BikerMike

Thickness Planer or Combo Planer/Jointer

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I’m seeing a lot more need for adding a thickness planer to my power tool set (Dewalt 735 is a top candidate,   possibly with a helical cutter head upgrade).  I’m pressed for shop floor space so I’ve been noodling around the idea of selling my Delta 6” jointer and going for a combo Planer/jointer.  This would save floor space,  give me the thickness planer function and give me a wider jointer (but at a 2x cost).   Looking for thoughts from anyone who has either option.

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10” units are often bashed as bad at both operations and good at none. 12” units, especially from Hammer/Felder, get excellent reviews and several members here have them A3-31 and A3-41, I believe. I’m sure they’ll chime in. 
 

What is your budget?

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I have no personal experience to share, but almost 100% of the opinions I read say don't bother with anything less than the A3-31 or -41 units @JohnG suggested. Most of the smaller units just don't have long enough tables to joint properly, and leaving them in planer mode eats up space. Personally, I would go for a 15" planer and use sleds for jointing, rather than a sub-par combo machine. But if your cash and space budgets allow, the Hammer / Felder machines get really good reviews.

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I’ve had my A3-31 for about 14 years and I’ve been real happy with it. Having said that there are a lot of moving parts on these machines which imho makes it harder to manufacture a quality machine. Based on my budget if I couldn’t afford a Hammer or similar quality machine I would go with that route with no hesitation. If not I would go with the Dewalt planer until I could. In my experience those machines can be sold relatively easy on CL to recoup some of the costs. I started with a dewalt 735 planet and a 6” jet jointer they worked great. 

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100% agreement with Paul. I've had my A3-41 for going on 3 years and have been very happy with it. Not cheap, but a good value. I've only needed the 16" (over the 12+) jointer capacity a few times, but I'm glad I opted for it. 

I think the biggest advantage for going with the helical head on the DaWalt 735 is reduced noise level. The noise was the deciding factor for me to upgrade to the Hammer. The older I get the less I tolerate high pitched noises. That said, the surface quality from the 735 with sharp, straight knives was superb.

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2 hours ago, Mick S said:

That said, the surface quality from the 735 with sharp, straight knives was superb.

I probably got better surface finish out of my helical swapped 735 than I do from my powermatic....  fresh strait knives were great. Trouble is no planer is good enough every board gets a smoothing plane pass or 4. I did finish one project strait out of the planer and it came out ok but I could tell.

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I have the 735 and have put a lot of board feet through it, and in five years still haven’t flipped the blades. I still get a great finish from it. I have a little Cutech 6” jointer that’s light enough to put on a lower shelf when I’m not using it. The planer has its own roll around so I don’t have to carry it anywhere. At 85# it’s not a toy unless you like that kind of thing :) 

No personal experience with a combo tool. I’ve stayed away from them only because like an enduro motorcycle, they always compromise something and aren’t the best at any one thing. That’s not to insult the Hammer owners, as a high end tool like that is always going to be better, that’s just my personal perspective on things in general. Plus I can’t justify the expense of the high end tools much of the time (hand planes being one exception). 

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I still have a Jet JJP-8BT combo unit.   This is what people talk about when they say don't buy a combo.   From reading reviews though I think the 8" might work better than the 10", hard to say they're very similar.

https://www.jettools.com/us/en/p/jjp-8bt-8-jointer-planer-combo/707400

It's not great, but it doesn't work too bad either...  I would say it's comparable to a benchtop jointer with a planer as a bonus.  It depends on what you are doing.   I have been able to do quite a bit with it as a compromise.

They're really common/popular in Europe... but that's the downside, parts are getting hard to come by in the US.   The price of knives has shot up to $60 from Jet.   ebay has sources for $20 from china.   Considering they're thin and only 2 of them, they wear out fairly quickly.   They can be resharpened with a jig, as it's only single sided and you have to adjust the knives manually with set screws and such.   But you can't use jigs with magnets as the table is aluminum, so you use a straight edge.

I got mine off Craigslist for $200... I've since replaced it with a Dewalt DW735 and Powermatic PM-54a.   But I've held onto it just because I have contemplating going back to using it.   Now that I bought a drum sander, and most wood I buy any more is already surfaced.   I can joint longer boards with a jig on the table saw.   My shop is super tiny, so... I debate keeping it.

I looked into upgrading to a different combo at one point.   The Rikon 25-010 is better than the Jet with a longer table but it's still a bit of a pain to switch modes.   It's a consideration because it's still small and runs off 120v.

There's also the Rikon 25-210H, or Jet JJP-12 which are 12" units that I've heard really good things about.   They're a bit less money than the Hammer A3-31, but... if you're going to be looking at something this big I'd consider the Hammer unit.

 

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I have a Jet HH JJP-12. The Jet has been great. It's on a mobile base and gives cuts better than my old Felder 12" did (straight knives vs. Helical Head).

I would think that the Hammer would do an even nicer job, if you can afford to go that route, as it has a larger head and more knives. But don't be afraid of the 12" Grizzly or Jet with the HH knives.

You will get a 12" planer vs. a 13" with the Dewalt 735, but no snipe, which is noted by a lot of people with the Dewalt. It's a lot more heavy duty, too.

The 12" jointer is the selling point, as a stand alone Grizzly 12" jointer is around $5k new. Changeover time is around a minute. The combination takes about 2'x5' of space and wheels around easily.

Lots of comments by people about the jointer beds being too short on combo machines; however, I have never found a board that I have used in which it mattered. If it was like an 8' 8/4 then I could see using an infeed or outfeed roller, but anything under 6' has never been a problem.

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57 minutes ago, Tool Junkie said:

Lots of comments by people about the jointer beds being too short on combo machines; however, I have never found a board that I have used in which it mattered. If it was like an 8' 8/4 then I could see using an infeed or outfeed roller, but anything under 6' has never been a problem.

I agree with Tool Junkie on this one the only time it has ever been an issue for me was when I built my Roubo workbench. Typically I cut down the stock to manageable parts on the SCMS prior to the jointer.

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