Woodfast - PT310 Jointer / thickness planer combination (Rating: 5)

About a year ago, I decided to purchase a Woodfast 12" 3 HP 240V combination jointer / thickness planer. Most other gear available in Australia in this price range was only 10" capacity and didn't seem to be put together very well. Woodfast is an Australian company that have been around for a long, long time. I grew up using their equipment at school and they are still major suppliers to the education department. Sadly, as is the case with a lot of companies these days, Woodfast as a company was dissolved in Australia about 5 years ago. A few of the guys that worked for the company bought the rights to sell the gear and it's all manufactured in China from the original Woodfast drawings. They have a good range of spares and know the equipment well.

The build quality is awesome and it weighs about 200kg. It comes 95% assembled and all that is needed is to bolt on the fence and guards then give it a general check over before fire up. There were a few minor problems that were quickly rectified, the first being the drive gears for the thickness planning table height winder weren't meshing properly. The second problem was a cam that activates a safety interlock switch on the dust chute was not aligned properly. Both easy fixes although I was a little surprised to find them given the quality of the machine. One other thing I changed out of personal preference was the dust chute. It is two piece but only held together by one bolt. This struck me as being a bit flimsy so I added two more bolts on the sides which made the thing completely rigid. These minor issues are not even enough to remove 1/2 a star from its rating.

While most jointers of this quality have cast iron fences, the Woodfast item is extruded aluminium - probably because of weight restrictions - see conversion procedure. It's more than effective. The fence adjustment hardware is a very tidy setup and with a bit of initial fine tuning it drops to 90 degrees every time. The jointer infeed table is adjustable from 0-3mm and the mechanism for this is sturdy and simple to use. There are no tools required to switch between jointer and thickness mode - it's a simple matter of sliding the fence out as far as possible, lifting the outfeed table (probably not possible if there was a cast iron fence because it would be too heavy) and flipping the dust chute. In thickness planing mode (see pic #2), I ran the first piece of timber through and checked it's thickness against the digital readout on the height winder (see pic #3) which I'd previously calibrated. Bang on. Nice. Dust extraction is adequate in both modes of operation. Guards are completely effective and very easy to use (so they are less likely to be removed and discarded). The "anti kickback" fingers also seem to be very effective. This, combined with the metal infeed / urethane outfeed rollers provide reliable, snipe free operation.

All in all I'm very happy with this machine and although it cost about $2000AUD, it's money well spent because this machine will last a lifetime. It really does haul ass. Even the widest hardwoods are not a problem.

One final note on buying Woodfast equipment for any Australians reading this review - I recommend only buying direct from Woodfast Australia. You can buy Woodfast gear elsewhere in Australia but these retailers are importing the equipment straight from the manufacturer, bypassing the Australian distributor. The problem that this creates is that the distributor will not support warranty on this equipment and from my personal experience, one of these unscrupulous retailers in particular is very bad at after sales service and does not keep a full range of spares, so any minor savings on the purchase price will quickly evaporate if there is a problem, so buyer beware!