Power thickness planer choices

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I'm in the market to get a thickness planner. I'll be using it for hobbyist woodworking projects. I'm intending to get it from either Home Depot or Lowes, as both are local and convieninet. After reading a variety of posts on this group about various people's bad experiences with getting stuff shipped--I'm not interested in going that route.
So, given what's available at the two home center super stores, I seem to have a choice of a Dewalt DW735[1] which goes for about $500, perhaps a Dewalt DW734[2] (not sure on the price), a Ryobi AP1300[3] for about $250 or possibly something made by Delta.
I think it's down to either the Dewalt DW735 or the Ryobi AP1300. I've read a number of posts here recently that seem to indicate Delta's stuff ain't too hot. I own other pieces of equipment made by both Dewalt and Ryobi and both companies' tools seem to do the job, and I have no complaints with either manufacturer.
Other than price, the big difference between the two seems to be the Dewalt DW735 has two feed speeds that allow switching between 96 or 179 CPI (presumably this means Cuts Per Inch).
I've been impressed with the quality of the Dewalt equipment I already own and wouldn't mind spending the extra dollars if the DW735 is of significantly better quality, precision, and the feed speed is a significant feature over what I'd be able to do with the Ryobi.
So, any opions or experiences with either tool would be most appreciated. Also alternate suggestions would be appreciated--as long as it doesn't involve shipping.
Thanks.
[1]: http://www.dewalt.com/us/products/tool_detail.asp?productIDY35 [2]: http://www.dewalt.com/us/products/tool_detail.asp?productIDY34 [3]: http://www.ryobitools.com/catalog/tool/ap1300/
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[...snip...]

I can say that I have the Dewalt and it is very solid, very good. In retrospect the price at $500, for a few hundred $$$ more you can get a 15" stationary planer and maybe I should have thought more about that. But I don't regret the purchase.
In my opinion, Ryobi equipment, in general, is often more consumer level than professional level. In my opinion Dewalt is generally built to a professional level and should last better and serve you better. And I believe in portable planers the Dewalt is the best available product right now.
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Thanks. What you've said about Dewalt, is the impression I've had as well. It good to know, by way of others' expereinces, that Dewalt's equipment is of good quality and durability and is a good choice.
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Owned by the same group.
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held by the same holding company doesn't mean anything in terms of build quality or quality of materials used.
Bob
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Hey Bob I too was in the market for a thickness planer about 8 months ago. I went over multiple websites and magazines(epinions,amazon and lots of woodworking fourms). My general opinion of these and those opinions written were all dependant on number of projects, type of wood and history of company/customer service. So Bob the question falls back into your court. How many projects and what type of wood will you mostly be using? Before you anwser, if its 6 or more large projects I would recommend a 15" or larger professional model ( Jet, Delta,General,Woodtec,Etc) I personally bought a DeWalt 734 because of the company, opinions of others and the price $ 320 ( I too was not going to get one shipped over the internet).
Jeremy
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com says...

the purchase or delivery. I've been extremely pleased with both the quality of the planer and its operation.
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With respect to projects, I don't think I can answer that in the form you're looking for. :) I've never done a large project, but I do a lot of little projects all the time. So the planer will get used regularly such that I want something that's durable and of good quality. I'm still a novice in this realm, so I'm still figuring out what tools I need in order to do things. Presumably, after I've had a chance to use a planer and integrate that into my repertoire I'll probably try a large project.

