Laguna 16" Planer delivers

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Review by Deeppocket posted 12-26-2012 10:38 PM 21573 views 1 time favorited 19 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Laguna 16" Planer delivers No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

I purchased a Laguna 16” Planer last month and have a mostly positive review of the machine and the Company. As a disclaimer, I am retired, and enjoy woodworking as a hobby. My Planer experience is limited to my 13” DeWalt lunchbox Planer and now this industrial machine. I did not work in the industry. As a second disclaimer, Laguna did send me a T-Shirt after my purchase.

Laguna’s 16” Planer is very similar to the Powermatic 15HH 15’ Planer, and probably came out of the same Chinese factory. Powermatic uses the well known Byrd cutter head with 74 individual carbide cutters arranged in 4 rows, and Laguna uses a German cutterhead with 108 cutters in 6 rows. Both use the preferred helical design. FineWoodworking rates both of these as superior to other carbide cutterhead designs on the market. Other differences in the two machines are minimal in my eyes.

The advantages of the segmented carbide cutters are well documented and praised with good justification.

Before purchasing, I’d suggest you download the Operating Manual for both machines for comparison. The Powermatic instructions are vastly superior to the Laguna for what is essentially the same machine. You may have to ask Laguna for the proper link because the website directs you incorrectly.

As a comparison to my previous DeWalt (1hp) planer, this Laguna (3hp) is a beast! It hogs wood so fast my Onieda d.c. can barely keep up with the chips. I wonder if the dust hood could have been improved to reduce the mess created in 10 minutes of cutting?

The resulting surface is flat and glossy, but even Laguna’s manual states the surface is “not as smooth as a parallel blade system” because it does leave very fine cutter lines the length of the board. This required all of 10 seconds to clean up with my ROS, so in my mind, it is not a problem. I’ve experience absolutely no tear out on Oak, hard Maple, and mahogany.

A digital read out (RDO) is included on the Laguna, but is an option on the Powermatic. This is a great device as it accurately displays the the thickness of the board as it exits the planer. Unfortunately, the design of the DRO is such that I need to get on my knees to read the display. A future generation of this devise may correct this flaw by tilting the display to face upward least 45 degrees But despite that, it is a great addition. One caution however, the Laguna instructions to set up the DRO are hopeless and wrong. The Powermatic instructions for the exact same device are good.

Assembly of the Laguna was painful because of several design issues and poor instructions. This was my first experience installing in/out feed tables and only after an hour they were finally in and level. There is very little clearance for inserting the set screws and jackscrews. Patience required. The installation of the dust hood requires the disassembly of the rear return roller and both its’ stanchions. Not hard, just time consuming and unnecessary with a design tweak. Similarly, to inspect or adjust the cutterheads, all this needs to be removed. I am assuming this is the same with the Powermatic.

Bottomline, I am delighted with the performance of the Laguna, and pleased with the pricing as compared to the nearly identical Powermatic. Another option if you don’t need to hog a lot of wood is to consider purchasing an aftermarket Byrd cutterhead and installing it in your DeWalt 13”planer. Less money, good cut quality, but I don’t know how long a 1HP motor would last under those conditions.

I found the people at Laguna to be both helpful and knowledgeable.

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19 comments so far

View pintodeluxe's profile


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#1 posted 12-26-2012 11:13 PM

That looks like a nice setup. I have the Dewalt 735, and have considered the segmented head vs. a larger machine.
Nice review, many thanks.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

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118066 posts in 4350 days

#2 posted 12-27-2012 12:16 AM

Thanks for the review.


View MJCD's profile


603 posts in 3144 days

#3 posted 12-27-2012 12:36 AM

Also, thanks for the review.

Laguna is a favorite discussion ‘victim’ – their equipment seems to evoke mostly favorable reviews, and their customer service close to unprintable remarks. Also, the small things (instruction manuals, having all assembly nuts & bolts in the package, fit & finish on parts) seem to be a struggle for them.

By the way, there are several good videos on retrofitting the DW735 with the Byrd – FW had one, probably a year ago at this point . Theoretically, the Helical cutters should use less power (much smaller bites, each cut), but I’m not sure this is the reality (you’re rotating more mass, and the continuous wood contact (vs. the 3-head stock cutter) does consume the amps). The 735 was not meant to compete with the big-boys, but seems to hold its own – I’ve owned one for 5 or more years, and has earned its keep.

Again, thanks for sharing this. Perhaps as a follow-up you could let the Forum understand how you chose these two as the finalists – many Forum members, especially ‘Newbies’, struggle with decision points.

View steelbelt123's profile


3 posts in 3174 days

#4 posted 12-27-2012 03:16 AM

MJCD suggested I outline the thought process that led me to narrow my Planer choices down to only Powermatic and Laguna.

The process starts and ends with the carbide cutter heads. I hate the time and expense of changing the straight blades in both my Planer and my Jointer. After researching the several advantages of this new carbide cutter technology (cut quality, ease and economy of cutter changeout) , I upgraded my Jointer last summer to the 6” Powermatic machine with ‘helical’ carbide cutter heads. This style of cutterhead positions the cutters on the shaft at a different angle from ‘spiral’ carbide cutters, and have earned Fine Woodworking’s highest rating.

