Lie Nielsen No. 4 Bronze Bench Plane

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Delta 13" Portable Planer

Specifications
Motor: 15 Amps
Price Paid: $380
Rating:
Speeds: 60 and 90 Cuts Per Inch

 

 

Review

Having a planer in your shop is the start of real woodworking. Having a planer opens up the world because you no longer have to rely on friends to plane your rough lumber or have to limit yourself to only purchasing surfaced lumber.

If you were to only have two or three power tools, I feel a planer would be a good choice. You can get away without a jointer a lot easier than you can get away without a planer. You can straighten an edge on the table saw with the right jig or you can use a jointer plane to straighten the edge without too much trouble. However, if you want to reduce the thickness and surface a rough sawn 4/4 board you will spend a long time with a hand plane. Don't get me wrong, I really enjoy using hand planes, but I feel spending hours on end flattening a rough sawn cupped board might cure my interest in old hand planes.

Motor
The 15 Amp motor is about as powerful of a motor as you will get to run on a standard 110V circuit. This is enough to take a reasonably deep cut in a narrower board or to take a relatively light pass in a 12" or wider board. If you take too deep of a cut on a wide board the motor will slow down a bit. I'm sure this isn't good on the knives or the motor so I take light passes on all wide boards.

Infeed and Outfeed
The infeed and outfeed tables are made of stamped steel. I'm sure it isn't as accurate as machined cast iron. I tend to get snipe while planing boards. I think I should head into the shop and see if I can adjust the outfeed table to eliminate that snipe. I have friends that don't have that problem.

Weight and Portability
I have the planer set up in my garage. I created a stand with wheels to move it around. To say that this planer is portable is a slight exaggeration. At around 97 pounds, it's not exactly lightweight. However, I don't realistically expect people to be carrying this planer around so the weight may be more of an advantage than a disadvantage. A lighter machine might be more likely to vibrate.

Blades and Blade Changing
This tool comes with reversible HSS blades. These blades are not meant to be sharpened so if you hit a lot of nails this could be a bit costly. I actually like the blades. Since I'm not a professional, I don't burn through blades very often. The reversible blades are not hard to replace. Sure, it takes a few minutes but it is not like replacing jointer knives. These blades don't require any adjustment. The allen wrench supplied is all that is needed to replace the blades.

Cut Quality
I've found the quality of the cuts to be generally good. This planer has two speeds, 60 CPI and 90 CPI. At 90 CPI it does a nice job. I will even use the slower speed on wider boards so the chip production isn't quite as furious. I have noticed some streaks on the board. I'm really at a loss of what is creating this. I thought I may have had something gumming up the knives. I replaced the knives and I got the same problem. The only other piece that touches the wood after it is cut are the rollers. I'm not sure what to make of this.

Noise
Like all planers this machine makes noise. I don't notice it to be be especially loud for a planer. I don't exactly find the sound of a planer to be very pleasant so I'm happy to wear my Peltor earmuffs while planing.

Dust and Chip Collection
When I purchased my planer the dust collection system was optional. I find it hard to actually say that this could be optional. Without a dust collector attached the chips would would fall back onto the wood and get compressed into the wood by the outfeed rollers. This would mark the wood. Needless to say this is not acceptable. After hooking up my 1.5 HP Jet dust collector the chip problems were for the most part solved. The weak link in the chip removal process is the narrow opening of the dust connector. Because it is narrow, it may clog with chips. A sure way to clog the chute is to forget to turn your dust collector on before planing a board. It packs the dust chute quite tight. Once this happens you can expect the chips to come flying out everywhere. Fortunately, Delta attached the dust connector with thumb screws so it only take a few seconds to clear the clog (with the machine off).

Overall, this seems like one of the nicer planers out there. However, I have a hard time giving this a glowing review due to the issues with the dust/chip collection, snipe and outfeed rollers leaving streaks on my wood. If I'm able to fix the snipe and board streaks on this planer I may change my review to a 5. If I don't get any more clogs on the dust chute I might even be inclined to raise it to a 6.

Overall Rating 4 out of 6.

 

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