holy grail of planers??

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Forum topic by ghammond posted 11-04-2011 04:45 AM 2562 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2 posts in 2362 days

11-04-2011 04:45 AM


I have never really used a planer and don’t know too much about them, but I think I will need one to proceed with my wood working projects. I will be needing to plane boards that are hard curly maple about a foot in width.

I’ve been doing a lot of online research about planers, and have not really come across a machine, new or old, that seems to be the “holy grail” of planers. You know, a planer that everyone says, “Yes, get that one! It’s the best one ever made. You won’t have any hassles with it. They just don’t make em like that any more”. Is there such a planer out there (even if it’s an oldie)?

If there is no holy grail planer out there, this is what I’ve come up with in my research so far for newer planer models:

Steel city
pro: no blade changing
con: has too much grease, has snipe problem, has tear out problem

Pro: works good new for awhile, will not have problem with snipe or tear out
con: blades need to be changed frequently, blades are expensive, can have problem changing blades due to aluminum housing and too tightened screws

Pro: ...
Con: lots of snipe, lots of blade changing,

In this article ( he seems to hint at his Dad’s holy grail planer, but it sounds like you need to purchase a beastly industrial sized planer in order to be blissfully snipe-free.

13 replies so far

View ShaneA's profile


6909 posts in 2564 days

#1 posted 11-04-2011 04:56 AM

A lot of it will be relative to budget, like all things on life. If you are looking at portable/lunchbox planers I think you can/will find a lot of support for the 735 by dewalt. Snipe will be an issue on almost all planers. I find blade changes easy on this model. However, if you were looking to spend more you could buy wider, stationary, helical head cutter that may overcome the mentioned issues. Budget is a big factor. Good luck on the search

View Loren's profile (online now)


10262 posts in 3614 days

#2 posted 11-04-2011 04:56 AM

All lunchbox machines that run on noisy, universal motors…

I recommend, if you are serious about your shop, that you put in
some 220 volt circuits and get yourself something like an old Belsaw.
They can be got cheaply, tend to have overpowered motors,
and they really make nice boards.

For curly maple, I recommend you get something like a Belsaw that
feeds slow and takes standard knives. Here’s why: you can get a
Makita wet wheel sharpener and put a 5 degree back bevel on your
knives and that maple will come out beautifully. The back bevel
makes more of a scraping cut, which is what you need with figured

Some people have had happy experiences planing figured woods
with Tersa cutterheads, but the Tersa knives don’t stay razor sharp
for long and can’t be resharpened with standard equipment.

You can also go the insert cutterhead route, but it gets spendy and
you might not get the result you are after. With back-beveled
blades and a grinder in your shop, you can fuss with the knives
until you get the perfect balance for the wood you are working.

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3269 days

#3 posted 11-04-2011 05:21 AM

i bought a 15 inch delta in 1996…i just put a new set of blades on it about 3 months ago…so lets see,,,,,,,15 years of use from one set of blades… my book, thats a pro…know i know it depends on the use…well ill put it this way, i tore down a whole house built in 1900, and all the t and g wood had to be planed…and it had the old leaded paint…ive dont anything from a full 2×10 to 4/4 4inches wide, 16 feet long…ive done 5×5’s… in my book…ive planed alot of wood..if you have the extension tables on it the snip is virtually non existent …but if you dont, yes you will get snipe…but this tool is a haus…will develop up to 5 hp…and it works and works and works…so i dont have anything to compare it to, as this has been my only one…

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View mondak's profile


71 posts in 2366 days

#4 posted 11-04-2011 05:34 AM

Like has been said, you will get snipe with most metal or carbide knife planers. And a planer should be part of your shop.
BUT…...a drum sander like the 16-32 will give you a tear out free and snipe free end result. Just be prepared to run your lumber thru the sander several times to reach final thinckness.

View maljr1980's profile


171 posts in 2422 days

#5 posted 11-04-2011 06:08 AM


View live4ever's profile


983 posts in 2976 days

#6 posted 11-04-2011 06:56 AM

Really depends on what your budget is.

