Choosing a used Planer

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Forum topic by toddbeaulieu posted 11-19-2014 06:27 PM 2032 views 0 times favorited 44 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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814 posts in 2973 days

11-19-2014 06:27 PM


I’ve been using the original Dewalt lunchbox for a few years. It’s LOUD!

I’m under the impression that a 240v “four poster” planer is much quieter and “better” in a number of ways.

I’m looking to get something used off CL and I want to budget $1,000 because I’ve seen a number in the $750 – $950 range.

So … I’d appreciate any thoughts on what to look for, assuming they’re not all “the same”. For instance, Grizzly, Jet, etc.


44 replies so far

View gawthrrw's profile


207 posts in 2416 days

#1 posted 11-19-2014 06:46 PM

Ive seen quite a few powermatic planers for that price in my area. Thats the brand I would be looking for.

-- Rob, Dallas TX

View toddbeaulieu's profile


814 posts in 2973 days

#2 posted 11-19-2014 07:12 PM

Thanks Rob. Looking.

So far I’ve found just two. One, for $1k seems a way more rusty than I’d want to deal with. There’s another that’s a 1965 machine, but it’s 12”. I’ve always assumed that my next planer would be at least 15”. Heck, I’d actually lose an inch with this one! Not sure I really NEED larger, but I’d like it.


Not so Rusty



I just found another 900 12” unit. Do you feel that I should adjust my wideness criteria?

Thanks again.

View Loren's profile


10278 posts in 3617 days

#3 posted 11-19-2014 07:21 PM

Those old Powermatics are said to be excellent planers
but you have to assess old planers on a case-by-case
basis. In planers the feedworks can get worn.

I use a 15” 4 post planer… generic Taiwan thing.
It’s a good planer but lacks muscle at 2hp.

View runswithscissors's profile


2725 posts in 1994 days

#4 posted 11-20-2014 05:20 AM

My next-to-last planer was a 1982 Rockwell Invicta made in Brazil. 13” width capacity was adequate, but of course no matter how wide your planer is, you’re going to want/need a wider one eventually. I liked that planer a lot, as its stock handling was excellent. But it wasn’t quiet. Not as loud as a lunchbox, but definitely ear muff demanding. I contemplated getting a Byrd Shellix helical cutter head, and even disassembled it to get the necessary specs. But I hesitated, as that thing was going to cost around $650 or so, and I’d never get my money out of it.

Then a tremendous deal on a Jet JP12HH came along, and I jumped on that. My point is, the helical head is wonderful. No frustrating blade changing and sharpening, no banshee howl, no worry about grain tear out. There are various ways to get that—aftermarket, or already part of the machine. However you do it, it’s worth it. And yes, the 4 poster planers are far more robust than any lunchbox.

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

View pintodeluxe's profile


5624 posts in 2782 days

#5 posted 11-20-2014 06:12 AM

One down side of some large planers is a lack of depth stops. My Dewalt 735 has convenient depth stops so I can batch plane stock down to common dimensions.
Maybe someone can chime in if there is a brand that includes this feature.

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

View Redoak49's profile


3201 posts in 1957 days

#6 posted 11-20-2014 02:11 PM

How much planing do you do? I have both a 15” 4 post planer and a DW735. The 15” does very well at taking rough stock down to whatever thickness that you need. However, many of these have a serrated infeed roll which leaves marks on the wood unless you take off a certain amount. It is also very difficult to dial in a specific thickness.

The DW735 is much better at easily planing wood down to a more precise depth and has rubber infeed rolls. I use it to finish plane a lot of wood as I can get the wood to withing 0.010” or less of the depth that I want and can take off very small amounts. I know that some will wonder why you need to be that precise but it really helps if you are making things like a face frame or rail and stile panels so that the pieces are all the same thickness.

I find that I probably use the 15” planer 25% of the time at most.

IMHO…unless you are going to do a lot of planing and take a lot of rough sawn stock down to size, a planer like the DW735 will serve you much better.

View toddbeaulieu's profile


814 posts in 2973 days

#7 posted 11-20-2014 02:16 PM

Interesting opinion. I do a lot of planing. I don’t use the stops on my 733. Instead, I sneak up on the thickness with a caliper. I often times mill very little material, trying to get it perfect and switching sides until I’m happy. Your description of the teeth has me worried.

I’ll bet the 735 is light years better than my 733. Do you know if it’s just as loud? Still 120v, right?

View Redoak49's profile


3201 posts in 1957 days

#8 posted 11-20-2014 03:47 PM

Unfortunately, the DW735 is the loudest planer that I have used and the loudest in my shop. I use hearing protection when I use it.

However, I do think it is about the best of the planers. It works great without a dust collector and just a hose into a trash can.

View toddbeaulieu's profile


814 posts in 2973 days

#9 posted 11-20-2014 03:50 PM

Well, I think I’m changing my mind, gravitating towards the dewalt and accepting the noise. Another benefit to it is that I’d have to do nothing to get it running. No custom dust hood to build, no knife issues and I won’t have to run 240v to that spot.

View muleskinner's profile


896 posts in 2405 days

#10 posted 11-20-2014 04:47 PM

I have a 15” Taiwanese Grizzly four poster. It’s the only planer I’ve ever had so don’t really have the experience to compare performance. But as far as noise goes, yeah, it’s just a nice soothing hum when it’s running idle but once it’s working it doesn’t seem that much quieter than a lunchbox. I think planing is just a noisy operation no matter what.

I’ve found the best way to minimize the noise factor is to spend 25 years working in pulp and paper mills and then 15 years working around framers cutting metal studs with a a chop saw. Nothing seems quite as noisy as it used to.

-- Visualize whirled peas

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4907 posts in 3929 days

#11 posted 11-20-2014 04:49 PM

Buy a good set of Peltor hearing protectors. You’ll be glad you did. Best $30.00 I’ve spent in a long time.
BTW, my 733 is still goin’ strong after 15 years.


View firefighterontheside's profile


17968 posts in 1825 days

#12 posted 11-20-2014 04:55 PM

Yeah, my 733 is still going strong after 15 years as well. I wear hearing protection no matter what so loudness of a tool is not really a concern for me. I’ve had the 733 for 15 years and my original 3 sets of knives. I believe they’ve just about run out of metal to keep sharpening. Perhaps I’ll get new knives and keep it another 15. I would love the 735, but I don’t have the room. Good luck.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View TheWoodenOyster's profile


1313 posts in 1904 days

#13 posted 11-21-2014 03:25 AM

If you are thinking about the dewalt, you may consider buying a helical head with some left over cash. That will be a requirement on my next planer. I dream about helical heads…

-- The Wood Is Your Oyster

View unbob's profile


808 posts in 1872 days

#14 posted 11-21-2014 06:07 AM

A note on old Powermatic planers. Some of them can be touchy on the rear pressure bar adjustment. So touchy that the blade height has to be adjusted to suit the pressure bar.

So, if thinking of buying an old Powermatic planer, and wanting to install a Shelix head, the head may have to be built to order at extra cost and considerable time. This seems to be more of a problem on the Green ones….like mine.

View MrUnix's profile (online now)


6609 posts in 2168 days

#15 posted 11-21-2014 07:02 AM

Any planer that uses a universal motor will be loud.. so pretty much any lunchbox planer will be a screamer. If you want quiet, look for a machine that uses a RI motor. I’d also look for one that adjusts thickness by moving the table, not the cutterhead, which is much more robust and less prone to snipe. Older deltas, powermatic, belsaws, etc.. all are similar design and a huge step up from the little lunchbox planers out there.


-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

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