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 Amazon.com 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...