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picking a planer Dewalt 735 or Steel City 40300H

11128 Views 30 Replies 13 Participants Last post by  giser3546
I am looking for a way to increase the quality and speed of my work and I think adding a planer will do that quicker than any other tool. To many times I have purchased an inexpensive tool only to have to upgrade later and this time I'd like to skip that and just get what I need straight away. To begin with I was looking at the Dewalt 735 which seems to be the go to. I had heard great things about it with the exception of blades that seem to wear out quickly. Helical cutter heads are available (for an extra $400) and straight carbide blades are also available, albeit for $130 extra. With that I started looking at the steel city planers which come with a helical cutter head and carbide cutters for the same price as the basic Dewalt 735. Considering those things I wonder if other aspects of the Steel City might not as good of quality as the Dewalt. I was wondering how people will compare the two and if there is another planer I should be considering.

I am also looking at the Steel City 40200H which is $100 more than the 40300H, but I can't seem to find any significant difference.
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I can't speak to either model, but what I can speak to is a helical cutter as opposed to blades. My Grizzly jointer has the helical cutter head and it is awesome. Much easier to replace a small cutter if you get a chip, or just loosen and rotate to keep the cutters sharp.

Definitely would recommend switching away from blades on either model you choose.
I have owned the dw735, it's a fantastic planer. That said I sold it after I got a good look at the SC 40200h and was able to pass a few boards through it at the steel city warehouse local to me.

The helical cutter was night and day over my dw745. The steel city heli blades only come with 2 sides. That's the only downfall I give it.

The only difference I saw with the 200 model or 300 was about 15-20 lbs of weight. The 200 has almost zero vibration when running, the 300 is lighter and has a bit more vibration when running.

I have the 735 and like it. I bought it because it has a strong chip ejector fan. It is a plastic fan and I have replaced it twice and now keep a spare on hand. I plane a lot of cedar and if a knot or weak spot near the end of a board comes loose the fan destroys itself trying to digest it. Not every time but too often. Other than that it is a fine planer.
For the Steel City planers, the 40300H is basically the same design as the 40100 only with a the segmented cutterhead (both nearly identical to the old Delta lunchbox planers), while the 40200H has a different head unit and adjustment design and includes a cutter head lock to help reduce snipe. As Paul points out, it is also quite a bit heavier all around. If you aren't going to be carrying it frequently, it's probably the better of their two machines.

One thing I would recommend with the Steel City units. If you get one of those, spring for a set of the carbide tips-they come with HSS tips installed, but the carbide ones are available as an accessory/part.
Very much appreciated guys, hadn't been able to get many opinions on any of these tools beyond complaints about the 735's crummy HSS blades. I wasn't aware that the 40200H had a head lock, that along with the sturdy design, the flawless reviews, the helical cutter head, and all of your input I think I'm sold on the SC 40200H. Thanks once again and I welcome any more input, since it might be awhile before I get the courage to spend the cash.

I spoke to a few salesman who seemed dead set on the fact that any planer would be not much use without a joiner too, which I have no space for. I pretty much chalked this up to them trying to get commission for another $1,000 tool. I plan on using the planer to join the wide face of boards (since most of my stock is 1" - 2" thick) as well as giving my work a cleaner look with perfectly parallel surfaces. Am I wasting money by buying this and having no immediate plan on buying a joiner? With the narrow cutting capacity of most joiners in my price range I figured a good set of hand planes could easily do the work of a joiner.

Also wondering if the 4 sided carbide cutter heads are compatible with blades from other brands… or are they specific to steel city.
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I figured a good set of hand planes could easily do the work of a joiner.

Yep, that is exactly how I do it. My feeling is that unless you are doing production work, a jointer is one of the easiest pieces of machinery to do without. I think it is actually easier and faster to take out twist and joint an edge with a hand plane than a power jointer-I just wouldn't want to do it all day long.

As far as the four sided inserts, I would doubt the compatibility. The Steel City heads are segmented but not helical. On a true helical, the cutters are arranged in a helix, hence the name. Helical cutters are set at an angle, so cut with more of a shearing action, while Steel City's Accu-head is segmented straight cuts. A helical should give a bit better finish, but at a much higher cost. The Accu-head design does a nice job of bridging the gap between straight knives and helical heads in both cost and performace.

The cutting inserts in both cases have to be precisely manufactured to be the exact same thickness and to fit the head exactly. I would doubt that they are the same precise specifications, so would stick with the ones manufactured for the specific model planer.

Steel City Accu-Head

Helical (Byrd Shelix in this case)

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Giser- I haven't used both units, but I do own the DW 735. It's a very good planer and I've had good experience with the stock cutting blades. However, I'm a hobbyist…and if you're going to use this unit to plane more volume, I've read that Infinity Tools make aftermarket (and excellent) replacement blades for the DW 735.

Lastly - aren't you going to need to finish the surfaces regardless of the unit these parts exit from? These tools are meant for dimensioning and not finishing…just a thought.

