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Thread: Justifying A Major Tool Purchase

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Punta Gorda, FL
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    2,591

    Justifying A Major Tool Purchase

    Doing my best to keep the "I WANT IT!" out of this debate, here's the facts:

    I've been able to deal with not having a power jointer and using a benchtop planer because the supplier back in Chicago did mill work and the wood in stock was planed. Since moving to Florida, that's changed.

    Supplier #1 doesn't have any power tools, not even a Skil saw. And their prices are outrageous. Supplier #2 doesn't have a jointer but will plane wood for 40 cents a square foot. All the wood they have in stock is right off the mill's bandsaw, not even skip planed. But what they sell is always thicker than sized. Example - 4/4 I bought recently was 1-1/16" to 1-1/8" thick. To take that to 3/4" I start by resawing ~3/16" off. That leaves me with thin stock I would not have had if I had them plane it and I'm already putting some of that to use.

    I spend 25 or more hours per week in the workshop. And since moving here I've been working the planer pretty hard. I replaced my old one with a Dewalt 735, thinking it would handle the workload better. I was wrong. It can't even handle what the old one could. Plus it won't lock the depth and it keeps tripping the overload. Right now Dewalt service has it. I have no idea what they will come back with. In the meantime I've been wondering if I need to rethink things.

    My options:

    1) Use what I have and incorporate the drum sander to do the planing the benchtop can't.

    2) Start buying the cabinets or furniture I need and cut back on woodworking and find something else to keep me busy.

    3) Find $5K and buy a planer/jointer that can handle the workload.

    And I'm not sure if I came here to be convinced I need a planer/jointer or I want to be talked out of it.

    Comments welcomed.
    “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness..." - Mark Twain

    Diapers and Politicians need to be changed often... Usually for the same reason.

  2. #2
    Buy used. Buy separates if you can afford the space.

    My SAC 12" jointer I paid $2k for, it's in pretty nice shape and great to use. Setting the knives is a horrific experience.

    I think I sold my old 15" four post grizmatic planer with curved knives for $1500.

    If you found similar prices, you'd be in for $3500 and be light years ahead of where you're at a and under $5,000

  3. #3
    I hope the service center finds something wrong with your DW735, because the experiences you describe with it sound very different than what I experienced when I had one...

    OTOH, a new 12" A3-31 with spiral cutterhead is only $4k.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    Fairfax, VA
    Posts
    89
    I've tried to plane boards using my 19/38 drum sander. It's maddeningly slow, and I abandoned that idea instantly.
    I'd buy the planer/jointer machine if I'm in your shoes

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Kansas City
    Posts
    636
    Could you get a jointer plane and get it flat enough to use your planer once you get it back?

    That might keep you in business while you save your pennies and/or find a better solution

  6. #6
    I'll add another vote for used machinery.

    How much space do you have? How wide are the boards you're working?

    I've got less than $2k in my old 24" jointer and the knife setting process isn't anywhere near as bad as what Martin's talking about. (Never worked on a Euro machine, so I'm clueless about what they require.) And I just picked up an 18" Delta wedgebed planer for well under a grand. If you're space-challenged, there are plenty of old 8-12" jointers around and a plethora of 12-13" planers in the "wow, that's not as much as I thought" range. You don't have to drop $5k to fix this problem, but you might have to pick up a wrench and dig around for some how-to stuff.

    The biggest thing I'm seeing here is..... If you're spending 25 hours a week in your shop, there is no way you're going to give this up and be happy with it! Fix the machinery problem, or grab some hand tools and learn to work stuff that way, but don't give it up!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Toronto Ontario
    Posts
    8,946
    Julie, buy a nice jointer/planer and be done with it.

    You've worked all your life, you deserve something that takes the drudge out of jointing and planning.

    I'm on my second Hammer A3-31, buy the one with the Silent Power cutter and the digital height gauge.

