Tool Reviews: A dynamic duo for dressing lumber

Laguna JX|8 and PX|20 with ShearTec II

Laguna tools introduced a new lineup of jointers and planers in 2021. As part of this launch, they’ve redesigned their machines and reworked their cutterheads—the QuadTec I (segmented) and ShearTec II (spiral). I had the opportunity to test the JX|8 ShearTec II, an 8-inch jointer, and the PX|20 ShearTec II, a 20" planer. The first thing I noticed is how cool they look with their matte black skin, modern design, and impeccably-machined cast iron surfaces. Upon further inspection, I found that these machines are not just pretty; they also do their jobs very well.

The JX|8 jointer’s ShearTec II 8-1/8" wide, 5500 RPM cutterhead features six spiraled rows totaling 54 four-sided angled carbide insert knives that can be rotated or replaced as needed. It produced a clean surface even during deep cuts, and the machine remained relatively quiet. Cast-iron parallelogram tables are solid, smooth, and easy to adjust with a twist-lock handle that doubles as a depth gauge on the infeed side. A pullout support roller helps with feeding longer boards. Other novel additions to this machine include a tapered body for more foot room, an emergency knee stop—a feature I really like—and built-in casters. The cast-iron fence is solid and easy to adjust with its star knob and lock. It tilts to 45° in both directions, but the bevel knob can get in the way of hand travel when edge jointing wider boards. And although it’s 38" long, typical of jointers of its ilk, I’d like to see a longer fence on a machine at this price. But at $3,199, it’s priced competitively in its class and well worth it if you’re in the market.

The PX|20 planer’s ShearTec II cutterhead boasts 138 carbide inserts in a six-row spiral configuration. Aside from its impressive teeth, the clear advantage of this planer is its capacity—up to 8"-thick timbers and 20"-wide panels. I rarely need to plane boards of that size, but the ability to run multiple narrow boards simultaneously really speeds up production. But what makes this planer really interesting is its small-shop appeal. Woodworkers with limited space looking to upgrade from a 12" or 13" benchtop model, take notice. The PX|20 has big capacity in a small footprint. The beds are short but come with 4" retractable infeed and outfeed rollers. When retracted, the planer takes little more space than a benchtop model. And at 85dB, it’s only about as loud as a random orbit sander. Your neighbors will thank you. The unit can take a 1/4" deep cut at a time at either 16 or 28 feet per minute. A serrated infeed roller and pressure bar help with snipe. The top opens easily to access the cutterhead and for clearing chips that annoyingly build up in one corner, a seeming design flaw. The innovative integral Wixey digital readout (DRO) is a welcome addition and was easy to calibrate to the analog gauge on the face of the machine. It’s nice to dial in precise thickness without breaking out the calipers.

Neither machine comes with instructions; you’ll have to download them ahead of time as they contain helpful unboxing directions. This and the aforementioned minor inconveniences aside, these are great tools. They are pricey, but you get what you pay for here—machines that look great and work smart.

—Chad McClung

JX|8 Overview—#178948, $3,199

  • 220V, 3HP, 1 phase, 60 H/12amp 
  • Bed size: 8" × 72" w/8" infeed roller support
  • Fence size: 38" × 4-3⁄4", tilt: ±45°/90° 
  • Bed adjustment: parallelogram 
  • Max. depth of cut: 1⁄8", rabbeting capacity: 1⁄2" 
  • Knee bar shutoff 
  • 4" dust port

PX|20 Overview—, $5,499

  • 220V 5HP 1 phase motor
  • 20" bed width
  • 1⁄4" max depth of cut, 16 and 28 FPM
  • Wixey DRO
  • Retractable infeed and outfeed rollers
  • Serrated infeed roller
  • 4" dust port
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