Planer Question

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Forum topic by Chuck1685 posted 06-04-2015 01:49 PM 1926 views 0 times favorited 27 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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28 posts in 1050 days

06-04-2015 01:49 PM

Topic tags/keywords: tool

Hello all. This is my first post on Lumberjocks, so bare with me. I am in the market for a thickness planer and just had a few questions. First off, I am a hobbyist woodworker and just started about 2 years ago. I do a lot of rustic furniture for my home, but am starting to become more interested in fine woodworking. I don’t currently own a thickness planer and am looking for the best bang for the buck. My price point is 500-700$. My space is relatively limited, but I could probably make room for a floor standing model if I wanted. I’m looking for something that will take off a fair amount of material, but will also leave a smooth finish. Currently, I have been interested in either the DeWalt 735 or the Makita 15a. From researching on this website and others I have found the two to be fairly comparable. I have learned that DeWalt has some negative reviews as far as changing the blades go, and that they are very difficult to sharpen. I haven’t found much in the way of downfalls when it comes to the Makita. I also have been searching in CL and have come across a few floor standing models (Grizzly and Jet) that seem reasonably priced. So my questions are. Which one of the two lunch box planers are preferred? Should I go for a used floor standing model like a Grizzly or Jet if I can find one? Or will I be better off buying a new lunchbox style? Any suggestions or opinions are greatly appreciated!

27 replies so far

View WoodNSawdust's profile


1417 posts in 1139 days

#1 posted 06-04-2015 01:55 PM

Welcome to LJs!

About 20 years ago I made the mistake of purchasing a lunch box style planer and have regretted it since them. If possible I would wait and save your money till you could get at least a 15 inch or better yet a 20 inch planer. Of which I favor the Grizzly spiral head. I realize that this is not the answer you were looking for but maybe it will save you from the same regret I have had. My next big tool purchase will be a 20” spiral head planer.

-- "I love it when a plan comes together" John "Hannibal" Smith

View b2rtch's profile


4851 posts in 3011 days

#2 posted 06-04-2015 01:59 PM

I agree with the post above but on the other hand if you want to buy one now I had a Rigid for years and it serves me well.
I installed a spiral head in it.
The Rigid is the only one to have life time service guarantee

-- Bert

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5586 posts in 2173 days

#3 posted 06-04-2015 02:09 PM

Floor standing would definitely be preferred if you have the space. Get the widest you can find—I don’t know of anyone who has ever complained about a planer having too much capacity.

-- In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. Thomas Jefferson

View AZWoody's profile


1323 posts in 1186 days

#4 posted 06-04-2015 02:13 PM

The lunchbox and the large planers both have their place if it’s affordable to you.
I have a steel city helical lunchbox which I used for everything before getting a Grizzly 20” with the spiral head.

When I have small pieces or reclaimed lumber that I want to take very, very light shavings off, I use the lunchbox.
The rubber rollers will not leave marks in the wood unlike the 20” planer. The feed rollers are ridged and will leave tracks on the wood unless you take a certain amount off, which I can’t remember off the top of my head.

If I’m not mistaken, I think there are some 15” ones that have rubber feed rollers. I’m not sure on other brands of the 20” that do or not. I haven’t looked into it.

View RobS888's profile


2406 posts in 1807 days

#5 posted 06-04-2015 02:14 PM

I had a Ridgid lunch-box for 8 years. Worked fine, blades are $30 for 3 double sided blades. They are indexed, so no fussing around with blade height. VERY loud!

I have a Jet 12 jointer/planer with helical head, relatively silent compared to Ridgid. 10 times more money though.

-- I always suspected many gun nuts were afraid of something, just never thought popcorn was on the list.

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Richard H

489 posts in 1643 days

#6 posted 06-04-2015 02:20 PM

I really like spiral heads but I’m not sure about buying a lunchbox planner and adding one to it. By the time you do that you end up with a lunch box planner almost the cost of a floor standing unit without the capacity, power or convenience. I suppose if you have owned a lunchbox planner for a long time and are adding on to it or are so limited in space there is no other option but going that route new just doesn’t make sense to me.

The Dewalt 735 has the built in fan which is nice if you don’t own a good dust collector. I’m not sure about the Makita. Overall if you can swing the space, power and cost a floor standing unit will be a lot better option in my opinion. I hate digging out and setting up my lunchbox planer, I know you can build stands and things for them that make them more convenient but at that point they take up just as much floor space as a bigger unit without the power or capacity.

View Andre's profile


1775 posts in 1768 days

#7 posted 06-04-2015 02:23 PM

I have a General 12.5 Helical head and a old floor model Hitachi 6” Jointer/12”Planner which IMO is a better Planner, Cast Iron verse Tin! When the right deal comes around I will pick up a 15” Planner, that said you buy what you can afford and what will work. The cost of blades is another consideration, either sharpening or replacing them.
Or you could just pick up a few good hand plans and go Old School? Good Luck!

