Rick sent us this great writeup of the Robland X31 combination tablesaw/jointer/planer/router/mortiser, and he’d like your opinion as well. He writes, “The Robland X31 Combination Tablesaw/Jointer/Planer/Router/Mortiser is just one of this class of machines. It seems to be a popular — though not inexpensive — choice. Overall, my submission is about this class of machine in general. I’ve been reading up a lot on these style machines. They hail primarily from Europe where they are very popular for hobbyists and one-person woodworking shops. Some of the benefits are: a more compact size, a tend toward VERY solidly build, and — in the case of this X31 — a fairly powerful set of motors. (I think there are like five separate 3hp motors running the show.”
“For some reason, though, this style of machines just isn’t popular in the US. Maybe it’s the whole US mentality of wide open spaces, etc. It’s tough to worry about space for equipment when you’ve got a 1,500 sq ft shop sitting on three acres of farmland, etc., whereas in Europe you have folks with a closet for a shop that’s attached to the back of their home in a small urban neighborhood. This is similar to how the US tends to like bigger cars, and it’s only been in recent decades that we’ve embraced small cars (to some degree).”
“The primary disadvantage I see is cost. These machines aren’t cheap. The X31 is $7,000 and that’s somewhat on the mid-range of the scale for this style machine. That said, when you get this delivered, you’re set for quite some time. These aren’t some cheap multi-tool that has all of these functions — and does none of them well — and is rife with compromises made in design and functionality. The Shopsmith lathe-based multi-tool comes to mind. It has a bunch of functions running off one relatively underpowered motor, etc. Perhaps that’s the other reason why folks to tend to shy away from them here.”
“If any one is interested in getting something like this, I’d advise you to look for them used. Very frequently folks who have more money than time or skill will pick something like this up and find that it’s more than they need and just want to cut their losses and get it out of their shop — or they’re hardcore and are trading up. Either way, good deals are to be had in the used market if you can find this style machine. Other good brands are: Felder and Hammer from Austria that are both part of the Felder Group and Knapp, which was purchased by Robland a few years back and are also sold by Laguna Tools in the US.”
“I’m really curious if others here have had experience with this class of machine.”
Let us know in comments!