Looking for Planer recommendations

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  • July 06, 2021 1:34 PM
    Message # 10732265

    I'm looking to buy a planer and looking for advise from this experienced group.  I think that a 13" planer with either Helical or spiral (I don't really know if helical is worth the price difference)  cutters would fit my needs well.  I see a Grizzly 13" with spiral cutters for under $800 but good reviews for DeWalt but much more expensive. I'm not tied to any brand and would consider any brand at this point.  Lots of reviews out there with different opinions.  I would appreciate your experience, advice and recommendations.  you can call me or email me at 508-435-4131 or mauriceplourde@verizon.net

    Thank You,


  • July 07, 2021 7:31 AM
    Reply # 10734477 on 10732265


    Definitely buy the spiral head. The better cut, ease of replacing a chipped carbide bit, and quieter operation are all worth it. I own a Grizzly jointer and planer, a couple of years ago I converted both to spiral head machines. Very pleased with the operation and performance of both. A word of note on the company, Grizzly is the brainchild of a Taiwanese/American businessman. He still owns and runs the company. All the manufacturers are haveing their products made in China, but many still do not understand how to deal with these companies. Grizzly is and does. The quality is there and the products are not cheapened for sale in Home Depow or Lowes. I will recommend.


  • July 07, 2021 8:19 AM
    Reply # 10734549 on 10732265

    Adding to what jim posted.

    The dewalt 13 inch is a fantastic planer and a workhorse, I used one for at least a decade. I'm dubious of the cost effectiveness of buying a aftermarket helical head and swapping it out. I ended up buying a bigger helical planer and kept my old dewalt as is

    talk to the manufacturer, there are some variations in how they use terms like helical, and spiral. mostly having to do with the knives being at an angle which gives you a shearing cut. 

    in absolute best surfaces straight knives have a slight win. when dealing with figured, or uncooperative grained wood the helical are a big win, helical heads also tend to be quieter.

  • July 08, 2021 3:09 PM
    Reply # 10738267 on 10732265

    Looking deeper into this, I'm surprised that these 13" planers run on 115-volts 15 amps vs. 220 volts 20amps.  I am concerned that this will be under-powered.  does anyone know about 20-amps 13" planers available?  will the 15 amp models be under-powered?  Should I be looking at a larger machine and pay the extra money.  I really don't need the extra width but also don't want to be frustrated with an under-powered machine.  Any other brands that I should look at?

    Your input is appreciated.



  • July 09, 2021 8:54 AM
    Reply # 10739843 on 10732265
    most of that has to do with motor type, smaller machines have universal motors where  bigger machines have induction type motors.

    universal motors tend to be louder, and are better suited for smaller loads and shorter duty cycles, smaller loads and cost less.  induction are suitable for larger loads, quieter, better for longer duty cycles nad cost more.  

    besides the extra width a bigger machine will have a lot more adjustablilty, and more mass which reduces vibration. Its hard to go wrong with a bigger machine, but the cost and space issues are a consideration. 
  • July 09, 2021 2:41 PM
    Reply # 10740615 on 10732265


    I am also in the market for a thickness planer. My 13" delta tabletop has been a great tool but suffers from being underpowered and underweight. Everyone that has sharpened a straight knife seems to praise the benefits of the helical head but Dana seems to have a point about smoothness of straight knifes. I would also suspect that a helical head might require more horsepower but that is just conjecture on my part.

    Any recommendations in 15" planers?

  • July 10, 2021 9:09 AM
    Reply # 10742101 on 10732265

    Since a planer with a helical head runs quieter, my sense tells me it is cutting easier, using less power. with a spiral placement of the carbide bits, only one bit is in direct cutting contact with the wood.

    I disagree with steel knives giving a smoother cut. Your knives have to be perfictly sharp, all the time, and your feed rate has to perfectly match the rotational speed of the cutter head, or else on close inspection you'll get a scalloped surface. If you have perfectly sharpened your cutter knives, and perfectly replaced them on the head, they will only remain that way for one or two passes, then the edge will start to dull. A knick from whatever leaves a ridge the lenght of the board, and it's back to sharpening again for a smooth finish. Any figure in the wood will tear out with any knife, sharp or not.

    I use both my joiner and planner to size my stock to the closest 1/32". I also include a pass on the wide belt sander with 120 grit belt for first pass sanding. Depending on what the stock is going to be used for, you can finish sand with 150 to 220/320 grit sand paper. Your never going to get away from finish sanding and buffing of the finished product.

    I have a great book on sharpening at home, and will advise detail when back from vacation.

    Jim A

  • July 10, 2021 10:09 AM
    Reply # 10742211 on 10732265

    Helical leave a slightly different pattern (almost a diamond shape)behind than the straight knives do.  

    fundamentally steal knives are sharper out of the box then carbide knives. Carbide inserts are not as sharp but they keep that level of sharpness longer.

    Its counter intuitive but my understanding is helicals need a slightly more powerful motor.  I'm not 100% sure. 

    on many machines a lot of the noise we hear is the sound of the blade moving through air. 

    All that being said I'd still buy a helical over a straight knife machine.

  • July 11, 2021 5:27 AM
    Reply # 10743681 on 10732265

    Based on all the great advice, I went to the Woodcraft Walpole website to check out the Powermatic 15” helical head planer except that the estimated shipping date is January 22nd 2022. So much for just in time supply chain management.

    I guess I have some legitimate procrastination time!

  • July 11, 2021 11:19 AM
    Reply # 10744126 on 10732265

    Check Grizzly site, a couple high end units in stock.


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