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Thinking of Planer thicknesser purchase

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Prizen

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Hi all

Up to now I have worked mainly on sheet goods, and although I have been at this for several years now it's only a hobby and I am still a beginner.

That said it's an immensely enjoyable and therapeutic hobby at that.

Looking to expand more into projects involving solid timber and having no interest in building muscle flattening and squaring, so handplanes are out. So, I am looking into a planer thicknesser combo machine.

Not really looking for recommendations on any particular model, rather to try understand from those more experienced than I on how to make best use of one, should I indeed proceed with purchasing one.

My take on them is that square and flat and coplanar precision is the difference between a neat & tidy (I'll say semi-pro) outcome versus a classic diy finish, the latter of which I am quite accustomed to :cry:

Any advice on how you incorporate P/T into your workflow, and any opportunities that owning one might open up besides the obvious ?

Thanks all
 

mbartlett99

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I don't really understand quite what you're hinting at but it doesn't matter - get one. Now.

Obviously rough sawn is cheaper and is available in a million different sizes so you no longer feel constrained by what is available PSE. They save a ton of labour versus hand planing - although they do not eliminate it at all (it will leave a finish that needs planing/sanding). Putting it this way, for every 1 hour on the table saw I'll spend 4 on the pt and frankly the table saw I can avoid often and use the track saw. I absolutely wouldn't be without.

For me the only question would be money and size. Don't forget you'll need a chip extractor.
 

Prizen

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To be straight out with it, I am a beginner /novice that has more ambition than anything. I really want to know how best to use a P/T and in what applications?

I know the P/T basics such as rough lumber transforming into dimensioned lumber to suit the application.

But my question is more about more specific scenarios as to where and when various people put it into use.

I guess I rely heavily on people's input here over polished YouTube videos.
 

mbartlett99

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Well for me at least it pretty much starts right there.
1) Design what you want - rather than design around what you can get
2) Cutting list
3) Roughly chalk out your pieces
4) Roughly cut the boards to length
5) Plane/thickness until you're close to finished dimension

Ultimately its pretty boring but having one allows you freedom and saves time.
 

Fitzroy

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Transforming rough timber into, flat, square boards for use on projects.

Rebating boards, depends on the model of planer.

Flattening the face of a resawn board.

Edging boards for making panel glue ups, subject to final edge with a hand plane.

Thicknessing multiple components to precisely the same thickness, ie for making jigs etc.

Turning good timber into mountains of shavings for a giant hamster bed.

Fitz.
 

mbartlett99

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For instance;

Just planed down timber for a worktop - 10 running metres - 150mm continuous staves in hard maple. Down to thickness and squared ready for glue - no idea how long that'd take by hand and I won't be finding out. Cost to have that made would thousands, even worktop direct wanted 2k.

10 cubic foot of cherry to make the door frames for a kitchen - boring but easy. Meant I could choose the thickness I wanted and not rely on what was available.

Its not got a million uses, doesn't do any tricks but it does take the grunt out of the big jobs.
 

bourbon

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I refurbished a lunchbox thicknesser for a mate. One thing I will say, get a GOOD pair of ear defenders, You will need them!
 

sunnybob

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I have a "lunchbox" thicknesser, mainly because I dont have room for a floor standing planer.
But I dont think I actually need one. from what I have seen the main reason to own a P/T rather than a thicknesser is to get glue ready edges on long boards.

I can buy rough sawn timber (I only wotk with hardwoods) and get that down to a smooth surface in a couple of minutes, rather than hours with a hand plane.
I dont use it everyday, but its a fantastic time saver.
BUT...... be warned, they are exceptionally NOISY and produce HUGE quantities of chips and dust. Far and away more of each than any other machine I have.
 

RogerS

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mbartlett99":owtpagxd said:
....although they do not eliminate it at all (it will leave a finish that needs planing/sanding)....
I'd disagree with that, TBH. Depends on the type of wood, type of block, sharpness of blades. I'd agree to a modicum of sanding but I never need to reach for a hand-plane after using my P/T.
 

RogerS

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sunnybob":2czx3arq said:
....
BUT...... be warned, they are exceptionally NOISY and produce HUGE quantities of chips and dust. ....
It depends. A cheap brush motor of the type of thicknesser that you have is noisy. A proper P/T with an induction motor is much, much quieter. A low hum as against a banshee wail.

Using a different style block such as the Silent-Power spiral cutterblock on my Hammer is significantly quieter than a standard block when cutting.

And I hardly get any dust - chips yes. Dust - minimal.
 

RogerS

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Prizen...things to consider.

