Tool Gloat (Part Two)- Big Planer and a little about powering 220 three phase

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Forum topic by ErikF posted 08-10-2016 12:40 PM 1483 views 0 times favorited 2 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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647 posts in 2725 days

08-10-2016 12:40 PM

It would make sense that an auction selling a 20” jointer would also be selling a large planer. I also bid on this planer and won it at $330.

-Powermatic 225
-24” Cutterhead
-2600 lbs
-10hp 3 phase

Here she is in all her glory Powermatic 225 24” planer.

When I first got into woodworking I was intimidated by any machines needing more than a 110v power supply because it meant running new wires and adding a breaker…and that was for single phase. Once I branched out into metalworking machines I found that 220v 3phase was the norm for machines with 1hp and up, I really wanted to add one to the shop so I started looking for ways to get the power. Here are the options:

- Have three phase power brought in from the pole (it’s typically not even available at the pole unless its a main road or industrial/commercial area) and potentially spend a lot of money. It was going to cost me $8,000 to have a line run to my shop and there was 3 phase across the street.

- Rotary phase converter (RPC)
If you have access to 220v single phase then you can run a RPC. Most shop equipment is 5hp and below so a 7.5hp RPC would be plenty to run an electric motor 5hp and below.

A 7.5hp RPC is a 7.5hp 3 phase electric motor which is wired to your 220v single phase source

220v single phase will not start the motor by itself so there is a need for start capacitors, a “pony motor” (single phase motor) to start the three phase motors rotation, and if you’re really trying to save some money you can wrap a rope around the motors shaft and pull it to start the rotation.

Once the motor is spinning at full speed it “makes” your three phase. From here you can run a wire to a switch or breaker made for three phase power. This will run your equipment.

- Variable Frequency Drive (VFD)

Are pretty simple and give more options than the RPC. What I like most about the VFD is that there is a lot of controller options. I have full speed control of my lathe motor using the VFD- great for many applications.

An issue I have had with the VFDs is the need to run them directly to the motor VS whatever controls are on the machine. I don’t think this applies to every application, but the machines I have don’t have switch/relay boxes compatible with the power. The VFD becomes my switch and gets mounted where the switch would normally be. This isn’t necessary using a RPC.

Bellow is a picture of my ghetto shop I took yesterday. Not exactly an OSHA poster but it’s in the process of being setup and the machines all run beautifully. In the picture:

-Planer (3 phase)
-Jointer (3 phase)
-Table saw (3 phase)
-Hydraulic surface grinder (3 phase)
-32” bandsaw (3 phase)

All are run off a RPC which is wired into my 100amp single phase box. May be better ways to do it but this is my method so far and I haven’t had any problems. Factories upgrade equipment regularly and often sell off old stuff at scrap prices. Not every piece is a beauty but good deals can be found. Of all the machines listed above, the Powermatic 225 has been my largest investment.

Oh yeah…you’ll need a forklift or cherry picker to move all the cool tools inside. :)

-- Power to the people.

2 replies so far

View ohtimberwolf's profile


934 posts in 2834 days

#1 posted 08-10-2016 01:00 PM

Wow, you have a nice setup there! Ya Dun Good!

-- Just a barn cat, now gone to cat heaven.

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3785 days

#2 posted 08-11-2016 07:02 AM

well your quote at the bottom says ’’POWER TO THE PEOPLE’’ well you dun got it now, just hook up a chain saw engine to the planer and away you will go….LOL…..ITS GOING TO BE A BLAST to get your shop up and running, post another picture when you get it there, and have a full grown tree in there to plane and joint….thanks for the look see, you got a rockin good deal on your equipment…

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

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