Happy (tool) hunting!
BigMig - Yes you are 100% right, this will be for dimensioning and to appease the obsessive compulsive woodworker in me that the wider surfaces are parallel and I wont be met with gaps after dimensioning during joining and glue ups. My trusty, but annoying to use, scraper plane will take care of any of the slight surface imperfections that the planer will leave behind. My main reasoning for the helical cutter is delaying me having to replace blades as long as possible. Do you mean to say this is overkill?... I've been guilty of that before.
JAY Made - The truth is I am partially through building a router sled that I had assumed would mean I wouldn't need a planer. The sled jig was easy enough but I am lacking in a large enough and flat enough surface to use it on. I am quickly out growing the 3/4" plywood top bench that came with my house and one of the first projects I have planned for this planer is to join and put together a thick solid wood bench top… your plans do look like a good idea. I am starting to think that even if i had that sled I would still need a planer.
Consider this, on the DWT735X (which I own and love), you have a 4-post threaded carriage lock which the cutter head and housing assembly ride on and provide a locked in height measurement with support at 4 heavy corners. With other lunchbox planers you definately don't get that kind of support against drifting or racking of the cutter head. You can just tell simply by looking at the DWT735X that it's way more heavy duty. There's no question and a shelix style cutterhead is superior, but remember, you can change out a cutterhead, you can't change out the support mechanisms of the cutterhead/clamp/lifting mechanism of your planer that control snipe (and if you could, you'd be better off buying a more industrial planer in the first place). I would prefer to start with good bones first, and replace the cutterhead/knives second. Just my two cents.
Crickett - I had the same thought a few days ago but realized the cutter head upgrade was almost as much as the planer itself, and having trouble finding any quantifiable reasons why the Dewalt had the upper hand what with what seem to be near unanimous positive reviews about the steel city. The Steel City 40200H has a head that locks in position albeit "flimsy". Have you had any issues withe chip ejection fan on the 735X breaking?
No, I have not. I get exceptional cuts from the DWT735X and when hooked up to my cyclone system I don't even see a spot of dust hit my floor. Also with the DWT, you get to feed speeds to rough cutting and finish cutting. A shelix head is awesome but not if the housing/clamp can't control the snipe.
Darn your good points Cricket, I thought I had made up my mind but you make some sense. The fact that I can walk into two different stores on my way home and pickup the Dewalt isn't helping what with me being a spoiled consumer obsessed with instant gratification. The point made earlier reinforcing that this if for dimensioning and not finishing makes me think I could deal with a few blade dings before the thing had to be replaced. That leaves the reduced noise of the semi-helical cutter head but buying tools based on how quiet they are seems about like buying medicine because it tastes good. I dont seem to see much mention of the 735X, how is it different from the 735 and could it be more difficult to find?
The difference between the DW735 and the DW735X is that the X version includes the infeed and outfeed tables and an extra set of blades. Totally worth the extra $50, IMHO.

You aren't going to go wrong with either the 40200H or the DW735, but one may just be a better fit, depending on your situation. Get a good machine, but don't pay for feature you don't need.

If you are going to need to store the planer out of the way, then the 40200H offers a smaller footprint and the ability to fold up the tables, while the 735 is just a bigger machine and the tables are detachable, but don't fold.

Both are 4 post machines, with the SC having a cutter head lock, though not an automatic one like is on the DW735. The posts on the DeWalt are also farther apart, which should lead to a more stable head and less opportunity for snipe. Does that really matter to you?

Segmented cutter heads have several advantages over straight knives. You have touched on several-noise level, quality of cut, ability to replace one cutter instead of the complete knife if something happens. Another point to consider is that because the cutters are taking smaller bites, it makes it easier on the universal motor, leading to longer motor life. I have a really basic lunchbox style planer, but if using it much more often (instead of hand planing most stuff), I would definitely have opted for a segmented head.

The point made earlier reinforcing that this if for dimensioning and not finishing
So, what use is the two speed feed rate of the 735? The additional speed is only an advantage for someone who wants to pull the board off the planer, hit it with the ROS and be done. If you are finishing with hand planes, it's an unnecessary feature.

The DW735 is probably the best portable planer on the market, in overall features, but do you need all of them? If you do, go buy it. If you don't and the 40200H will meet your current and anticipated future needs, then get that one and save the couple hundred dollars for more lumber.
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Well, in my opion I never buy from big box stores to begin with, so if you have a local hardware dealer than definately check them out. Everything is the same on the 735 & 735X, however the 735X gets you two feeding tables and an additional set of knicves while costing you less money (I'm not sure why that is but who cares). It's a really killer planer in my honest opion. For lunchbox planers, it's at the top of all tests as well. Down the road you can always retrofit it with a Byrd head of you so choose. I've had great experiences buying from and they have a sale on the planer at the moment for $535 and free shipping. Check it out.
Once again the input is greatly appreciated. Seems like I wont be going wrong with either machine, both will do what I want, although going about it in different ways. If the 735 is offering some features I may not need considering I will be doing my finishing with a hand plane, would the 734 offer comparable quality without the unneeded feature, and can it be upgraded to use a helical cutter head?
I also have been trying to decide among the Dewalt 735 and the Steel City 40300H and 40200H. I've decided to go with the Steel City 40200H. It's a little more expensive than the 735, but I decided the segmented cutter head is with worth it. I have some reclaimed lumber which I am planning to mill up and the ability to change the cutters in case I run across a hidden nail was the tipping point for me.

As for the 40300H vs the 40200H, I decided to go with the 40200H because it's a little more sturdy a machine and has the cutter head lock (although with the Steel City model numbering scheme you would think 40300H would be the better machine). Also, since the cutter heads on the 40200H have four cutters vs. only 2 on the 40300H, the price difference isn't quite as bad as it appears.

The best prices that I have found on the Steel City planers are on Amazon ($599 for 40200H and $444 for the 40300H). If anyone knows a place to get them for less, please share!
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