Yet Another LunchBox Planer Thread

  • Advertise with us

« back to Power Tools, Hardware and Accessories forum

Forum topic by B4B posted 09-08-2014 05:19 AM 9488 views 0 times favorited 49 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View B4B's profile


163 posts in 1867 days

09-08-2014 05:19 AM

Topic tags/keywords: planer

I’ve been reading, and reading, and reading (and lurking). I’m looking for a lunchbox planer. It sounds like a lot of folks here will vouch for the Dewalt 73x planers (based on the other forums on the LJ site I’ve seen). But it’s harder to find information on the other units I’m considering:

- Makita 2012NB (~$550) or Dewalt DW73x (~$400-550) – these are tied and are the two that I’m primarily looking at.

Other contenders:
- Grizzly G0505 (~$350) – price point is good. . longevity? Quality?
- Steel City 40300HC (~$550) – it comes with the helical-style head and a lot of free grease.

One reviewer on Amazon has the Makita and has had it for well over 6 years; it is generally well reviewed.

I’ve found a few reviews on the Grizzly, the one here on LJ seems to be positive, but there aren’t many of them around.

The Steel City 40300HC seems to have mostly good reviews (once you get past the grease) but they are more mixed than the Makita and Dewalt.

I may be able to pickup the Grizzly locally (I live about 2 hours south of the Bellingham, WA showroom) and save the ~50 on shipping. If I can do in-store pickup on any of the other brands, that would be ideal.

Aside from the Dewalt (which I’m sure there will be a lot of positive responses for), what is your hands-on experience with the Makita, Grizzly, or Steel City? Should I even consider the Grizzly or Steel City? Are there other quality brands out there?

- Additional information –
My Use?
Hobby use. I do a couple projects a year, so I would consider my use light-medium. I’d be surprised if I put 200 LF of hardwood though this in a year.

300-600, any more and I don’t think I could justify it for hobby use.

HA! I have a small shed to store my tools in, and a carport to do woodworking, so everything has to be mobile.

Why not a floorstanding unit?
No space. I need to store this in a rather long and narrow “shed” that already holds my Tablesaw, RAS, and 4” jointer. Although a workshop would be ideal, that may not happen for another 2-3 years.

I considered all three units that are under 1300, but there are too many mixed reviews to make a confident purchasing decision. Jet makes a 10” combo unit that I could order though a local store and return it locally, but I’d rather not hassle with it given the mostly negative reviews.

Complementary Jointer:
4 3/8” Craftsman 1960’s jointer and I found a set of knives for it! I need to make a new fence for it though.


-- There's two routers in my vocab, one that moves data and one that removes wood, the latter being more relevant on this forum.

49 replies so far

View bigblockyeti's profile


5972 posts in 2229 days

#1 posted 09-08-2014 10:45 AM

I’ve used the Makita and it’s a very nice planer, one thing that worries me is the lack of units on the market. The DeWalt planers are quite ubiquitous and anything that could go wrong with yours has already gone wrong with someone else’s and someone’s posted something about it somewhere (probably here). Service centers are also easier to find, as is aftermarket support.

-- "Lack of effort will result in failure with amazing predictability" - Me

View ScottKaye's profile


769 posts in 2462 days

#2 posted 09-08-2014 11:27 AM

Just read the first review on the Amazon web site about the Makita. That is an amazing piece of machinery. The original review was in 2001 and the reviewer came back in 2009 and said the machine is still running strong with minimal maintenance. How could you go wrong?

-- "Nothing happens until you build it"

View ScottKaye's profile


769 posts in 2462 days

#3 posted 09-08-2014 11:47 AM

sorry.. duplicate

-- "Nothing happens until you build it"

View ScottKaye's profile


769 posts in 2462 days

#4 posted 09-08-2014 11:48 AM

triplicate!! doh

-- "Nothing happens until you build it"

View Mike Throckmorton's profile

Mike Throckmorton

124 posts in 2173 days

#5 posted 09-08-2014 12:21 PM

The thing about reviews (well, a thing, or some things) is that you have two substantial sources of information content noise.

One, idiosyncratic manufacture. There are a certain percentage of failed manufactured units, to a certain percentage of failure degrees.

Two, idiosyncratic users. This can go two ways (with shades of gray).

On one end you’ve got the Tool User to whom you send a box of random parts, tell them it s a a surface planer and they will shrug and put together a surface planer noting “there was some assembly required and I was disappointed with the packaging and user manual”.

On the other, there are those to whom you can send the holy grail of whatever and they will screw it up. Discovering all possible points of failure.

The upshot being, with any of the machines you list, if you get a decently built machine (not a machine built the Friday before firearms deer season for example when attention to detail wanes) and you are not a hopeless tool user, you’ll be fine.

Also, things depend on your future tool path. Would you be intending on moving up the planer food chain? If so, resale value/ease is an issue and the Dewalts would be your win there.

I have a Dewalt 735 and considered the exact same set of machines you are looking at. Went with the Dewalt basically because I got tired of analyzing.

