DeWalt DW734 12 inch thickness planer

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Review by Purrmaster posted 09-21-2013 02:54 PM 22984 views 3 times favorited 19 comments Add to Favorites Watch
DeWalt DW734 12 inch thickness planer No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

I’ve had this planer for about 2 years now and have run lots of wood through it. From easy stuff like aspen to nastier stuff like ipe and purpleheart. My overall experience with the tool has been excellent. I don’t know how I got along before I got a planer.

The DW734 is the lower end of DeWalt’s “lunchbox” planers. The fancier one being the DW735.

This planer has three knives, of the disposable variety. They are “double sided”. When the knives get dull you can flip the knives for a new edge. Once both sides of the knives wear out you have to get a new pair. A new set of knives is about $40-50. They last a pretty long time but I am on my third set of knives already.

The planer is easy to use. Just set the thickness and run your boards through. The extension tables are sufficiently long for a planer of this size. The few settings the planer does have are easily fiddled with. The dust collection hood that comes with the planer works well and has adapters for other hose sizes. Mine is hooked up to a Shop Vac. You need to have some kind of dust collection on it. If not it will spew gobs of shavings out the front and back and be very messy.

It gives the wood a nice, smooth finish and the thickness is accurate. It’s heavy enough that it doesn’t jump around or vibrate excessively. You will get snipe with it unless your board is well supported at both the infeed and outfeed of the machine. That being said, even without that good support the snipe will only be on the last inch or so of the board and can sometimes be sanded out.

It does a good job of powering through wood. It can bog down if you’re trying to take too much good off a large board, especially with very hard wood. If you take too big a chunk at a time you will probably get some tearout. On the harder woods even if you take light passes you’re likely to get some minor tearout, especially if the knives aren’t new.

When you fold up the extension tables it takes up surprisingly little space.

As I said, I’ve been very satisfied with this machine and would get it again.

Now the downsides/gripes:

It’s loud. I mean really loud. It sounds like a freight train going by. It’s not going to burst your eardrums but it will assault your senses. It’s easily the loudest tool in my shop. If you had to run it for more than 10 minutes at a time you might want to consider ear plugs.

Changing the knives is a bit of a pain. You have to remove the dust collection hood and then take part of the back off. Each knife has several screws that hold it down. The biggest issue I had was getting everything back together again. It always takes more than a little trial and error to jam everything back into place. Screwing the dust collection hood back on is annoying, as it’s hard to access the screw holes. Thankfully you don’t need to change knives very often.

It doesn’t have enough preset settings for thickness. I would have liked a 5/8” setting and possibly a 7/8” setting. You can custom set one of them yourself.

The last gripe is that if you have the dust collection hood installed (which you should) you can’t fold up the rear table. If you move it around a lot this could be annoying. If you can plunk it down in one location you’ll be fine.

View Purrmaster's profile


915 posts in 2862 days

19 comments so far

View TheOldTimer's profile


226 posts in 3855 days

#1 posted 09-21-2013 07:47 PM

Very nice revue, thank you very much. I may replace my old Delta with this planer in the near future. They often go on sale at times. My older Delta is a pain when it comes to changing knives also. I would like to have a 735 but they are pretty expensive compared to the 734.

-- TheOldTimer,Chandler Arizona

View bygrace's profile


198 posts in 2738 days

#2 posted 09-21-2013 10:22 PM

I have also had this planer for a few years. I also had to switch the blades but don’t remember it being that much of a pain. Other than that I agree with you, especially about the noise. It has served me well also.

-- Andy, Waxahachie, Tx.

View NiteWalker's profile


2741 posts in 3346 days

#3 posted 09-21-2013 11:13 PM

Great review.
I have the same planer and love it.

Regarding noise, I always wear hearing protection (anyone using screaming power tools should) so that’s not a con for me. My router table is loud too.

I didn’t hook up the dc chute. I just put a garbage can behind the planer stand and sweep up whatever the can doesn’t catch.

I haven’t changed knives yet, but byrd makes a shelix head for the 744; depending on how long I get from the knives I might make the switch next year.

@TheOldTimer: After using this planer for a while, I can’t imagine the 735 being $200+ better than the 734. I worried the same thing but the 734 is a workhorse.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3459 days

#4 posted 09-22-2013 12:49 AM

Very good review. You covered the important stuff AND you have used it enough to know its worth.

I have my “disposable” planer blades resharpened and they cut and last better than new. It costs me $30 to have both sides of 3 blades sharpened. (Best Grinding in Tulsa, Ok.)

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View REL's profile


84 posts in 4426 days

#5 posted 09-22-2013 02:42 AM

I have the same planer and still have the original box. I used it only a few times. Works great. I have a room problem and purchsed a Hammer combo jointer/planer. I’ve been too lazy to put the DeWalt 734 up for sale. If there is someone around Metro NYC interested send me a note. I will let it go for about $250.00.

