|Review by Wayne Precht||posted 07-07-2009 10:45 PM||11559 views||0 times favorited||21 comments|
- Steel City 13" Deluxe Portable Planer with Helical Head 40200H
- Brand: Steel City | Category: Planers
It sure seems I went on a bit of a binge, but this is the 3rd and final tool purchase for the foreseeable future. It wasn’t one I had planned on like the sander, it was one of necessity. You see my previous planer was a Delta 12 ½” factory reconditioned unit that I picked up for a song. It did yeoman’s work for close to 10 years. It surfaced 1000s of feet of pine tent poles, 600 board feet of ash in one weekend and other such adventures. It bogged down occasionally and more often than I would have liked, blew the breaker on startup. But it’s collection of noises and idiosyncrasies have finally forced an honorable retirement on it.
I get almost all of my wood rough, so I can’t be without a functioning planer very long. So, taking the last of my mad money, I hiked to Woodcraft. I wanted something with a little more oomph than the Delta, but I couldn’t afford a “real” planer. Turns out the Steel City stuff went on sale that morning for 10% off. They had two models (really the old one and the new one of the same model) to choose from. The smaller, older one was basically a replacement for the Delta, nothing fancy. The new one however, was sporting a helical head with separate replaceable inserts. That was very hot. It’s the one feature that was forcing me to think about going up market to the 220V floor models. For 10% off, I took it on the spot.
Getting this bad boy into the shop was a chore, but I had learned my lesson on the sander and took it out of the box on the tail gate. This is a beefy machine. There was little to do to get it ready to go. I removed all the packing material, attached the handle, cleaned off some grease and was pretty much ready to go.
The first board was a short but wide chuck of eastern white pine. In fact it was the one that was chewed up in the Delta’s dead cries. It came out flat and smooth. I mean really smooth. Now the Woodcraft guy, he can’t help it, he’s a salesman after all, said it would hardly need sanding. While that might be true for some of his customers, or for carpentry tasks, it will still need sanding in my world. But, not really that much. Gone are the days of the little valley marks from the flat blades. Instead there are faint diagonal tracks.
The other thing that struck was how quieter this was. It was still loud of course, but noticeable quieter than the Delta. Fresh brushes are probably a good part of that, I am sure.
Dust collection is average with my Shop-Vac. I would call it worse than the Delta, and yes I am aware that this set up is less than ideal. I imagine with a real collector it would b e much improved. However, getting most of it is fine with me. The “dust” from a planar isn’t very fine and I am more concerned about health risks them messes so a little clean up is ok.
This is a really cool planar. I had to restrain myself from running a board through it over and over of surfacing some of my oak supply just to admire it in action. I highly recommend this for those that are on the more serious end of hobbyist and want to work from rough stock a lot.
This also convinced me to spring for the $300 replacement head for my joiner to add the helical cutters to it. I have only replaced the knives on that machine once and it was a thin slice of hell getting them even. After a couple hours I gave up. There was one knife that was about a thou higher than the others. About 10 passes with some tough old oak took care of that…
-- --- Wayne.