Tool Reviews - Clearance Sales

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Blog entry by dustyal posted 09-28-2009 05:34 AM 3842 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is a rambling blog about tool reviews, and not a tool review itself.

Last week I picked up a Delta Shopmaster TP305 planer at Lowe’s clearance sale… $180. I haven’t actually used it yet. I’m having second thoughts. It was the display unit… the last they had. I had previously read decent reviews, but I am wondering if those reviews covered this model. The price was too good to pass up. Maybe I should have passed?

It had no box or manual. Manuals are on-line, no problem. The loose parts were attached. No problem. I repaired the retainer clip that held the power cord in place. No problem—obviously damaged while displayed.

I noticed the cursor for depth of cut was missing. Someone needed one, so this display unit was the donor? I went on line… price $2.22 plus $10.50 S&H. No way I say. I got through to that Dewalt service net and asked for warranty service. Got transferred to a service guy who was extremely helpful and we shared a few laughs. I discovered that my unit was manufactured in 2004! Out of warranty by mfg date! It’s been sitting on the shelf for years… no wonder it was filthy dirty. I had spent a couple of hours cleaning it. But, the service guy sent the cursor and screws promptly. They arrived already… no charge. Great service.

Previously, I read two reviews on LJ but the model cited was YP305 not TP305. Is that a typo, or was that a slightly different machine? I read reviews on DeWalt, Ryobi, Ridgid, Delta, Grizzly, etc., so now I am totally confused. This unit does not have some of the basic features like depth stop, multiple speed, etc. Hmmm, I’m wondering if that is all that important? Might be if I want to get multiple boards the same thickness?

Some reviews said the Delta sniped a lot, some said no snipe, some were mute to the question. Same with other planer reviews… very inconsistent. What do you believe? I can believe no dust collection… just a deflector. A collector adapter is a separate option—another $25 plus S&H. Cut off the sniped end is the oft cited correction… but I usually work with short stock… three inches is a lot to lose.

I found the same model at another Lowe’s. Manufactured in 2008 not 2004. Clearly it had an improved belt drive system. Red, not black like mine. At least a quarter inch wider. Obviously a design change, but not a model number change. If I keep this unit will that belt hold up. These are discontinued units… so… beware?
By the way, the serial number format had changed in those years… that is why the Delta service guy was a little confused when I said I had bought it that day, but it had that 2004 mfg date.

Now I read about the Grizzly G0689 13 inch planer, $420 incl S&H. It has a dust collector BAG! About the same specs as other planers that are a step up from this Delta TP305. ARGGGGGH! I be losing my mind. Is it that much better to be twice the cost? I need bench top size, lighter weight, dust collection because of my small shop. What to do?

Bottom line… do reviews help, hurt, or confuse? Add value? I think many reviews are a little hyped. I ran into these same issues when I reviewed table saws, jointers, other similar items. Anyway, I’m asking rhetorical questions that don’t have answers… that, and I don’t need to know… I think I’ll change my hobby and just read a nice quiet book or do something safe like skydiving. Let’s see, where are those book reviews? Oh yeah, everything is made in China… better check my parachute reviews while I’m at it…

-- Al H. - small shop, small projects...

4 comments so far

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

2795 posts in 3466 days

#1 posted 09-28-2009 03:31 PM

If amazon has a lot of reviews, like they do for this planer, you can gain some good insight. The reviews are from people like us and some of them actually work the item a bit before they review them. i.e. I found the first full review on this page to be very informative about your planer.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4179 posts in 3192 days

#2 posted 09-28-2009 04:06 PM

Interesting commentary. I have a TP 305 still in the box, and I need that small size in my shop at this time. Followed Daniel’s link for even more info on the machine than I already had. Reading down the reviews it appears that adjustment is important to control the snipe. It should be interesting to see how it goes. But the planer will stay in the box just a while longer, because my shop is in upheaval at the moment.

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View sIKE's profile


1271 posts in 3782 days

#3 posted 09-28-2009 04:30 PM

I have used the reviews several times in my pursuit of a new tool. Most of the time I look to see what to avoid, don’t have time for a turkey. If I see several reviews on a product with stong buy recomendations and the tool is the current rev I will buy it. I did this for both my Jig Saw (Bosch) and ROS (Bosch).

As too model numbers, some mfg like to stick with the same model number and rev a field called “type” so you can end up with a TP 305 Type III that is no where the same as a TP 305 Type IV ….

Yes reviews help, read lots of them, try to put your hands on one, best of all is get a chance to use it before you buy it.

Take the reviews with a grain of salt, belive it or not I try to discard the hi’s/lo’s and see what is avearage. Now if there are way more lo’s than hi’s, I already have my answer. People complaining they didn’t get what they thought they were buying reviews ignore, people who rave to much on the product are shills.

Once again this like reviews are oponins..take with a grain of salt…

-- //FC - Round Rock, TX - "Experience is what you get just after you need it"

View jlsmith5963's profile


297 posts in 3376 days

#4 posted 09-28-2009 06:49 PM

Reviews and opinions (other than one’s own) should always be taken skeptically. If you don’t know the reviewer its not possible to judge whether the reviewer is shill, an ax grinder, or trying to be legit. sIKE’s hi/lo strategy strikes me as good. Perhaps the inconsistent reviews really aren’t the source of the problem.

One should understand their own sensibilities regarding purchasing tools. Impulse buying comes with inherent risks (and rewards). If you find yourself always second guessing your impulse buys perhaps it would best to stop making impulse buys or put a price limit on what you will buy on an impulse, after all woodworking is suppose to be enjoyable not a ‘woulda, coulda, shoulda’ kick in the rear end (well at least some of the time)....

-- criticism: the art of analyzing and evaluating the quality of an artistic work...

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