Planer recommendations

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Forum topic by bob_mp posted 06-13-2017 11:52 PM 1099 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2 posts in 1139 days

06-13-2017 11:52 PM

Hi guys, I’m in the market for a planer. I’m looking for something that can handle 4”x16”x12’ hardwood glue-ups and planing of reclaimed beams (somewhat smaller and potentially longer). I definitely want a helical head. Looking for something with a great finish.

I was thinking of a Grizzly 1033x/Powermatic 209HH/Jet208-HH. I don’t have a feeling for is how these machines would handle long, heavy (200+ lb.) lengths of wood. I have access to a 24” Powermatic planer—no issue with being enough machine, but I get a lot of tear-out with it, so not a real option.

The next size up in new planers would be something like a Grizzly G0544 (~$5k) , or a Powermatic 201HH (~$7.5K, the absolute top end of my price range). The Grizzly G0544 looks like a knockoff of the Northtech 20” planer. I haven’t seen a lot written about either one of these planers—any experiences anyone can share?

The third option I’m considering is a used Powermatic 160 or 180 and adding a helical cutterhead. Any suggestions as to what to look for in a used machine? Are parts readily available?


5 replies so far

View unbob's profile


810 posts in 2684 days

#1 posted 06-14-2017 12:26 AM

Be aware that the old Powermatic 160-180 planers have a 4” diameter head that makes them expensive.
Also, be aware that some of the early green 160 models have different specs then later models-the off the shelf heads are set up for the later machines.
To put a carbide head on the very early 160s like in my avatar, the stock steel blade head will have to be sent in with the knives set, so as a carbide head can be custom made. The problem being, the early machines have more limited adjustment on the pressure bar, the knife height is critical.
That is what I discovered with the 1959 160 I have.

View Tabletop's profile


139 posts in 1528 days

#2 posted 06-14-2017 01:43 AM

I bought a 20” helical head Steelex $2500 almost six months ago. I have run about 5k linear feet of oak, walnut, hickory, ash and poplar. Couldn’t ask for any better performance.

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

6258 posts in 3274 days

#3 posted 06-14-2017 05:57 PM

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that those 20” planers will handle the timbers you have. I’d suggest you stay with the PM, but that premium over the Grizzly may be hard to justify.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View JBrow's profile


1368 posts in 1701 days

#4 posted 06-15-2017 12:58 AM


I am a Woodmaster 12” planer and Woodmaster 38” drum sander owner and believe that Woodmaster may be worth considering. I have used their planer since the 1980s and their drum sander for about 5 years. Both machines strike me as well built and engineered with maintenance, repairs, and simplicity in mind. These machines continue to deliver like new performance for me (a hobbyist). If it matters, their products are made in the USA, including the out-sourcing of the spiral cutter heads to a local machine shop in Kansas City.

The Woodmaster 25” planer with a spiral cutter head is priced at $5000. Woodmaster also offers an 18” planer for a little less money. I believe these planers will do the work you have in mind, but for heavy work, an outfeed support is probably required. But then I suspect that any planer would require outfeed work support for heavy loads.

My only affiliation with Woodmaster is that as a customer.

View bob_mp's profile


2 posts in 1139 days

#5 posted 06-15-2017 06:01 PM

Gents, Thanks for the detailed and thoughtful feedback.

unbob: This was just the kind of thing I was worried about. How has parts availability been? Can you suggest any resources to better understand what’s entailed with this path? Anything else to look out for?

Tabletop, Fred, I’ll check out the Steelex, sounds like an amazing deal. I do have a bias towards Powermatic—I have an 8” helical head jointer that I am super happy with. I wish I didn’t like the Powermatic color as much as I do. If only they’d have one of their 15% sales going…

JBrow, I had not looked at Woodmaster or considered a planer molder. I’ll give them a careful look. I do prefer to buy tools made in the USA. Good point on outfeed table. My hope would be that a bigger planer would be less fussy in this regard, but I don’t have direct experience with a 20” planer.

Much obliged!

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