P/T machines. Is bigger always better ?

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KingAether

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Im hoping i can get some advice from people that have used the big and the small, the combined and individual machines, etc but I've been looking at used thicknesser/planers online quite a lot recently and im curious how much prices are dictated by quality and how much is usability for the average person..
I currently have a "tiny" 6" cast iron planer next to a triton thicknesser and also a DW1150 thickness/planer but i've noticed the DW's sold listings go around the same on fleabay as some of the lower cost 12-14" cast iron big boys from wadkin, cooksley, etc.. Im thinking if i really wanted to, i could sell the three smaller machines i have, bring in a 12-14" machine but that just seems to easy..
Are the prices down to the size as mentioned at the start or did things come along enough in 30 odd years that the smaller machine has some advantages i'm missing because "smaller" really doesn't mean much when its bigger than an AGS10 in effective space taken and not really ideal to move once in place *but* the bigger planing ability is super useful when i need it and i just like machines over power tools so if i can make a lump of cast iron fit and be worth it, i will try my best!

Thanks for any advice on this
 

DBC

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I have a large workshop so don’t really have to move things around so I have heavy cast machines. I personally have always liked to have a separate jointer and thicknesser. I like this better in terms of workflow but I am sure those with a combined PT think nothing of quickly converting their machine. Parts - and probably more importantly maintenance advice - is more available on the older machines as so many professionals have used them for so long. The mid-range machines like SIP, Axminster etc. are perfectly fine but these companies do tend to update models every 5 years or so. Finally, I make primarily solid timber built-ins, doors, kitchens etc. and while a wide bed is helpful 150mm is probably wide enough. If you need somethng wider you can either glue it up or just flatten and square it on the thicknesser on a flat backer board with some wedges and hot glue.
 

deema

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PTs are one of the most sensitive machines in the wood working shop for setup. Ideally they should not be moved / put on wheels, they work best when sited and levelled and not touched as everything settle and moves slightly. A stationary machine might need a setup initially and then revisiting 16 weeks later and then for a good quality machine almost never again. The machines need to be very robust to stand a chance of retaining their precision if they are to perform as intended.

Lathe older machines are full of cast iron, that no onky adds weight, but cast iron is superb at absorbing vibration. Vibration is the source of noise and also a reduced surface finish, eliminating it makes the machine quieter as well as a better surface finish.

A large old machine is IMO the ideal, the longer the beds the better. However, practically, a 10 or 12” wide machine is perfect for virtually everything most people make. Most are nit regularly planning up 2.5m and up lengths of stuff so having super long beds isn’t a great advantage. The older Sedgwick (the older they are the more cast iron IMO is in them) are for me one of the perfect machines for both the hobbies and small workshops. They are fairly light compared to more industrial machines, and yet have a lot of cast iron, the older ones have it where is should be, and for most won’t be able to determine any discernible difference in their performance compared to a heavier machine.
 

KingAether

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I have a large workshop so don’t really have to move things around so I have heavy cast machines. I personally have always liked to have a separate jointer and thicknesser. I like this better in terms of workflow but I am sure those with a combined PT think nothing of quickly converting their machine. Parts - and probably more importantly maintenance advice - is more available on the older machines as so many professionals have used them for so long. The mid-range machines like SIP, Axminster etc. are perfectly fine but these companies do tend to update models every 5 years or so. Finally, I make primarily solid timber built-ins, doors, kitchens etc. and while a wide bed is helpful 150mm is probably wide enough. If you need somethng wider you can either glue it up or just flatten and square it on the thicknesser on a flat backer board with some wedges and hot glue.
A bigger shop is the dream but for me its all hobby and for-fun work so im not sure it'll happen unless i get extremely blessed with a better rental (it wont happen) so i'm definitely ok with a combo p/t. One thing i wonder about the older ones is how they are for switching between. Is it a quick thing and relatively consistent as the DW1150 claims and seems to be or is is it a lot more jigging things around and getting them straight and square again each time you switch? I tend to avoid Axminister, SIP and the like, like the plague to be honest, i know they stand up well for some hobbyist but i'm quite lucky where i live having a constant flow of cheap, used and well looked after machinery on the local market so its mostly old school shop machinery.
The P/T is maybe the last thing i "need" to buy, sanders that i can build aside, just because of the sheer size of them and i looked this morning, i can definitely make the room 🧐
PTs are one of the most sensitive machines in the wood working shop for setup. Ideally they should not be moved / put on wheels, they work best when sited and levelled and not touched as everything settle and moves slightly. A stationary machine might need a setup initially and then revisiting 16 weeks later and then for a good quality machine almost never again. The machines need to be very robust to stand a chance of retaining their precision if they are to perform as intended.

