Planer or thickness sander?

Darren Wright

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I'm looking at upgrading a few tools. I've been considering getting a 15" planer, but the 12" I have had suited my needs so far, but I may have a fair amount of planing coming up shortly. I've also been considering an 18" open ended surface sander, which I could see coming in handy, perhaps more so than the planer.

I've never owned a surface sander, so for those that do, are they worth it?
 

Ryan Mooney

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I've had the Jet 16/32 for a few years. It's super useful for some things.. but that list is imho kind of selective. What I bought it for was thicknessing very thin stuff that was to long to do by hand and to small (thin/narrow) to put through the planer. Think things basically like shop made veneer and thin strips for inlay (and similar stuff). I haven't really used it much for generalized furniture, although if I was doing a lot of stuff at a set dimension I guess it could be handy for round one sanding for that, I did use it when I was making a few dozen tap room taster trays to take some of the finish tedium out and get all of the pieces to exactly the same dimensions.
 

fred hargis

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I'm pretty much in the same camp as Ryan. I first bought a Delta from an acquaintance years ago who needed some money. Once I got it home I thought "what the heck I'm going to do with this?" For a while it got heavy use, more as a precision planer than anything...you can really get wood to a precise thickness. But it's slow, and generates mountains of fine dust (literally). Over time it got used a lot less and I sold it. Even though I didn't miss it for several years, I did buy a Performax 19/38 a few years back for a special purpose. It gets used for shop sawn veneers, end grain cutting boards, and the a fore mentioned precision planing. So their value depends (at least to me) on what uses you have for it. Bear in mind, there is a learning curve to using these and they are extremely slow at removing wood.
 

Bill Arnold

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Ditto what Ryan posted.

I've had a 16/32 for over 20 years and wouldn't be without it. I have a DW735 for the thickness part of milling.
 

Jim DeLaney

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Started out with a Performax 10/20, upgraded to a 16/32 a few years ago. Great for 'precision' sizing, but very slow. On anything wide you can only remove about 1/64" (or less) at a time, and very slowly at that. Terrific for shop-made veneers, though. Dust collection an absolute must!

As for planing, I had a 15" Delta clone, AKA "The Cast Iron Monster" but recently acquired a DeWalt 735 which is seeing a lot more use then the big guy did - mainly because of convenience.
 

Leo Voisine

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I have a 16/32 Performax. I would not be without it. One BIG thing is --- It does NOT chip out the wood while going against the grain, which is sometimes impossible to get grain in only one orientation. Also on woods that are sensitive to tearout, the sander is king.

I do make thin wood, and I do make panels.

It is slow. It is finicky. But for what it is good at, it is indefensible.

I will keep mine, thank you very much.
 

larry merlau

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first thing that has been mentioned is DUST Collection and it is a absolute necessity... after that flattening large panels or getting planned lumber to final size is great. i wouldnt be with out one if i had to rely on just one tool it would be planer first then sander. cabinet doors sanded flat and no divots on the joints is one of the many advantages.. same thickness of face frames is a good use to. as for size Darren look at the size of this up coming project pieces. and go accordingly.. my first one was delta 18x36 to me it was junk and it got sold, then started looking for something bigger.
 

glenn bradley

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Thanks to a lot of folks experiences being shared on forums like this one I got to skip a lot of the pain and suffering that some models deliver. The Supermax 19-38 had been getting rave reviews for a couple of years when I bought in 2013. It was a fairly large investment at the time and promised to take up a decent foot print in my too-small shop. The reviews were born out by the reality. All of the feed belt tracking, abrasive handling, alignment and adjustability nightmares bemoaned over the years by owners of other machines were cured in this design.

I have never had to adjust tracking or alignment since the day I set it up. Paper changes are so easy that I do not hesitate to change grits whenever I want to get even more value out of this workhorse. Building a large drawer cabinet under the unit versus the open stand yielded me enough storage that I was able to get rid of another drawer unit in the shop. This made the large footprint impact much less noticeable.

As always, your use will vary your sense of value of an item. I would never be without a planer but, a drum or wide belt sander is used for a different purpose. It does excel at thicknessing thin or difficult figured stock but, it does so much more than that. It serves me well for the varied challenges I find in my work. Given your wide range of interests and activities I cannot imagin you NOT being one of us who wonders how we got along without one.
 
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Chuck Ellis

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I have a small Delta planer that I use on some occasions, not very often though.... I would like a drum sander, but no place in the shop to put one.... I want to do some segmented bowls and such and the drum sander is perfect for flattening the segmented rings... my friend had one and when he closed shop he sold it... was beyond my budget at the time... I'll just have to make do with my home made disc sander.

Since I don't do much in the way of furniture build (No skills there).. mostly I do pepper mill blanks that are glued up... I use 3-3.5 wide boards so I use my little bench top jointer more than I would a planner.
 

Darren Wright

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Well, Thank you all for the feedback. I think the planer upgrade will wait as it may be a while before I need its capacity. Also I don't want to move it twice as much as it weighs in at (675 lbs).

I've been looking at Grizzly's 18/36 sander (https://www.grizzly.com/products/Grizzly-18-1-1-2-HP-Open-End-Drum-Sander-w-VS-Feed/G0458Z). It seems to have good reviews. Seen a couple of posts about the tracking of the feed belt, but even those said that it wasn't causing a real problem.

I'm also looking to get a jointer, which I don't have now. I'm considering their 6" x 48" (https://www.grizzly.com/products/Grizzly-6-x-48-Jointer-with-Economy-Stand/G0813).
 

glenn bradley

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I have several Grizzly tools that I like. The sander you link to relies on the table raising mechanism remaining perfectly aligned with the cutter head while raising up and down. I would be nervous about this design choice on an economy version of this tool.

If I were looking for a 6" jointer I would look for used. I'm sure it varies by area but, there is always someone selling a lightly used 6" jointer as they upgrade to a larger machine. You could also make a planer sled and skip the jointer for face jointing. Edge jointing using that face as your reference sirface could be done another way. Just food for thought.
 

Vaughn McMillan

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I had a Performax 16-32 that was given to me by a guy who no longer used it and wanted to free up space in his shop. I wish I'd had it years earlier when I was making a lot of cutting boards, but by the time I got it, I was doing mostly lathe stuff. I did use it a few times and although it was handy, it was real slow. (Compounded by the fact that when sanding anything wide, the thermal overload on the drum motor kept tripping, even with very light passes.) When I moved to ABQ I needed to reduce my shop footprint, so I sold the sander. If I had the shop space I would have loved to keep it, but I haven't done any projects here yet where I wished I had it back.
 

Don Baer

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I have several Grizzly tools that I like. The sander you link to relies on the table raising mechanism remaining perfectly aligned with the cutter head while raising up and down. I would be nervous about this design choice on an economy version of this tool.

If I were looking for a 6" jointer I would look for used. I'm sure it varies by area but, there is always someone selling a lightly used 6" jointer as they upgrade to a larger machine. You could also make a planer sled and skip the jointer for face jointing. Edge jointing using that face as your reference sirface could be done another way. Just food for thought.
I agree with Glenn, I gave up using a jointer and used a glue ready rip blade on my TS when I did the Church commission.
 
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