Shopsmith Thickness Planer

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Review by bkhop posted 02-29-2008 01:12 AM 43577 views 0 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Shopsmith Thickness Planer Shopsmith Thickness Planer Shopsmith Thickness Planer Click the pictures to enlarge them

Here’s my review of the Shopsmith thickness planer. I’ve had mine for about 2 years now and it is a great planer. It replaced a Delta TP305.

Let’s start out with the specs – 12” x 4” capacity; 28” long bed; for HP, read #1 below.

1. The Shopsmith Thickness planer comes in two variations that are basically identical except that one is mounted on the Shopsmith Mark V and the other is a “free-standing” tool with its own stand and motor; you do not even need a Mark V to run this version. (The latter is called the “Pro” planer.) What is really nice, also, is that if you have a Mark V and get the Mark V-mounted version, you still have the option to put it on its own, dedicated stand later. The free-standing version has a 1 3/4 HP motor (5,750 rpm) and the Mark V mounted version runs off of the Mark V headstock, which has a 1 1/8 HP motor (recommended speed is 3,000-4,000rpm). -My version is the Mark V mounted, but I’ve since put it on its own stand with a dedicated motor.

Both versions also have a dedicated feed motor. You’ll find this on the more expensive planers – two motors – one each for feed rate and cutterhead. When you plane lumber on a single-motor planer, the one motor has to do everything: feed and cut. I could bog down my Delta pretty quickly – I’ve never heard the Shopsmith get choked. With the separate feed motor, if you run into some figured wood or want to give the lumber a final pass, just dial down the feed rate on the planer. -Not 2 speed like some of the bench-top planers now have… variable speed dial! I don’t know the exact feed rate, but dialed all the way down, it is “barely crawling” slow! (And for that really figured wood, pull the plug on ANY planer and reach for the handplanes and scrapers instead.)

2. Capacity – some folks say that the Shopsmith planer is “too small.” Okay, granted, if you’re using 6” lumber, then yes, the SS would be too small. (As I write this, though, I’m trying to recall the last time I have ever even used a chunk of 4” lumber in my home workshop?!) If you were using 12/4 lumber, this planer would handle it.

3. Table – Most of the “lunch box” planers that I’ve ever seen have a “split table” design – the table is only as big as the footprint of the unit (if even that big) – and then have folding infeed/outfeed tables (which may even be optional, at that.) The SS planer has a one-piece, 28” table – certainly not “Powermatic” huge, but that’s a different class. Split-table designs have inherent flex… its just going to happen with that kind of a design. The Shopsmith is a one-piece table; infeed and outfeed – all ONE table.

4. Price – I hope by now you’ve seen that you can’t compare the SS planer to a “lunch-box” (bench top) style planer. I always thought the SS planer was too expensive, too – until I compared it to other planers with its features and abilities. This planer isn’t in the same class or category as the lunch box/bench-top planers. In its CLASS, I’m convinced this is one of the most cost-effective planers on the market! -You’ve got to know what you’re comparing, though.

-- † Hops †

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16 comments so far

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#1 posted 02-29-2008 01:19 AM

cool i might look into a thickness planer this summer so this review will help me out.

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5533 posts in 4888 days

#2 posted 02-29-2008 01:41 AM

great review…as a Shopsmith Owner I have always wondered about the SS PLANEr…I took a class with the traveling acadamey and the instructor talked about the planer…but the price has scared me away—-but you mentioned some things that are great to consider…

So far I have been very happy with my all my other Shopsmith tools…thanks…

-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

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68 posts in 4878 days

#3 posted 02-29-2008 01:45 AM

Napaman – the TAs are great – I would attend again if I had the chance.

Regarding the price… the SS planer, as you know, isn’t a “cheap” tool. But, as they say, buy well the first time and you’ll only cry once. With that said, do your homework and compare the SS planer to comparable planers on the market and you’ll see that you get a heck of a lot of planer for the price!

-- † Hops †

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1591 posts in 4572 days

#4 posted 02-29-2008 05:11 AM

I have the Shopsmith Pro planer. This is probably the best “finefinish” planer on the market. As stated in the review, the feed motor is separate. Actually it is a DC motor with infinitely variable speed, giving you feed rates between 7 and 20 feet per minute. Unlike many “lunch box” planers it has four jack screws. The cutter is stationary – very firmly a part of the main housing. The table raises and lowers. The Pro Planer is powered with a 1 3/4 HP induction motor – not a cheaper universal motor as found on most bench top planers.