Lathe older machines are full of cast iron, that no onky adds weight, but cast iron is superb at absorbing vibration. Vibration is the source of noise and also a reduced surface finish, eliminating it makes the machine quieter as well as a better surface finish.

A large old machine is IMO the ideal, the longer the beds the better. However, practically, a 10 or 12” wide machine is perfect for virtually everything most people make. Most are nit regularly planning up 2.5m and up lengths of stuff so having super long beds isn’t a great advantage. The older Sedgwick (the older they are the more cast iron IMO is in them) are for me one of the perfect machines for both the hobbies and small workshops. They are fairly light compared to more industrial machines, and yet have a lot of cast iron, the older ones have it where is should be, and for most won’t be able to determine any discernible difference in their performance compared to a heavier machine.
I did get the impression they where more sensitive than most given the length of surface area to deal with gravity and the twists and turns of movement. Unfortunately i dont think ill ever have one in the current place that wont need to make sometimes either for use or to get it out of the way but its something i expect to deal with with all the machinery now. This has actually given me a little more confidence in keeping the current set up as while its not a massive lump of cast iron the DW definitely has a lot more weight than anything else its size and does run pretty smooth but i'm definitely going to look into Sedgewick too- iirc they always seem to stay high priced compared to most but i do like a smaller massive lump of cast iron when possible
 

Spectric

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All depends upon what you want to do and how much room you can allocate to the machines. I have a Record PT107, nice machine now I have fitted disposable blades but to change from planing to thicknessing requires removing fence and lifting both tables, not a problem if you are just a casual user. In hindsight I would have gone for something that you just lift both tables in one go with disposable blades. If I was running a business and had space then I would have seperate machines so it all depends what you wish to do, how much space you have and how much cash to part with.

@MikeK has recently purchased a new PT and could give you further info as to his experience with this one, but I can say don't look at Holzman unless you have a boat!
 

gmgmgm

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I much prefer (and have) separates. I suspect there is strong demand for the smaller machines, ideally combined, for use in typical "British sheds".

The big hulking older separate machines aren't in such demand so are priced lower. If you have the space, then go for it!
 

Fitzroy

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Many of the cheaper larger machines are three phase which you’d have to factor in.

Planer knife cost increases with width so a nicked knife can get expensive to remedy.

Personally I have a dw1150 that I’ve taken the tables off and use as a Thicknesser and a Wadkin BFT9 surface planer. The Wadkin is night and day to the DW in noise and vibration but with fresh knives they both give a similar finish. The Wadkin can also chew a much heavier cut. If not give up the weight and length of the Wadkin for anything.

Fitz.
 

KingAether

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Thanks for all the advice, i think i'm going to put money aside for at the least a wadkin boas if not separate machines and if i see them come up local and cheap ill pounce (im a tight buttocks, i think i waited and got the 352 for £250) so it might be a while and ill hold onto the current set up in the mean time.
I saw the thread about the flip top table today and im considering welding up a really rigid unit on good wheels for the DW1150 and the triton so i have the larger ones together. - not the ideal but for now anything that can move is way better. The 6" currently sits on a steel box almost entierly under the 352 table so its not in the way so much
 

Sideways

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The great advantage of a Sedgwick is that the tables stay in place and don't need to lift up for thicknessing. Another fan here. I have never worked on a BAOS but be wary of the motors, they may be imperial and I think they are in the base of the machine and difficult to access.
 

Fitzroy

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All the baos I saw cheap have been three phase, as they use two motors you’d need two inverters, and it all gets expensive and troublesome. The single phase ones were never cheap around me but then I live a long way from anywhere so not much choice.
 

KingAether

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I hadn't considered them having two motors, i guess that is one advantage of the DW (thought if it wasn't on the side it would be nice!) so i might shelf that right now and keep looking. I do like the sound of the Sedgewick's more and more- smaller form factor and no faffing around with lifting tables. Ill maybe also look into how much i could realistically expect to see for the 3 current machines and if it would cover the cost, i'd guess around £800-900 which would be enough for a good deal i hope!
All the baos I saw cheap have been three phase, as they use two motors you’d need two inverters, and it all gets expensive and troublesome. The single phase ones were never cheap around me but then I live a long way from anywhere so not much choice.
I find Inheritors want rid of the big heavy things fast so they can sell the houses quicker- they dont tend to know nor care it they are 3ph or single, or likely what they are half of the time. The best local deals always lead me to some grand places around sandbanks and the new forest with a group of other hobbyist turning up the same day to buy everything
 
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