Last year about this time my shop planer ground it’s gearbox into dust and received it’s death certificate from the tool repair shop. It seems that this is a common occurrence among bench top planers and most owners should just get used to the idea. Possibly most owners aren’t past owners of a sawmill and are not sitting on hundreds of board feet of unplaned lumber waiting to wear out a whole fleet of planers.
Any road, when my wife and I decided that all that lumber sitting covered in the drying shed would look much better on our kitchen floor, the next logical step was to replace the planer. This DeWalt came highly recommended from several sources and I had been looking around for one since my last planer spewed its final woodchips.
Finding this one in the store that gave me the post mortem on the last planer did not surprise me. With the tanked economy, the local builders had been liquidating some of their assets and the store was fairly bulging with tools.
The shop owner said this planer had been here for some time and had many people look at it but no one had made a serious move towards purchasing it. It really did appear almost brand new, with barely a mark on it that would give any indication of excessive use, or any use for that matter. It was marked two hundred dollars less than a brand new one. I did the unthinkable, and bought it without even plugging it in, and turning it on. The shop owner wrote it out as a new sale with a trade (my old planer given to them one year ago), and gave me a one year warranty on it because he was also quite confident it was almost new.
The one board of Aspen, and the other of Elm than I ran through it when I got home told me a bit more about it. The blades were quite dull, and gave the all too familiar planing-with-butter-knives show, complete with the crawling pace of the board through the machine with the accompanying burn marks on the wood. Not wanting to over work this new machine I decided to change out the blades.
Used tools don’t always come with manuals, and I had to resort to the Internet and You-tube to make sure I went about the blade change correctly. I had learned earlier that when new they came with 3 two sided blades. My hope was that the second side had never been used. The two minute tutorial on You-tube was enough to get me under the hood, but it took more like 20 minutes to change them out. The scorches and the chips on the old edges were the most worn looking part of this whole machine.
Every bolt I loosened felt like it was factory tight, and when I flipped the blade over it was obviously a new edge. I am pretty sure the previous owner used this very little. My planer didn’t come with the nice T-handled allen wrench but a standard allen wrench works as well, you just have to remember to always pull away from the blade. If you ever push into it and have it slip there might be an unplanned E.R. visit in your future.
Unfortunately all of the online reviews regarding the poor blades that come with this machine are true. After about one hour of planing on the elm the blades were getting dull and the nasty scorch marks were showing up again. An order was quickly placed for a set of carbide tipped blades.
These blades are a huge investment, but they are like adding a turbo to this machine. Taking the blades out of the box the difference was immediately obvious. These blades are thicker and heavier and that nice dark band is the carbide.
The device with the spring on it allows you to unlock the bar that the blades are mounted to so you can rotate them to the next blade to change. This is a rather important point left out of the you tube video that I was looking at.
Once those blades were in the only thing that slowed me down was my 12 gallon shop vac. It filled up so fast it felt like I was constantly running out the door with it. By the time I was done I had made a one foot deep drift of elm shavings behind the fence. Ripping, trimming and routing are next on the list.