Planer Styles and OptionsComments (0)
It wasn’t that long ago woodworkers were pretty
limited in their options when it came to purchasing a planer. Woodworkers just
had to decide the cutting capacity needed, determine the electrical configurations,
and decide on which brand of planer to purchase. Fast-forward to today! Woodworkers
now have several options and styles to consider when shopping for a
As recent as 20 years ago the few portable planers on the market were considered mainly hobby tools that were not able produce consistently satisfactory results. Today, nothing could be further from the truth. Manufactures have made great strides in producing high quality benchtop planers that produce results that will satisfy the most discriminating woodworker. Benchtop units are now available with helical and straight knife cutterheads. Nowadays, a benchtop planer’s only limitation is its cutting capacity. Typically a benchtop unit will only plane boards up to 13" wide, and accepts stock with a maximum thickness of 6".
style planer is the workhorse of the shop and is offered in a wide range of cutting
capacities and motor configurations. With cutting capacities from 15" to
25" and motors ranging from 1-1/2 HP up to 15 HP, today’s planers are
designed for production use. Stationary
model units are available with helical and straight knife cutterheads. While
some stationary models come equipped with integrated mobile bases, due to the
massive size, these models typically stay in the same location.
Relatively new to the market, helical cutterheads can now be purchased as standard equipment rather than a special order option. The increased popularity of a helical cutterhead is due to the advantages they offer when compared to a conventional straight knife cutterhead.
There are numerous branded varieties of helical heads; however, they all share the same basic configuration. Instead of multiple straight knives running the length of the cutterhead, a helical head incorporates multiple rows of small cutters. These rows are typically configured with a spiral orientation.
A few advantages compared to a straight
knife cutterhead are noise reduction, reduced power consumption, reduction of
chip-out, increased dust-collection efficiency and lower replacement cost of
Straight Knife Cutterhead:
style of cutterhead for planers, the straight knife features 2-4 knives that
run parallel with the axis of the cutterhead. Each knife is positioned at equal
distances apart along the diameter of the cutterhead, and the lengths of knives
are slightly longer than the planer’s cutting capacity. While benchtop planers
typically employ quick-set, double edge disposable knives, stationary planers
utilize high-speed steel knives that can be sharpened several times. A
dedicated setup gauge is utilized to set the proper height of the knives on a stationary
planer. The advantage of a planer with a straight knife style cutterhead is the
initial cost savings. A planer with a straight knife cutterhead is typically 30-35%
less than an identical planer with a helical style cutterhead.
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