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Planer - Helical or straight?

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Forum topic by Jopldangla posted 01-01-2021 08:41 PM 629 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Jopldangla

48 posts in 138 days


01-01-2021 08:41 PM

I am hunting for a used planer. I know I want a 15” or larger and brand new will break the bank.
In my area I have seen some used powermatic 15” straight knife planers in the $1400-$1500 range. There aren’t any helical ones popping up.

Questions
1. How hard is it to set knife height on a straight knife planer? Any used one I find will likely need new knives.
2. Is a target of $1000-$1200 a reasonable range for what I am looking for? (In mass)
3. Is it worth it to increase the range a few hundred bucks and continue hunting for a helical one?
4. I have my eye on a delta X5 planer which has issues “going up” but goes down fine. Straight knives. Is it worth trying to get into something like this and fox it and possible upgrade to helical?

Thanks folks.


18 replies so far

View Loren's profile (online now)

Loren

11018 posts in 4656 days


#1 posted 01-01-2021 08:54 PM

1. get some Planer Pals
2. yes. I had an off-brand Delta clone one I paid about $300 for. It worked fine though a little underpowered.
3. dunno. I reckon you’ll be looking for a long time for a 15” helical.
4. dunno. Try some straight knives before you become convinced a $1500 cutterhead upgrade is essential for you maybe.

I’ve always got by fine with straight knives.

View therealSteveN's profile

therealSteveN

7235 posts in 1582 days


#2 posted 01-01-2021 11:58 PM

I would think unless it’s a death you won’t see any Heli head planers, or Jointers on the secondary market, unless you have a dealer like Mueller that does a lot of swap sales to people working in industry.

Edward B Mueller in Cinci.

https://www.muellerco.com/used-machinery/

You might want to add a general location in case someone local has equipment to sell. I use SW Ohio, it doesn’t need, or would you want to use real addresses online. But most likely someone with a planer or jointer to sell is looking for a local sale, not shipping.

-- Think safe, be safe

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Newbie17

168 posts in 1469 days


#3 posted 01-02-2021 12:30 AM

There are aftermarket helical head cutters you can install on a used planer. https://shelixheads.com/SHELIX-heads_for_Planers

Buy whichever planer you like and install the helical cutter head when you are able.

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CaptainKlutz

4137 posts in 2503 days


#4 posted 01-02-2021 01:13 AM

+1 Straight blades work fine.

IMHO – Don’t NEED carbide edged segmented cutter head unless running mostly figured woods, high daily volumes, and/or hardest exotic species.

Takes < 1hr to install a set of straight knives; after you learn how.
Longest part is removing/installing the dust chute & cutter head shield. Need factory knife setting tool (or planer pals) and Rotocator for efficiency. Unlike lunch-box planer, industrial planer blade life is measured in thousands of bdft. Average between changes in 2000-10000 board feet; depending on cut quality and species. For most hobby shops that means knives last for year or more.

As far as pricing:
In my neighborhood, used 15” industrial planers come in three flavors:

1) Overworked commercial tools, or hobby tools ignored for so long they barely run; both need rebuilds and sell for < $400. Personally never paid more than $325 for rebuild tool, most were ~$200 or less.

2) Fairly priced tools sold by hobbyist in running shape, usually $500-$800 depending on condition.

3) Hobbyist sold tools with gold plated prices ($900+). Some are brand new and likely worth 60-70% of retail, to someone who needs that “new car” smell. But most are machines with minimal use over 10-20 years, zero maintenance, and barely worth $500-$700. Everyone of the $1000+ planers I have seen that are more than 10 years old, have neglected maintenance. Biggest issue is forgetting to oil the in/out feed roller bushings. The bushing bores end up oval shaped due spring pressure; and this makes setup and cut uniformity problematic. Yes, they still run/plane; but will have obvious feeding issues. Found a couple expensive ones missing oil in gear box too. :-)

Notes:
- If planer has carbide segmented cutter head, used prices tend add 80-100% of cost for buying a Byrd/Grizzly upgrade head ($600-$800) to same value straight knife tool. Have owned one, didn’t really need it and was not thrilled with cut quality on soft woods (left scoops); so I sold that planer.

- Segmented carbide cutter heads need more HP for same cut depth as straight knife machine. Straight knives will take full width 1/8” deep cut in one pass with 2HP. Might groan on hardest woods, but most will do it. Upgrading a 2HP 15” planer with new head will stall a 1/8” cut, and limits max cut to ~1/16” per pass. Even with 3HP, segmented heads do not have chip clearance for more 3/32 cut depth and bind up on softer woods at higher feed rates.

- 15” planers have high demand in used market. Most 15” planers with < $600 prices sell a few minutes after listing. Listing prices of $600-$900 take about 2-3 days to disappear, but tend to have a wait list of buyers after 24 hours has passed. If a tool sits on CL/FB for more than a week, the entire market believes it is over priced. Here is a blog post with more thoughts on used tool pricing.

