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Planer thicknesses buying guide

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clockmaker

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I'm hoping to get some pointers or recommendations for buying a planer thicknesses. I am wanting it for making clock cases and at the moment I'm doing all work by hand with a planer - very laborious.

Flat and even thickness of boards is quite important to me especially for longer cases. I've had a look at some machines and suspect I need something like this:

Axminster AC250PT - tried to post the link but I'm now allowed.

Or this might be a slightly cheaper alternative. Record Power PT260 - <link removed from post>

I'd like to consider cheaper alternatives if possible but I'll be realistic about what you can get for my budget.

Thanks
 

sunnybob

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Presumably you are new to woodworking machinery (obviously NOT woodworking :lol: )
I have bad news for you. Whatever your budget is, you will need to double it at least to get a machine that can work to your expectations. The hobby is littered with cheap chinese poor quality machines that often need major "fettling" to reach acceptable standards.

I've had several hobbies in my life, and I have never had one where the "buy cheap buy twice" is so true.
 

Rob Cheetham

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I had an older axminster hobby machine. It was my 2nd ever PT. I never really felt like I had decent results from it tbh. I have just bought the at260spt spiral machine and out the box it beat all results I ever had with my other one. Though I will say that fine tuning it is an absolute nightmare (to me anyway lol) and im still in the process of getting it set up perfect.

Though once done I am pretty damm certain it will be a great machine. The reviews are all pretty much great for it on the axminster website. The thicknesser especially seems really good. And for the spiral cutter. Im just annoyed I didnt get one sooner :lol: :lol:
 

clockmaker

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Thanks for the replies. Its funny you should say that I need to double my budget as I've already done that having looked at really cheap machines.

I'm getting the feeling the machines I've suggest around £800 are still not up to the mark!

I totally get the point about buying cheap and buying twice. I've been there before with other tools so your point is a good one.

With hand tools I can produce really good results but the effort is massive, so it would be disappointing for a new machine to not be as good.

I've looked at the Axminster spiral cut machine and this looks impressive. Are Axminster machine generally considered good quality?

My other option is to purchase a good quality second hand machine. Are there any models or makes I should be looking out for?
 

jeremyduncombe

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What do you want to achieve with your planer thicknesser ? If you want long boards reliably flat and square, I achieve that consistently with an Axminster AC250PT which costs a little over £800. If you want the surface smooth enough to require no further work, you will need to spend more .... a lot more.
It takes me only 30 seconds with a hand plane to bring each surface up to a very acceptable standard of smoothness. I am talking about a light skim with a no 4 plane, no physical effort involved. As a hobby woodworker, I don’t mind spending the small amount of extra time and I certainly welcome the money I have saved. You may feel differently. It may be difficult during Covid19, but if possible you should see a few machines in action so you can make an informed decision.
And please please make sure your budget includes the best dust extraction you can afford. I bought a package of planer thicknesser plus extractor from Axminster, and I now wish I had bought a better extractor.
 

sunnybob

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Plus 1 on the extraction.
I have several machines that cope well with my 100 mm mid range extraction, the benchtop "lunchbox" thicknesser that I have easily overwhelms the extraction.
Utter stupidity because its sold with a 50 mm dust port Which is ludicrous for the chips and dust it produces. I have increased it to 62 mm with not much improvement. Its actually impossible to increase the port size any more.
Another point on these machines is noise level. They are LOUD! Think twice if you are surrounded by sensitive neighbours (come to that, ANY neighbours :shock: ),
I strongly recommend seeing one in action before buying, I suspect I would not have bought mine if I had seen it at work first. (hammer)
 

clockmaker

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I was having a look at dust / chip extraction. I have a mid sized Camvac dust extractor which I use for a bandsaw I was hoping would do the job. It looks like this is not suitable as you need a chip extractor which is HVLP.

