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Thread: Inca planer/jointer combo machines - are they still worth their salt?

  1. #1

    Inca planer/jointer combo machines - are they still worth their salt?

    I've read a lot of older threads on these machines and they seem to be held in pretty high regard. Also seems that parts were scarce back then, I'm sure they're even more scarce now.

    I have very limited space and want a good jointer. I don't ever plan on working with stock longer than 6' so I don't need a long table. I'd really like to have a spiral cutterhead but an equipped machine just doesn't seem to be available in my $500 budget.

    If I can find a good buy on an Inca is it still worth the investment or are there better choices out there for my budget? Remember, it has to be compact. That's one of strong points of the Inca - it has a short table, yet nice and wide jointer capacity.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    2,397
    Couldn't tell you what their value is but I do know that all my customers who own Inca machines seem very reluctant to part with them. If you are OK with the size and can get one with the Tersa head, I would say go for it.

    Erik Loza
    Minimax USA

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Ottawa, Ontario
    Posts
    404
    I have an Inca bandsaw that continues to amaze me. My only knowledge (indirect) regarding the j/p came from a respected violin maker here in Ottawa who recently closed down. He loved the jointer but was on the fence regarding the planer function. His unit does not have feed rollers and he had trouble getting consistent results hand-feeding 24"-36" pieces.

    There is a Yahoo group "Incawoodworking" that might be useful to you. I posted there a few times looking for a couple of missing parts for my bandsaw. Some very knowledgeable folks there.

    Ron
    Last edited by Ron Kellison; 04-15-2013 at 2:57 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Virginia and Kentucky
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    3,294
    Steven,

    If you find an Inca jointer/planer for $500, buy it if it's working. The Tersa head models go for twice or triple that amount. I have an Inca jointer/planer. As long as you don't abuse tools, they're great. If you're hard on tools, they're not for you.

  5. #5
    That Tersa cutterhead is 3 or 4 knives, right? If the machine only has 2 knives then it's not Tersa, right?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    WNY
    Posts
    5,603
    I've had an Inca J/P for over 25 years. It is a wonderful machine, especially for anyone with space limitations. Mine has a driven planer function, just like a single purpose machine, and it planes beautifully. Change over time is 30 seconds, and the jointer table goes back in place in perfect alignment, every time. The machine is Swiss precision, but is simply designed and easy to maintain. I'm the third owner and have replaced one planetary gear belt in the 25 years I've owned it, that's it. I'm still using the same two sets of HSS knives that I got with the machine, and they have many sharpenings left in them. Mine does not have the Tersa head; changing knives is a 30 min. job, max. I've processed thousands of BF with this machine. It is light and portable but can do serious work all day long. Mine has a belt drive Baldor 1.5 HP motor, which sits under the machine. This design is narrower than some of their later machines which has a direct coupled motor sitting off the back, in line with the cutter head. I prefer the way mine is designed because of its smaller footprint and because I can just replace the motor with a readily available one if I ever need to. In any case, I don't think they put a larger motor on any of their machines, but that allows you to run it on 120V, although mine is fed by 220V. The downside is you can't take off 1/8" at full width in something like hard maple, but with lighter cuts it planes beautifully. As you noted, the jointer tables are relatively short, but I regularly joint stock 6 to 8 ft long w/o any real problems. It's the operator, not the machine, that's most in play when jointing.

    My machine only weighs about 75 lbs once I unbolt it from it's base/motor, and I've taken it to jobsites on occasion. The ones with the integral motor might not be so easy to move, if that's a consideration.

    I have no reservations recommending the Inca J/P. If you can find one with the power feed planer function in good working order for $500 it would be a true bargain. Some parts are available through Eagle America, I believe. If you can find a good working machine, however, you are unlikely to need any besides perhaps a belt if it's of that design.

  7. #7
    I had the 8-5/8" wide combination unit which had the manual (no feed rollers) thicknesser. I have also had an Inca bandsaw.

    It (jointer/planer) worked very well.

    BUT when I consolidated my shop a bit, I sold-off the Inca jointer/planer, and a Ryobi 16-32 sander, and got a Dewalt DW734. I use a planer sled for face-jointing now, and I use a straight-line rip jig on my table saw for cleaning-up an edge:

    http://www.cgallery.com/ps.htm

    I don't think I'd ever go back to a combination machine.

