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Thread: dw 734 lunchbox planer knife setting "jig", and next jointer

  1. #1
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    dw 734 lunchbox planer knife setting "jig", and next jointer

    Edit... lol, in title I meant "next planer"

    I've been using a dewalt 734 lunchbox planer for years, and it's been performing fine. It absolutely screams (soooo loud) but hearing protection for the win.

    Yesterday I installed a new set of knives for the first time in awhile, and it occurred to me how imprecise the plastic jigs (which come with the tool) are compared to all the care I have (little by little) learned to take everywhere else in the shop to get things right. I use precision measuring gauges to set jointer knives, 5 cut method to build a table saw fence, and then I eyeball these plastic / magnet thingies to install planer knives.

    Now, I will say that the boards have always come out pretty darn uniform... If you were you compare two successive boards to each other in any orientation, they are same thickness. I think if I were to more precisely measure, I'd learn that they're pretty good (but not perfect).

    All that to say this... Pretty much all my other tools are upgraded to the point of my skill set at this point (or beyond... since my skill set is decidedly a work in progress), and I have found myself wondering lately if something "better" would be a good investment soon.

    When I went through this same thought process and moved from 6" to 8" jointer, I was amazed at the improvement to my work quality and productivity (and enjoyment). Would upgrading here be like that?

    Some buddies have gone to the dw 735 and swapped in a different cutter... and like that a lot. Price there is modest.

    I've seen others go further up into Grizzly 15" options (again with non-straight knife cutter)... that seems to be good too. Price still pretty modest.

    Then, others go wayyy up to places I don't have space for, would be overkill (I think), and price no longer modest.


    So I guess questions are:
    - Is it nuts that I'm using those plastic jigs to set knives on the 734 (i.e. should I be doing it another way, or is it "good enough")?

    - Would upgrading from lunchbox to something "bigger/better" bring a lot of gain (similar to when I went from 6 - 8" jointer, or from contractor to cabinet saw etc.)

    - And, if yes... how much of an upgrade is really sensible for a highly active hobbyist / small time business that also sells to about 1 customer per month on average. (yes, I have all licenses, insurance etc.)
    - Bob R.
    Collegeville PA (30 minutes west of Philly)

  2. #2
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    Bob I am a bit confused here, does'nt your planer use the knives that have holes and line up on the "pins" on the cutterhead ? I own a 734 that works this way, had no idea DeWalt ever made them with a conventional straight knife set up. I just bought planer #5 and am done . If you buy a four post type machine get one of the ones with the motor underneath. Honestly though every machine I have bought has been a step up. The machine I now have is a Cantech 20'' machine with a segmented head and 5 horse motor,like most of my stuff it was used. I spent about 6 hours cleaning it up and saved 85% of the new cost for a machine that is functionally perfect. Did I mention I am very happy. If I could start all over again knowing what I know now and with tons more cash I would have started with this machine. Life did not work that way for me so it took a bit longer, just makes it more sweet in the end. If possible go as far up the food chain as you can afford when you upgrade. Good luck. Mike.
    Last edited by Mike Kees; 11-28-2020 at 1:46 PM.

  3. #3
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    I run a dw735. I considered the 734 when I bought it, but I found the 735 at a good enough price I went with that. I had also considered a bigger planer with a 3hp motor. The deciding point for me was that I don't have a drum sander, I don't see myself getting a drum sander and I don't know where I'd really fit one in my shop. So having a lunchbox planer with rubberized rollers for me was a more versatile machine since I can make very thin passes if I need to get something with a difficult grain surfaced (and I have done that successfully too). A lot of the big machines aren't really intended for that since they have the serrated roller(s).

  4. #4
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    I miss having a lunch box planer. The powermatic hh planer I have isn’t all the great for small thinner boards. I can see now I should have kept my 735. To me it’s looking more like a ideal woodshop set up is a small bandsaw and a big bandsaw. Small planer big planer,small jointer big jointer.
    Aj

  5. #5
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    I bought the DW734 as it was $100 less than the DW735.
    It does everything I need and I am happy with it. If you lift up when feeding a board into it you get no snipe.
    I mounted mine on a wooden base and kept the box it came in that covers it when it is not in use. I have had it for about ten years.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by lowell holmes View Post
    I bought the DW734 as it was $100 less than the DW735.
    It does everything I need and I am happy with it. If you lift up when feeding a board into it you get no snipe........................
    My experience also. I started with a 733 2-knife planer but sold it after 10 yrs when I bought a combo J/P machine. After downsizing I was without a planer and purchased the 734 over the 735 due to favorable price. Other than the screaming loud motor, that machine is a joy to use and leaves a flawless finish. It stores compactly on top of a mobile shop cabinet and offers great performance in a small package that is right for my tight shop space.
    Dick Mahany.