A major consideration that complicated things for me was noise. It would be nice to have a segmented planer head for major noise reduction. Dewalt ain’t got that (unless you pop the $400 for the helical 3rd party upgrade).

-- You are never complete, you just draw a line where done is and stop at that line.

View CharlesA's profile


3386 posts in 2306 days

#6 posted 09-08-2014 12:58 PM

Couple of notes:
1) DeWalt 734 is the same basic design as all the other ones you’re looking at. I think the mechanisms are very similar, the question is the quality control and specific features of the units.
2) DeWalt 735 is a totally different design than the rest—all the other ones are rigid boxes and a moving head, the 735 has the head unit built into the top and it all moves.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

View JayT's profile


6295 posts in 2720 days

#7 posted 09-08-2014 01:44 PM

+1 to CharlesA

Additionally, if you are going to have to carry the planer from storage space to work space, keep in mind that the DW735 is a beast at around 100lbs vs 60-70lbs for most other styles. Probably be fine on a mobile cart, but I sure wouldn’t want to lug it by hand very much. It also has a quite a bit bigger footprint if considering storage space.

I have a Steel City 40100 (straight knife version of the 40300H) and am very happy with it so far. This is basically the old tried and true Delta lunchbox design. If you do get a 40300H, order a set of replacement carbide tips at the same time. It comes with HSS cutters and when those wear, can be replaced with the much longer lasting carbide ones.

-- - In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.

View johnstoneb's profile


3129 posts in 2681 days

#8 posted 09-08-2014 01:44 PM

Lunchbox planers and noise. I just read a back issue of Wood Magazine in which they tested lunchbox planers. Noise was one of the parameters. All of the planer (except one) came in in the 91 to 94 db for noise. What surprised me was the DW 735 came in at 92 db no louder or quieter than any of the others. This put down the complaints about DW 735 being louder than any of the other lunch boxes. The one planer that was significantly quieter than the rest had a helical head but still was noisy enough to require hearing protection.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View jmartel's profile


8569 posts in 2659 days

#9 posted 09-08-2014 03:02 PM

Honestly, the Dewalt 735 is the best lunchbox planer out there. If your budget accomodates it, buy it. Every review I’ve seen has put it above the rest. I tried going cheaper and it didn’t work out. I bought the 735 and haven’t looked back.

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

View firefighterontheside's profile


20576 posts in 2365 days

#10 posted 09-08-2014 03:07 PM

I know nothing of the Makita, other than ive had good luck with other makita stuff. The grizzly store should have the dewalts in their showroom so you can compare right there. That may help you make your decision.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View distrbd's profile


2252 posts in 2955 days

#11 posted 09-08-2014 03:39 PM

When I was shopping for a “portable” planer,I read many praises on DW735,the two main complaints were,noise,blades getting dull prematurely,so I bought a DW735 on sale ,it came with the extension tables and an extra set of blades.
In my opinion this planer is not any louder than most lunchbox planers,miter saws,in fact ,the first time I turned it on I also wore my ear muffs expecting it to be way too loud,it wasn’t but you still need ear plugs when using it .

Makita 2012 was my next choice,you can’t go wrong buying either one.

-- Ken from Ontario, Canada

View B4B's profile


163 posts in 1867 days

#12 posted 09-09-2014 04:08 AM

Thanks Guys.


Dewalt 734/735 or Makita, they all have somewhere in the ballpark of 150 reviews and are all rated at 4.5 stars. . now to be fair I have not read them all, yet. I think the Makita and the Dewalt are both in the same general class when it comes to quality and the 735 and Makita are in the same price range. That being said, one of the top reviews on the Makita could just be a Makita insider pulling everyone’s leg.

I agree. Reviews are hit and miss, especially on specialty products on general merchant sites. At the end I find myself asking 1 or more questions, does this person really know what they are talking about, is this really a good and balanced, how long will this new item last (since most reviews are from people who just purchase a product).

Given the physical space available at my current location, I don’t think I’ll have the space for anything larger. Even if I get a dedicated shop, it won’t be more than 200 SF (so you folks out there with a 400SF shop/2 car garage, consider yourself lucky!). So if I move up the planer food chain it will likely be some sort of benchtop, and bench tops don’t (at the moment) get much bigger than the 13” dewalt. Now if I need some extra cash flow for whatever reason, the first thing to get sold will probably be my power tools, I don’t make a living and if it gets that bad I won’t be making much of anything. So to some extent resale value is a consideration, but not a huge one.

Noise, I have hearing protection I use when operating my power tools, lawn mower, weed whacker, or when I’m at the gun range shooting my Ruger 1911, doing anything that involves loudness. I wasn’t always this careful, but after my Grandmother, Grandfather, and my wife all need hearing aids, I’m much more diligent about using hearing protection. Hopefully I can avoid any substantial hearing loss.

Is there a clear advantage over the 735 over the 734 in terms of the design? I would imagine that regardless of how the head moves, as long as it moves the same distance and remains level/flat on each leg of the adjustment mechanism, that the cut will be parallel to the table. . . Is that not the case with some of these planers?

