What 15" Helical Planer to buy?

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Forum topic by PPK posted 01-06-2020 07:28 PM 4805 views 0 times favorited 20 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1896 posts in 2306 days

01-06-2020 07:28 PM

The helical bug bit me. I’m so dang impressed with my helical jointer that I’m looking to upgrade from my 12” Dewalt DW734 (An excellent planer, by the way).

I’m good with a 15” model. 20” is too big & I don’t ever need that kind of capacity.
My Dilemma is that I’m not sure if I should get the fixed table or fixed cutterhead model…

Fixed Cutterhead:

Fixed Table:

Price is negligible. Both have similar specs. Only real difference is the “Extreme” series is a bit larger and has a power indicator light… whoop-dee-doo. Now an amp meter or something useful would be cool!

Anyway, I’ve obviously used both fixed cutterhead and fixed table, and there doesn’t seem to be any real difference in operability. Am I missing something?

Cutterhead locks/Table locks: How necessary are these? I don’t see any locks on the G0891 model. Think that’s a deal breaker?

Anyone own either of these, and can vouch for them?

-- Pete

20 replies so far

View therealSteveN's profile


10242 posts in 2071 days

#1 posted 01-06-2020 08:01 PM

I’ve got the grizz 15” with the heli head, and love it, beyond it, all I can actually talk about is the DeWalt 735, which I have had 2 with a Byrd head in them. Loved them too. Other planers before, and there were many, all had straight blades, and IMHO they suck for cut quality on difficult wood grain, and are a PIA to change blades, and get them level. So I am now a heli head convert. I just can’t talk about others I have not owned or used.

Given the extra $$$$ and if you also had the space jumping up to a 15” 3 HP machine is night and day over the lunchboxes, even the venerable 735’s. For a small biz guy, or a homeowner it’s a destination tool. meaning it’s the last one you need to buy.

-- Think safe, be safe

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

7506 posts in 3990 days

#2 posted 01-06-2020 09:35 PM

I bought a Delta 15”, mostly because it had a fixed table and I reasoned that makes things easy with auxiliary tables. I mean I didn’t want to adjust them every time I changed cutting depth. Since then (I bought it in 2002) I’ve used aux tables maybe 6 times. Other than that, having the motor on the top does add to the weight you’re cranking up/down, so it’s probably more effort (I need to visit SteveN and try his to see) to move. So if i was buying today I wouldn’t even worry about it, choosing instead of what I think is the best value machine.

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

View Henro's profile


8 posts in 1215 days

#3 posted 01-06-2020 10:00 PM

As Fred said, the fixed table type planer lets you add input and output tables that require no adjustment when changing thickness.

I have a fixed head planer. 15” Grizzly. Probably 20 years old now, maybe more.

What I have found is that it is better to cut my rough lumber to lengths that are near the finished size, before jointing. As the result, I don’t have a lot of long pieces that run through the planer. So auxiliary tables, beyond the rollers that move with the planer table, have not been something I have ever much needed.

If you foresee the need to plane long boards it would seem the fixed table planer would be an advantage.

For me not so much.

View CaptainKlutz's profile


5771 posts in 2991 days

#4 posted 01-07-2020 01:06 AM

Have no experience with either model you listed, but have rescued and rebuilt several different 15” planers?
General comments:

- The Taiwan G1021 is work horse. Has been made by same mfg for many decades with a few different OEM, PN, colors, and minor option differences. Parts are super to easy to find as the have many common parts. Have used G1021 with straight knives for several years and would happily own another.

- The G0891 is Taiwan produced cost reduction of the classic design that was announced in late 2017 by Jet, and delivered in 2018 by Jet, Grizzly. This machine is a design child of the need for cost reduced designs and the recent US-China tariffs. The well known Taiwan made 1021 models are more expensive than a China produced G0453 model of near identical design and Taiwan mfg was losing business, at least until the tariffs were added. (lol) Doubt you find many folks with experience on this new machine. And if you do, it will be part time use in a hobby shop, not a commercial shop where the limitation of the older 15” planers designs have been proven.

- The G0891 removed a feature found on older model: head/table locks. The head locks on G1021 are used to prevent movement from the inevitable backlash in the height adjustment system. A properly adjusted and locked down G1021 has almost zero snipe, and what little I see is less than 0.001 of exit snipe on long boards. For years people have complained about 15” planer snipe issues (while being to lazy to lock the head or adjust the tables), and the general consensus is all 15” industrial 4 post planers have snipe. I disagree on the G1021. Have read no data on the G0891, other than the locks are gone?

- The G0891 has significantly smaller cabinet than the G1021. This does create a slightly smaller foot print if that matters in your shop. If you combine the cabinet reduction with lack of power stack on side, you drop from a ~30×50 G1021 machine to ~20×50 G0891 machine.

