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2000 tool buyer's guide - Thickness Planers

2000 tool buyer's guide - Thickness Planers

3 Types of Planers

Price and portability make this the planer of choice for smaller shops. With rubber-coated feed rollers flanking a two-knife, high-speed cutterhead driven by a universal motor, it can plane stock up to 6-in. thick and 12-in. wide. Its sharp knives leave a silky-smooth surface.

If you plan to move the planer frequently, check out the weights listed in the chart. Some machines are a lot heavier than others. Set in a homemade infeed and outfeed platform, a portable planer can handle longer boards just like the stationary models.

With cast-iron frames and more powerful induction motors, these machines will accurately thickness heavy hardwood boards day after day. They're strong enough to take a big bite--up to 5Ú16 in.--so you can save a lot of time when planing large amounts of lumber. They also are available in larger widths, 15 in. and up.

Jointer-planers use a single motor to power both jointing and planing operations. Typically, they take up less space than two separate machines of similar capacity. Though they sacrifice little in the way of features, some
models do require machine adjustments to switch from one operation to the other.

This tool lets you quickly and accurately plane boards to a uniform thickness and level glued-up panels. It's the best friend of a woodworker who wants to quickly get to the fun stuff of joint making and project assembly. It's best used alongside a jointer because roughsawn lumber needs to be flat on one side before it is thickness planed.

Infeed rollers. Serrated infeed rollers are effective in moving heavy boards through the machine.


Maximum cutting depth is a better power indicator than horsepower (see chart).

The bed and, on portables, the extension tables determine how smoothly and uniformly stock slides under the cutterhead. Keep the platen clean and waxed for greatest efficiency.

Snipe Control
Some portables come with a head-locking mechanism which reduces snipe--those scallop-shaped cuts planers often make on the end of a board--as it exits the cutterhead.

Planers make a racket second to no other woodworking power tool. Protect yourself with a good pair of hearing protectors.

Feed Rollers
Many stationary planers have serrated or textured steel rollers to push the board into the cutterhead (see photo above). The rubber-coated infeed rollers used on most portables leave no marks on the wood, but they don't grip as well and require replacement over time.

Double-Edged Knives
Many planers come with knives sharpened on both sides. This cuts your sharpening tasks in half. Some benchtop planers come with disposable double-edged knives, eliminating sharpening altogether.

Extra knives. A spare set is important for anyone with an aversion to downtime. $60. Available from individual

Knife-setting jig. An aftermarket jig will pay off in accuracy and time savings. $30. Available from CMT Tools; (800) 531-5559.

Outfeed rollers. Outfeed rollers help when planing longer boards and make working alone much easier. $40. Available from HTC; (800) 624-2027.

Dust hood. The mountains of chips planers create take time to sweep up. Consider a dust hood to hook to a dust collector to save time and your lungs. Available from individual manufacturers.

Blade sharpener. Makita's blade sharpener, model 9820-2, lets you quickly sharpen planer blades up to 153Ú4-in. long. $239. Call Makita at (800) 462-5482.

Reprinted with permission from American Woodworker magazine, ©2000 Home Service Publications, Inc., an affiliate of The Reader's Digest Association, Inc., Suite 700, 2915 Commers Drive, Eagan, MN 55121. All rights reserved.