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The CU410 Elite S is the top of the line. It has an 8.5 foot slider, tilting shaper with interchangeable spindles, 16 inch (410 mm) jointer planer, and mortiser. The three-phase version has digital automatic electronic (motorized) saw lift and tilt, planer height, etc. The cheaper single-phase version of the machine has manual controls with digital readout. Both have a separate motor on the scoring blade. The three-phase is almost $31,000, the single-phase is well over $28,000. Both units weigh about 3,000 pounds. These were initially sold under the Tecnomax, rather than the MiniMax brand name, but have always been made in the MiniMax factory. Most units have a 1 inch arbor, support a 10, 12, or 14 inch main saw blade (three speeds) and support a dado blade. There is an optional arm ($1,800) that supports a power feeder, usable on the shaper and jointer.
As an example of the many little features that make the S series machines heavier and more robust, consider the planer table - on most units it is a single large post in the center of the table, but on the S machines, there are four posts, at each corner of the planer table.
The CU410 Elite (not S series) has an 8.5 foot slider, tilting shaper with interchangeable spindles, 16 inch (410 mm) jointer planer, and mortiser, with digital readout but manual controls. The scoring blade is driven by a belt off the main blade, and continues to run even when lowered below the saw table. Most units have a 5/8 inch arbor on the saw, support 10 and 12 inch main blades, or a dado blade. This unit weighs about 2200 pounds, and now sells for $21-22,000. The older units have a parallelogram jointer table that lifts as a single unit, the newer units have a split jointer table where each half lifts separately. A salesman does a poor on-line video demo of a CU410 Elite (non S) - but you can see the components of the machine and hear the motors run, even if it doesn't cut any wood.
Who has the operating handle? On the Elite machines, each function has a permanent adjustment round handle/knob, with a fold out handle for cranking (I will call that part the crank). On the Smart machines, most have an operating handle for each function (or at least 3 of the 4 functions) but the crank sticks out permanently, potentially poking male users in an uncomfortable spot. On the standard Classic machines, one or two adjustment handles come with the machine, shared between function, although additional handles are optionally available, and were often included in the "package.".
For years the CU300 Smart was the most popular MiniMax combo. It has the 8.5 foot slider, 10 or 12 inch saw with belt driven scoring blade, non-tilting shaper with interchangeable spindles, 12 inch (300 mm) jointer and planer, and optional mortiser. There are three separate 4.8 hp motors. Although I have heard conflicting stories, I believe the Smart machines have a handle for each function, or at least 3 of the 4 functions (saw tilt and height share a handle in some cases). I hear it now sells for almost $13,700. However the Smart was reportedly discontinued in 2012, and replaced with an enhanced CU300 Classic
There was a version of the CU300 Smart with a 5.5 foot slider, suitable for making cabinet doors, that is $700 cheaper. Some people buy it to save room in their shop, but that isn't a valid reason. If you are going to work with 8 foot long lumber, you still have to have 17 feet available (8 feet before the blade and 8 feet after, plus the blade), but the cuts are not as safe or accurate with the short slider, since the short slider cannot be used for long boards.
The CU350 Smart was only sold in the USA as a special order. It is the same as the CU300 Smart, except with a 350 mm (14 inch) jointer planer.
For years the CU300 Classic was a stripped down version of the CU300 Smart. I "talked" (via email) to one owner who said the Classic only was available with a short (5.5 foot) slider (the Smart has a beefed up slider chassis that can handle the longer or short slider, and allows the slider to be locked more easily). The mortiser was (at least at some point) standard on the Smart, but special order on the Classic. The Classic shares the operating handles between functions (although some salesmen included extra handles as part of the "package." The electrical controls are simpler on the Classic - the motor is selected and started from the control panel, rather than from each work position, although there are (emergency) stop buttons (but not start buttons) at each operator station. It sold for about $11,600.
MiniMax user Peter Nyberg has recently created a series of tutorial videos on YouTube using his CU300 Classic in his shop. I highly recommend watching them.
In 2012 or 2013 the CU300 Smart was discontinued and replaced with an enhanced CU300 Classic, that reportedly has a more robust frame that can support either the 5.5 foot or 8.5 foot slider. The jointer tables lift as a single unit (rather than each half lifting separately), changes in the outrigger and swing arm, and a heavier optional mortiser (more like on the Elite machines). MiniMax suggests contacting your salesman or dealer for price, but a search of the web suggests $14,202 for the 8.5 foot slider, or $13,436 for the 5.5 foot model.
The Lab 300 Plus is a five function combo on a smaller platform, oriented to the home workshop or occasional user (in a Lab?). It has three independent 3.6 hp motors, a 5.5 foot slider, shaper with ¾inch spindle, 12 inch main saw blade (5/8 inch arbor) with scoring blade and full 24 inch rip capacity. It also has a 12 inch jointer and planer with Tersa knives. I have never seen one, but have heard of several happy users. One expert describes it as a great machine (often overlooked) for the hobby user. I understand it sells for just over $9,000.
The older Lab 300N is presumably almost as good as the new Lab 300 Plus, but I haven't been able to find the differences.
With the frequent switching between millimeters and centimeters, this unit is probably the same as the Lab 30 that I occasionally hear about. Someone reported that the Euroshop C300 was the same machine as the Lab 30, branded with the Euroshop name by some enterprising dealers in the mid 1990s.
