A combination woodworking machine is a piece of woodworking machinery that combines the function of several machines with the space savings of a smaller unit. A combination woodworking machine may, for example, feature the ability to act as a table saw, and when the machine is reconfigured, it may be used as a shaper. Another machine may combine a planer, jointer, table saw, and shaper. A person operating in a smaller shop space may want to consider such a machine, as it allows the woodworker to use several different types of machines without sacrificing the space needed for individual machines.
The downside of a combination woodworking machine may be the time it takes to switch from one function to another, and the ease with which this can be done. Unless the machine is already configured as a table saw, for example, the user will not be able to simply walk up to the machine and cut a piece of wood. He or she will need to reconfigure the combination woodworking machine, which can take several minutes. This leads to inefficiency in the woodworking process.
Many woodworkers are not bothered by making the time sacrifice to capitalize on the ability to combine several tools into one smaller, compact machine. The woodworker may need to develop an effective workflow to accommodate the machine — i.e. doing all of the cutting at one time, then converting the machine and doing all of the planing at once — but once the workflow has been established, it is easy and convenient to use the combination woodworking machine.
The price of these machines can vary significantly depending on the size, quality, and included functions. Sometimes only one or two operations are combined in the machine, and these machines will tend to be less expensive. A combination woodworking machine that includes up to five or more functions will generally cost more. It is important to remember, too, that since the machine features more capabilities, there will be more upkeep and maintenance required for such a machine than there will be with a dedicated machine. It is important to research what types of blades or other commonly replaced parts are available for purchase from the hardware store to ensure the owner can get replacement parts when necessary.
While the combination woodworking machine is more compact than many other types of machines, it will still take up a significant amount of space in a workshop. It is therefore important for the woodworker to measure his or her shop carefully to ensure the unit will fit in the shop space well enough.