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Thread: Are Parts Available for Old Planers?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Colorado Springs

    Are Parts Available for Old Planers?

    I have a Delta 13" portable planer I bought many years ago. That little planer is a workhorse and I'm very happy with it. However, I would like more capacity.

    Whenever the subject of buying machines comes up, invariably, people suggest buying used. I've stated many times here that used woodworking machines rarely come up for sale in my area and, when they do, they are typically priced at or only slightly below what a new machine would cost. But since I do have a working planer, I'm willing to take time to look for a larger, used planer. My concern is if I buy and old planer, no doubt it will be well built and all that, but what if it required parts? Is it possible I might not be able to even get blades for and older planer? And maybe that's why it's for sale.

    I have 220 power in my shop, but I don't want to mess with 3-phase machines.


  2. #2
    You can always get blades from a supplier like CGG Schmidt, Woodworkers Tool Works, etc in custom lengths, widths and thicknesses, though most planers have knife sizes within a standard if we are talking about straight knives. The steel may likely be much higher quality (than OEM, depending on brand) if sourcing from folks like that as well.

    What size machine would you be looking for?

    You will find some import Chiwainese machines up to ~20 in single phase and likely around 5hp, definitely 240v, but many industrial planers in the 18 width and up are 3 phase and for good reason. You may find a Powermatic PM160 or 180 in single phase. That would likely be the most robust single phase planer I can recall off the top my head. Maybe someone else will jump in with a better suggestion.

    I just spent 3 minutes searching FB Marketplace and Craigslist within ~100 miles of CO Springs and saw 3 or 4 15-20 single phase planers, some of them laguna and one with a helical head for what I would consider reasonable discounts off of new, FYI.

    I would try and find a planer that is close enough that you can demo without feeling like you need to commit to it because of the long drive to inspect and buy the one (that fits your size/power requirements) that is in the best condition. What sort of parts are you anticipating needing over time?

    I would not/have not stayed away from 3 phase, but a planer is one machine where, due to likely having multiple motors, it would require multiple VFDs (or another form of phase conversion.)
    Still waters run deep.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Colorado Springs
    ^^ Thank you, Phillip. I can't access FB or Craigslist from where I am now, but I will look for those listings later.

    I would be happy with anything beyond 13" for capacity. 15" would be OK. 20" would great!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Western PA
    Hey Pat,

    It depends on the machine, but i think you will find most of the older mainstays to have a fair amount of third party part support. Im talking about Delta/Powermatic mostly, but this also extends to Northfield, Oliver, and im sure a few others. If you take the time to dig into things and talk with enough knowledgeable people, i think you will be amazed at what support is out there. For example, there is a guy in Pennsylvania that offers parts for vices that are over 100 years old. There is a thriving part community for Delta unisaws, and i am pretty sure you can still buy NOS parts for the american vintage powermatic machines. Northfield is still a running manufacturer, so anything is available for a price.

    Above all else, i always avoid used machines that have broken critical parts. If it doesnt run because the switch is busted or the motor is shot, then those are typically easy solves to get the machine back up and running. For example on a Martin T17 table saw, if the cast iron "C" frame that slides on the support beam and supports the crosscut table and fence is missing, then i would pass on that machine or be willing to use it just a typical cabinet saw. It is a part that would cost thousands and thousands of dollars to recreate, and would be incredibly difficult to borrow an OEM part for the machinist to copy. This is also a fairly rare machine in the states, which is why i used it as an example for missing parts. On the other hand, there isnt a part on a Delta unisaw that i couldnt easily replace within a week. Compared to the Martin, this was a saw that was largely unchanged for decades and numbers in the hundreds of thousands of units across the country. It is worthwhile to understand the abilities of local machine shops and fabricators and what they charge. If you found your dream table saw, but it was somehow missing the saw arbor it wouldnt be the end of the road. If you got the machine for $200 and it cost you $500 to have a machinist custom make the arbor then the machine would still be worth it. I love used machines, but most times there is always something minor to contend with. Educate yourself enough to minimize the odds of buying a machine with major issues. As sad as it is to say, some machines could be 'free' and still not be worth the price.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Modesto, CA, USA
    USA made bigger planers, that are not direct drive, use standard NEMA motors. This makes it easy to swap out a motor. Unlike a unisaw. Many of those bigger planers are over motored unless you plane wood for a living.
    A VFD will allow you to run a bigger three phase motor that a single phase one would trip the breakers. Does your shop have enough amps to start a 7.5Hp single phase motor?
    Moving a big planer is easy. 4x4s through the mouth and lift from both ends.
    Rockwell wedge bed is known for worn out feed worm gear. You can buy new ones for around $600
    Bill D.
    Last edited by Bill Dufour; 11-20-2023 at 5:45 PM.

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