|Review by bkhop||posted 02-29-2008 01:12 AM||20003 views||0 times favorited||12 comments|
Here’s my review of the Shopsmith thickness planer. I’ve had mine for about 2 years now and it is a great planer. It replaced a Delta TP305.
Let’s start out with the specs – 12” x 4” capacity; 28” long bed; for HP, read #1 below.
1. The Shopsmith Thickness planer comes in two variations that are basically identical except that one is mounted on the Shopsmith Mark V and the other is a “free-standing” tool with its own stand and motor; you do not even need a Mark V to run this version. (The latter is called the “Pro” planer.) What is really nice, also, is that if you have a Mark V and get the Mark V-mounted version, you still have the option to put it on its own, dedicated stand later. The free-standing version has a 1 3/4 HP motor (5,750 rpm) and the Mark V mounted version runs off of the Mark V headstock, which has a 1 1/8 HP motor (recommended speed is 3,000-4,000rpm). -My version is the Mark V mounted, but I’ve since put it on its own stand with a dedicated motor.
Both versions also have a dedicated feed motor. You’ll find this on the more expensive planers – two motors – one each for feed rate and cutterhead. When you plane lumber on a single-motor planer, the one motor has to do everything: feed and cut. I could bog down my Delta pretty quickly – I’ve never heard the Shopsmith get choked. With the separate feed motor, if you run into some figured wood or want to give the lumber a final pass, just dial down the feed rate on the planer. -Not 2 speed like some of the bench-top planers now have… variable speed dial! I don’t know the exact feed rate, but dialed all the way down, it is “barely crawling” slow! (And for that really figured wood, pull the plug on ANY planer and reach for the handplanes and scrapers instead.)
2. Capacity – some folks say that the Shopsmith planer is “too small.” Okay, granted, if you’re using 6” lumber, then yes, the SS would be too small. (As I write this, though, I’m trying to recall the last time I have ever even used a chunk of 4” lumber in my home workshop?!) If you were using 12/4 lumber, this planer would handle it.
3. Table – Most of the “lunch box” planers that I’ve ever seen have a “split table” design – the table is only as big as the footprint of the unit (if even that big) – and then have folding infeed/outfeed tables (which may even be optional, at that.) The SS planer has a one-piece, 28” table – certainly not “Powermatic” huge, but that’s a different class. Split-table designs have inherent flex… its just going to happen with that kind of a design. The Shopsmith is a one-piece table; infeed and outfeed – all ONE table.
4. Price – I hope by now you’ve seen that you can’t compare the SS planer to a “lunch-box” (bench top) style planer. I always thought the SS planer was too expensive, too – until I compared it to other planers with its features and abilities. This planer isn’t in the same class or category as the lunch box/bench-top planers. In its CLASS, I’m convinced this is one of the most cost-effective planers on the market! -You’ve got to know what you’re comparing, though.
-- † Hops †