- The debate of moving tables or moving head(fixed tables) is interesting to me.

: fixed table puts more weight on the height adjustment mechanism. Comparing the old DC-380 with top mounted motor to a G1021/PM15 is my only reference; but I prefer the moving table. The biggest reason being the moving table is easier to adjust for co-planarity than heavier moving head.

: The Grizzly version of the fixed table on G0891 is actually an improvement from the original Jet release. They both added a damper support opposite the motor bracket, as the head was getting stuck to due uneven pressure created by motor weight only one side. There are a few early buyer 1 star reviews on Jet before the damper was added that tend to skew Jet reviews.

: Even with fixed height tables it is challenge to use an extension table or roller supports adjusted to perfect height. A machine with cast iron in/out tables is over 50” of solid support, which is plenty for even 8 ft lumber. The extra supports end up mainly as resting spot before you start, and after you finish a board. So having them 1/2 too low with moving table as you thin the lumber is a non-issue, unless you plane 10-12ft lumber. I find that extra support table just get in way as you move lumber around the machine. When I use a extra support, it is only on the exit side.

In summary: unless floor space is a premium in your shop, I would prefer the proven G1021 model over the newer G0891, as there is very little feedback on the newer model. YMMV

PS: Regarding floor space, have a used Jet 20” four post planer that takes up less shop space than a G1021X2. The lack of power switch stack on side and having fold down feed tables makes a big difference in space required for storage when not being used. The overall cabinet size between the two is surprisingly similar when I adjusted the mobile base to fit. Also once I owned a 20” capacity planer, became surprised I didn’t see the benefits earlier. Bigger IS better. LOOOL

Thanks for reading to the end, best luck on your decision.

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, Doom, despair, agony on me… - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

View PPK's profile


1896 posts in 2306 days

#5 posted 01-07-2020 03:42 PM

Thanks for the input, guys. Cap Klutz, good write up. Lots to think about. Kind of leaning toward the G1021. I bet I could re-orient the switch fairly easily so that it wouldn’t stick out so dang far. Does Grizzly think shop space is free or what?! ;-)

-- Pete

View Pat3's profile


171 posts in 3376 days

#6 posted 01-08-2020 08:30 AM

You do know that you can upgrade your 734 with a helical head right?
I just upgraded my old 733 and the quality difference is night and day.
I also looked into upgrading to a 15”, but didn’t want to give up the real estate for the bigger machine.
Good luck for whichever way you decide.

View PPK's profile


1896 posts in 2306 days

#7 posted 01-08-2020 02:19 PM

You do know that you can upgrade your 734 with a helical head right?
I just upgraded my old 733 and the quality difference is night and day.
I also looked into upgrading to a 15”, but didn’t want to give up the real estate for the bigger machine.
Good luck for whichever way you decide.

- Pat3

Yeah… I’m aware of that. I don’t think I want to drop the money into that machine, and still have a “screamer” and no increased capacity/power. Good thought tho!

-- Pete

View Jared_S's profile


496 posts in 1456 days

#8 posted 01-08-2020 02:51 PM

I have a 1980s 1021 with a byrd head I added a couple years ago. Other than being a bit small for me at this point its been a great planer.

View William_D's profile


41 posts in 1966 days

#9 posted 01-09-2020 06:46 AM

I drank the koolaid and bout a Powermatic 15HH a few years ago. Had I do it now, I would get a 20” grren one and put a byrd head in it.

View PPK's profile


1896 posts in 2306 days

#10 posted 01-27-2020 03:36 PM

I purchased the Steelex brand 15” helical head machine. (Steelex ST1012) Best price for the same machine as far as I can tell. Here’s to hoping! Steelex added their own touch and has a built-in mobile base, so that reduces my need to put it on one. I’ll probably write up a review after some time using it.

Also, I did contact Grizzly about the lack of the locks on the G0891. They said:

“This model does not have a lock for the headstock. The weight of the headstock, and the leadscrews, should keep the headstock from moving during operation. If the headstock is being pushed upward during operation, that is typically a sign that the knives need to be sharpened or replaced. We have not had any reported issues with the height changing during operation on this machine.”

I’m not real sold on that answer^
I also went and looked at my local tool store and saw the (very overpriced) Jet-painted version of the Grizzly G0891, and was not impressed. The gear box cover was plastic. Seriously?

-- Pete

View PPK's profile


1896 posts in 2306 days

#11 posted 01-30-2020 02:07 PM

Machine came yesterday. Initial impression is that I’m really pleased. It came well packaged; bolted down to a pallet, with a crate over it. No damage. I was concerned because it shipped UPS and then delivered by a local courier. (I was most worried about the UPS portion of the trip.)

