Planer Thicknesser in a small workshop, worth it?

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31 Aug 2020
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Hello all,
I am new here.

I am mainly a hobbyist, but occasionally get small paid carpentry and furniture making jobs. But it's early days with that.

I have just taken a punt on a planer thicknesser (12", reputable firm), as it was offered at a price that seemed worth a gamble.

I currently have a triton thicknesser and have been face and edging with a hand plane which is okay on small stuff, but fairly time consuming on any bigger timbers.

Having been seduced by the efficiency of the PT, I am now thinking it may not be suitable for my small workshop and it's going to be a hell of a job even getting it in as my worskhop door is upon a 1m ledge.

I guess, what I am wondering is has anyone else bought tools or machinery that seemed absoloutely essential but they could actually make do without?

Has anyone else suffered that feeling of dread after purchasing machinery - i.e. how will I lift this?! will it work? will it fit? etc etc
How much floor space do you have?

I'd say a P/T is a very essential bit of kit for an efficient workshop, depending on what you're doing.
its approx 12 x 8 ft , though a fair bit of that is lost with table saw, workbench, router table and general niks naks
Eek, that is a fairly small footprint, especially if you've already got machines in there!

The thing is, most of the benchtop models aren't really worth having as they're an absolute pain to keep square and accurate in the surface planer mode and they're generally absurdly loud, but if you opt for a larger floor-standing machine like a PT260 model you'd really be pushing for space. I personally couldn't live without a surface planer of some form but you've got to weigh up the pros and cons of it.
Hi Trevanion and MikeG, thanks for your responses.
Trevanion - that was what I was weighing up, I was looking from the budget end of the market for a surface planer to compliment the thicknesser, but there was not really anything apart from cheap combined PT's ie the Erbauer. The only machine I have considered as a dedicated surface planer was an axminster AT150SPbut 150mm planing capacity may be a hindrance and at £960 a bit pricy- Hopefully I have made the right decision. Only got to figure out lifting the blooming thing in to the workshop!

Mike G - Ah that's interesting, can I ask why? would you try to do the lions share of the table saw work at a bandsaw, skil/ track saw or any other method?

I have 30 square metres of floor space, and don't consider I have enough room for a table saw. A bandsaw does the ripping, hand-held circular saw deals with sheet materials, and a RAS does the repetitive cross cuts (although I tend to cross cut by hand).
The P/T is probably more useful to you when considering commercial work as the table saw functions can easily be replaced by a put-awayable Track saw and the the thougthfull use of your router & jigs and perhaps a width saving bandsaw (though not essential). I do have to say for me I would much rather have a bandsaw than a tablesaw if I had to make the choice to gt the P/T in
MikeG , Droogs - very good points, and something I may consider once/if I get the PT in the space. Never really considered a track saw as I rarely work with sheet goods, but recently I am being wooed by them. Particularly with so many budget models picking up decent reviews - could certainly be an option. I only have a little baby Record Power bench top bandsaw (think its the 250?? the cheap one anyway) and for curved work or more crafty projects it is spot on, but I wouldn't bother with it for any straight rips or accurate joinery, but I guess it could be tuned up a bit.
Ron Fox solved the infeed/outfeed problems many years ago/ He fitted a couple of hatches to the sides of his shed, which at the time was an 8x6
Gulvalgoose, if you haven't yet found a way to lift thicknesser into workshop, you could try dollie straps from Amazon.
We use them to lift AFF and Rangemaster gas
A planer thicknesser is a great move particularly if it's British cast iron rather than Chinese rubbish. One word of caution regarding lifting any machine of this kind! Don't under any circumstances lift it by the planer top bed. Lifting straps must go beneath the machine or the thicknessing table. Lifting in the wrong place can break the sliding joint between the tables and body of the machine. That would turn a good machine into scrap metal.
(.......) Lifting in the wrong place can break the sliding joint between the tables and body of the machine. That would turn a good machine into a very demanding rebuild project.
Fixed it for you.
I agree with everything else in the post.

In the past I had a 10" planer/thicknesser and a table saw and a full size workbench and a lathe and a drill press in a workshop that was 2,9 by 5,5 metres. It worked but I had to think a lot and rearrange it several times before it worked. I made some windows and such in there.

I would say that the planer/thicknesser and the table saw are the two most essential machines in a workshop. They do the particular tasks where there is the greatest difference in time consumption between hand tool work and machine work. Everything else can be done by hand without wasting too much work time.
I suppose the planer tables can be unbolted from the planer/thicknesser without loosing the alignment in a way that cannot be readjusted. Once they are removed the machine is a lot lighter and easier to move up a wooden ramp and through the door. It is worth spending quite a bit of effort on an essential machine like this.
I too would definitely take a P/t in place of the table saw if floor space only allows for one. I have both a tracksaw and a table saw, more often than not find myself reaching for the tracksaw to make cuts instead of the T/S. Best bang for your buck there would be Bosch IMO, I have a Festool myself and would probably prefer the Bosch but neither will enjoy cutting 2" hardwood.

If money and space really are the defining factor, I have seen sled jigs to use a thicknesser for surface planing (picture a sled with stop at the rear and adjustable feet at each corner facing up.

Lastly, I live in Connor Downs and quite able bodied, more than willing to come and help you-man handle some cast iron in exchange for a cup of tea...

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