My take on weight issue is a 2-way street. Less weight makes it easier and more portable to move around, but potentially less stable and more prone to tipping while more weight makes the machine more sturdy, stable, and helps to produce a better finish. Can anyone comment on whether more weight=better? I’d probably end up building some sort of nifty storage for it.

I’m envisioning a Planer/Jointer bench that I can roll out, pull the jointer out from underneath, joint the face of a board and then run it though the planer. . I saw a nifty setup someone posted on this forum that did this in their workshop. The Jointer was on a mobile base and stored under the planer. Short of that, It would probably be stored on a low shelf or something.

What other units did you try before getting the dewalt? What didn’t you like about them? Are you a pro or a hobbyist?

Does anyone have/use the G0505, or is it just obscure?

Geez guys, I think I knocked the Steel City and the Grizzly out of the race here. Now it’s between the Makita and the Dewalt DW734 or DW735. I’ll have to go back and re-read those reviews.

Off hand, any advice between the DW734 and the DW735? Is the extra 1/2 inch capacity worth the extra $200? I also have my eye on a Bosch RC23EVSK router (that decision I’ve already made). Do these go on sale at all during the year? I think I spotted a 735 refurb for about $500. I do keep my eye on CL.

Remember to do everyone a favor, go back and update a review you wrote, or go in and write one. Even if there are 100’s of reviews for a product, there’s usually only a handful that stand out . . . that could be yours.

Thanks for answering! I appreciate your time and thoughts, especially on such a commonly asked question.

-- There's two routers in my vocab, one that moves data and one that removes wood, the latter being more relevant on this forum.

View jmartel's profile


8569 posts in 2659 days

#13 posted 09-09-2014 04:51 AM

Hobbyist. I bought a Rigid R4331, used it for about 10 days, and then the planer started sounded like a coffee can full of bolts. Basically something was being contacted by the motor or knives and I didn’t want to deal with it on a brand new planer. This was only taking 1/32” off at a time. Never anything more than that, and there wasn’t any metal in the wood I was planing.

Returned it to Home Depot, got the other R4331 that they had in stock. Took it home, set it up, started running it and 20 min later the fan started eating itself up. Boxed it up, returned it, and got my money back.

Bought the Dewalt 735x from Amazon that same night. Haven’t had a single problem with it since.

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

View RogerInColorado's profile


321 posts in 2463 days

#14 posted 09-09-2014 05:04 AM

Perhaps I’m too late to chime in, but . . . I’ve had my Makita 2012NB since 2008. I’m a hobbyist but I’ve run way more than 2500 BF through it. It uses two double edge disposable knives. I just replaced the first set of knives about three months ago. The first edge on the original set I successfully nicked by failing to brush down the boards before I ran them through. A little rock chip embedded in a board does irreparable harm. The blades are about 50 bucks a set. To compare consumable cost, find out what it takes to sharpen a set of planer knives in your neighborhood. If it is more than $25, then disposables with two edges are less expensive. Replacing the Makita knives is really, really simple. It comes with a pair of magnetized “registration jigs” that take the agony (and time) out of blade set up. It’s really foolproof. I don’t know what the process is in other planers. It is especially helpful when you are “kicking over” one or both knives a little bit because of a small nick or two in the blades.

I am not a big fan of the Makita “chip management” solution (it was an extra charge option). the dust collector port output is an oddball size and I had to cobble together a solution with duct tape and a sanded down street ell. You also need to make sure your dust collector has sufficient capacity to handle the chip volume. Sometimes I just leave the collector port off and let the chips fly away and clean them up later just because it’s easier.

I am happiest with the lack of snipe. I get snipe on the leading edge that I can feel but can only see in just the right light. I get no snipe on the trailing edged. I am pretty sure that if I spent the time adjusting the in-feed table that I could eliminate the leading edge snipe, but it only takes a couple swipes with a sanding block to get rid of the feel of the snipe. I know that one of the planers out there offers a two speed capability. One speed for “rough” and ones speed for “finish” quality planning. I have never been anything less than happy with the finish on my single speed Makita. No matter how it comes off your planer, you will still sand or scrape every part to the same grit or “finish” anyway.

A comment on putting it on a tilt top stand with a jointer. Depending on the table length of the jointer, that could end up being a really tall table. I built a tilt top for my Makita because I wanted to store it under a shelf when I wasn’t using it. I originally stored it under my Table Saw, but even though it is on of the lighter ones, I’m too old to be picking something like that up off the floor, so I built a tilt top. Even though lunchbox planers are pretty tall, I don’t think you are going to find a jointer with a bed length that’s half the height of the planer. That could mean you have a really big swing radius and a really tall stand for both of them. My tilt top puts the planer bed at about 34 inches (using three inch casters), the same height as the top of my Table Saw.

View Scott's profile


116 posts in 1864 days

#15 posted 09-09-2014 03:25 PM

I have a Delta lunch box planer and have never had any issues with it! I would recommend it in a heart beat. I picked it up brand new for $90 off craigslist

showing 1 through 15 of 49 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics