Taking a planer for a test drive - what to look for?

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Forum topic by PapayaNate posted 10-13-2015 01:43 AM 1036 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1 post in 950 days

10-13-2015 01:43 AM

First time poster here…

I’m looking to add a planer to my expanding hobby shop. I’ve had my eye on a Dewalt 735 – perhaps a fancier planer than I really need right now, but I think I’d like to just jump to something that I won’t be looking to upgrade down the road. I think it would meet my needs for…...probably forever.

Found a lightly used one on my local craigslist for $500. It’s the 735X – it includes the outfeed tables and a new set of knives, never installed. I’ve never owned a planer, and it’s been quite a while since I’ve had access to one. Any tips on what I should be looking for? Anything regarding this particular model? I was thinking I’d take a long a piece of stock to send through for a couple passes to check it out. Is there any particular species of wood that would give a more definitive report on the planers performance versus another? Thanks in advance

13 replies so far

View TheFridge's profile


9435 posts in 1479 days

#1 posted 10-13-2015 01:52 AM

500$ is ok if it’s pretty much brand new. 450$ would be better.

Run a board through it is about all you can do.

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

View crank49's profile


4030 posts in 2964 days

#2 posted 10-13-2015 02:41 AM

If you plan to run with the existing knives the results will depend on the condition of those knives.

Since the new knives have not been installed, that would require a bit of work to install. Additionally, from the sellers point of view, he would then not be able to claim the new knives are un-used.

View oldnovice's profile


6822 posts in 3361 days

#3 posted 10-13-2015 05:29 AM

I believe you can get prices on ebay!

Here is my list of what to look for:
  • SNIPE, on the leading or trailing of a board being planed
  • surface finish, no grooves or ropes on the board
  • full travel adjustments, sawdust or other material build up in mechanism
  • cleanliness, grease where it should be and not where it shouldn’t

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View rwe2156's profile


2916 posts in 1474 days

#4 posted 10-13-2015 09:52 AM

Run a piece of white oak through it you’ll pretty much see what you’ve got.
As long as the power looks good (sign of motor wear) the rest is really just adjustments to fine tune it.

If the blades that are in it aren’t sharp, don’t expect great results.

For this kind of money, why not look into a used stationary planer?
Long term, you’ll probably be happier, no?

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View Tennessee's profile


2870 posts in 2507 days

#5 posted 10-13-2015 11:03 AM

I agree with rwe, if you are looking used, try to wait for a stationary.

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View SirIrb's profile


1239 posts in 1224 days

#6 posted 10-13-2015 11:11 AM

Something made before 1970 at the latest. Then look for the above.

-- Don't blame me, I voted for no one.

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

4980 posts in 2486 days

#7 posted 10-13-2015 11:16 AM

I’ll echo what Fridge said, the planer should be pretty much new to get $500. Regardless, good luck with your search!

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View jonah's profile


1695 posts in 3292 days

#8 posted 10-13-2015 11:58 AM

Considering the thing only costs ~$600-650 new, $500 is really steep for a used machine with no warranty of any kind. I’d never pay more than ~60% of new cost for something used unless there are serious extenuating circumstances.

View dbw's profile


201 posts in 1630 days

#9 posted 10-13-2015 12:02 PM

I agree with some of the replies. $500 is too much for a used 735X. I’d wait for a better deal OR keep looking for a stationary. Does the one you are thinking of buying have the old (hex) or new (torx) knife screws? If they are the old they MAY be a pita to remove. Search LJ for DeWalt 735. I started a discussion on this topic in 2014.

-- measure 3 times, cut once

View OggieOglethorpe's profile


1276 posts in 2103 days

#10 posted 10-13-2015 02:57 PM

Bring proper ear protection, you’ll be able to hear any weird sounds that are not as apparent at full volume.

I disagree about an old stationary planer in a hobby shop unless you’ve got ridiculous amounts of space and plenty of space in the breaker panel. All a planer does is make two parallel faces at a specified thickness. Stationary machines get there faster and take bigger bites, but modern portable machines often leave a better surface with less snipe, and are easy adjust and keep a spare set of knives on hand. Lots of the older stationary machines can no longer take anywhere near as deep a pass if upgraded to a Shelix, unless the motor is also changed, as helical heads take more power to use.

I use both types on a reqular basis, including a Powermatic that looks like the engine from a carnival ride, and in 20 years, I’ve never seen a reason to replace my DW733 in my home shop.

View TechTeacher04's profile


381 posts in 1525 days

#11 posted 10-13-2015 03:09 PM

Run as wide a board as you can through it and listen to the motor and keep an eye on the feed rate. I bought a planer on craigslist several years ago and tested it with a small board only to find out that the entire drive system needed to be replaced. I ended up leaving it at the service center and had to buy a new one to finish the project I was working on.

View 8iowa's profile


1580 posts in 3754 days

#12 posted 10-14-2015 12:34 AM

I’m not a fan of universal motors. This type of planer will have a noise level of 90 decibels or higher, and planers powered by these motors are not going to last your woodworking lifetime. They are cheaper, and portable, mostly have knives that cannot be re-sharpened…. If this is what you have to have… be it.

SirIrb above is pretty close to the mark with his suggestion of finding a pre-1970 planer. They will be powered with an induction motor, have a lower noise level, and have knives that can be re-sharpened. I have a Grizzly 15”, and a Shopsmith 12’ planers in my shop. Using a jig and the conical disk sander I can sharpen the knives myself. Both of these planers will “outlive” both me and my son.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View Ghidrah's profile


667 posts in 1215 days

#13 posted 10-14-2015 03:02 AM

If no one mentioned it yet I’d also bring calipers and a straight edge. If the knives are old they could be dull or nicked check them before running the test piece. If nicked and dull, it won’t matter what type of material you bring. I’d bring a couple pieces of different thickness to test the elevator remaining a constant parallel, (calipers).

-- I meant to do that!

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