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Thread: How to decide on the "right" size planer???

  1. #1
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    How to decide on the "right" size planer???

    Glenn’s posting of his new Grizzly planer got me thinking again about the right size planer that I would like to eventually buy. I currently have a Jet 13” molder/planer, but would like to buy a better and probably bigger planer.

    I realize that the size depends on many factors such as how much you are willing to spend; what type of furniture you intend to make and lastly your approach to gluing up. I think the first two are fairly obvious, but the last may need some explaining. I think in gluing up smaller width boards into a larger single width board you can take two approaches. The first would be to roughly mill to flat and square; glue up the pieces and then do a final mill to the proper thickness using an ample size planer (I am totally disregarding hand planing in this discussion for thicknessing.). The second approach would be to machine to final thickness and then glue up. You would then remove any machine marks by hand planing or sanding but would be unable to correct any real issues with thickness.

    With the second approach you are really not limited by the size of your planer, but let’s face it, the first approach allows for a lot of flexibility in how you approach your project.

    So if your intent is to build mostly small tables (bedside, end, hall, sofa, coffee, etc) that range in the 15” to 18” width and chests (dressers, bookcase, buffet, etc) that range from “10 to 20” would you feel that a 15” planer could do the job or would you opt for the 20” planer? We all have to make compromises and I am curious how you would approach balancing the proper size of machine vs. the cost. How would you approach executing the projects described above?
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  2. #2
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    bill i never take the wood down to final thickness on the planer ususally take it to 13/16 or 7/8 depending on what i am doing and where its headed.. as for width i got a 15 and if i could have bought a good used 20 for the same money i would have but now that didnt happen and i can still get two boards down sized and put into something alittle bigger. for cab door panels on a regular basis, a 20 would be nice, most door panels arent gonna be wider than 20".. and another selling point for a 20 is the ability to run it threw corner ways more than on a 15" i have some wide planks that had to be cut down to 15 because i dont have the 20 " but for the majority of work a 15 will do it..but i sure hated to cut off that 2 or 3 inches on the gtr sawn white oak and some real nice cherry or walnut..
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  3. #3
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    Cost and physical size were the two main reasons I went with the 15" vs. the 20". My main requirement was the spiral head as I have made do OK with my 12-1/2" DeWalt for years. I may sing a different tune once I start the living room coffee table ;-)

    As to glue-up methods. I mill boards before glue-up and try to get them as close to flat as possible. If I did end up with an uneven glue-up, whether 8" or 18", I would have to deal with the requirement of a flat reference surface in order to plane it anyway. This could mean hand planing the back to an adequate level or a large jointer or planer sled to prepare (or compensate for, in the case of the sled) my reference surface. I don't come across that too much and hope the 15" will do me for awhile
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  4. #4
    Dollars, room in the shop, and how much do you do. is the rational factors. how many times do you need beyond 12" or 13" ? If often is the answer then step up to wider. How many times does 16" come to play? If the answer is severl the How many times does 20" occur... Or 24" bother you....?

    Why buy more than you can use? I had a use for larger than my Planer one time last year, A hnd plane got the job done. I have a 13." Rigid previously I was used to a 24" Jay Faye & Egan... but I only plane lesser boards now days...

    Bigger is better but what I use is best.

  5. #5
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    I think the real answer depends on a few factors...

    1) How big a jointer do you have?
    2) How much space do you have?
    3) How much money do you want to get rid of?
    4) What makes you happy?

    In a pro shop, I'm assuming you just go large.

    It wouldn't make sense to me to have a 6" jointer and a 20" planer. Certainly there must be some relationship between the two...

    And the last question is, if you can afford to go big, and it makes you happy, why not?
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  6. #6
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    Like all have posted it depends on what you are doing. Tables come in various widths, 24, 36 etc. chair seats are also variable but less then 24 " if you are planing on using sheet good then it's a moot point but for all hard wood bigger is better. That said I have done up to 36" glue up and my 13" deWalt has done what I need along with hand planes. Would I like bigger sure but IMHO I would spend the money on a wide belt sand and do my final thicknessing on the sander
    "There’s a lot of work being done today that doesn’t have any soul in it. The technique may be the utmost perfection, yet it is lifeless. It doesn’t have a soul. I hope my furniture has a soul to it." - Sam Maloof
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  7. #7
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    I know this is slightly off topic but Glenn if space and spiral were an issue why not go with this type of machine.

    Granted it costs more but you could have liquidated your existing jointer and had a 2 in one with spiral on both cutting surfaces as well as 12 inch wide and saved the space of the planner you already got.

    It does mess with flow though i suppose and i have no clue how effective the combo is.
    cheers

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Keeble View Post
    I know this is slightly off topic but Glenn if space and spiral were an issue why not go with this type of machine.

    Granted it costs more but you could have liquidated your existing jointer and had a 2 in one with spiral on both cutting surfaces as well as 12 inch wide and saved the space of the planner you already got.

    It does mess with flow though i suppose and i have no clue how effective the combo is.
    Rob I've looked at those machine since Jet came out with their's. The thing that bothers me is the short length of the tables.
    "There’s a lot of work being done today that doesn’t have any soul in it. The technique may be the utmost perfection, yet it is lifeless. It doesn’t have a soul. I hope my furniture has a soul to it." - Sam Maloof
    The Pessimist complains about the wind; The Optimist expects it to change;The Realist adjusts the sails.~ William Arthur Ward

  9. #9
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    I would like to see an accurate way to repeat thicknesses on different pieces of wood. Then a small planer, like my 12 1/2" one could be used to make a large item, like a table top or whatever with smooth butts. The scale on the machine is really just a crude reference. Perhaps a resettable digital gauge could do what I want.
    I know, a giant belt sander is designed to do what I'm wanting. But those are very-very expensive and take up huge amounts of shop space.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Fusco View Post
    I would like to see an accurate way to repeat thicknesses on different pieces of wood. Then a small planer, like my 12 1/2" one could be used to make a large item, like a table top or whatever with smooth butts. The scale on the machine is really just a crude reference. Perhaps a resettable digital gauge could do what I want.
    I know, a giant belt sander is designed to do what I'm wanting. But those are very-very expensive and take up huge amounts of shop space.
    Frank some folks will fit a Wixley gage on their planer just for this purpose. My DeWalt 735 had fixed stops at 1/8,1/4,1/2,3/4,1, and 1 1/8 making it very repeatable.
    "There’s a lot of work being done today that doesn’t have any soul in it. The technique may be the utmost perfection, yet it is lifeless. It doesn’t have a soul. I hope my furniture has a soul to it." - Sam Maloof
    The Pessimist complains about the wind; The Optimist expects it to change;The Realist adjusts the sails.~ William Arthur Ward

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