My camVac extracts around 200 cubic metres / hour. The Axminster machines need something like 1000!
 

maznaz

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I don't have the experience of the other folks here, but I got a triton lunchbox thicknesser. I joint by hand and thickness with that, and it takes my prep time down considerably and also helps with accuracy. First face just needs to be flat enough to not warp under the rollers then I flip it a couple of times (which you should be doing anyway) and the results are excellent. I don't think I'd want a planer (jointer) now unless I was doing lots of timber for some big furniture. Small stuff I can edge joint so quickly anyway by hand. Just my 2p !

Edit - forgot to add, just pushing a sacrificial offcut through before and after the main bits completely eliminates all snipe, so no need for fancy kit just for that.
 

sunnybob

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Did you realise you can use a lunchbox thicknesser as a planer?

As long as the plank isnt wider than the opening, all you have to do is keep the plank(s) vertical either with hot melt glue or fixing to a bottom sled. A bunch of planksglued together is really easy to plane
8) 8)
 

maznaz

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sunnybob":r6f9tho2 said:
Did you realise you can use a lunchbox thicknesser as a planer?

As long as the plank isnt wider than the opening, all you have to do is keep the plank(s) vertical either with hot melt glue or fixing to a bottom sled. A bunch of planksglued together is really easy to plane
8) 8)
I did, but it's not much good for edge jointing! :D
 

AJB Temple

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Hmmm. If it were me I would be looking out for a second hand single phase Wadkin or Sedgewick.

I have been through this trip from hobby style PT (ridiculously loud) to Axminster trade 10" (works well, but changing to thicknesses mode is tedious). When I refit my workshop (ie move to a larger building) I will be putting in a machine with longer beds and easier changeover, OR have separate machines for planing and thicknessing. Cheap second hand planers only, with long cast iron beds, are seen regularly often in 6" or 8" size, which I would probably find enough as a dedicated planer.

PT, especially on wide boards, chucks out an incredible amount of waste in no time. It is absolutely nothing remotely like a bandsaw or router table output. I have a fully plumbed in centrifugal extractor with fine particle filter as someone on here told me to make sure I had plenty of extraction capacity. That was good advice. I think that cost me about £1,000 at the time, but it was a few years ago and serves several machines.

If you don't have sufficient extraction, you will quickly find that the planing quality is compromised. In my opinion, this has a bigger impact on finish and speed of work than having a spiral block. A spiral block without enough extraction is like wearing suede shoes to go for a walk round a muddy field. You quickly regret it.

I would not obsess much over the cutter block. Unless you are producing commercial quantities of material, I doubt you will really see much benefit compared with replacing blades regularly. I am quite happy with the finish on mine, which I either touch up with a plane, scraper or Mirka ROS depending on job, mood and what I have out at the time. Pretty quick. I find for good quality work, I will always do final sand with the Mirka anyway.
 
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sunnybob":nedhurqs said:
Did you realise you can use a lunchbox thicknesser as a planer?

As long as the plank isnt wider than the opening, all you have to do is keep the plank(s) vertical either with hot melt glue or fixing to a bottom sled. A bunch of planksglued together is really easy to plane
8) 8)

This is one of those "youtube tricks" that I doubt anyone ever actually uses more than once. Trying to do it for a whole project where you need many boards planed would be tedious, and frustating. Not to mention it still doesn't give you a square edge.

I can't imagine anyone actually does it just so they don't have to buy a planer. In fact - it's probably given most people that little extra nudge to go out and buy a planer so they don't ever have to do it again. :lol:
 

sunnybob

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transatlantic":ogj35u2b said:
sunnybob":ogj35u2b said:
Did you realise you can use a lunchbox thicknesser as a planer?

As long as the plank isnt wider than the opening, all you have to do is keep the plank(s) vertical either with hot melt glue or fixing to a bottom sled. A bunch of planksglued together is really easy to plane
8) 8)

This is one of those "youtube tricks" that I doubt anyone ever actually uses more than once. Trying to do it for a whole project where you need many boards planed would be tedious, and frustating. Not to mention it still doesn't give you a square edge.

