recently purchased the Bridgewood BW6R 6"quot; jointer from Wilke
Machinery in York, PA. I looked at several jointers before deciding
on the Bridgewood. I reconciled my decision as follows:
- Powermatic - Had money not been an option ($750+)
and considering its table size (66"), I would have chosen the Powermatic
without blinking. I blinked - money was an option.
- Sunhill (CT-60L) - This jointer had a large table
(7"X52"), but the reviews I read about the brand and "fit
and finish" of the machinery didn't overpower me with a strong
sense of confidence. This was the least expensive machine on sale for
- Jet (JJ-6CSX) - Although the reviews were fine, the
Jet seemed nearly identical to the Bridgewood. Although Jet's table
was 1/2" longer, I couldn't justify spending $100-150 more for
- Delta (37-195) - I have owned several pieces of Delta
machinery. It occurred to me that several machinery purchases I have
made or am contemplating have been or will replace a Delta product.
I have never been terribly pleased with their quality.
- Bridgewood - The Bridgewood BW6R has the shortest
table (by 1/2") of the bunch. But considering the types of projects
I do, I doubt I'll miss that 1/2". Table length aside, the Bridgewood
was fairly similar to the others, and with a sale price of $399 plus
$50 for freight, the decision was made. The greatest feature of the
Bridgewood is the support provided by Wilke Machinery. Some of the bigger
companies (Delta) could really learn something from these folks.
I ordered the saw on a Thursday and Wilke Machinery sent it out by freight
company on Friday. On Monday, the freight company scheduled delivery for
9:00am Tuesday (actual delivery was made at 6:45pm!). The jointer arrived
in two boxes - one containing the stand and motor, the second containing
the jointer body, fence, and miscellaneous small parts. A third box contained
the HTC mobile base I purchased for the machine.
Packing was excellent. The three boxes were banded to a pallet, which
kept them from being thrown around. The stand was packed in styrofoam
at top and bottom. The jointer body/parts were wrapped in plastic and
completely encased in styrofoam.
Cleaning and Assembly
The jointer was in excellent condition after unpacking. Not a scratch
or ding to be found. Wilke Machinery cleans, assembles, and tests every
machine they sell before shipment to their customers, so the jointer only
had a very light coat of protective oil on the unpainted metal. (Wilke
should really highlight this more than they do, since it saves a lot of
hassle for the customer, and probably weeds out most of the "fit
andfinish"-problem machines before shipment.)
Before I assemble anything, I want to be sure I have all the parts.The
problem was, Bridgewood doesn't include a packing parts list. The only
parts reference was the 5 page parts list at the back of the manual, which
is the parts list/schematic diagram I would have used if I were working
on the Bridgewood assembly line. A parts/packing list for final assembly
would have been be very useful.
The jointer's wiring had been completed before leaving York, PA, (for
testing by Wilke), so the first step after unpacking was to fit the jointer
body to the stand. The instructions recommend that this is a two-person
job, since the "machine body weighs about 125 pounds." This
is definitely a job for two people, as the jointer body is probably closer
to 175 pounds.(If the machine ways 235 pounds, consists of 2 major parts,
AND one part the stand can be picked up one-handed, the body had to weigh
more than 125 pounds!) The jointer body attaches to the stand with 3 bolts.
After that, the drive belt went on and was checked for alignment.
The instructions for aligning the belts is a little confusing. They specify
that when everything is aligned correctly, "the belt should be vertical."
Since the motor and cutter head pulleys are of different diameters, the
belt cannot be vertical. (I have read that Wilke will replace the Taiwanese
motors with American-made motors before shipment. I don't know if they
do this with all Bridgewood machines, but this may be the reason for the
difference in pulley size). Instead of making the belt vertical, the centers
of the two pulleys were aligned until they were vertical. Vertical was
achieved by moving the jointer body about 1/16" on the stand and
the bolts were tightened.
Instructions for setting the fence angle stops at 45 and 90 were somewhat
confusing. The instructions were not very clear and the accompanying photos
were grainy. I ended up discarding the instructions for this, and relying
on trial-and-error until I got the stops set correctly.
Knife setting/adjustment, table tweaking, etc., were fine out of the
box (possibly another perk from Wilke's pre-shipment testing?).
Some points to make about the assembly instructions
It is strange that the owner's manual would place the safety instructions
at the end of the manual, after the operation instructions, instead of
on the first page. The belt guard is the same slate blue as the rest of
the machine, not orange as indicated in the directions Don't forget to
install the stand cover plate, since the directions don't mention it.
I had two bags of screws and washers. The larger screws go to the "orange"
belt guard. The smaller screws (I assume) go to the cover plate (again,
a good reason for a packing list). The cover plate is scored, but not
pre-drilled for the smaller screws. They aren't necessary though, since
the knob screw and form a seal along the edges keep the plate snug without
rattling. Also the fence handle and hand wheels need installation without
prompting from the assembly instructions.
After completing assembly, I was pleased to find that there were no missing
pieces, all holes aligned, not a single scratch or ding, table was flat,
no machining marks, and highly polished. There were no burrs or sharp
edges that needed filing. Not a single casting, machining, or finishing
flaw could be found!
Since I didn't have any projects going that needed the immediate attention
of the jointer, I "broke the machine in" with some 2X4s. I set
the first cut at 1/16". Table height adjustment was smooth, but still
a little stiff using the hand wheel. I suspect this will improve with
use and additional lubrication. The machine operates quietly with zero
vibration, despite being on the HTC mobile base which I figured would
cause the jointer to vibrate some. Shavings exit from the dust chute below
the outfield table (aside from a shop vacuum and a push broom, my shop
presently lacks a dust collection system, so I can't offer comments on
how well the two work together). After passing 4 sides of the 2X4s through
and finding there were no machine marks, I set depth at 1/8". Again,
stockfeeding/cutting was smooth, like cutting through butter, and zero
Next, I ran through some cherry stock. Just like the pine 2X4s, the cutter
zipped right through, zero vibration, and no tear out or cuttermarks.
Since the only other jointer I have used was a 12" Bridgewood model
at a cabinet shop, I can't compare this jointer to any previous, however,
I am thoroughly pleased with the operation thus far.
I am very pleased with this purchase and certainly happy I didn't allow
brand recognition sway my decision. Although I have not clocked a lot
of time on the machine, I am confident that this machine will handle all
the projects I will undertake. Packing was excellent. So called "fit
and finish" are well beyond my expectations. Overall quality is as
good as any other jointer I have looked at. Only minor flaws were with
the assembly and operation instructions and accompanying photographs,
but these are really minor gripes.
If anyone is uncertain about Bridgewood, contact Wilke Machinery and
talk to them about their machines. They genuinely want the customer to
be happy with the purchase they make. Furthermore, they have a great reputation
for customer service, which is obvious when you call and wait less than
30 seconds on hold to talk to someone who can give you expert advice.
Wilke includes a letter from the general manager at the beginning of
the manual. It states that, "Our business has been built on the trust
of our customers. We pay attention to detail - We understand what we sell
and we stand behind it." From what I have seen so far, this is an
dead on accurate!