The C26 Genius is a hobby or job-site machine, selling for about $6,200 (or $5,842 on a recent web search). If it is compared to a typical cabinet saw, it adds functionality, and MiniMax quality, to a new group of users, but I have never seen one. I have heard that it can only rip 21 inches wide, which can be a challenge dealing with sheet goods. From a forum discussion in March 2008, I saved these notes (which, of course, may have changed):
The Minimax C26 is a five-mode combined unit, but in a smaller, more portable package, including:
Many people are frightened by the size of the combo machines - will it fit in your shop space? I have found the machine dimensions misleading... the specifications typically include the maximum area used by any part of the machine. My experience is quite different.
The biggest issue is the input and output areas... If you are going to cut or mill something 8 feet long, you need over 8 feet before and after the cutters or blades (roughly 17 feet), whether you are using a large industrial machine or a $300 table saw or lunch box planer. But it doesn't have to be dedicated space. If I want to rip an 8 foot board, when I had a conventional table saw I had to set up infeed and outfeed tables or stands. Now the 8.5 foot slider carries the board past the blade, a flat and level platform, without separate stands. Instead of putting the stands away, I just push the slider away. At the input end, the slider goes over my work table (I have to remember to move my coffee mug) but it clears chisels and other small tools. It goes under the high "stand up" bench that I recently added, clamped to my old work table. If I am ripping something 8 feet long, I have a foot clear to the right of the saw blade, over my bench on the input side, and beside other tools on the output side. If I need to rip something wider, I just move my 14 inch bandsaw (on casters) out of the way on the output side.
Another example: The input to my planer goes under the table of the MM24 bandsaw; the output from the jointer goes over the table of the MM24 bandsaw.
My combo is placed so I can mortise in the end of a 3 foot apron - it is just over 3 feet away from the wall. However, there is a wood bin on one side of the mortiser and my grinding bench is on the other side of the mortiser.... that 3 feet (or more) clear on the mortiser side is only clear for a foot or two along the wall.
Lately I don't remove the outrigger as often as I used to. It is very flat and level, and I discovered it is great for glue-ups... the clamps extend through the table while the cabinet side (or whatever) lays flat on the outrigger.
Notice I didn't discuss the different models. The space required is primarily determined by the material you are processing. The base will be smaller on a machine with a 12 inch jointer than with a 16 inch jointer (by at least 4 inches), but the real issue is space required by the work.
My shop is in a 2 car garage. The combo doesn't move (routinely) but back when we tried to get a car in the garage occasionally, I would take off the outrigger (just a few minutes required).... the second car space was used for the outrigger, cabinet assembly, etc. You can see my shop as it was about 5 years ago, demonstrating how a car would fit. Since then I have added a separate 5 hp shaper, a 38 inch drum sander, a 5 hp cyclone, and the car lost the privilege of indoor parking. (Continuing the jigsaw puzzle of tools, the cross-cut fence on the outrigger goes over the table of the shaper.... as long as the shaper mobility wheels are retracted.) A brief tour or the current shop is now available.
Most of the combo machines (as well as some of the the separate MM shapers) have interchangeable shaper spindles. I am aware of at least three choices:
I have had numerous questions about the wrenches required for the shaper... so I took a picture.
The 1¼ inch spindle with router collet is in the machine. The cutter nuts require a 41 mm wrench. The router collet requires a 36 mm wrench (the other end of the same wrench that MiniMax provides). The ¾ inch spindle is on top of the machine, with spacers stored on the spindle. A 19 mm wrench is required for the bolt that holds the cutters in place.
I have seen two different systems for installing the spindles. My machine uses a spanner-type wrench - a hook on one side and a lever that wraps around the base (in the picture, lying on the ¾ inch spindle as it would be used to tighten the spindle). I don't know how those spanners are specified - the inside of the notches on opposite sides of the spindle are 60 mm apart, and the overall diameter (that the wrench wraps around) is about 68 mm. McMaster-Carr seems to have wrenches that may be appropriate, but I am not aware of anyone who has tried these wrenches.
The other system for installing the spindle looks like a large white pipe that drops over the spindle, with something on the bottom to catch the spindle, and a bar through the top to twist the "pipe". One person reported that there are two different sizes of the pipe-type wrench (one could say that throws a wrench into the works - bad pun). Reader Bruno De Melis kindly provided this picture from his CU300 Smart system. I don't know if the "pipe" vs. "spanner" can work interchangeably (I only have one machine, and it came with the spanner type wrench).
MiniMax provides a steel rod about a foot long and 3/8 inch in diameter (one end reduced to about 3/16 inches diameter) that is put through the an enlarged section in the blade slot, and into a hole in the arbor, to lock the arbor while the main or scoring blade arbor nuts are loosened. One user of a Lab 30 said that the same rod was used to lock the shaper shaft on his machine. On other machines (mine and others I have seen) the shaper shaft is locked by a lever at the access door to the shaper belts, when that lever is engaged, the door cannot close, and the door interlock prevents the machine from running, thus providing a safety switch while the shaft is locked
Whether using a rod or a locking lever, the saw or shaper shaft has to be manually rotated until the locking mechanism is in position.
All of the combo units have Tersa knives in the jointer-planer, discussed on the jointer-planer page.
MiniMax makes great machines. Felder makes great machines. There are differences, but they are hard to describe since few people have used both brands extensively. I considered both and bought MiniMax - enough said from me.
If you are comparing MiniMax to Felder, this is one expert's opinion of how to compare apples to apples:
I need your help. I am a happy MiniMax user, but not a MiniMax employee, and have not used all the different equipment. I do not have special access to official information. If you have additions or corrections to this information on MiniMax products, please share it. Please email your MiniMax info to me.
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