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Did my one-time job and thankfully replacement parts are available to keep it ticking afterwards

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Review by paxorion posted 12-13-2014 01:47 AM 4890 views 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Did my one-time job and thankfully replacement parts are available to keep it ticking afterwards No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

I bought this electric planer with a 25% coupon off over a year ago to serve as a one-time beater tool for the wing chun dummy my buddy and I made. I decided on this plane over the other models, like the 91062 power planer that was recently reviewed, based on overall better reviews on the HF website, and a personal impression of better feeling on the controls when I was playing with it in-store, and the ability to easily connect a 1-1/4” shop-vac hose.

The planer was used for very rough work. And by rough I don’t mean rough lumber, but abuse it rough to knock down the MDF lamination. My buddy and I pushed the sucker hard. Real hard. Harder than any Harbor Freight should be pushed by a bunch of old college buddies enjoying some time together. A few highlights of our use:
  1. The dust bag is useless, and we were very happy to find that some of my dust collection fittings worked for the dust port. With a ShopVac BucketMax connected, we collected the majority of the MDF dust that was flying everywhere.
  2. The stock blades shattered when we hit a nail (oops). Thankfully, replacement blades are readily available, and we replaced them with Makita blades which by the way, made a huge difference in the tools performance. It seem to cut with less stress on the motor.
  3. The planer had good power to push through the cuts, and we were far too aggressive in the depth of cut. We should have been more cautious about continuous run time because after 3 hours of non-stop use, the tool began to smoke. At first I thought it was toast and declared “well, glad it wasn’t an expensive brand name plane”, but it turned out the belt had overheated and was melting.
  4. After a call to Harbor Freight, I was happy to find that replacement belts were available in sets of 3, and I placed my order along with a few other toys. Replacement of the belt was straight forward and very simple.
  5. The next time, we we wiser and broke up the planing into several 1 hour sessions and managed to get the job done with no smoking belts.

The issues I ran into were more user error which fortunately, there was a way to recover from it with replacement parts. Factoring in all of the costs for the planer, replacement belts, and blades, I think I have under $60 sunk into a usable tool.

Since conclusion of the project, I’ve tested this planer out on a variety of soft and hardwood stock and have no complaints with the ability to power through. This planer doesn’t see much use by me as I don’t think many woodworkers have much use for an electric planer. But at least I have it as a fall back when I need to quickly spot remove material. If you’re looking for a daily driver, I recommend you look elsewhere for better brand-name tools. But if you’re looking at the DIY/home owner grade tool for occasional use, this may be a viable alternative.

UPDATE (12/13/2014) – All the comments made me quantify my rating. If I could assign partial stars I would rate it at 3.5 stars closer to the average. You are more than welcome to adjust the numbers accordingly to tell your own story. That number will quickly drop if you (a) plan on using it for more than 1 project like I did, (b) don’t care about dust extraction attachments.

Performance:
  • Was it able to get the job done? I have to factor in user error for my problems and docked only 1 star. – 4 stars
  • Can I reasonably rely on this for my future projects? I’ll be more cynical given the belt overheating and melting. – 1 star
  • Was the tool easy to use (good comfortable controls). No complaints about the ability to use the tool. – 3 stars
  • Was I able to connect some form of dust extraction solution. Being able to attach a standard 1-1/4” shop vac hose was the reason I was willing to take a risk with this planer, so I have to give this kudos. It also did a fantastic job of keeping the mess down LOW. – 5 stars
Longevity
  • Am I able to get replacement parts for repairs? Since I was able to, I’ll give it an average rating. – 3 stars
Value
  • Do I anticipate relying on this tool regularly (1 = daily the time, 5 once in a blue moon). Having not used the planer since my project, I’m effectively equating this as a throw-away tool and will rate it high. Others will likely have a different opinion. – 5 stars
  • How much money did I save buying this vs. the average of alternatives I could easily pick up (~$100) (1 = 1%-20%, 2 = 21 -40%, 3 = 41 – 60%, 4 = 61 – 80%, 5 = 81 – 100% or up to half the price of the alternative). Total out of pocket costs came to under $60, so $40/$60 = 66.67%. – 4 stars

Average: 3.571428571 stars

-- paxorion




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paxorion

1107 posts in 2044 days



12 comments so far

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Mainiac Matt

8046 posts in 2327 days


#1 posted 12-13-2014 02:55 AM

I’m sorry, but I find the review a little funny…

Bag… usesless
Blades… had to replace with Makita
3 hrs use and the belt fried.

Four stars…. :^p

-- It’s the knowledge in your head, skill in your hands and motivation to create in you heart that makes you a woodworker. - Mainiac Matt

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paxorion

1107 posts in 2044 days


#2 posted 12-13-2014 04:35 AM


I m sorry, but I find the review a little funny…

Bag… usesless
Blades… had to replace with Makita
3 hrs use and the belt fried.

Four stars…. :^p

- Mainiac Matt

  • Bag… useless → this will be the same story for any handheld power planer on the market that I know of. Gotta give it points for being able to connect a shop vac.
  • Replacing blades with Makita → hit a nail with any blade any you’re asking for trouble. Replacing blades with something better, bound to have better use
  • 3 hours of continuous non-stop use, taking too deep a cut. cheap tools tend to have a lower ability to withstand continuous runtime
  • Being able to get replacement parts and not treat it as a throw away
  • Scoping the rating to the price point (if I eliminate the new blades + replacement belt, the price is closer to $40) vs. other options
  • Still have a tool that is workable
  • Not spending $100+?

