kudos to Grizzly here.
  • The price is very reasonable.
  • This is probably a personal preference issue, but I'd rather have a handwheel adjustment of the outfeed table. The levers on the infeed table are GREAT, but I miss the fine and precise control of wheels for the outfeed. I've used the depth stop screws to simulate this fine adjustment, but they're a poor substitute IMHO for wheels. This is only an issue when changing knives and very small (on the order of a few thousandths of an inch) height adjustments are required.
  • The dust/chip collection generally works well, but when the fence is placed to the far back side of the machine there are a surprising number of chips that don't get collected. It seems to be more of an issue with edge jointing than face jointing. I've read that a few owners have added a shop-made top to the chip chute in the base cabinet, and I might give that a try to see if it helps.
  • The mobile base swivel caster works well, but when you drop the jointer off the caster and back to a fixed position the machine really bangs from the abrupt drop.
  • I'm not a fan of changing jointer knives so I'm not thrilled with the 4-knife cutterhead. I'd rather have a 3-knife head and slow down the last pass if I need to minimize ripples.
  • There is a bit of vibration when the machine is running. More than the G1018HW and more than my old Jet 6". I'd guess this is partially due to me not doing a fantastic job aligning the belt pullies. Some day I might take another shot at the pully alignment, and if I do I'll probably change the belt to a link belt. This is nothing to be concerned about, and it doesn't really present any problems, but I thought I'd mention it.
  • When off the swivelling caster the machine can be pushed across the floor with a modest amount of force. This is probably due to the two mobile base wheels on the outfeed side always being in contact with the floor. Again, no big deal, but I'll probably add a few wedged shims when I settle on a final location.

In Summary:
The bottom line is I'm happy with the jointer and would choose the same model again in hindsight. The likes far outweigh the dislikes, and the price is certainly right.

Now that this tool is on the market I can't see any reason to spend twice as much on a Delta DJ-20. The 490 has some nice upgrades, it's made in the same factory, and they're both supporting US companies. I think Delta will need to react either with pricing concessions, machine upgrades, or other marketing incentives to stay in the running for the hobbiest's jointer purchase.

Update April 2008:
The other weekend in between business trips I was able install Byrd Shelix cutterheads in my jointer and planer with the help of a friend. I had been selling misc shop tools that haven't seen much use to raise the cash, and I finally raised enough to purchase both the jointer and planer heads thanks to a great sale price from Grizzly that was matched by Holbren (who threw in free shipping as well).

From reading others experiences I gathered that the jointer head would be fairly straightforward to install, but from my personal experiences with tearing my planer apart I knew that would be a PITA. Much to my surprise, they both went fairly easy, and we were able to get the two machines done in about 4 hours. My friend was a huge help, and we had to re-use some parts that I wasn't planning for, but overall it was a much easier task than I expected. So I thought I'd capture some lessons learned here for folks who might tackle the same task in the future.

For the jointer, the biggest surprise was that the bearings on my Griz G0490 (one of their first models) are different than those in a DJ-20, and they're also different than those shown in the on-line G0490 parts list. So the replacement set that I had on hand were later returned to the store, and we had to pull the original bearings and re-install them on the new shelix head. Other than that it went easily, and after tweaking the tables with the new head I was testing the machine in no time.

The shelix head has been a fantastic addition to the jointer. Woods don't tear out (even heavily figured boards), it's a simple task to rotate the cutters when they dull or chip, and they stay sharp much much longer than HSS knives. The shelix heads aren't cheap, but if you can raise the cash (and watch for sales) they're FANTASTIC upgrades that are worth the install hassle and purchase price. Never having to fiddle with changing knives again is almost worth the price of admission alone!

� Copyright 2010 Chris Billman