benchtop planers vs floor models

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As you are all aware, benchtop planers have come down in price dramatically. I am considering buying my first planer, and I want it to be the last planer I buy. I plan to make home furniture as a hobby, probably low volume over a few decades. Portability is not an issue, and I do have 220v access with a good size shop. Is there a steep improvement in final product quality with larger floor models? Do you think I should buy a benchtop model, or save the dough and buy a floor model? If you had to do it over again, which size would you buy?
Dave
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Mon, Nov 15, 2004, 7:54am (EST+5) snipped-for-privacy@newsgroup.shaw.ca (Dave) claims he needs to know: <snip> Do you think I should buy a benchtop model, or save the dough andbuy a floor model? <snip>
Nope. I think you should make up your own mind. Then if you're not happy, you got no one to blame but yourself.
JOAT Any plan is bad which is incapable of modification. - Publilius Syrus
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Floor model = hogging off more at one time and available in wider versions.
Portable = nice finish cuts but limited to 12"-13" ish.
Answer, one of each, dependent upon what you really want to do.
UA100
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do you mean to imply that the floor models do NOT give nice finish cuts? That spiral cutter head with the indexed carbide cutters from Grizzly sure looks like it would give a nice finish.
My advice to the home shop owner would be to get a nice portable planer - probably the 3 cutter head dewalt, or maybe one of the smaller spiral headed ones from Grizzly. Then supplement this with a 16/32 or so drum sander to handle larger panels and more gnarly wood. (you can also or additionally buy certain hand planes to do this).
Mike

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Hi Dave, I think Mike has given you some fine advice. Normally when "we" say that we want it to be our "last" unit we mean that we do not want to buy something lacking in features or capacity only to upgrade later. I don't think the modern bench tops are missing much and with the money left over you are a long way to paying for a drum sander. Cheers, JG
Mike in Mystic wrote:

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Mike in Mystic wrote:

For finer finish cuts a porty planer is usually better. Serrated infeed roller marks and all from the stationary machines.

Did you know those inserts leave ridges down the length of the board? I wonder how the tighter sphinctered hobbyist wooddorker will react to that?

Better yet, substitute the drum sander for a stroke sander.
UA100, qwesting for a stroker...
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wrote:

also, service life of decades of heavy use.

also, service life of decades of light hobby use.

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If you like and can afford a Jaguar, would you buy an Escort? Made by the same company so they probably perform equally, right?
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wrote:

As they're both Fords, I wouldn't buy either.
Same with cast iron "four post" machines. Unless you're getting a good one, not the usual retail stuff, these give a _worse_ finish than a suitcase planer. OK, so they can shift timber quickly and they're much quieter, but there's a compromise in there. They're also not very wide - 15" isn't that much more useful than 13"
Personally I use a cheap suitcase planer, because after studying a few models in action I found one that was noticeably better than the competition. If the knives are sharp it also gives me a good finish, better than my jointer.
If I was spending some more money and wanting to buy "a planer for life", then it would be a big industrial bought S/H for about the same as a new four post.
--
Smert' spamionam

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On Mon, 15 Nov 2004 12:08:47 +0000, Andy Dingley

Andy.. I'm in the market for a portable.. which one did you pick that you thought was noticeably better?
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wrote:

You can't have it - Axminster CT330, so UK only http://www.axminster.co.uk/product.asp?pf_id !831&recno=1 13" width, good headlock, long and stable tables. I put a couple of thousand bf of oak through it the year I got it and it held up very well.
A noticeably better machine than their older CT344 http://www.axminster.co.uk/product.asp?pf_id !832&recno=2
--
Smert' spamionam

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On Tue, 16 Nov 2004 02:05:39 +0000, Andy Dingley

Oh well, thanks anyway... guess I'll go back to drooling over Dewalts & Deltas..
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It's a matter of how many BF you need to do per session and lifetime. The big iron will process boards with its induction-run motor after the universal is toast. It will also be accurately referenced after the small one has shaken itself to pieces. That's why they make 'em.
Doesn't sound as if you need one for pure hobby work, though. Just remember you've got "good enough" engineering, and keep your sessions short, your cuts minimal. Other than that, only disadvantage is the lack of serrated infeed and bed rollers for rough stock. Keep that bed polished to a "T" and remember first flip may need some feed help.

