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Thread: Hobbyist Looking for the Planer Truth

  1. #1
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    Question Hobbyist Looking for the Planer Truth

    I'll start by saying I'm just a hobbyist making sawdust in my garage, so limited on space and desire to spend a huge amount of money to create said sawdust. I've had a DeWalt DW735 Planer for at least 10+ years and it has served me well overall, with the exception of the occasional snipe, until now. My first thought was to simply go and buy another one for $600 at the blue store. I already have the extension tables and rolling stand, so it would be easy. I then found that Grizzly (I've never owned a Grizzly tool) has a 13" Planer with a Helical head for $800 delivered. A little more digging I discovered Grizzly also sells a Shelix Cutterhead for the DeWalt as an upgrade. So if I did that, I would be in to the DeWalt at nearly $1,100. So now I'm just a hobbyist that's confused...lol.

    So I thought maybe I should ask the far more experienced SMC members for an opinion. It seems for all practical purposes, the Grizzly at $800 and the DeWalt (with upgraded cutterhead) at $1,100 are similarly "equipped" machines. As said, I know nothing about Grizzly, other than reading the reviews. So the unanswerable question is...save the $300 and go with the Grizzly or just go and replace the DeWalt and upgrade (now or eventually) the cutterhead? Also open to other options as well. Woodworking tools/equipment are a very rare commodity on my local CL so not much hope there.

    Thoughts and advice will be greatly appreciated and I thank you in advance. I need to replace it as I had just started to plane down some walnut for new living room tables and the bride is getting anxious.
    A wannabe woodworker!

  2. #2
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    I can't offer a definitive opinion, but I do remember this coming up on the FWW Shop Talk LIve podcast a while back. Consensus there was get the DeWalt 735 unless you could step up to a big heavy helical head planner. I have no idea which, if any, of the Grizzly models would qualify as "big". You can probably search thru their episodes and find it.

    Also, many people are happy with the helical head upgrade for the DeWalt, but others have reported it strains the motor since it requires more power than the machine is designed to provide. Therefore, for me, it would come down to stock versus major step up.

    Good luck.

  3. #3
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    I had a DW735 and installed the Shelix Head before I even turned it on. The head switch was well documented on several Youtube videos and was pretty straight forward.

    I put it through its paces milling a lot of wide, long pieces of rough sawn basswood. I would take light passes and only tripped the breaker a couple of times.

    I sold it for about 75% of what I put into it and it was gobbled up on the first day I advertised it.

    I decided to go with a J/P combo machine, as I wanted to also upgrade my Jointer at the same time.

  4. #4
    That's not a Shelix on the Grizzly so not a direct comparison. The Grizzly has 2 rows of 15 inserts for a total of 30 inserts. The Shelix has 4 rows of 10 inserts for a total of 40 inserts.

  5. #5
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    I used to have both a 735 and a pm15 hh at the same time. The dewalt with carbide tipped knives from infinity left a much better surface then the bryd head.
    The pm would dress longer wide boards faster and quieter.
    The dewalt would handle smaller thinner boards that just need a lite cut.
    The dewalt knives are indexed with pins on the head. I think it’s better to take advantage of that.
    Good Luck
    Aj

  6. #6
    The DW735 is a very good planer with a very good blade replacement indexing system. Since you already have the stand and extension table (and perhaps the spare blades), for a casual hobbyist, I'd stick with the DeWalt. The only exception would be if you are partial to difficult woods that give you tear-out problems. Absent that: stick with the 735.

  7. #7
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    There was a thread about putting a Shelix on lunchbox planers. IIRC, those types of planers are best when using straight knives. Carbide being preferred over HHS. Apparently, the fraction of a second relief the motor gets between straight knives contacting the wood is sufficient to keep the motor from overloading. With a spiral-type head, there is no relief and this could cause the motor overload or a circuit breaker to trip. If a spiral head is your preference, find a planer designed for it.

    I had a DW735 and used the stock knives. While running pecky Bolivian walnut through it, the vibration caused the head to drop. Others reported the same problem and some YouTubers showed how they wedged the height wheel to keep the head from dropping. I sold the DW735 and bought a Hammer A3-31 and couldn't be happier. And it's SOOOO much quieter!
    “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness..." - Mark Twain

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

  8. #8
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    Unless I needed portability, I wouldn't buy a lunchbox planer.

    I have a Hammer A3-31 and normally take 2mm deep passes at full width, it's nice to have a planer that's fast, relatively quiet and accurate.

    Regards, Rod.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Bassett View Post
    I can't offer a definitive opinion, but I do remember this coming up on the FWW Shop Talk LIve podcast a while back. Consensus there was get the DeWalt 735 unless you could step up to a big heavy helical head planner.
    Thanks for the heads up...I'll see if I can find the Shop Talk.

    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisA Edwards View Post
    I had a DW735 and installed the Shelix Head before I even turned it on. The head switch was well documented on several Youtube videos and was pretty straight forward.

    I put it through its paces milling a lot of wide, long pieces of rough sawn basswood. I would take light passes and only tripped the breaker a couple of times.

    I sold it for about 75% of what I put into it and it was gobbled up on the first day I advertised it.

    I decided to go with a J/P combo machine, as I wanted to also upgrade my Jointer at the same time.
    I watched a couple of videos and the replacements does seem pretty straight forward.