Ahhh, that's interesting! The price on the DW734 at about $320 makes it a nice sweet spot between the cost on the Ryobi (about $250) and the cost of the DW735 (about $500). The DW734 may just be the way to go.
Thanks!
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Respectfully, I have to disagree on the 15" issue.
Here's how I see it Lunchbox planer vs. 15":
* Quality of cut: lunchbox is same or better * Ease of use: LB is the clear winner as blade changes are reportedly much easier. Personally, I despise arduous blade changes. * Initial cost: LB is clearly the winner * Installation... The 15 will require 220V ... no big deal *if* you have it. * Delivery .... 15 requires a liftgate, LB can go in the back seat.
For the 15 we have:
* an extra 3 inches.... IMO that's not that big on an incentive because just about all components are smaller than 12 and just about all table tops are > 15 * Longevity.... the 15 is a clear winner * Speed... A 15 probably going to be able to remove twice the material (per pass) than a LB.
This last one is, IMO, is the best reason to get a 15. If you're a pro or semi-pro definitely go for bigger.
As a hobbyist, I have put my DW733 (predecessor to the 734) though 6 medium to large projects per year, and it has been going strong for 4 years.
I would guess that It takes around 2 hours to plane all of the stock for a fair sized project. Ballpark: I have about 50 hours and a half dozen blade changes on that machine. I still think it's the right machine for me.
While I agree that volume of use should be the criteria for selecting a class of machine I think 6 large projects is way too low a threshold for moving up to a 220V machine.
regards,
Steve
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Additional benefit to the iron types:
Serrated metal infeed rollers. Virtually maintenance free, positive feed, most are even adjustable to feed aggressively on rough stock, delicately on soft stuff.
Bed rollers. Once again, adjustable, so that you can maintain a rate of feed on the roughest circular-cut (any circular mills still out there?) stock and retract to take all vibration out of thin stuff.
Chipbreakers to stabilize against snipe even on longer, heavier stock.
Possibly misleading information:
As to blades, can't tell you. Takes less than an hour to do a set on mine, and they're the old kind with just springs underneath, not the grub screws.
They come in two or three boxes, which mean more trips, but two people are all that requires.
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.I have had to clean the rollers and wax the platten a couple of times...(because the blades were dull). About 10 minutes of Maintenance in four years. IMO that qualifies as "virtually maintenance free"

I've never had a vibration problem.

My 733 is generally snipe-free. I will acknowledge, however, that large stock manipulation would be easier with a heavier machine. The heaviest stock I have attempted was a 6x5x80" maple laminated subassembly. Unweildy, but doable.

BTDT. That is my definition of arduous. I am admittedly intolerant.
Regards,
Steve
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I have to agree that eh dewalt overall is a decent machine. BUT (had to be one of those) I have found that the blades dull very quickly, and they cost $50+ to replace. There has been a discussion of this problem in the past, and it seems to be hit-or-miss as to who has the problems. Dewalt admitted that they have had "bad blades", but did nothing to help the folks that got them....
As tot he 2 speed feature, I don't think its really that usefull. If you're using good technique, the speed difference doesn't really matter (It might in some highly figured stuff I guess).....
I do a lot of custom furniture work, so most of what gets run through my machines is hardwoods of variouse types....
YMMV
--JD

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Something to consider when comparing the features.
Multiple speeds on portable planers is IMHO a gimmick that has short lived benefits. Typically you see this feature on larger stationary planers. I have a large Delta stationary planer with 2 speeds. I can mill at 31 fpm and 16 fpm. 16fpm is really about as slow as you want to go for a smooth finish. IIRC the portable units have about 16 fpm as the fast speed and 8 to 10 fpm for the slower speeds. While this indeed does produce a very smooth finish, it is normally a short lived benefit as sooner than later the knives will develop nicks that will totally make the benefits of more cuts per inch a moot point. Basically the more cuts per inch speed choices simply slow down production. As you have pointed out, these are "thickness" planers and should be used to achieve a desired thickness and followed up with a smoother hand plane, sand paper, or a cabinet scraper.
That said, the Larger DeWalt that looks like a stationary planer does have a pretty good dust collection setup that apparently does not require a separate dust collector as reported by some owners. As for the Ryobi, typically this brand is an economy one. Not to be discounted but normally not built to the higher quality standards of other brands. I myself also own an AP10 Ryobi planer, IIRC the first builder of a portable planer, and it still runs as good today as it did the day I bought it back in 1988. No frills but it was well built.
With the understanding that a thickness planer should only be used to mill your stock to a desired thickness the other features offered by other manufacturers are not necessary but nice to have in come instances.