In the several hundreds of dollar range, the Dewalt 735 is probably hands-down your best bet. Very little snipe out of the box, and completely eliminated with the optional infeed/outfeed tables. Two speed settings for fine finish. Potential for tearout in highly figured wood, but in non-figured wood, the cut quality is glass smooth. Until the blades get nicked, of course. The blades are reversible, so you get double mileage out of each set. I’m still on my stock blades…yeah they have a few nicks from when I ran salvaged wood through, but the resulting ridges are easily knocked off by a couple seconds of RO sanding.
The DW735 can be made even better by replacing with a spiral cutterhead. This eliminates the tearout problem in highly figured wood. It’s a pricey upgrade at around $400 though, sending the total cost of the unit near $1k new.

Once you get past the lunchbox planer range, you’re in 15” stationary planer land. Tearout in highly figured wood will once again be a potential problem unless you spring for a spiral cutterhead, which sends the cheapest of these machines over $1,500.

Personally I’ve gone with the DW735 (stock) + drum sander approach, but for most woods, never have to save the planer’s work with the drum sander.

-- Optimists are usually disappointed. Pessimists are either right or pleasantly surprised. I tend to be a disappointed pessimist.

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3040 days

#7 posted 11-04-2011 02:35 PM

I use a basic old DeWalt 733 that has served me well for 10+ years with absolutely no problems. However, from what I am reading there has been a slippage in quality lately and buyers of the newer 734s are having problems.

When/if it ever wears out, I will be looking for a floor model planer with an induction motor. Yes, they are pricy, but I’m quite certain it will last me for the rest of my life.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Bertha's profile


13521 posts in 2659 days

#8 posted 11-04-2011 03:10 PM

I would consider these all lower end planers. Before you get offended, I have the DeWalt! I’ve been very happy with it but “holy grail” should probably be reserved for the big boys. Of your list, the DeWalt is the standout. Prepare for exorbitant infeed table and base fees, should you go that route.

Big Oliver. Doesn’t it look like it would double as a wood stove? ;)

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

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Craftsman on the lake

2781 posts in 3403 days

#9 posted 11-04-2011 03:16 PM

Dewalt 734: 1200+ bdft of oak (according to my receipts), the same blades and no snipe.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View ghammond's profile


2 posts in 2362 days

#10 posted 11-04-2011 03:21 PM

Thanks guys!

Yeah, so it’s looking like the best machine to get (if I win the lottery… haha) would be something like the Grizzly 15” Planer with Spiral Cutterhead,

Of course, I’m not holding my breath because I never buy lottery tickets, so maybe for the lunch box range, I should keep my eyes peeled for an old DeWalt 733 (because it sounds like it might have better quality than the newer models) and maybe think about upgrading it to a spiral cutterhead. (Although, then again, I’d need to do some research to see if the older models accept spiral cutting heads.)

Or, for a bit more money, maybe an old Parks or Belsaws… or maybe, Big Oliver!

View NathanAllen's profile


376 posts in 3110 days

#11 posted 11-04-2011 11:13 PM

No such thing, though I think people are overstating how frequently you have to change blades. Normally you can go through hundreds of board feet before you have to swap them.

That said, for curly maple you’ll likely want to go the thickness sander route because tearout is going to be an issue. Expensive to purchase; but a cheaper route would be to local cabinet shops for a quote on how much it would cost to thickness it as desired.

View Bertha's profile


13521 posts in 2659 days

#12 posted 11-04-2011 11:20 PM

Cr1’s right, of course. I suggest you have a few beers before you start pricing Martins. Now, he lists hammer and minimax very highly and those might be do-able on a budget. Dan (in handplanes of your dreams) has the minimax; you could ask him about it. The DeWalt has the advantage of being able to buy blades at Lowes. That’s worth quite a bit to someone like me with serious delay of gratification problems. He’s right that the lunchboxes aren’t in the category of the big boys but I’ve been really happy with my DeWalt. I’ve only put a few hundred boardfeet through mine, so I consider it (and the knives) almost new.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2656 days

#13 posted 11-05-2011 04:29 AM

In my opinion the Ridgid is the best buy (not the best planer compared to the bigger high $ units). I have planed a LOT of wood with mine, blades last reasonably well (and can be resharpened), and the lifetime guarantee is hard to beat.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

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