|Review by ferstler||posted 12-09-2008 07:57 PM||14047 views||0 times favorited||18 comments|
As a retired person who was a relative newcomer to the hobby, this was the first tool of this type that I purchased, and I had hopes that it would do what I needed in the way of hobby-grade woodworking. (I will use the terms jointer and planer interchangeably in this review.) Unfortunately, the short length of the aluminum table sections (spanning just 30 inches) made it difficult for the device to do a good job planing longer boards. In addition, the lack of a solid, two-sided lockdown with the in-feed table made for problems with snipe and slightly tilted cuts with some pieces. (More on the lockdown issue up ahead.)
In addition, the two-knife cutter and the not really powerful motor (its ten-amp rating notwithstanding) limited the tool’s ability to smoothly cut broader surfaces.
Eventually, I bit the bullet and purchased a Ridgid JP06101 jointer to handle more arduous tasks. (I have reviewed the Ridgid elsewhere on this site.) However, I kept the small Delta unit to handle smaller-scale and less important tasks.
For all of its size-related limitations, this planer does have some positive attributes. First of all, it is a variable speed planer, with a range of 6,000 to 11,000 rpm which allows the user to work with a bit more flexibility, particularly if working with plastics or lighter-grade woods used in model making, for instance. (One review I read on the internet indicates some durability issues with the variable-speed control, but I have never encountered that.) The manual even has a speed-selection chart that the operator can use to get the best cuts from various materials at various widths. I usually run the thing flat out, but the speed options might come in handy.
Second, the light weight makes it possible to haul the thing to a job site for work. Most framing carpenters are not going to do planing of this kind (if they need to plane they probably use a portable hand planer), but some will, and the device could come in real handy when doing interior cabinet work and the like. The light weight would also allow a model-making enthusiast with limited space to stash the thing easily when it was not in use.
Third, it has a nifty cutter-head lock that holds the thing solidly in place while you replace the blades. This is a nice touch. The blades themselves are easy to adjust with the supplied wrenches.
Fourth, the cut-depth adjustment scale is considerably broader than what we have with other jointers (including my Ridgid) and you can fine-tune cuts within the 1/8-inch range more precisely than you can with some other larger and more expensive tools of this kind. Normally, with a tool like this precision is not an issue, but the scale is at least easy to read.
Unlike big, cast-iron jointers, the two aluminum tables on this jointer are easy to remove. This makes it simple to shim the things underneath to get them parallel with each other and to get the out-feed table at the same height as the knives. Fours bolts recessed into the tops of each table can be removed to pull either.
To make it work better I did do some modifications.
First, I installed a second lock-down screw on the in-feed table. I did this by removing the table, drilling a proper hole, and then installing a nice screw/knob that pulls a nut and thick plastic washer tightly in place to secure the other side of the table. In combination with the existing lock-down knob on the other side of the table, the result was a more secure surface.
Another modification involved adding extensions to each table. These were each ten inches long and were made out of 1.25-inch thick solid oak. The things had U-shaped runners that allowed each section to be wrapped down the edges of the existing aluminum tables, and if you look closely you can see where I had attached them to the sides of each table. The table sides themselves were drilled out and the holes now contain just short stove-bolts. Yep, after I got the Ridgid unit I decided to forget about the extensions to make it easier to move the Delta around.. The bolts are cosmetic fixes for those ugly holes. I will say that the extensions did work well at stabilizing longer boards, but they did not correct the power problem with the tool, obviously.
Still another mod was the installation of a vacuum hookup. Normally, cuttings just slide down the chute, but I wanted better extraction and installed the hookup. Both the tool and the chute assembly are screwed down to a solid board underneath, and the chute itself is held in place by wing nuts that can be quickly removed. That facilitates me cleaning any clogged chips out of the chute area.
The tool came with wrenches, a set of push blocks, and a manual. The manual itself was pretty good, but on page 8 the picture of the carton contents (yes, you do have to do some assembly work after the purchase) has two numbers wrong. Number 10 should be 13 and number 13 should be 10.
I did purchase a couple of sets of spare knives for the unit, and thankfully, they were fully stocked up with the things at Lowe’s where I had purchased the tool itself for $220. The blade sets cost about $25 each. I also purchased a spare drive belt, but I had to do that directly from Delta. I will note that a Delta shaper I purchased some time back went out of production a bit later and when I tried to get a spare drive belt for it I was informed by the Delta parts people that it was no longer available. This makes a case for getting a spare drive belt for this planer. Plan ahead.
I like the tool, but under no conditions would I use it in preference to the bigger Ridgid JT06101 (or any other cast-iron-table jointer) for serious larger-scale woodworking. I mainly use it when I am in a hurry and have a small piece of wood to trim down in thickness for some kind of shimming or related work. Beats using a hand plane.