    I think planers are inherently safer than jointers. And I can now face-joint thin material that would have given me fits on my Inca.

    Inca stuff is great, don't get me wrong. I just found a better way to do things. Maybe not quite as fast. And I use a lot of tape and hot melt glue.

    But I can face-joint 12" wide stock. That comes in handy.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Doylestown, PA
    Posts
    5,756
    Rikon makes a lightweight jointer planer. I have no idea if it's a viable alternative to the Inca or not, never used one or seen one used.
    http://rikontools.com/productpage_25-010.htm
    RikonJP.jpg

  9. #9
    I have an Inca jointer/planer, bandsaw, and table saw. I used them for 25 years and still have them. In 2008, we built a second house with a big shop and I got bigger non-combo machines. I still have the inca machines but rarely use them. I'm debating selling them but my sentimental attachment is still too strong.

    Before buying the jointer/planer, make sure you can still get the belt for the planer drive. Eagle tools had them and I bought 2 so I have one in reserve. (The original lasted for 15 years.)

    Of the 3 machines, the jointer/planer was by far the best. It was quite compact and worked beautifully. The only drawback was dust/chip collection. I built a hood connected to my shop vac to try and to capture the output but it never worked that well. I ended up just letting the chips fly then using a grain shovel to clean up.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    WNY
    Posts
    5,603
    Here's a picture of my Inca J/P showing the chip collector box I fabricated for it that hooks up to my DC. It has holes drilled in the front for air to sweep through and carry the chips. The same box flips over and sits on top when planing. It does a great job of collecting everything that the machine produces. Cost was $0.

    IMG_6283.JPG

    John

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    38
    Hi Steven,
    I've got two and they're great. My first is a 550, which has 2 traditional knives, and the motor attached to the side. The second is a 570, which is v. similar to the 550 but has the upgraded Tersa head.

    Both will do a great job with fine cuts on difficult wood. The 550's blades are a pain to set and the Tersa are very easy.

    As mentioned above, if you're hard on your equipment, or in a production environment, these are not for you. But they're great for a hobbyist. Take light cuts and keep the drive mechanism and planer platen lubed.

    Wear parts are still available from Jesse at Eagle tools. These include the knives, the planer drive mechanism - a plastic gear and (which is sacrificial in case something jams in the machine) and a belt.

    There is an active Yahoo group for these and the rest of the Inca machines.

    (BTW, there is a thread on adding a spiral head to a 550/560.)

  12. #12
    Thanks guys.

    I bought one today. It has a two-knife head and power rollers so I'm guessing it's a 550 model. Motor is 1.5hp Dayton. I wanted it for $400 but he wouldn't budge from $500. Still seems like a decent buy. It's in beautiful condition and isn't missing any parts or wrenches, and it came with 4 sets of knives and Inca knife setting fixture. The seller was a master wood worker and probably had more invested in his workshop than I have in my house. Meticulous guy; the machine was well cared for.

    I like unique machines, and this looks like a unique machine.

  13. #13
    A couple pictures from the listing.inca 1.jpginca 2.jpg


    BTW John, I like that dust/chip shroud. I plan to make one myself.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    38
    Enjoy.
    1. Make sure that the plastic drive gear is well lubed. There is an upgraded gear, white, with a grease groove running down the middle. Make sure it's filled with white lithium grease.
    2. Don't take heavy cuts in planer mode.
    3. Keep the planer platen waxed. The factory recommended waxolit is tough to find in paste form. Others have used a non-silicone paste wax.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    WNY
    Posts
    5,603
    Steve, that looks just like mine and in excellent shape. $500 was still a very good price, IMO; I believe it sold for over $2000 new back in the 1980's. Mine has the two knife cutterhead, also, and the blades are not hard to change; as I said, it takes me about 30 minutes max. now, although it might have taken twice that long the first time. The Inca knife setting fixture makes it pretty easy. It sounds like you are just the kind of person who will appreciate what a great machine the Inca is. Having a 10+" wide jointer in such a small footprint machine is so nice to have. Let us know how you like it after you've given it a good test run.

    John

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