I’ve been woodworking for about 15 years now. One of my first machines was a Jet JJ-6CSX jointer. It is your basic entry level floor standing machine. It has served me well over these many years, but I frequently found its capacity lacking. I wanted to upgrade to a 10” or 12” jointer, but was stymied by the fact that my shop is in my basement, and the only access is very limited. So I settled on an 8”. I figured it would do 98% of all the jointing I will ever need. So, 8” it is; but which one. There are quite a few to choose from. After a months long, exhaustive internet research effort, I narrowed it down to the Grizzly G0495X, or the Oliver 4230. You have probably already figured out from the blue color in the photos, I went with the Oliver. I know it isn’t a true “Oliver” like they used to make, but it has some nice solid features. Granted, they are made in Taiwan now, instead of the US, but most all woodworking machinery is made off-shore these days. Many reviews I read advised to stay away from machines made in China. Taiwan apparently has a much better track record for quality control.
The crate was falling apart when it arrived at my door, but the machine was not damaged. The only knock I have on it so far is that they seem to have screwed up the installation of the safety switch. It has a keyed switch in the control panel that allows the owner to “lock-out” power to the machine”. A feature that I really don’t need, and don’t anticipate ever using, but if you were buying for a school or woodworking club, I could see it being useful. Anyway, my machine will only run with that safety switch in the “Off” position. Makes me wonder if they powered the machine up at the factory before shipping. How could you not notice that glaring error?
Three features that I really like about the Oliver are: 1.) It comes stock with a Byrd Shelix cutterhead. 2.) It has a very robust fence. 3.) It has an extremely heavy cast iron base. The totality of those features justified the extra $ 100 or so in the total price. There are some features on the Grizzly that almost swayed me that way: 1.) 3 hp motor, vs. the 2hp on the Oliver. 2.) Longer bed. 3.) Parallelogram adjustment mechanism. The longer bed was less of a plus actually, because of my limited space access. I have a tight 90 degree turn at the top of my basement stairs. Getting the 75” Oliver bed down there was tough enough. The 82” Grizzly bed would have been even tougher. The Grizzly also comes with a helical carbide insert cutterhead, but it isn’t a Byrd Shelix cutterhead. Rather, it is a Grizzly proprietary design. I read some reviews stating that the inserts were not interchangeable. The Grizzly head requires the Grizzly inserts, and they are 3 times the cost. I just got it reassembled in the shop late last night. Only had a chance to run one test board over it so far, but the results were fantastic, as expected. I will update after I get a few hours of use with it under my belt. I gave it 5 stars, because, at this price point, it is an outstanding machine. It isn”t a Hammer or a Northfield, but it is pretty darn good, and didn’t break the GDP of a third world country to acquire it. I would recommend it.