- If price is right, fixing a planer is definitely worth it. Have rebuilt half dozen 15” Taiwan made planers over last couple decades. Can replace every bearing in machine (~20), replace belts, and rubber out feed roller for < $250 in parts. Takes me 2-3 hours to tear down, 2-4 hours to de-rust table/parts, about 4 hours to reassemble once I get parts; , and another 1-2 hours to setup machine table, roller, and cutter heights. Pop in a set of new blades, and have machine ready for another 20+ years of hobby use.
And yes, I make it sound easier than it really was the very 1st time I did one. LOL

- Powermatic is made in same factory as other guys. The elevated pricing fades as soon as Powermatic ‘no questions asked’ warranty expires, IMHO. Have used same Grizzly/Jet parts to repair Powermatic 15” as I used on a Delta or lessor known brand like AMT or General. Apologies if you think paying for gold paint makes it a better machine. Only difference is US designed, Taiwan made motor/motor starter; and special Powermatic quality specifications. These things mean very little after 10-15 years, when machine needs service parts, as Powermatic as discontinued parts for these older machines. The Taiwan made planers ALL have decent quality levels.

#IAMAKLUTZ not an expert. But my luck as let me stumble across 15” planers cheap, and simply passing along what I learned. My last bargain find and planer upgrade was Jet 20”. :-) YMMV

Best Luck.

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

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Newbie17

168 posts in 1469 days


#5 posted 01-02-2021 02:40 AM

Changed my mind, buy the least expensive Taiwan made planer you can get your hands on and convince CaptainKlutz to rebuild it for you ; )

View robscastle's profile

robscastle

7738 posts in 3212 days


#6 posted 01-02-2021 03:08 AM

I have a planer for sale

-- Regards Rob

View pottz's profile

pottz

14799 posts in 1993 days


#7 posted 01-02-2021 03:21 AM

if you can afford buy a heli head,it is well worth it.and klutz oh my god he means well but he’‘l bore you too death with more info than any man would ever need…........im joking,he’s a wealth of information that you can take from.but seriously heli heads are smoother and quiter and easier too change blades.i dont think there is a down side.

oh that rob guy be careful,ive heard bad things,best too avoid-lol.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View corelz125's profile

corelz125

2365 posts in 1984 days


#8 posted 01-02-2021 03:39 AM

That looks like littleblackducks shop. Rob your selling his stuff again?

View pottz's profile

pottz

14799 posts in 1993 days


#9 posted 01-02-2021 03:49 AM



That looks like littleblackducks shop. Rob your selling his stuff again?

- corelz125


probably he’s good at that-lol.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View Jopldangla's profile

Jopldangla

48 posts in 138 days


#10 posted 01-02-2021 07:56 AM

Man… such a wealth of information in here. It looks like at my price point I am in the straight knives world, now to focus my efforts on that front.

Are there any models or brands to stay away from? It sounds like powermatic is a good brand but not really worth the money at my price point since it’s all about warranty at this age and there isn’t any sense in paying a premium for a badge.

I was fortunate, however to pick up a grizzly 8” jointer with helical head for $700 recently. The jointer was mfg in 2019 and had little use. It did have some rust or stain stains on the tables which cleaned up with some bartenders friend.

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robscastle

7738 posts in 3212 days


#11 posted 01-02-2021 11:29 AM

-- Regards Rob

View robscastle's profile

robscastle

7738 posts in 3212 days


#12 posted 01-02-2021 11:30 AM

-- Regards Rob

View Robert's profile

Robert

4440 posts in 2489 days


#13 posted 01-02-2021 01:13 PM



Questions
1. How hard is it to set knife height on a straight knife planer? Any used one I find will likely need new knives.
2. Is a target of $1000-$1200 a reasonable range for what I am looking for? (In mass)
3. Is it worth it to increase the range a few hundred bucks and continue hunting for a helical one?
4. I have my eye on a delta X5 planer which has issues “going up” but goes down fine. Straight knives. Is it worth trying to get into something like this and fox it and possible upgrade to helical?

Thanks folks.

- Jopldangla


I doubt you’re going to find many used helical heads.

1 – on mine (Grizzly 20”) it’s a half day job. But thats me setting blades to .001”, adjusting pressure bar and rollers. Other machines might be easier.

2 – very ample budget you should be able to pick on up $5-800

Aftermarket helical heads can cost as much as the whole planer so I don’t recommend that.

A straight blade planer will work. It’s when you let the blades get dull and take too heavy a pass you get in trouble on certain lumber like oak or figured.

I think a lot of people view a planer as a surfacer, which it is not it is a thicknesser. Big difference. That said, Imjust changed the knives in mine and the wood will come out like glass but only a little while.

IMO a drum sander is the best money you can spend in just about any shop. I’d rather have a cheap planer and a drum sander than a helical head.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

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Jopldangla

48 posts in 138 days


#14 posted 01-16-2021 12:00 AM

Revisiting an older thread of mine.

I came across a shopfox, circa 2011, 20” straight knife W1754 planer. I haven’t seen it in person, but it wasn’t used in some high volume shop, but rather used in a hobby shop. Has anybody used this machine? My research seems to indicate it is basically the same machine as the grizzly..powermatic…insert name here…
Negotiated about $800, which I think would be a decent deal for this one. Agreed?

They are also selling a Delta drill press 17-900 and band saw 28-206 (14”) and drum sander 31-250… thinking I may be able to get it all for around $1500-1600…

would you just stick with the planer at $800, and try to get better finds on the other equipment?

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

6831 posts in 3502 days


#15 posted 01-16-2021 12:00 PM

If that planer is in good shape (and you can deal with it, weight…electrical, etc.) it’s a good buy IMHO. Personally I would value the DP (I have one) around $250, and the BS somewhere in the $400 range. But those are my guesses, without seeing anything. The value of tools vary greatly depending on a never ending list of reasons….so what’s important is whether they are worth it to you.

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

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