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?