After wiping off tons of that rust prevention grease, I got it assembled except the infeed/outfeed. Everything seems to be good so far. Powered up and loved the quiet running. The mobile base works really well, and I like how it’s built in. I wonder why more machines aren’t like this. Its so easy and effective to throw in the 3-caster mobile base like this. Steel wheels so they will last a long time.

I’m pretty impressed with the cutterhead. It’s got the full 74 carbide inserts, and looks like a clone of the Byrd. It probably is. The Grizz only has 54 inserts.

No way would I pay 2X the $$ for the same machine painted Powermatic “gold” hahah. :-)

-- Pete

View MBurke's profile


6 posts in 1581 days

#12 posted 03-04-2021 12:08 PM

I am in search of a planer also. I have found a used planer. I have a few questions for CaptainKlutz but cant pm you with my low post count. I don’t what to hijack this thread so Ill be short. CaptainKlutz would you have time to email me ? [email protected]

I guess I could post my questions here for anyone else also. I see there are a few of you that might have this G1021 grizzly 15” planer.

you mentioned you have rebuilt several planers, I found this G1021 am thinking about buying it. Would you give me your opinion on this older (23yr old) Grizzly G1021 jointer ? The seller bought a accerage and it was in the shed. He hasn’t use it much he said. Its dirty and the base is rough but if the price is right would it be worth restoring ?
And would you have a $$ amount you think it’s worth ?


View CaptainKlutz's profile


5771 posts in 2991 days

#13 posted 03-04-2021 11:08 PM

Pricing varies by region. What I think is over priced, some folks think is good deal?
Might like a blog post with my thoughts on used tool pricing

There is no way I can estimate what that planner is worth from a couple pictures.

Other random comments, in random order:

- Open frame 15” planers cost less than closed stand new. This lowers used pricing .vs. a closed stand model. In my neighborhood, a fully functional G1021 open stand not needing any work is worth slightly more than new Dewalt 735 or ~$500-600. This is ~50% of new price when sold back in 90’s.

- Motor size can be important for some folks who want helical head. 2HP motor will easily hog 1/8” 15” wide pass with straight knives, but helical needs 3HP motor.

- Challenge with used tools is some folks don’t recognize when machine gets noisy, and it needs new bearings or maintenance. The 15” planers are a work horse, designed for industrial all day use. They still plane wood with growling bearings, lack of oil, rusty tables, and worn out bushings; they just don’t work as well, Cut consistently, or last very long. Most every four post planer over 15 years old has some kind of ignored issue, even those that will plane a test board. So inspect carefully.

- The amount of work required to refurbish a planer directly lowers the value. Can buy a complete set of US/Japanese made bearings/bushings (~23) with gaskets and seals for < $225. So most I tend to pay for machine needing rebuild is $150-300 depending on paint, stand type, and motor. The goal being that tool refurbished selling price is more than my cost, and pays for labor.

- Ignoring the faded paint, not knowing what maintenance has been done; I would assume that your 23 yr old planer needs a rebuild/refresh. Minimum for me would be to plan for new motor bearings, cutter head bearings, gear box gasket, oils seals, with inspection and oil change. With new belts, that is ~$100 in parts. Depending on use/care, probably new bushing blocks on in/out feed rollers, which adds another $50. Everyone seems forget bushings need oil once a week, or every 4-5 uses. If it has rubber surfaced out feed roller, then might have another $100 for new roller as rubber lifetime is 10-15 years even in storage due oxidation.

- New planer knives are not cheap, but are routine maintenance item. If used planer comes with extra knives that adds some value. Just be sure you get the knife setting guide, or you will be paying Grizzly $30+shipping for new one.

Hope that helps.
As always, YMMV.

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, Doom, despair, agony on me… - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

View MBurke's profile


6 posts in 1581 days

#14 posted 03-05-2021 12:30 PM

thank you for all your expert advice. You really helped me make my decision on this planer. I went and checked it our. Looked it all over. It had oil residue on the bed, some rust of course, and I ran some lumber through it. It was a pretty rough machine and I am sure it needed all the rebuilding you mentioned. Looked like it wasn’t very well taken care of. Pretty rough

I passed on it. The seller didn’t want to come down much on the asking price and I don’t think I would have bought it and half the asking price. It need all the rebuilding you listed.

You confirmed my decision and educated me for my future hunting for a used planer.

Thanks again for all your time and advice, I appreciate it .

View tvrgeek's profile


2411 posts in 3146 days

#15 posted 03-05-2021 01:17 PM

A year later. Steelex WEB shows a blank page for planers.
Just did a survey of current availability of 15 inchers. Comments in my thread on “last machine”
Not finding much in used around here.

Captain’s analysis of refurb costs is quite helpful. Figure a grand for a Byrd head if they have it. I would look it up before I gought aused machine.

As Delta does not support old tools, ( or as it seems, brand new ones) are parts like feed rollers available? bearings, bushings etc?

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