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113 Portable Planers


This article is from the Woodworking FAQ Collection 3, by multiple authors.

113 Portable Planers

From: srbeckle@cbnewse.att.com (steven.r.beckle)
Date: 5 Apr 91 15:20:55 GMT

I was able to observe a Delta 12" thickness planer up close yesterday
at a wood show and came away not unimpressed, but somewhat disappointed
nonetheless. The Delta rep ran a 2x4 through the thing several times
and couldn't get rid of the VERY noticeable sniping at both ends of the
board -- must've been 2 inches at each end and 1/32" deep. Not the
kind of thing I would tolerate in a planer. Here's what I've been
able to compare so far between the Delta and Makita:

Cost: Delta $429 Makita ~ $480

Tables: A lot is made of the fact that Delta has a moveable cutter
head assembly w/ fixed table, Makita has a fixed head, moveable table.
If table extensions are to be used, that rules out the Makita. Personally,
I would have no problem holding the wood as it exits the planer;
do people really need outfeed extensions?

Blade life: Both offer reversible i.e. 2 sided blades. For the relative
low cost, they're called disposable, meaning it's easier to replace
the dull ones than sharpen them.

Blade Installation: The Delta rep didn't convince me that blade installation
was a snap. The blades sit on a spring, so you do have something to
push the blade up against your alignment gauge. But he said that a
magnaset for planers is probably a lot easier than using the gauge that
comes with the Delta. I've seen blades replaced on the Makita -- very
impressive. The blades are notched to sit perfectly in the cutter head.
You drop them in, tighten the set screws, simple.
I saw no need for a magnaset or any other type of gauge.
Could justify the extra $$$ of the Makita right there.

Quality of cut: Like I said, the Delta wasn't even handling a pine
2x4 very well. I've seen the Makita cut oak as smooth as glass.
Maybe the Delta was having a bad day (or Makita a very good one :-) ).

Construction: The Delta cutter head is supported by 4 worm drive posts.
If you believe the salesman, this better distributes the weight of
the cutterhead and reduces slop. But since Delta has the moveable
head and Makita doesn't, maybe the Makita doesn't need it as much.

Miscellaneous: Makita has a depth of cut indicator that easily tells
you the depth of cut before the wood actually hits the blades; the
indicator has nothing to do with the depth scale and you don't have to
measure the wood thickness or anything like that.

So, the jury's still out. But regardless of all the features, if the
darn thing snipes, it's a bust.


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