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View johnstoneb's profile


2858 posts in 2135 days

#8 posted 06-04-2015 02:26 PM

You are comparing apples to oranges. The floor standing planers are larger and heavier and usually have a more powerful motor. If you can find one that fits your budget that is the way to go.
As far as lunch box planers I have owned two a delta and now the DW735. They are both good planers. The Dewalt is a little better primarily because it is 10 years newer. All the lunchbox planers hold their knives in the same way. I put a helical head in my 735 and while it takes more power to pull it. It runs quieter and I just take a little lighter cut and the finish is well worth the expense of the heat to me.
I don’t know anything about the makita but it has the same small base as most of the luchbox planers and they can be a little tippy when handling long lengths.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View Ocelot's profile


1956 posts in 2600 days

#9 posted 06-04-2015 02:37 PM

I have a grizzly 20” helical planer. I think it was in the range of $2700 (delivered) a few years ago. It’s very nice, but if I were doing it again, I might save some money and go low end. Have you considered the very low end Harbor Freight planer? On sale, with a coupon, you can get it for maybe $225. While it’s nice to not have to fiddle with things much, and not have to worry about the planer tipping over (the griz is about 900lb), the difference in dollars is hard to ignore. Oh, and I paid an electrician another 2 or 3 hundred to add a 40 or 50 Amp 240v circuit for that 5HP motor. I could have wired it myself, but I’ve got so many other things to do, I just hired out that job.


View whope's profile


142 posts in 2408 days

#10 posted 06-04-2015 02:48 PM

I have been happy with my Makita 2021NB planer ($550 on Amazon). The only thing that the dust collection hood has a non-standard size.

I’d love to have a larger one (and a joiner to go with it), but the size of my shop and budget keeps me with this.

-- Measure it with a micrometer, mark it with chalk, cut it with an axe.

View MT_Stringer's profile


3160 posts in 3193 days

#11 posted 06-04-2015 04:33 PM

I can’t help ya from the planers you have listed. I bought the DW734 several years ago and it has worked well for me. I am in a one car garage that is full of stuff. It is on a mobile cart and easy to move around.

I don’t know about complaints regarding changing knives. I didn’t have any problems. Pull them out turn them around and put ‘em back in. A couple of years ago, I made a flip top stand that held the planer and spindle sander. I finally gave up on that idea because the stand took up too much room. I made a new stand that hat has storage underneath to hold my hoses. Much better idea.

I have planed rough hard maple, walnut, poplar, and cedar with good results.

I will say this one thing, I wish I had room in my shop for a 15 incher. I would buy the Grizzly spiral head in a heart beat. There have been times when I could have used those extra few inches for cutting boards.
Good luck in your search.

DW734 w/ flip top stand

New planer cart

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View cdaniels's profile


1320 posts in 1464 days

#12 posted 06-04-2015 04:52 PM

I have the newest model dewalt planer. The one that has the adjustable speed and it’s fan freaking tastic. I can’t speak bad about other ones as i’ve only experienced most of the floor models but have you also considered hand planes? there’s a certain satisfaction of not having sawdust to deal with and doing it by hand. plus you could buy a whole set of stanley baileys for only a couple hundred and save your doll hairs for something else you really want!

-- Jesus was a carpenter... I'm just saying

View pintodeluxe's profile


5618 posts in 2775 days

#13 posted 06-04-2015 05:46 PM

I wouldn’t own a planer without indexing knives. Older stationary planers require you to set the knives with a dial indicator. Portable planers, or large planers with helical heads have indexed knives so no adjustment is needed.
For my needs I choose a Dewalt 735, and added the Shelix head. It planes my quartersawn oak smooth, with no tearout. It won’t hog off large amounts of material in one pass, but it makes a nice finish and that is what’s most important to me. For most people the straight knives are fine, but if you plane a lot of figured wood you have the option to upgrade in the future to a helical head.

Changing knives on the Dewalt is quite easy.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View runswithscissors's profile


2724 posts in 1987 days

#14 posted 06-05-2015 04:47 AM

The primary advantage of a “floor” model is the induction motor, which is much more powerful and not as loud as the universal motors on the lunchbox planers. That being said, it is mostly the knives, not the motor, that make the things scream like a banshee.

Though I have seen a 110 volt motor (rated at about 24 amps) on an old Parks stationary machine, they are almost all 220 nowadays (yeah, I know, I should say 240; but the fact is, voltage varies from time to time in the home shop, and most of us don’t know what we’re really getting). It’s hard to overwork a planer with a 220 induction motor; easy to burn up a 110 v. universal motor.

There are also older 13 inch stationary planers, such as by Delta and Rockwell (at times, they were the same company). I had one, and liked it very much, even though it was made in 1981.

The helical head is well worth while if you can afford it. Keep in mind that no matter how big a planer you have, sooner or later you will want to plane something too wide for it.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

View TheFridge's profile


9249 posts in 1448 days

#15 posted 06-05-2015 04:58 AM

Dw735. Knives are indexed indeed. I don’t turn on the DC unless I’m running multiple boards because the inboard fan is hella strong. Had it for 6 months. Snipe is rarely an issue. 2 speeds is awesome. No complaints here. I love it.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

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