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Hello all,
I am upgrading my thickness planer. This is a process I have been through before. I want to make this the last time though. That being said I am not a millionaire and although I do have a 24x24 shop area as we all know space is always an issue no matter how big your shop is. Or it seems to be that way anyway. A little background on myself is that although I am still very much a beginner at Woodworking I have kind of dived in head first and take my Woodworking very seriously. I am lucky enough to be retiring in ten years and I hope to start my own small shop. I started off like many other people and bought a used 734 dewalt lunchbox planer to start off with. I more recently upgraded to a used Delta X5 15”. Although the delta was a great step up I am not happy with it. So I am taking the plunge and buying a brand new machine. I had put my Delta on Craigslist and to my suprize it sold in less than a week and I made a nice $500 profit to boot. I have somewhat of an idea of what I want but any and all suggestions are welcomed. I am torn between 15” and a 20” and wether to spend the extra money on a Byrd Shelix or a regular straight blade. The machines I am looking at are the 15” powermatic which only comes with the Byrd cutter. The 20” powermatic which has either the 3 blade or the Byrd. The Jet 15”&20” which offer both options in both sizes. And the wild card is the Laguna 16” and 20” which only offer the shelix style cutter end in either sizes. Although I have found a bunch of info on the powermatic and Jet I have found nothing and I mean nothing about the laguna planers. So there it is. Like I said any insite would be helpful. I am in somewhat of a rush because I never thought my current planer would sell as fast as it did. But I guess that’s a good problem to have. Thanks in advance and as always Stay safe making sawdust!!!!

Luke Troughton

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I upgraded about 5 ago to a Jet 15" Planer that I found on Craigslist and then did the Byrd upgrade myself.  I have run 1000's of board feet through the Jet and just recently changed all of the knives, the Byrd head is definitely the way to go in my opinion and will pay for itself in the long run.  There have been times that I have needed a 20" planer but not all to often, I did buy the Supermax Drum Sander that can sand up to 38", my 2 cents, buy a 15" and use the rest towards a Drum Sander.  Anymore I believe all the companies manufacture their tools oversees, but Powermatic still uses local motors (Baldor).  My Jet is now 10 years old or so, it's been punished with all the kitchens I build, I would buy it again.  

Justin,

thank you very much for the reply. I have definitely thought about trying to save some money and installing the Byrd head myself. Unfortunately I am much better working with wood than I am working on machines.  I have watched several YouTube videos on how to change one outbin a 15 each planer but pulling off and putting on bearing seems to be a little bit out of my league. And it does look like I am going to go with the 15” with the HH. On a side note I have heard both good and bad things about drum sanders Some people, like my friend, swear they are a waste of money and do nothing but cost a lot of money and take up space. He says that you still need to hand sand and that if your not burning through sand paper then your burning the wood your putting through the machine. Mind you this is the guy that has a 34” wide belt sander. Sometimes I just don’t think he understands that not everyone can own $10,000 machines and has 1,600sf of floor space to not. 

justin waldron said:

I upgraded about 5 ago to a Jet 15" Planer that I found on Craigslist and then did the Byrd upgrade myself.  I have run 1000's of board feet through the Jet and just recently changed all of the knives, the Byrd head is definitely the way to go in my opinion and will pay for itself in the long run.  There have been times that I have needed a 20" planer but not all to often, I did buy the Supermax Drum Sander that can sand up to 38", my 2 cents, buy a 15" and use the rest towards a Drum Sander.  Anymore I believe all the companies manufacture their tools oversees, but Powermatic still uses local motors (Baldor).  My Jet is now 10 years old or so, it's been punished with all the kitchens I build, I would buy it again.  

On the Helical Head install, I'm no mechanic, but pulled it off.  I ordered mine through Holbren and they installed the bearings for me prior to shipping for an extra $30 I believe.  I have the SuperMax 19/38 and you can burn the paper if you take try to take too much off at one time, but it has completely changed the quality of the stuff I put out.  The touch up sanding you have to do is so minimal, with me it saved me at least 5 minutes on every door that I make in a kitchen, that adds up fast.  It saves a ton of time sanding drawer sides etc. too.  I should have bought that years ago.  

Currently using a DeWalt 12 inch planer. Because of typical shop space issues I purposely bought a portable so I can stow it under my workbench and use it on the bench with dogged indeed and outfeed rollers to reduce snipe. I like having the full 12 inches, but the planet still feels like a hobby machine although it works tremendous. Prior to the DeWalt I had a Ryobi 10” AP10. That sucker was a work horse and I kick myself constantly for selling it! I literally put 1000’s of bf of red/white oak flooring through it without so much as a hiccup. Blades were a bit pricey ($20/set) but sharpened easily and took less than 5 minutes to change out. If you could manage with a 10” machine, this is easily one of the best tools I ever owned. Not sure if they still sell these but Craigslist may have used ones. Only negatives are initial blade prices and only 10” width but for a limited sized shop these are/were fantastic machines. Just my $.02.
Randy

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