After several months of experience, I was very impressed with the quality of the cut on my new Jointer. To upgrade my Planer, I looked for a ‘lunchbox’ style like my 13” DeWalt I found several machines with carbide cutters, but found none in that size with helical carbide cutters. To get the cutterhead I wanted, I needed to go to the much larger and more expensive 15”-16” machines. I found only two with the ‘helical’ cutter arrangement, Powermatic and Laguna.

I am very happy with my choice of Laguna. I probably would have been happy with Powermatic also, but I would have spent hundreds of dollars more to get it.

View MJCD's profile


603 posts in 3144 days

#5 posted 12-27-2012 02:26 PM

Thanks for the follow-up – makes this clear, and I hope provides some thought processes for our new, and not so new, members.

Interestingly, the Euro-style jointer/planer combos are trying to get into this upgrade path – as we do first the jointer, then the plainer – this can be expensive (PM wants a $1,000 for a helical head – 6” 54A). I’ve already spent my 2013 new equipment money (Hammer N4400), so I’ll upgrade my DW735 (about $500) and do something with the jointer; rather than look to a Felder, MiniMax combo.


View Caleb James's profile

Caleb James

149 posts in 3702 days

#6 posted 12-27-2012 04:12 PM

As any one that was reading hear a couple of years ago knows, I had an absolutely horrendous time with Laguna, as have others. I have more issues with the way they treat customers than with their products but I do believe they over promise and under deliver which is unfortunate. I think they have unwillingly improved just because of forums like this, which are awesome.

I had to send back a 16” jointer/planer after help from callers here on the forums otherwise they wouldn’t have taken it back. I did however keep the bandsaw after I rebuilt it and repaired damaged parts. It works quite well and have been pleased with it, though I just can’t bring myself to encourage anyone to buy from them.

I hope you have excellent use of your planer. Post some projects!


View b2rtch's profile


4920 posts in 3821 days

#7 posted 12-27-2012 08:05 PM

“Theoretically, the Helical cutters should use less power (much smaller bites, each cut), but I’m not sure this is the reality “

They use more power. I fitted a Shelix head on a 8” Powermatic jojnter and I replaced the after market 1 1/2HP motor with a 3HP motor.

-- Bert

View MJCD's profile


603 posts in 3144 days

#8 posted 12-28-2012 01:21 PM


Thanks! As I’ve heard this from several real-life sources – though manufacturers continue to claim otherwise.

One of the reasons I’ve delayed upgrading my old 1hp PM 6” jointer is because of the power issue – if I spend the money for both the Shelix and the stronger motor, I should just buy a new strong 8”. Also, on my DW735, it probably has enough spare hp/torque to handle the Shelix.

Thanks, again, for the follow-up.

View b2rtch's profile


4920 posts in 3821 days

#9 posted 12-28-2012 02:33 PM

MJCD, did you read my blog about my Powermatic.?
My total cost is around $1200, a brand new Powermatic same size with Shelix head is over $2500.00.
This is now a very sweet jointer, I do not have the look at the grain direction and I never have any tear out.

-- Bert

View MJCD's profile


603 posts in 3144 days

#10 posted 12-28-2012 03:51 PM


No, I didn’t see your blog; and I will read it, as I need to do something … I’m tired of HSS jointer knives – at least on the DW735 the HSS blade change-out is painless and precise. I’ve already spent my 2013 equipment money (Hammer N4400 bandsaw), but I’m dreading the jointer for my next several projects. Decisons, Decisions – how to persuade the Boss …


View b2rtch's profile


4920 posts in 3821 days

#11 posted 12-28-2012 04:07 PM

I have a good wife who always encourages me to buy what I want/need and the best I can afford. I am glad that I rarely listen to her and that I am cheap if not we would be broke.

-- Bert

View joeyinsouthaustin's profile


1294 posts in 2845 days

#12 posted 12-28-2012 05:12 PM

This review is well done an informative. Laguna has such nice video’s and presentations on the web, but customer service and support reviews like this have kept me away from even considering their products. :( And kudos on full disclosure about the t-shirt. :) I always like such objective honesty.

-- Who is John Galt?

View Ken90712's profile


17867 posts in 3962 days

#13 posted 12-29-2012 01:06 AM

A Real Beauty…

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

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#14 posted 12-31-2012 02:36 AM

A free T shirt with your planer? Wouldn’t that corrupt your objectivity? Just kidding.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

View OAKSPSD's profile


24 posts in 2738 days

#15 posted 01-09-2013 08:38 PM


I had purchased a Laguna bandsaw several years ago and at the moment of truth they finally told me there was a waiting period for it. Only when I told them that I would buy something different did they call me back the next day saying that they would be able to deliver when I wanted.

I have no problems at all with the bandsaw, but after the reviews I have been skeptical about another purchase from them. Kind of a shame because I am looking at a jointer and a planer but will not seriously consider them with the issues others have had with them.

Your plainer does look nice, good for you.

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