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If you are only going low volume, the portable should serve you well. Mine is 15 years old. That said, I wish mine was a stationary planer with larger width capacity. I in fact am seriously considering going back to s4s as the last batch of s4s lumber saved me several hours of preparation. The cost was higher but my time is worth more. The stationary is not much bigger than a portable foot print wise so the portable does not really save you any room in many cases. If you are going to use the planer weekly you will probably come out cheaper with a stationary planer as the portable will probably have to be replaced before the stationary will with regular use. As far as quality of out put, typically the portables feed slower and produce a smoother finish although that finish still needs to be followed up with a sander, scraper or smoother plane. I would not consider any surface out of any thickness planer good enough for final preparation of the surface.
So to answer your question, get a portable if you think will not use it weekly or will not need to plane boards wider than 12-13". If time is more important and you will use it regularly, get the stationary.
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Why the obsession with "being the last planer I buy"? Over a period of decades, that's pretty limiting. I was really considering a Powermatic helical head planer as my first planer, but ended up buying a Delta benchtop. What happened? If I wanted to buy the leading benchtop, I would have bought the Dewalt 735. I got an opportunity to buy the Delta 13" for $229 and never looked back. Had I realized how good a job that a simple benchtop could do, I would have never even thought about the bigger machine. Now If it lasts more than 4 or 5 years, I will be ecstatic. By that time I'll know if there are any serious limitations in what I want to do. In the meantime, I got a very useful tool a long time before my budget could afford the big iron.
Planers are the one category of power tool where you get a whole lot of bang for the buck in the lower end.
Bob
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Good question. One that I would like to know the answer to as well. I have the DeWalt DW734 and have been fairly happy with it. But it seems like it is a bit under-powered and I wonder how will it will hold up over the years. I also seem to need to make a couple of passes at my final dimesions before I can run the board through without hearing it cutting anything.
As much as I enjoy working wood, I don't enjoy dimensioning. IMHO, anything that makes getting properly dimensioned lumber easier, faster, and more accurate, is a worthwhile investment.
If it turns out that a floor model does not offer that great of an advantage, give the DeWalt DW735 (one up from my DW734) a good, long look. I have read two glowing reviews.
~ Wyatt
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In my limited experience I've noticed one big difference. The benchtop models have rubber rollers and the stationary have serrated rollers. This may not be true in every case but it was at the BOCES I took a woodworking class from. The problem was if I wanted to plane a very small amount using the large planner it left the indentations from the serrated edges. Not exactly optimum. My benchtop gets me close then I sneak up on it with shallow passes to minimize tearout and keep it smooth. Takes more time but turns out better. Maybe the bigger ones expect the wood to go through a drum sander as a next step.

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Sounds like the tension on the infeed roller was too high... I have a Powermatic 15", and as delivered I had the same problem, an adjustment to the height and tension of the rollers fixed that. Tom

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Ayup. Or he was trying to take a "zero" pass.
Too many inexperienced people try to get things _exactly_ 3/4", as if that were sacred, rather than realizing that if all boards are taken after the same pass, it makes no difference what the precise thickness is. Hell, hardwood's 13/16 anyway, before they sand it.

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It was a while ago so I don't remember. Not always concerned about the exact 3/4" but I like accuracy and I like to get as close as possible. Feels good to hit it perfect and I know an hour later it'll be more or less as the wood moves. But hey, it makes me happy and isn't that the whole point of this hobby?
But I wasn't making a point on my technique.
The whole point was the serrated rollers put dimples in the wood. You've got to make sure that you remove at least enough wood to remove the dimples. Don't have the problem with benchtop models.

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