It’s also made in the USA. That’s not too bad either.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

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790 posts in 5006 days

#5 posted 04-02-2008 03:35 PM

I’m glad I saw this review. I have watched SS planers sell on ebay and always wondered why they brought more than comparable size planers. Now I know. It’s not just the size, it’s the mechanics. Thanks for the info. -SST

-- Accuracy is not in your power tool, it's in you

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1591 posts in 4572 days

#6 posted 11-09-2008 10:24 PM

See the Shopsmith Pro Planer in operation;

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

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1591 posts in 4572 days

#7 posted 01-02-2009 02:20 AM

I just made a finger joint jig. One of the most critical aspects of this type of jig is that the “stud” must be precisely the same width as the slot cut by the dado blade. I made a 3/8 stud out of hard maple. After cutting my stock it to rough dimensions, I proceeded to plane it down in my Pro-Planer. As I got close to 3/8” I slowed the feed motor down to a crawl. I was actually able to mill off 2 thousands at a time, repeatably, on the Pro-Planer, until the stud fit the milled slot perfectly. Amazing precision!

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

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#8 posted 01-13-2009 11:40 PM

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#9 posted 01-14-2009 12:56 AM

I am a frequent user of the Shopsmith Pro Planer and it has never let me down. In fifteen + years all I have done is sharpen the blades and clean out the sawdust and shavings. Oh yeah, I wax the daylights out of the table three or four times a year.

I don’t send the blades out to be sharpened. I do that using a special jig and the Shopsmith Mark 5 or on the Power Station. I have two sets of blades that I cycle through this process, as required. But in these many years I have yet to sharpen the life out of these blades.

Now it is only fair to say that I plane very little reclaimed lumber and I never plane without checking for embedded metal. I don’t use much lumber from the box stores but when I do and I find tags put on with staples – I make mental note. That is not where I want to buy lumber frequently.

-- Making Sawdust Safely

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379 posts in 3891 days

#10 posted 12-24-2009 05:26 AM

I bought my SS Pro Planer in 1988. It is still going strong.

-- Dennis Trenton Ohio And life is worth the living just because He lives!

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#11 posted 03-18-2010 01:38 AM

I also will now be looking for this addition to my SS. had not planed on it before,thanks for the review

View Big_Eddy's profile


57 posts in 3693 days

#12 posted 10-09-2010 11:04 PM

My son came home with a SS Planer.. I know it not Christmas yet for all of you.. but.. It’s my Christmas.. I love the review and I have the best son ever. Hope you’re all jealous… he also brought home over 200 bd ft of black walnut, spalted oak and chestnut… now I bet you’re jealous… What a great son I have…

-- If i'd a knowed you coulda goed I'd a seen you gotta went

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6 posts in 2174 days

#13 posted 03-09-2015 04:20 AM

I’ve been looking around / saving up for a planer for the last few months and was about to pull the trigger on a DW735 from rockler with the stand, in/out tables, and extra blades for $650. Then i saw a SS 12” planer show up on CL…

Is it worth the $500 he’s asking? Doesn’t look like its in the greatest shape but it’s always hard to tell from pictures. I’m a bit skeptical on getting a 24 year old machine, but i don’t know much about the SS outside of this thread.

What about if he’ll go for $400?

Any info / advice would be greatly appreciated!

View TheOtherMrRogers's profile


42 posts in 2992 days

#14 posted 03-18-2015 07:48 PM

Ok, I’ll throw my two cents in.

I got one via craigslist for $100. It was dirty, and nasty, and just a little rusty. A few hours with WD-40 and sandpaper, and it was as good as new, except for the belt that had developed “set”. I need to go to a linked belt.

And I got an original shopsmith workbench (72 inches) for an additional $100.

Sometime, it just works out.

-- For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?

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537 posts in 1284 days

#15 posted 02-09-2017 10:16 PM

Is this a 110v or 220v machine? Thanks

-- Dale Miller Modesto, CA "I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me." Philippians 4:13. "Woodworking minus patience equals firewood."

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