-- REL, North Jersey

View emart's profile


445 posts in 3397 days

#6 posted 09-22-2013 09:56 PM

I also have this planer and it is very useful. When I was looking for a thickness planer this one was the only one on amazon that didn’t have a some sort of major flaw like its competitors in the same price range. as for the noise every thickness planer I have used has made a noise that can wake the dead and peel the bark off a dog so I just use ear plugs and hope the neighbors wont be forming an angry mob. I have never had any issues with changing the knives i found them very easy to set especially compared to my jointer. As of right now I am on my second set of knives after owning the machine for 2 years. The only time it gave me any trouble was when i was planing 10” wide black locust slabs but that’s a tall order for anything that isn’t industrial.

@gfadvm I had no idea the disposable blades could be resharpened I will have to look into that and see if my local blade sharpened can do something with my old set of knives

-- tools are only as good as the hands that hold them

View Purrmaster's profile


915 posts in 2862 days

#7 posted 09-23-2013 03:26 AM

I’ve run 12 inches of stuff like purpleheart through it and it does bog down and cause some tearout. But like emart said, that’s to be expected in a lunchbox planer.

I haven’t had to try and have the knives resharpened. The sharpening services I have used don’t get blades as sharp as I would with sandpaper and glass.

You are correct that changing the blades on the planer is about 5,000 times easier than my jointer. I probably should have mentioned that in the thing’s defense.

View TheOldTimer's profile


226 posts in 3855 days

#8 posted 09-23-2013 07:31 PM

Foot No: I do not know of a portable planer that is quiet. They are all loud but I understand that if you install the shelix blades they cut down on the noise. I sharpen my blades also, after three sharpenings I replace them.

-- TheOldTimer,Chandler Arizona

View Purrmaster's profile


915 posts in 2862 days

#9 posted 09-24-2013 02:36 AM


Do you use some kind of jig when sharpening the planer knives?

View Luke's profile


290 posts in 3456 days

#10 posted 09-26-2013 10:05 PM

I also have this planer, I have to say I “settled” for this when I couldn’t afford the 735. First time I used it any remorse for not getting the larger planer went away, this one works like a champ. Probably why its been around for so long with no revisions.

View TwoThumbBruce's profile


53 posts in 3785 days

#11 posted 01-31-2014 05:09 AM

Does anyone know if there is a minimum length that can be safely planed? I’m making a project with 12” scraps of oak and worry about kickback.

-- Bruce, Florida

View emart's profile


445 posts in 3397 days

#12 posted 01-31-2014 07:40 AM

12” is on the very limit of what is considered safe according to the manual

-- tools are only as good as the hands that hold them

View Furniture4Fun's profile


6 posts in 2005 days

#13 posted 01-07-2015 01:49 PM

I’ve had one of these for years and bought it as a replacement for a Rigid that had all sorts of problems including exercising the “lifetime warranty.” The Dewalt has given me no trouble.

View TheWeiss's profile


50 posts in 2005 days

#14 posted 01-08-2015 03:42 PM

I like everything that I read about this planer but I’m still not able to figure out the difference between this model (DW734) and the slightly larger Dewalt Planer (DW735). The price difference is substantial and more substantial that the additional width is worth, in my mind at least. Is size really the only difference between these two or is there something else going on here that I don’t see?

View Purrmaster's profile


915 posts in 2862 days

#15 posted 01-08-2015 06:26 PM

I don’t have the 735 but I’ll take a crack at it since I looked at it previously myself.

To encapsulate: I think the 735 is supposed to be a little “heavier duty” than the 734.

The 735 has a couple of extra features the 734 doesn’t have. It has an automatic carriage lock. On the 734 you push a bar up and down to engage and disengage the lock. The carriage lock is supposed to prevent snipe. Personally I don’t find it arduous to manually deal with the carriage lock on my 734. I also haven’t seen the carriage lock make much difference with snipe. For me, snipe prevention has mostly been a matter of supporting the wood on the way in and the way out of the planer. This is usually done with rollers.

The 735 has two speeds. For woods that are harder or more prone to tear out a slower speed might be useful. Personally I think preventing tear out has more to do with the sharpness of the knives and how deep each pass through the planer is.

On the 735 you have to get infeed and outfeed extension tables as an accessory. They come pre-equipped on the 734. On my 734 the tables were also properly leveled from the factory.

They are both loud as hell.

I’ve been very happy with my DW734 though I am, of course, subject to confirmation bias.

One tip: If at all possible keep your shop vac/dust collection system on a different circuit than the planer. Trying to run both off the same circuit caused the breaker to trip all the time for me. And you will want some kind of dust collection for the planer or the shaving will clog it up fast.

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