    You'll save so much time it will amaze you, and having a 12 inch wide jointer is fantastic...............Regards, Rod.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Location
    Sacramento, CA
    Posts
    1,691
    Hammer A3-31 Jointer/Planer combo is on sale right now for around $4K with the helical cutter head. I know because I just ordered one finally. Mine should be here next month some time. I say being how often you say you will be using yours and if you dont have the space for separates, take a look at the Hammer! It's a very well liked machine.
    If at first you don't succeed, redefine success!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Griswold Connecticut
    Posts
    5,989
    Julie

    I do this to myself all the time. Try to justify tool purchases. It drives my wife nuts.
    Right now I'm doing it to myself over a couple hundred dollars worth in shaper cutters. I keep trying to convince myself that I can do it with what I have, but I know that doing with new. purpose specific cutters, would be much easier, faster, and ultimately result in a better outcome.
    I would not be able to function without a jointer and planer. I want way too much control over the material I put into a project. Grain and appearance are just as important to me as good joinery. I don't build a lot these days, but what I do build, I want to look as professionally done as I am capable of accomplishing.
    I have to agree with the rest, to look at the used market, even it meant a trip "back up north" to get it. I've seen more than a few jointer/planer combo's on Craigslist.
    "The first thing you need to know, will likely be the last thing you learn." (Unknown)

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Punta Gorda, FL
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    The Hammer A3-31 is the JP I'd like. With the helical head, it's $4090. Add the mobile kit, dial indicator & handwheel and a 2nd set of knives and you're at $4,900, including tax. Shipping is another $500. Even with the straight knives it's close to $5K delivered. The mobile kit is a must. The dial indicator I could wait but I know I'd eventually get it so why not now. Anyway, it's a big chunk of money and my SO has already balked at the price.

    I was just at the workbench jointing an edge on four 4/4 boards. All total it was less than 20' in overall length. Took me an hour. Last two days I've put in 15 hours and don't have a lot to show for it. It's frustrating. And I have 2 bathrooms and the laundry room I haven't even started yet. Cabinets needed in all. Then there's three tables in the works, besides what I'm working on now, and who knows what else.

    I've looked at cheaper JPs but reviews all pretty much chased me away. It's strictly a money thing. Living on an electrician's pension doesn't leave a lot at the end of the month so there would have to be sacrifices made. This has to be a two thumbs up decision and it's not right now. I guess more than anything I'm questioning if I'm being selfish pushing this purchase.
    “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness..." - Mark Twain

    Diapers and Politicians need to be changed often... Usually for the same reason.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Cincinnati, OH
    Posts
    358
    Having seen posts of your work, it seems that you may need a jointer wider than 8". Sorry about the 735 problems. Mine is probably more than 10 years old and has been trouble free after I replaced a faulty breaker. It has never tripped the overload on the machine.
    Rustic? Well, no. That was not my intention!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Central WI
    Posts
    4,953
    Watch for a 12" jointer first. For 2000-2500 you can find a good 12" and make do with the lunchbox for the time being. A 13-15" planer can be had for less than 1K and even after the head conversion, you will be less than 2K into it and spread the purchases out to whenever the deal shows up. They will take up a little more room but I'd want extended tables on a short JP and that costs too. Dave

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Punta Gorda, FL
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    Quote Originally Posted by Will Boulware View Post
    I'll add another vote for used machinery.

    How much space do you have? How wide are the boards you're working?

    I've got less than $2k in my old 24" jointer and the knife setting process isn't anywhere near as bad as what Martin's talking about. (Never worked on a Euro machine, so I'm clueless about what they require.) And I just picked up an 18" Delta wedgebed planer for well under a grand. If you're space-challenged, there are plenty of old 8-12" jointers around and a plethora of 12-13" planers in the "wow, that's not as much as I thought" range. You don't have to drop $5k to fix this problem, but you might have to pick up a wrench and dig around for some how-to stuff.

    The biggest thing I'm seeing here is..... If you're spending 25 hours a week in your shop, there is no way you're going to give this up and be happy with it! Fix the machinery problem, or grab some hand tools and learn to work stuff that way, but don't give it up!
    Space is an issue. So nothing more than a 12" JP would fit.

    I actually don't know what I'd do with myself if I gave up woodworking. Some weeks I've put in over 50 hours. It keeps me sane. I've got some very nice hand planes but too often they teach me I'm no spring chicken anymore. Probably good for keeping the Grim Reaper at bay though.
    “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness..." - Mark Twain

    Diapers and Politicians need to be changed often... Usually for the same reason.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    Posts
    46,935
    Well...I'm a J/P fan for sure, but that's certainly a personal choice. Since you like to work with really terrific material, you may be well served by having a wide face jointing capability at the same time as serving your thicknessing needs. Your unique "shop" also comes into play here, of course, since it's currently "your house". But that's just one persons opinion.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  15. Quote Originally Posted by Martin Wasner View Post
    Buy used. Buy separates...
    This.

    Don't shop at the closest big box store for a DeWalt planer. Get a real one. Very pleased with my early Delta 13".

    My near mint 8" Powermatic jointer cost me $700 IIRC.
    "Anything seems possible when you don't know what you're doing."

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