How easy is it to swap from planer mode to thicknesser mode ? Some, like the Hammer, will lift the infeed and outfeed tables up to get into thicknesser mode. I hate this design. Others like the Sedgwick MB keep the tables fixed.

How long are the infeed and outfeed tables ? Short ones make it trickier to work with long pieces of timber. You can use those nasty roller stands or make removable home-made extensions to the infeed/outfeed tables (which I've done).

How is the fence fixed ? Many P/T have the fence just fixed at one end. The other end is left to its own devices ...personally I don't like this style as the far end can flex and move and do its own thing. And often fences are aluminium extrusion of variable quality and flatness. On other machines, such as the Sedgwick, the fence is a rock-solid cast iron jobbie. You can guess which one I prefer.
 

mbartlett99

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RogerS":2ashrlqu said:
mbartlett99":2ashrlqu said:
....although they do not eliminate it at all (it will leave a finish that needs planing/sanding)....
I'd disagree with that, TBH. Depends on the type of wood, type of block, sharpness of blades. I'd agree to a modicum of sanding but I never need to reach for a hand-plane after using my P/T.
Sand/plane = same it was to make clear not to expect a fully finished surface straight off the bat. I doubt the OP will be going for a lovely 4 knife/spiral cutterblock immediately.
 

sunnybob

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RogerS":3kiwxvf9 said:
sunnybob":3kiwxvf9 said:
....
BUT...... be warned, they are exceptionally NOISY and produce HUGE quantities of chips and dust. ....
It depends. A cheap brush motor of the type of thicknesser that you have is noisy. A proper P/T with an induction motor is much, much quieter. A low hum as against a banshee wail.

Using a different style block such as the Silent-Power spiral cutterblock on my Hammer is significantly quieter than a standard block when cutting.

And I hardly get any dust - chips yes. Dust - minimal.
Considering he is a part time hobbyist, whats the cost of your Hammer fitted with a spiral cutter head?
Considerably more than his entire tool collection I suspect. If a man wants a ford, not much good bigging up a lamborghini.

Low end machines are noisy, End of story. Each machine spec sheet will have a decibel noise rating so the prospective purchaser can choose. bearing in mind thats the noise BEFORE the wood starts getting cut.
 

RogerS

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But at least now he is aware of the difference between types of P/T machines and can now make a more informed decision.

Sent from my SM-G930F using Tapatalk
 

sunnybob

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Roger, its all about the money. He's a self confessed learner with very few tools. He needs advice at his level, not at the level of a company that has to make money.
 

Trevanion

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The Planer/Thicknesser is perhaps one of the most used pieces of equipment in most workshops both hobby and professional, It's definitely one of the first machines for rough timber to touch behind perhaps a saw to cut to rough sizes. There are a plethora of machines available from the little, cheap 8" Screwfix/Toolstation jobbies all the way up to 36" wide monsters that'll dim the lights on the whole street :lol:. Selecting the right machine for you really comes down to space you have more than anything else, everyone wants the 36" monster but not necessarily will everyone fit it in their shed so there's gotta be a compromise between the practicality of the machine and the space available. I think most hobbyists will opt for what's referred to as a "PT260" style machine such as the old Electra Beckum, Dewalt/Elu or Kity 10" planer/thicknessers as these are very capable machines for their size and weight which don't take up a hell of a lot of space in a small shed and they're fairly easy to move around if need be.

I've personally got a separate surface planer and thickneser at home, they eat up more space in the workshop than a combined unit but I wouldn't be without separates on a productivity level. The surface planer which is a Multico "NS" is also a far more versatile machine than a standard P/T as with it, I can surface plane, rebate to a depth of 25mm, do very accurate bevel work with the fence and the ability to drop the beds to take everything off in a single pass, produce excellent tenons with the sliding carriage attachment and square scriber knives on the side of the block, very accurate tapers for legs and such and even with a bit of ingenuity make raised panels by lowering both beds below the apex of the cutter block to the depth of the panel and traverse the panel 45-degrees across the cutterblock with a homemade fence. One of these coupled with something like a lunchbox thicknesser and you could practically make almost anything. The Thicknesser I have is a Multico "TH" which I restored and put a thread up on here of the progress, if you want to see the inner workings of a machine and perhaps what to look out for regarding wear and tear if looking to buy secondhand machines it may be worth a look: https://www.ukworkshop.co.uk/forums/the-most-expensive-multico-th-in-the-world-restoration-t118842.html

It's also a machine that doesn't take prisoners if misused and disrespected, cutters spinning at 70 times a second and meaty bits coming into contact usually end up with a trip to A&E, like this poor fella (Graphic content warning). If properly used with guards in place and proper and safe technique, however, there is very little to go wrong. Although, if someone was very new to the craft I would urge them to learn how wood works in slow motion with hand planes and such before moving onto bigger, louder and more dangerous equipment with spinning blades. If you start using a P/T without prior knowledge about how wood cuts and behaves you’re on a slippery slope to a painful experience, monetary or physically like the example above.