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles Coolidge View Post
    That's not a Shelix on the Grizzly so not a direct comparison. The Grizzly has 2 rows of 15 inserts for a total of 30 inserts. The Shelix has 4 rows of 10 inserts for a total of 40 inserts.
    Excellent observation that I didn't pick up on.

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Hughes View Post
    I used to have both a 735 and a pm15 hh at the same time. The dewalt with carbide tipped knives from infinity left a much better surface then the bryd head.
    The pm would dress longer wide boards faster and quieter.
    The dewalt would handle smaller thinner boards that just need a lite cut.
    The dewalt knives are indexed with pins on the head. I think it’s better to take advantage of that.
    Good Luck
    Great information...thanks.

    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Gaudio View Post
    The DW735 is a very good planer with a very good blade replacement indexing system. Since you already have the stand and extension table (and perhaps the spare blades), for a casual hobbyist, I'd stick with the DeWalt. The only exception would be if you are partial to difficult woods that give you tear-out problems. Absent that: stick with the 735.
    Another excellent point as the blades I have in there are relatively new, on their first side, and I have another set as back-up that I didn't even think about. I pretty much stick to the "basic" (maples, walnut, ash, poplar, clear pine and the like) varieties and haven't experienced any tear-out issues. But I'm starting the lean towards sticking to the DeWalt as suggested.
    A wannabe woodworker!

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Julie Moriarty View Post
    There was a thread about putting a Shelix on lunchbox planers. IIRC, those types of planers are best when using straight knives. Carbide being preferred over HHS. Apparently, the fraction of a second relief the motor gets between straight knives contacting the wood is sufficient to keep the motor from overloading. With a spiral-type head, there is no relief and this could cause the motor overload or a circuit breaker to trip. If a spiral head is your preference, find a planer designed for it.

    I had a DW735 and used the stock knives. While running pecky Bolivian walnut through it, the vibration caused the head to drop. Others reported the same problem and some YouTubers showed how they wedged the height wheel to keep the head from dropping.
    You're probably right...buy equipment as it's designed instead of trying to "upgrade" it as soon as you buy it.

    ...I sold the DW735 and bought a Hammer A3-31 and couldn't be happier. And it's SOOOO much quieter!

    Quote Originally Posted by Rod Sheridan View Post
    Unless I needed portability, I wouldn't buy a lunchbox planer.

    I have a Hammer A3-31 and normally take 2mm deep passes at full width, it's nice to have a planer that's fast, relatively quiet and accurate.

    Regards, Rod.
    As much as I would love to, I just can't justify in my head spending that much on a piece of equipment as a hobbyist. Besides, I really don't have room for something that size that I know I wouldn't want to move it around once set up.
    A wannabe woodworker!

  11. #11
    I just bought a used 15" Grizzly with a spiral head for $1,100. Obviously availability is the issue, but I'd imagine a 600 lb machine should be a pretty long-term purchase.

    My point being, you start to get into some interesting alternatives as you approach the $1k mark.
    Last edited by Micah Puscheck; 04-27-2021 at 2:45 PM.

  12. #12
    The advice from Shoptalk has degraded significantly in the past couple years. They had no idea what they were talking about when reviewing sanders the past couple podcasts. I wouldn't trust them on planers either besides Mike P (who I believe identified that shelix heads on the DW735 cause trips of their breaker). Mike P is and will always be the best. They are all nice, but I don't trust them as I did when Matt K and Asa were also on board.

    I was in your same boat. Happy DW735 user. It was great but loud. I upgraded to a combo machine - which may not be in your cards. The helical head is great - especially when you can use if for both jointing and planing. You also likely get larger jointing capacity than you'd pay for separately. I'm fine with the limitation on the planing, and love the extra jointing capacity.

    Anyway, I suspect you are at the point to really appreciate a huge upgrade which will give you some capacity but, lower sound, improved surface and better thickness accuracy - which is huge.
    Last edited by Prashun Patel; 04-27-2021 at 3:34 PM.

  13. #13
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    Were you frustrated with tearout with your original dw735 and straight knives?

    Is it worthwhile spending an extra $200-600 to improve that situation?
    (secondary factors may be cutting noise and characteristics of the planing waste)

    I think whether this is worthwhile will come down to what woods you are working with and how liberal/conservative you are in spending on the hobby. Some people really enjoy getting the most out of pretty low-end tools; others enjoy working with high-quality tools; and yet others enjoy the anticipation that comes with levelling up their shop... Its a big tent.

    Personally, I've changed a planer due to snipe... so my frustration threshold isn't super high.

    Matt

  14. #14
    I've never quite understood the obsession with spiral/helical heads. I know why they get used, but at the same time, I don't understand why they are thought of as "essential" and an "automatic upgrade". I have had straight HSS knives on my 15" Grizzly for 15 years and had no problems despite running thousands of board feet through it. I wouldn't turn a spiral head down if it was a great deal, but I don't see it as essential either.

    I'd rather spend the money on larger and heavier and bigger motor than a spiral/helical head, but I also I have the space and power for it, which I know everyone doesn't.

  15. #15
    I see no reference to essential or automatic in this thread. Nobody's saying that. Straight knives and tersa knives (I am told) can have performance advantages when brand new and convenience advantages over a helical head. That being said, the helical heads in general stay sharper longer, and can lead to less tearout in some situations. I've used both and prefer my helical head. I've never heard anyone imply those without them are pitifully missing out.

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