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I agree with that. I defy anyone to beat the price value of my Delta 22-580 which I bought new from Lowe's for $229. If I were going to spend $500 on a planer, I'd go the extra step to a cast iron job. I think the Dewalt 735 is in the wrong price/value position. A lot of people will disagree with me. I remember one guy got a 735 for under $350 from Amazon during the 53 microsecond window they had it priced like that over a year ago. Now that I would consider.
Bob
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I bought the Dewalt 733 from Woodcraft when it went on sale after the 735 came out and the 733 was discontinued.
I've been very happy with it. I don't use it much, just at the beginning of the job to get all teh stock to the same thickness, but that means running all the stock through the planer, multiple times. I shut the garage door, put on the earmuffs, and run 'em through. Man, that thing is LOUD!
But it does very well at turning rough cut lumber into dimensioned boards. :-) I just have to choose the time so I'm not waking any neighbors.
If I was in the market today, I'd get a DW but not sure which model. I know that I definitely do NOT miss the variable speed option.
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To me, it boils down to priorities. Budget, space, quality, use. I try to buy the best quality I can afford for the use I have for it, provided I have the space. Don't let horror stories dissuade you from missing a real bargain from internet shopping. I'll shop on line every time unless, I need it today or I see a deal I can't pass at a local store. If space was not an issue, buy a stationary planner, if space is an issue, the 735 will serve you well. I agree with Leon on the two speed issue - its a marketing gimmick, not really useful.
Dave
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Thanks to everyone that provided a comment, it's helped me make my decsion. I've opted for the Dewalt DW734. After reading the manual and getting it all set up, it's working great.

I also look at these same things, but I make quality my second priority. I like to buy the best I can afford and then be done with it. Space is a factor for me, I have a garage to work in, but need to keep everything mobile so I can move it out of the way to work on a car or so I can take the tools to another location. It would be nice to have a dedicated building and fill it with professional quality stationary tools--but that's not where I'm at now. :)

I'm not affraid of buying things on-line. But I figure if the item weighs more than about 10-20 pounds, or is large enough that it needs to be hauled in a truck--I'd rather get it locally. I've also had my share of difficulties with on-line purchases that have arrived in abused or broken condition--and the probability of that happening seems to increase with weight and size.
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I have a 734 which I love. Virtually no snipe, and when I get do get snipe it's virtually always my fault.
Dewalt and Delta are now owned by the same company, but Delta's last owner, Pentair Tool Group, pretty much killed them. Anything you would be buying from Delta currently would be the influence of Pentair (which also crippled Porter Cable).
I don't know what influence B & D will have on Delta, but until all of Pentair's influence is gone, I would stay the hell away from Delta products. Largely junk these days. I've talked to a lot of the higher-end tool stores in my area, and some are considering dropping Delta all together due to the ongoing quality issues.
Yes, there are probably those on the group here who have had wonderful experiences with Delta. And the particular planer you mention might be a decent piece...I've never used it. But my experience with their other stuff has been just awful.
And I'm not alone in that regard.
Black and Decker has kept the quality of Dewalt fairly high, so hope and pray they can bring Delta and PC back from the grave. Until then...
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I have a Delta here also.Everything I work with is oak. I got tired of buying blades and rollers for it. It seems like I would get about a hour a side on the blades. I tried touching them up and it would not feed the wood through. I finally got disgusted and purchased a Shop Fox 15 inch a couple weeks ago and could not be happier. It is part of the WMH Tool group with has Delta and Jet and several others. The local dealer had a tool sale and it was 10 percent off which helped. They make a cheeper unit with motor on top for not much more than Dewalts big unit the W1742 that I purchased. Bill
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BT98 wrote:

Bill,
Shop Fox is owned by Grizzly Industrial. Shop Fox products are white-painted Grizzlies which are offered through dealers (rather than through mail order). That being said, they are typically good products, and I wouldn't hesitate to buy a Shop Fox over a Delta.
Also, WMH owns Jet, Powermatic, and Wilton, but not Delta. Delta, along with Dewalt, is now owned by Black & Decker.
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