I can't imagine anyone actually does it just so they don't have to buy a planer. In fact - it's probably given most people that little extra nudge to go out and buy a planer so they don't ever have to do it again. :lol:
Can you imagine an ex-pat living in Cyprus?

I very rarely edge join, I have neither room nor money for a dedicated planer, and due to arthritic hands am unable to use a hand plane succesfully.

Its obviously no good for all day use because it takes time to set up, but it does work.
 

Petey83

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I took delivery if my Axminster trade PT260 a few days ago and am really happy with it - it's the standard 3 knife block as a conversation with Axy tech support convinced me the spiral block can be problematic setting up as already mentioned.

Previously I had a Titan benchtop which I sold quickly, the Axminster Hobby PT260 (older version of the machine you list) which I never got on with and recently a Metabo PT260 that was returned within 30 days as it needed adjustment every time I set it back to surface planning after thicknessing and that caused 1 of the screws to wear is threads as they are cut directly into the aluminum table.

Whilst the finish off a spiral block is a tad nicer I don't see any real benefits in a hobby workshop where time is not such an issue.

The Axy trade machines are decent and my 3 blade version took no more than 3-4 hours to unpack, clean, assemble and fit & set better quality aftermarket HSS knives - just make sure you get the vernier setting jigs. The 3 blade version was also £50 off on eBay and may we'll still be if you're quick.

Your camvac won't be up to the task. I had the same issue as I'd hoped my record DX1000 would be but it just won't cut it.

Have a look at at the Fox F50-842 - cheapest machine I found that was up to the task. You'll need to over spec the power as the suction volume figures are taken at the port so that number drops when you factor in the hose.
 
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Peter Parfit (New Brit Workshop) has the NVD750 (hooked up to a cyclone), which is similar to the CGV336-4 CamVac, and according to him, it works just fine with his 310mm Jet Planer Thicknesser, when used with a spiral cutter block (creates smaller shavings that are easier to suck up). And lets be honest, the guy is pretty fussy, so I think he's point out if it wasn't up to scratch.

He talks about it a little here :
https://youtu.be/y_DUpXwbvgY?t=1384
 

MikeK

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tomosap":39hvaem9 said:
If it helps you, I've just published a video review of the Axminster AC250PT on YouTube. In it, you get to see it in action and get a view of the postivies/negatives.

Tom, I have the Holzmann HOB260NL, which is very similar to your AC250PT. I wouldn't be surprised if these came from the same factory, but with different standards of quality.

The Axminster Craft version appears to be a higher quality than the Holzmann. However, I see the infeed and outfeed tables are pinned on your machine the same as they are (were) on mine, which means the height adjustment side of the tables cannot be changed if they are not coplanar. Because of the two pins in each table, the adjustment bolts are useless for making changes. You didn't comment in the video about the table adjustment, so I assume they were coplanar.

My tables were not coplanar, and I could not figure out why the cam bolt on the height adjustment side of the infeed table wasn't having any effect on the table. As soon as I punched out the pin nearest the cam bolt, I had full control over the table alignment and life was good.

I have a 3HP dust extraction system in my shop, and virtually nothing is left on the table in either mode. Chips are easy to sweep up, as long as you are getting the smaller dust particles with your DC.
 

tomosap

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MikeK":s5o4u1xj said:
I have a 3HP dust extraction system in my shop, and virtually nothing is left on the table in either mode. Chips are easy to sweep up, as long as you are getting the smaller dust particles with your DC.
I wish I had the room for something of that capacity - the one I have is fine for most applications, but as it says in the video, for whatever reason a lot of chips get left behind when planing but not so much on thicknessing :?

I do wonder sometimes if I spent the time fully sealing up the system so it was air-tight other than entry and exit points if it would make a difference...
 
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