Conclusion – If I didn’t abuse the tool, I suspect the belt wouldn’t have lasted longer. And if I still spent less than a Ryobi electric planer. If you find the review funny, feel free to laugh at my user error. I stand by my rating of 4 stars.

-- paxorion

View ajw1978's profile

ajw1978

165 posts in 1420 days


#3 posted 12-13-2014 09:00 AM

I’ve been contemplating jumping on the HF planer. I don’t need one very often, and I don’t work with very large stock. Plus, since I’m rather new to this … I’d rather screw up with and possibly ruin something “cheap” than splurge on a big name.

-- May the good Lord help me if I ever actually have a shop, garage or basement.

View OSU55's profile

OSU55

1672 posts in 1988 days


#4 posted 12-13-2014 12:18 PM

Good Review. I appreciate the fact that you included the concept of “value” in your evaluation and rating. If possible I’d like to see a pic of what you were using the planer on.

View paxorion's profile

paxorion

1107 posts in 2044 days


#5 posted 12-13-2014 01:08 PM


Good Review. I appreciate the fact that you included the concept of “value” in your evaluation and rating. If possible I d like to see a pic of what you were using the planer on.

- OSU55

Added link to the wing chun dummy project this planer was used for.

-- paxorion

View Tennessee's profile

Tennessee

2873 posts in 2513 days


#6 posted 12-13-2014 04:40 PM

I’ve owned one of these since they came in green, back in the mid-90’s. Never used it to flatten big stock, but it shines when you want to take a little off a door. It’s a niche tool, for sure, that’s why I bought a HF.

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View Ken90712's profile

Ken90712

17556 posts in 3187 days


#7 posted 12-13-2014 06:28 PM

Sorry I agree with above. I’ve had my Dewalt for 10 yrs with alot of heavy work. Too many 4 and 5 stars for HF tools. We almost all go there and buy things there because it is very cheap. Not bashing but after reading itsnot a 4 star. good luck.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View Mark Davisson's profile

Mark Davisson

597 posts in 3316 days


#8 posted 12-13-2014 10:36 PM

Good review. The purchase of that tool at that price represents real value to you, Paxorion. I assume that’s the basis of your 4-star rating, and I applaud that.

-- I'm selfless because it feels so good!

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paxorion

1107 posts in 2044 days


#9 posted 12-14-2014 03:17 AM

I feel like I started quite the polarized discussion here. I’d like to believe I can be critical when rating HF products. I just did a quick average of my HF product ratings and found the average to be 2.7 stars. So on that note, I will update my review to define my criteria more explicitly and did a more empirical rating based on it.

-- paxorion

View MarkTheFiddler's profile

MarkTheFiddler

2068 posts in 2187 days


#10 posted 12-14-2014 04:16 AM

Howdy, I’ll sell mine for $10. Used 20 mins so I guess the belt has 2 hours forty minutes left.

I bought a delta planer so now I don’t need the HF hand planner.

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

View SlimPickins's profile

SlimPickins

125 posts in 1913 days


#11 posted 01-21-2016 12:38 AM

I’ve had two Harbor Freight planers – the 91062 (many years ago) and the 95838 (couple years ago). They are both 3 1/4” (would be nice if they were 3 1/2”).

A few comments that might help others evaluate them.
1) They can handle the hardest of hardwoods – I regularly take the rust off of Brazilian Walnut, and I even
take some of the good Brazilian Walnut off.

2) The blade holders from the 91062 can be used in the 95838. Basically, if you accidentally run over like 50 or 60 screws with the planer, you look at it and realize that the blades and perhaps even the flat part of the blade-holder are ruined, just take the blade-holder off the 91062 and pop it into the 95838. All it takes is a 5/16” wrench or if you’re in a pinch, an 8mm wrench will do. And then use a 2.5mm allen wrench to adjust the height of the blade after you roughly install the blade-holder. And make sure you flip around the blade to use the newer edge of the dual-edged blade.

3) Make sure you change blades pretty often, you can always take an old blade out and perhaps regrind it some on a grinder and get more life but having a new blade will make the planer work great. Also, adjusting each allen screw to 0 height when set to 0 will make it plane nicely.

4) And also keep in mind that having each blade holder in good condition and adjusted well will make the planer run more smoothly. It’s kind of like your automobile tires. The planer will run real queit and smooth after you set it up nice. Just takes that 5/16 or 8mm wench and the 2.5mm allen and your off. It’s nice having the two planers having compatible blade-holders.

5) Be careful you don’t suck stuff up into the planer. I did this once with a plastic shopping bag and had a heck of a time getting it back out.

All I know is my 95838 still purrs like a kitten after over 2 years of beating it terribly. But I DO keep a nice sharp blade ready to go. Nails and screws that you accidentally hit will definitely chew up the stock blades – I have not yet tried the Makita or another manufacturer’s blades in the Chicago Electrics. For 34.95, it’s not too bad.

-- If a bug can't eat it, it isn't good wood

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SlimPickins

125 posts in 1913 days


#12 posted 01-21-2016 12:39 AM



Howdy, I ll sell mine for $10. Used 20 mins so I guess the belt has 2 hours forty minutes left.

I bought a delta planer so now I don t need the HF hand planner.

- MarkTheFiddler

I’ll buy it. I always need extra planers.

-- If a bug can't eat it, it isn't good wood

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