Porter Cable Portable Thickness Planer --acting a bit weird...

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Forum topic by dbockel2 posted 10-20-2015 01:58 AM 578 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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107 posts in 373 days

10-20-2015 01:58 AM

I have a portable Porter-Cable planer. I know it is not the greatest planer on the market but for my projects it should suffice. That said, I have recently encountered some issues with it—one of the lockbars on one of the knives was bent (no problem, ordered a new one for $10 and repaired the machine). The bigger issue is that I planed some end-grain recently (I know this is a no-no) and now the machine tries to propel itself forward when I turn it on—if I put it on the ground it will literally start walking across the garage—so I wonder if something may have been knocked out of balance internally on the planer? At the same time, I noticed that the hand crank will tend to “lower” the planing blades while the machine is on—like the vibration is causing the handle to turn. This obviously creates its own challenge…

I have taken it apart almost completely, cleaned it out, put everything back together and it is still “walking” though it does at least seem to plane reasonably well. The crank bar still turns on its own when the machine is on. SO I have to hold the machine back with a leg while making sure the hand crank doesn’t move. That makes it a bit harder to do basic planing!

Any ideas/recommendations for this woodworking newb? Appreciate all help in advance. I should note that this was not the first time i have put end grain through it but the machine is much more vocal in telling me that I shouldn’t have done that now than it was the first time I planed end grain.

8 replies so far

View pintodeluxe's profile


4827 posts in 2236 days

#1 posted 10-20-2015 03:08 AM

Does your model have a cutterhead lock like the Dewalt 733/734? If so, make sure that is locked after each depth- of-cut adjustment.

Then put the planer on a workbench and see if it still vibrates. Most shop floors are so uneven, I wouldn’t use that as a gauge of planer performance.

Was a second blade stabilizer damaged too perhaps?

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

View Nicky's profile


695 posts in 3514 days

#2 posted 10-20-2015 05:13 AM

Really sounds like you have excessive vibration, and most likely coming from the cutter head. I’d be looking very closely at the end of the head to insure it’s not bent, or possibly play in the bearing on the end. I’m not surprised that it can still plane a board. Look closely at the last board you planed, and see if you have ripples on the surface. Then if you can, look at a board that you planed before the problem started and if the ripple patterns are different, (spaced further apart) then the head is out of balance.

The motor, motor mounts would also be suspect, maybe a bent shaft.

End grain through a planer may not be the best idea, but we use what we got. Extremely lite passes are required as this is a tough operation for any planer.

-- Nicky

View Tedstor's profile


1625 posts in 2055 days

#3 posted 10-20-2015 12:52 PM

I’d guess the mounts that secure the cutterhead have been compromised. It would take a component with a fair amount of heft (like the cutterhead) to make a semi-heavy machine like a planer dance across the floor.

View dbockel2's profile


107 posts in 373 days

#4 posted 10-20-2015 03:28 PM

Thank you for the suggestions. I will disassemble and pay extra close attention to the cutterhead/platen to determine if it has been knocked loose or warped. Figured this was the best place to ask actual woodworkers about this sort of thing!

View HokieKen's profile


1541 posts in 561 days

#5 posted 10-20-2015 08:43 PM

Both of those issues indicate vibration and pretty bad. If you have a dial indicator, put it on the cutterhead and spin it by hand and see how bad the runout is. I’d guess there’s a bent shaft or busted mount in there somewhere. I assume you’ve checked your knives to make sure they’re at the same height? An offset knife could cause some vibration but most likely not enough to make that sucker dance!

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View dbockel2's profile


107 posts in 373 days

#6 posted 10-21-2015 12:03 AM

Good news/bad news:

So I took off the blade guard and removed both blades and lockbars and fired up the machine. Perfectly balanced, no movement, crank steady as she goes…

So I put the blades back on and sure enough, Bessie started to dance in a circle and the handle crank started to do the twist. I am still using the factory blades that came with it so they are matched. I guess I will order a second lockbar so both will be new and hopefully better matched. If that doesn’t do the trick I’ll get new blades. If that doesn’t do the trick, I am at a loss. I didn’t realize that this thing could be THAT sensitive.

View Nicky's profile


695 posts in 3514 days

#7 posted 10-21-2015 07:29 PM

Those little lunchbox buggers spin at a high rate. I don’t think it would take much to cause vibration.

Hang in their, and ask questions if you’re at an impasse. A lot of experts here.

-- Nicky

View dbockel2's profile


107 posts in 373 days

#8 posted 10-23-2015 03:22 AM

The verdict is in.

The 2nd replacement lock-bar arrived today and I anxiously rushed to the garage and removed the second factory installed one. Now I had 2 brand new lock-bars installed (I kept the blades off for the time being). Fired up the machine and once again it started jiggling and the crank handle started turning. So I took off the first replacement lock-bar, replaced it with the factory one, fired up the machine and it hummed like a Buick. Back in business.

Odd that the (brand new) replacement lock-bar, which is visually identical/indecipherable from any others I’ve used in this process, would throw the machine off so wildly. Precision tool or unforgiving tool???

But at least it works again.

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