Rated 4.6 out of 5 by 7
Rated 5.0 out of 5.0 by lilrabbit Big Tough Benchtop Planer, but with finesse!
Steel City 13” Thickness Planer with Helical Cutter Head Model 40200H
Summary: More machine than I really need, good quality, clean surface, no snipe! Easy to access the cutters for maintenance, minimal assembly required using supplied tools.
Review: I requested this planer from Santa on December 16 and the elves in orange aprons shipped it via the Steel City warehouse the next day. I'd expected delivery on December 28, but the elves were lively and quick. The planer arrived on the 21st and I did not wait until Christmas. The machine arrived packed in a two ply cardboard box. The box had a scary looking hole in it, so the little old driver insisted that we unpack the machine and check for damage before he would let me sign for it. The planer was nestled all snug in it's styrofoam clamshell bed and visions of wood shavings danced in my head.
Set up of this machine involves 1) Opening the box. 2) Extracting the manual from the top of the box and reading it, 3) Lifting the planer out of the box (85 pounds, get help), 4) Installing the hand knob on the thickness adjustment wheel with the supplied hex key, 5) Installing the dust chute if desired (I left it off for now because I didn't have a vacuum hose that fit). Set up took longer to write about than to do.
This is a larger, beefier machine than I had expected, but I would rather under utilize too much machine than over load one that's too small. It can handle stock from 13” X 6”, down to 3/4” X 1/8”, so yeah, I guess you could make lumber from old railroad ties, but I would not recommend it.
Before we ran the machine, my ten-year-old and I read the instructions from cover to cover. This was good practice as he is beginning to pick out and correct the grammar, punctuation, and syntax errors and we did pick up a few planer safety rules and operation tips that I had not previously known of. Note that I do not let the ten-year-old run the major power tools. He can use the drill press, the scroll saw and his one kit of hand tools, but he has to make satisfactory hand-cut dovetails before he can use anything capable of amputating an arm.
Our first test was with a piece of roughsawn pine from my woodpile. Very clean results. Then I tore a plank off an old pallet I had in the garden which I figured would be a fair challenge for the machine. If you do this, always give any old salvaged lumber a thorough brushing with a stiff wire brush and inspect carefully for embedded nails, sand, dirt and grit. You do not want to run any embedded crud through your planer unless you enjoy buying and replacing cutters.
Fortunately, this planer does not have just 3 or 4 cutters like planers used to have. It has 26 rectangular cutters arranged in a helix around the cylinder that makes up the cutter head. Each cutter is sharp on two sides so you can rotate the cutters 90 degrees to get a fresh edge when they start to wear. I did remove the housing over the cutters just to see how hard replacement would be. The housing came off easily and the cutters are easy to remove (yes, I did try it) and replace with the supplied Torx wrench.
Anyway, I ran the plank through my jointer to get one flat face and then thicknessed it on the planer. My reward was a fairly decent looking piece of some hardwood I don't recognize. See the photos. What impressed me the most was that there was absolutely NO snipe.
The planer has a vernier scale that shows the thickness setting. It is easy enough to read and is ruled to 1/32”. It also has a depth-of-cut dial indicator with an expanded scale. This is ruled to 1/64”, but you can read between the lines to 1/128”. There is a “Repeat A Cut” thickness stop which can be set to 1/8”, 1/4”, 1/2”, 3/4”, 1”, 1-1/4”, 1-1/2”, and 1-3/4”. Unfortunately, there is not a stop which you can adjust to your own custom setting, so if you want 3/8” lumber, you have to just watch the vernier scale, although, from studying the machine, there are several places where a careful craftsman could install an infinitely adjustable stop. The hand wheel which sets the thickness moves the cutter head 1/16” per full turn of the wheel. It is well marked so that you can turn it 1/8th of a turn to shave off 1/128” of an inch, or even 1/256” if you care to read half-steps.
Like all machines with universal motors, this one's a bit loud, but not as bad as some of the other tools I own. Do be sure to wear your hearing protection.
December 24, 2012
Rated 5.0 out of 5.0 by Walt Nice 13" Planer
I bought this planer to replace a 12" 2 blade planer I had for years. I picked it up at Home Depot about a week after I ordered it online. This planer makes small shavings that will pass through my dust collector piping easily. I find that the rough lumber comes out smooth with very little sanding needed to finish. I work with all kinds of wood as a hobby in my home shop. There was some oil as noted by other users, but not enough to worry about. The noise level is not bad at all. If you have sensitive ears, I would suggest hearing protection. About the only complaint I have is that it doesn't come with carbide blades. The HSS blades that come with the planer work fine but will dull faster than carbide. I am pleased with the planer.
April 22, 2013
Rated 5.0 out of 5.0 by 182eskylane Don't be afraid to buy this planer
I've waited to review this product because I wanted to use it for awhile first. I've run about 300 board feet of red oak and I'm still on the first side of the blades. It cuts very smooth. If I get any snipe it's because of the way I feed and remove the board. Just being careful will lessen the snipe. I am very happy with this planer and I'm glad I waited for this model.
October 8, 2013
Rated 4.0 out of 5.0 by meoryou so far so good
just tried out on short 8" wide knotty white pine board first cut was a little deep would stay with the 1/16" per pass took the knots with no problem(would have normally cut them out) seems planer was well built and features add to its value-time will tell about durability-would recommend-727cu
October 8, 2013
Rated 4.0 out of 5.0 by Walt Good Planer - Nice Finish
The Steel City Deluxe Planer is a nice unit and planes lumber very well. I have owned it for about 1 month and used it to plane several types of wood. It does an excellent job on all woods I have tried. I only wish it had come with Carbide blades because they will last much longer than HSS blades. I am very pleased with this planer.
April 30, 2013
Rated 4.0 out of 5.0 by Paul Very good planer
I'm glad I spent the extra money for the head lock. After planing boards and legs for two small end tables I've seen snipe only once and that might have been me mishandling the boards. It's a bit noisy but less than the Dewalt. The controls are much better than the Dewalt. And the scale is easy to read and accurate.
I works with my Festool vacuum so I can just plug the planer into the vacuum and they both come on when I start the planer. Chips are small and most go into the Dust Deputy on top of the vacuum.
It needs a sturdy stand. I bought the Dewalt portable stand.
This is actually not a helical cutting head. A real helical head has the cutting edges parallel to the spiral and they make a skew cut. These edges are parallel to the axis of the cutting head. Four of the cutters hit the wood at the same time instead of a 12 inch long blade.
But you can't take a thick cut with this planer. A 1/8 inch cut bogged the motor on a 6 inch wide board. And it sprays chip all over even with the vac on.
Overall this planer gives me the capability I need.
September 24, 2013
Rated 5.0 out of 5.0 by elquapo Great planer
This unit was easy to set up and worked perfect right out of the box. Had it shipped to my home and it came thru in perfect shape. (very well packed) I have used it on several projects using walnut, what a time saver. Planed the service down and then some minor sanding and it was ready to finish. I am very happy with this product.
December 21, 2012