Question about portable electric planers

I hope someone could teach me a few things about those portable electric planers like the Dewalt DW680K 3-1/4" portable planer.
Are these only for use on stock that's the same width as the blades, or can it be reliably used to plane down something as big as 12" stock? I need to plane a 12"x18" 2/4 piece of stock to 3/8" thick and all of the wood stores in town I've talked to won't do it unless I buy the wood from them and I already have all the stock I need.
I don't have much money, so I figure I can put it to better use purchasing a good quality portable planer as opposed to a very cheap 12" planer. Any advice is appreciated. Thank you.
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The handheld planers are not good for surfacing wider boards, they are really designed for door edges and similar work. It is very easy to make a mistake & go too far when you use them on wider surfaces, and you will still need to use a handplane or sander to get a finished surface.
Do you have a tablesaw and dado? Set the dado up for maximum width, and make multiple passes in the middle of the board, leaving about 2 inches or so on each edge at the original thickness. (to support the stock while using the dado.) Then you can install the regular blade, turn the stock on edge, using a tall auxiliary fence attached to your rip fence if necessary, and rip off the 2 inches on each side. Finish with a handplane or sander.
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Larry Wasserman Baltimore, Maryland
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Thanks for your response. That's an interesting idea, I hadn't thought of that. One side of this piece won't be visible, so perfection is not a requirement. Just need to get it close to the needed thickness.
snipped-for-privacy@fellspt.charm.net (Lawrence Wasserman) wrote in wrote:

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-------------- It'll plane down but you won't end up with a finished item. It'll be covered in 82mm wide tracks. It may be far from square to the edge and will likely look like hell. I speak from experience of my own attempts to plane down stock wider than the blades. It you just want to get to almost the desired thickness then I suppose it's OK but you'll need to finish with a hand plane or sander to get it about right. The portable electric planers are not up to task, IMHO, as they weren't designed for it. However I have thought that if the blades were reground to knock off the edges we could get something close to what we want. But I haven't tried it yet. If anyone has then please let us know the results.
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On Wed, 05 May 2004 15:40:55 GMT, Alan Witt

they are intended for use on materials equal to or less than the width of the blade. that said, it is possible to do a passable job of what you want, but it will take some practise to aquire skill enough with the tool to pull it off. the basic procedure is the same as with thicknessing with hand planes- I think Jeff Gorman's website covers that pretty well. an unpowered hand plane will likely do a better job, take a little longer, cost about the same, be easier to sharpen and be more fun, if you're into that sort of thing.
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When you need it, it's great, but I rarely use mine. You can get a 12" planer for almost the same cost, especially used. I saw a new Delta at HD for $199. FAR more useful. Wilson

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I use my portable planer once in a while to plane a door or something like that. I wouldn't choose it to plane a board wider than the knives.
For boards I prefer to use my 12" planer. Today I ran a couple hundred feet of 5/4 birch through.
You'd do better by letting folks know where you are and perhaps someone in your area on this list would run it through their planer for you.
If you have already cut the piece to 12 x 18 and want to end up with a thinner 12 x 18 piece you will probably need both planing and thickness sanding. I've yet to find a planer that can guarantee absolutely no snipe.
RB
Wilson wrote:

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