A Practically Perfect Planer
I do lots of woodworking, almost all of it starting with rough-sawn lumber. Flattening and smoothing that lumber requires three tools: a jointer, a table saw and a thickness planer. I've had my DeWalt DW735 planer for about eight years now, and the only maintenance it has required is knife changes. (Use only clean, metal-free lumber since a set of knives costs upward of $60.) All that trouble-free performance, despite sending thousands of feet of various lumber types, thicknesses and widths through its maw.
It has three two-edged knives in the cutter head, so you can flip them around when one side gets dull. There are two speed settings: The slower one is for smoother cuts (179 cuts per inch), while the second setting is for speedier work (79 cuts per inch). Frankly I only use the slow speed when I'm cutting wide or extra-tough lumber. The fast speed yields plenty smooth results using a much quicker feed rate. The thickness scale is absolutely dead on.
The dust system is the best I've ever seen on any tool. It has an internal blower to supplement any dust collection system you may have. If you don't have dust collection, it's still almost mess-free if you simply direct the chips into a trash can. It'll handle stock up to
6 in. thick and 12 in. wide. At about $550 a copy, these rascals ain't cheap, but after eight trouble-free years, I gotta tell ya: I love mine!
Travis Larson, Senior Editor