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Thread: Jet 20" 5hp with helical head (initial review)

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Plano, Texas
    Posts
    179

    Jet 20" 5hp with helical head (initial review)

    Hey folks,

    I had a thread a month or two ago about looking into old iron planers, specifically 16"-18" planers. That thread went into a bunch of different directions, but there was some good advice in there and I ultimately gave up on getting an old tool. Instead, I purchased and have been using the new Jet 5hp (single phase) planer with the helical cutterhead. I wanted to write down a few things in case someone else finds it helpful:

    First, I absolutely love the planer. I had a lunchbox previously, so my love of this tool is sort of like an Amish guy with a buggy describing his first ride in a Cadillac. Snipe, gone. Dust collector clogs, gone. Planer bogging down, gone. Wood tear-out, gone. Ear-piercing motor whine, gone.

    I can't tell you how this planer compares to a Felder or a Hammer or even a Powermatic or a Grizzly. All I can say is that it's smooth, ridiculously quiet, and can hog off more than I can ever see myself needing it to. The helical head leaves the wood surface ready for 150 grit sanding. I'd say it is comparable to the finish I got with my lunchbox. This surprised me, because I was expecting an inferior quality cut with the Jet. One neat surprise is that the shearing cut creates much smaller shavings, so my 1.5 hp Delta 50-760 DC has more than enough power to handle it. With my lunchbox, I'd get clogs every now and then, particularly if I was trying to bite off 1/32" or more in a pass. The shavings from the straight knives of the lunchbox were more like spaghetti sometimes.

    Random stuff:
    - This planer is made in Taiwan in the same factory as its Powermatic twin. If you look in the published material anywhere, it says that the planer is made in China. If you call Walter Meier customer service, they will look it up and tell you it is made in China. If you call Walter Meier tech support, however, they will tell you that the planer is actually made in Taiwan. Apparently, there's some sort of convoluted buying agreement that requires that the documentation SAY that it is made in China. There are people who put a lot of stock in the Taiwan versus China thing, so I thought that might be a helpful factoid. This whole thing made me roll my eyes a little, but the tech guy and his manager swore to me that it is made in Taiwan. Shrug.

    - The Powermatic has a Byrd head. The Jet has a helical head that is strikingly similar. I'm not saying they are identical. I honestly don't know. FWW's review from last year gave the Jet helical head the highest marks. That review is consistent with my experience as well.

    - When the shipping company delivered the tool, it fell over when the driver was getting it off the truck. One call to Jet and everything was handled. They took the unit back and rushed me a new one from Tennessee. I got the new unit in 3 business days. I found the Jet folks extremely helpful and nice.

    -Uncrating the unit took me 10 minutes. It took two strong men to get the unit of the mini-pallet onto the shop floor. It took about 30 minutes to build the mobile base around the tool, rocking each side of the unit up and then sliding the mobile base pieces in place. It took about 2 hours to get the long cast iron planer beds installed and dialed in properly. Lots of fussing with the infeed and outfeed tables. I bought a Wixey digital gauge but haven't installed it yet.

    -It's a 5" dust port, and reducing that to a 4" dust collector is a PITA. I have to buy a small chunk of 5" hose, then get a 5" to 4" reducer. For now, I've just been cramming the 4" hose inside the 5 inch port. It's been working quite well, but isn't a long-term solution.

    -I love the rollers on top of the unit.

    - Aside from milling lumber, I've planed 15-20 end-grain cutting boards so far on it. It seems to work well, but I've taken tiny passes (maybe 0.02"). You have to relieve the back edge or it will tear out badly. But it works in a pinch. Not a substitute for a wide belt, in my opinion.

    That's all I've got, FWIW.
    John
    Soli Deo Gloria.
    Chief Sawdust Maker, LoneStar Artisans
    Chief Sawdust Maker, The BoardSMITH
    Secretary, North Texas Woodworkers Association

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    MA
    Posts
    1,758
    I think Taiwan is technically part of China.

    This is a big deal to those that live there. The independence agreement ended (4 years ago?) and China is making sure Taiwan is considered China again. Same with Hong Kong (although Hong Kong never got as independent as Taiwan).

    So anything made in Taiwan - is Chinese.

    Now if you ask someone from Taiwan, they will claim they are not part of China.

    Or something like this.
    Last edited by Carl Beckett; 11-05-2012 at 1:41 PM.

  3. #3
    I think Taiwan is technically part of China.

    This is a big deal to those that live there. The independence agreement ended (4 years ago?) and China is making sure Taiwan is considered China again. Same with Hong Kong (although Hong Kong never got as independent as Taiwan).

    So anything made in Taiwan - is Chinese.
    Huh? What independence agreement was this?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taiwan_independence

  4. #4
    I've been looking at getting a new planer. Was planning to order from Grizzly, but now reconsidering. Looking at the pictures, the Jet looks more like the G0454Z, which is on sale now for 2245.50 than the G1033 priced 2995 which is not on sale. The Powermatic 209 weighs about 53 pounds more and has 7 more cutters than the Jet, so maybe they are not clones. Grizzly charges 179 for shipping, and the Jet ships with shipping included. But for 3299.99 Same price for the different companies I found. As to where they are built, kindof confusing when some say China, some say Taiwan, Grizzly says which machines are built in China , and which are built in Taiwan. Taiwan calls their country the Republic of China, so kinda confusing...

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Plano, Texas
    Posts
    179
    Jim, Jet has been doing a whole bunch of '10% off' sales in the last couple months. I'd be amazed if they don't have another one during the Xmas season. That would drop the price to $3k delivered, which is what I paid for mine.
    Soli Deo Gloria.
    Chief Sawdust Maker, LoneStar Artisans
    Chief Sawdust Maker, The BoardSMITH
    Secretary, North Texas Woodworkers Association

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Pottstown PA
    Posts
    968
    Be patient, and look for old american iron. Built like tanks and will out live you by a long stretch. I got my northfield after looking for a year. It was so worth it.
    http://youtu.be/ufIlay_PrVI

    1/4" at a pass if you want. BTW I own a lot of griz stuff i use to buy them for price point till someonw educated me on old iron (thanks Jeff). Old stuff is better and cheaper. (not taking anything away for the original poster or his machine at all) Just passing along info someone took the time to share with me and I only wish I'd had the education 15 years ago.

  7. #7
    My problem is that I live in Kansas. Not a traditional wood state. Back east, you guys have had forrests since the beginning of the country. Not so in Kansas. And there is not much old woodworking equipment here, maybe a few school shops selling out. Saw a unisaw for sale at Kinsley Kansas. But not much in the way of planers. Been watching Craigs list for months, one small overpriced Jet, and a few lunchbox planers.
    By the time I drive back east to get one, add a pile of cash for travel expenses.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Carl Beckett View Post
    I think Taiwan is technically part of China.

    This is a big deal to those that live there. The independence agreement ended (4 years ago?) and China is making sure Taiwan is considered China again. Same with Hong Kong (although Hong Kong never got as independent as Taiwan).

    So anything made in Taiwan - is Chinese.

    Now if you ask someone from Taiwan, they will claim they are not part of China.

    Or something like this.
    Um, nope. Taiwan is not communist china.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Courtenay BC Canada
    Posts
    2,717
    Legally, Taiwan is a part of China. The new President of Taiwan stated as much in the spring of this year.

    Having said that, Taiwan has a more advanced and mature manufacturing infrastructure. Many Taiwanese companies manufacture product in China because its cheaper. They don't disclose it .. Some Chinese companies now manufacture in North Korea and also don't disclose it when selling goods.

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