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determining the use pattern of a future tool

1247 Views 5 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  mcase
I am ready to buy a thickness planer for my shop. I know i need a portable/bench top model. Opinions and reviews are all over the place. Most people say it depends on how you will use the tool. So having never used a planer before how should I back into this so to speak and determine how I will most likely use it? I want to plane wood that I have re-sawn down to whatever my needs may be. But isn't that the main use anyway? I may simply have a case of information overload but your help/opinions would be appreciated. Thank You for any help.
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Perhaps people are refering to the width of the stock you intend to plane….but the lunch box planers are all in the 12" to 13.5" category… which in my mind is essentially the same.

Or perhaps they are refering to the volume of lumber you intend to shove through it….but again, all the lunch box planers have unniversal motors that draw roughly 15 amps, sot that's a wash as well.

IMO, the #1 consideration is snipe…. snipe just plane stinks and is a bugger to always take into consideration.

To minimize snipe, you need a planer that firmly holds the head. Some have a lock that grips the head after the depth selection is set and I think that's a good idea.

The other factor that affects snipe is supporting the stock so it feeds and exits on a flat plane (doesn't tip up or down)..... but this is likely going to be function of how you set it up (i.e. supports, table, etc…)

Many of the new planers boast easy knife replacement and allignment…. which I find odd, as I've never seen one that wasn't easy.

All the new planers bost fancy depth controls that either sense the boards initial thickness or dial in an exact cut thickness… and I guess that's all well and good, as long as those controls are repeatable and not subject to getting bumped out of alignment. In the end, I think you're still going to find yourself putting a caliper on the board and tweeking your final pass.

One thing I would look for is that the handwheel for the depth adjustment has a convenient tpi number. That is to say, it takes exaclty X turns to move one inch. And X is a convenient number.

My old Delta planer leaves a lot to be desired….. but one turn of the handwheel reliably moves 1/16". So I can tweek my final pass with half and quarter turns and get what I want pretty reliably.

Look at the price of replacement blades as well… they last pretty long, but can still rack up quite the bill.

Some of the new ones have two speed settings… I can't comment on that, as I have no experience with them…. seems to make sense though.

Large stationary planers have seperate motors for the feed rollers, and can control the feed speed… and I think one of the new lunch box planers has feed speed control as well… that might come in handy.

Get a popular brand, which reviewers claim has no/minimal snipe….shop price and blade price….. imo the rest is mostly fluff.
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Oh yeah…. Before I spent $800 on a lunch box planer…. I'd spend some time cruising the Grizzly catalog and reconsider "heavy metal"
Thanks for the response. I need to stick to the lunchbox style though due to limited space. Every tool in my shop is on wheels so I can still fit my truck in at the end of the day.
Timely question,

I just had to make birch panels for kitchen cabinet doors. I buy 13/16" rei since its much cheaper than finished 3/4". In this case I had to make the panels 1/2". Resawing is an option but for a mere 5/16" I figured I'd just plane it down. Planing the birch down to 1/2" really driven home to me what a toy my lunch box planer is (its a Dewalt and its as good as any LBP). I soon turned to my cast iron Grizzly jointer with a 3 hp single phase 220. What a world of difference! As I worked, I wished over and over that I had bit the bullet and gone with a real cast iron planer in the first place. I know space is problem for many of us - myself included. But, they make great mobile bases nowadays. If I had a second shot at it I would absolutely go the Grizzly route like ssnvet suggests.
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