  7. #7
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    I skipped the lunch box planer and went with the "buy my last planer first" mind set. Not wanting to deal with the loud noise and not wanting to think about upgrading I went with the 4 post planer with a segmented head and have no regrets. But it's large. Each time I roll it out to use it I realize just how big it is. A 15" might be a little smaller than the 20" but I bet it's still going to be much larger than what you have now. I wouldn't mind a good lunch box planer for those times when I need to do one or two boards. I suspect that when I move from my basement to my shop and don't need to move it that may not be the case. I usually plan my work out so it flows logically so I'm not switching back and forth between tools but every so often that's not the case or I'm doing something quick/ small. Not sure what your shop situation is but if room is something that enters into the decision then take a look at the over all size and weight (my 20" planer weighs something like 800 lbs). After reading about people having power issues with a Byrd head in the 735 I'm not sure if I would want to go that route but I would seriously think about keeping what you have now if you do upgrade and then decide a year or two from now if you still want to keep it.

  8. #8
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    My DW 734 (circa 2002) had indexing pins. No "setting" required. The only reason I let it go was that I had moved into highly figured woods and wanted an insert head.
    "The Danish government believes that if we train 5,000 designers, and produce
    one Hans Wegner, the money is very well spent." - Ole Gjerlov-Knudsen

  9. #9
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    I also have a 734, purchased it in 2005 or so and also has indexing pins. It's served me well so far and as much as i'd love a 15" 3hp with spiral cutter head, i just don't have the space. I am strongly considering the 735 with a helical cutter head option.

  10. #10
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    Well, I learn a bunch on this site every week (thanks to you all of course!) and this one is a funny one... I've had my planer since about 2009 when a friend gave it to me for free. (he inherited a huge planer and felt it was good woodworking karma to help a new guy out). "Enjoy the DW 734!!" he said.

    All these years later, I just learned that what I have is actually the DW 733 (2 one-sided knives that can be re-sharpened vs. the 3 knife setup of the 734).

    haha, I never even thought to question his statement or look into it more deeply until now. Sorry for the confusion on that!


    So, this should clear up my first question around setting the knives... the 733 comes with two plastic/magnetic "jigs" for setting the knives. The knives are spring loaded so that you can adjust them. So, my thought is that the jigs probably don't set the knives all that precisely.


    Those of you that have the 734... the reference pins you mention eliminate the need to set at all on your model. That's nice, and would seemingly be more accurate than what I'm currently doing. But upgrading from 733 > 734 seems like a micro step forward overall perhaps.

    Upgrading from 733 > 735, with the Byrd Shelix head seems interesting. More robust machine (from what I read), better cut. This is my first time learning about the Byrd Shelix... looks to me like the advantages are numerous. Many, smaller knives (vs. fewer long knives) means that fixing a nick means addressing just one insert (not a long knife). Seems as though the inserts can rotate so you can get 4 lives out of each one. And, it looks to me like there's no adjusting needed - install the insert where it fits, and done. Do I have it right?

    One of the replies talked about space/size and fitting a larger machine into the workshop. My current planer location is pretty ideal and I wouldn't want to move it as that would require an extensive reorganization and DC re-do. Not interested in all that. I could fit a big machine in this location, but it would eliminate useful storage that is currently underneath my planer. I think something in the size of the 735 would fit right in and keep my storage.

    Another reply mentioned people having "power issues" with 735 and Byrd head... I'll go research that a bit now.
    - Bob R.
    Collegeville PA (30 minutes west of Philly)

  11. #11
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    Your understanding of the inserts is spot on. I'll say that my jointer has a cutter head with those and I haven't had to move a single one yet while I've gone through both sides of the blades on my planer in that same time (with plenty of nicks on the planer blades)

    Just to add some more confusion to your search, infinity makes carbide blades for the 734/735 that drop right on the existing cutterhead. No major power tool surgery, the price point is better than the byrd, but you do still have a straight knife. Between the cost and the power issues I'll probably be buying a set of those once I've worn through the set of blades on my 735.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Hughes View Post
    I miss having a lunch box planer. The powermatic hh planer I have isn’t all the great for small thinner boards. I can see now I should have kept my 735. To me it’s looking more like a ideal woodshop set up is a small bandsaw and a big bandsaw. Small planer big planer,small jointer big jointer.
    This! I have an industrial 20" 5HP planer and a DW734. I probably use them almost equally.
    There is a very fine line between “hobby” and “mental illness.” - Dave Barry

  13. #13
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    I'm deep into the Byrd website now... and I see I can swap a Byrd Shelix head into my existing DW 733...

    If my main objections to the tool are that it's hard to set the knives, they ding up quick, and a fair amount of chip out... seems like this would solve all those issues.

    The tool will still be loud, but that's what hearing protection is for.

    And replacing only the head keeps more $$ in pocket for other investments.


    Any qualms around upgrading the 733?
    - Bob R.
    Collegeville PA (30 minutes west of Philly)

  14. #14
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    Even more... If I were to keep the 733 and add the Byrd Shelix... the money saved (vs. buying a new planer with same/similar cutter) would enable me to simultaneously swap out the cutter on my DJ-20 8" jointer too...
    - Bob R.
    Collegeville PA (30 minutes west of Philly)

  15. #15
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    If the 733 uses the same motor as the 735 I would not spend the money on head. The lunchbox planers were not designed for it. A lot of money with too many problems.

    I was fortunate to find a 734 on craigslist for 200 dollar. The 735 may be a nice planer but the 734 is a bit less money and has a history of reliability.

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