RogerS":2wj92l01 said:
How easy is it to swap from planer mode to thicknesser mode ? Some, like the Hammer, will lift the infeed and outfeed tables up to get into thicknesser mode. I hate this design. Others like the Sedgwick MB keep the tables fixed.
Personally, I don't think I'd ever go back to using a fixed table combination planer like a Sedgwick MB, they do have their strengths like increased accuracy and reliability but there are a few weaknesses I've found. I've got quite a bit of experience with a few different machines and for day-to-day use and comfort, I would rate machines like that the lowest as it plays absolute havoc on your body to be bending down underneath the tables constantly to feed stuff through and adjust the machine. Flip-up tables done well like on the Felder AD machines are much nicer to use in thicknessing mode because you're not having the crawl underneath the tables to use the machine and you can work fairly comfortably for a long period, it's not absolutely perfect but I find it better than a fixed table if you're doing big runs. Flip-up tables done badly on cheaper machines however are just an absolute accuracy nightmare and should be avoided. The absolute best, in my opinion, are separate machines as there's no swap-over time involved and both are constantly ready for work, the thicknesser can be adjusted to be at the perfect height for your body too so you can work comfortably for hours on end. If you're only a hobbyist doing the occasional bit of planing what I've written above doesn't really matter at all but if you're spending your whole life in the trade it's a point worth considering.
 

RogerS

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sunnybob":2xl6dqct said:
Roger, its all about the money. He's a self confessed learner with very few tools. He needs advice at his level, not at the level of a company that has to make money.
So there is no point then in not giving him a more accurate view of what is out there in the market ? You're making a value-judgement as to what he wants to spend as well.

Anyway, it's up to the OP which way to go. He now has more information then he had before.

I'm out of this thread unless the OP wishes more pertinent information.
 

Doug71

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Some of the cheap PT's are not too bad, especially if only for hobby use.

About 5 years ago I bought a new Axminster AT107 PT (think about £800) as I needed a PT quickly, it was just meant as a stop gap till I got my life/business sorted out. It felt a bit lightweight as before then I was used to a Wadkin. It gets used professionally most days in my workshop and is still going strong. I did have to replace the bearings in the block about a year ago but Axminster held them on stock so probably a regular thing. It has 3 knives and gives a decent finish. It runs quite quietly, the extractor is louder then the planer. I will be upgrading it but while it's working fine I see no point.

There are lots of things that could be better on it but it was cheap and has performed much better then I expected.
 

Myfordman

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In about 15 years of hobby woodworking, my planers have been upgraded the most as I've demanded more from them. Like virtually every machine in my workshop none of them have been new.

I started with a kity P/T with an out feed table that hinged up on a diagonal pin only about 3" long. A disasterous design as the stress on the pin and cast aluminium table wore and the table would not come back down truely coplanar with the infeed table for perfect planing after a thicknessing session.
That pushed me in the direction of separates.
An 8" jet planer appeared on ebay and needed a journey of half the length of the country to collect but it is a sheer joy to use and built like a brick outhouse.
To go with that I found a 13" no name chaiwanese lunch box thicknesser. That did a lot of work for me but it was very noisy.
I was offered a DeWalt 733 with a similar capacity for next to nothing and swapped for that in the knowledge that at least I could get spares unlike its predecessor which is still serving another a different place member well as far as I know.
The final upgrade was for the type I had always coveted, an induction motor powered 15" thicknesser which unlike every western European induction motor design has a fixed bed and an elevated cutter head. This machine is on a stand that sets the bed exactly on a level with tablesaw and its outfeed table. There is no snipe as a result of the timber being perfectly supported and I've the space (if I tidy up!) to run 3.9m lengths through.
My advice the the OP would be spend your budget on the best used machine you can find and if you have to travel to get it (Post Covid!) then do so. Even if you have to hire/borrow a van.
In that way you will be able to upgrade over time without losing hardly any money as older cast iron holds its price unlike almost any new machinery brand these days.
 

Prizen

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thanks all. To answer the queries on budget; I am strongly considering a Hammer A3-31 (Hammer-Felder-Format 4 is hobby/pro/industrial right? :) :) )

It is still a lot of money to shell out for someone who doesn't generate any revenue from the work. I want to be really sure that it will take my experience to the next level. It seems like it would, going on the replies here and what they might mean to me. thanks
 

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