Crafting furniture, cabinets, and other forms of woodworking are great hobbies. However, they are hobbies that require the right tools for each specific project.
There are dozens of different types of saws and power tools that make woodworking easier, including the wood planer and wood jointers.
The planer and the jointer share several features, which leads some people to mistake these tools for each other. While these tools appear similar, they serve different functions.
Wood planers have been used for hundreds of years. However, modern planers such as the DeWalt DW735 or DW735X are equipped with a cutter head that is used to plane the surface of a wood board. Basically, the planer cuts boards to the right thickness. It can also be used to help create evenly parallel sides on a board.
A wood jointer is used to ensure that your boards are flat and even. You place your wood on an infeed table. It then passes over the cutting blades before passing to the outfeed table. You can repeat this process to smooth all sides of the board.
Both the wood planer and wood jointer are massive power tools that are used for milling lumber. While you can perform these tasks by hand, hand-milling requires a lot of practice to master.
These power tools are used for the same basic reason. When you purchase lumber, it is hardly ever straight or perfectly flat. You will typically find warps and defects somewhere along the wood. These defects can limit the quality and structural integrity of your finished woodworking project.
Typically, when using a planer to cut a board to the right thickness, you need one flat side as a reference. This is usually achieved with a jointer. You can create one smooth, flat side with the jointer and then use the planer to create the parallel flat side while cutting the board to the right thickness.
A jointer may be the more useful tool. You often need to start with a jointer to create a flat surface before you use a planer to cut an uneven board to the right thickness. Using a jointer, you can create completely even faces on all sides of a piece of wood.
If the edges or surface of the wood that you want to cut is not flat, the jointer can easily help smooth out the board. The planer will not solve the problem. It will simply follow the bend as you reduce the thickness of the board.
While the jointer is recommended for a variety of scenarios, there are also situations where a planer is preferred. If the wood that you purchase is not the right thickness, the wood planer provides an efficient way to get the thickness that you need.
A wood planer is also useful for creating a parallel side. For example, when crafting a table, a door, or a window frame, you want each side of the wood to be identical. The planer can help create this parallel side if the board is already flat. If you notice defects, you should first use the jointer.
You may also use a wood planer when you need to get rid of minor surface imperfections. For example, the board that you are cutting may have minor dents or scratches. The planer can quickly create a smoother surface.
In the end, the tool that you choose depends on the types of projects that you enjoy completing.
The wood planer is mostly used for cutting boards to the right thickness and for creating a parallel surface. However, if the board is not flat, you need a jointer, or you will end up with parallel sides that are not equally bent or curved.
The jointer is the more versatile of the two tools and serves the most functions. You can use it to create flat pieces of wood from boards that are twisted, cupped, or bent. However, these tools also go hand in hand. There are many situations where you may want both a wood planer and a jointer.
Wood planers were traditionally hand tools that were used to flatten or shape wood. They had a removable blade fixed in a wedge that could be pushed along a piece of wood to help flatten and smooth them.
Although still commonly used today for larger jobs hand planers have been replaced by powered planers.
Powered planers are usually referred to as "thickness planers"
These powered planers can be used as either hand held corded power tools or they can be much bigger pieces of equipment like a portable bench top planer or even a more fixed solution such as a stationary cabinet planer.
The primary job of all wood planers regardless of whether they are powered or not is to shape and smooth out uneven pieces of wood.
This can mean shaping only a small part of the wood to remove a protruding knot or any other blemish. It can also mean cutting the entire top surface of a piece of wood down to certain thickness so that the board is as symmetrical as possible.
Probably the most common type of planer found in a busy woodworking shop or on a building site is a portable bench top planer.
Planers such as the DeWalt DW734, DW735 and DW735X are used extensively to smooth out rough boards before being used on thousands of job sites across the country.
These types of planers are easy to use and with the addition of in-feed and out-feed tables they can usually be quite good at eliminating snipe.
All wood planers work by running a blade along the surface of the wood preferably in the direction of the grain.
A thickness planer works by passing the board underneath a rotating cutter head. Either side of the cutter head are an in-feed roller and an out-feed roller.
The in-feed roller is used to grip the board and pull it along the underneath the cutter head at a uniform speed.
The cutter head has a number of knives mounted on it. It are these knives that actually cut the surface of the wood as it passes along under the cutter head.
The out-feed rollers are then used to pull the board through out from the cutter head where it gets ejected.
A good thickness planer will generally have both an in-feed and an out-feed table. The longer these tables are generally the less chance there is of producing snipe on the board.
Snipe is when the planer ends up cutting a little bit more out of either the end or the beginning of the board.
When in-feed and out-feed tables are used it helps to create a longer surface that the board is lying on. Assuming that they are set up correctly the longer surface means that the length of surface the board is pulled over is as flat as possible.
Once the planer and feed tables are correctly aligned the next task is to set the cutting depth of the cutter head.
Depending on the type of planer that is used you either adjust the planing platform that the boards sit on or you adjust the cutter head depth.
Once the planer has been setup correctly and powered on the boards are fed in on the in-feed table. Be careful to ensure that the board lies as flat as possible on the platform.
One important thing to note that in order for a planer to smooth a side correctly the opposite side that sits on feed tables must already be perfectly smooth and flat.
Depending on the planer that you have the speed at which cutter head spins at can affect what kind of finish you will get on your piece of wood. Generally I tend to favor a two-speed planer as it gives you a lot more versatility when dealing with different varieties of wood.
Investing in a good wood planer can save you thousands in lumber over the years. A planer gives you the ability to not only smooth out cheaper lengths of wood but to also recondition older more expensive cuts that otherwise might be thrown away.
A bench top planner has the added advantage of not taking up to much room in a workshop but they are also easily transported around to different job-sites.
DeWalt are easily the most popular brand of bench top planers and with three similar models to choose from it can be a little confusing especially with the model numbers being so similar.
The current range has three offerings the DW734, DW735 and the DW735X.
Below you'll find a quick summary of the features and differences between the DeWalt DW734, DW735 and DW735X.
The majority of the differences are between the DW734 and DW735. The DW735X is the same as the DW735 but it includes the feed tables and an extra set of cutter head knives.
Max blade speed
96 & 179
96 & 179
Across the three models the major differences are between the DW734 and the DW735.
Although they are of similar power it is the carriage lock, cutting ability and knife size where the differ.
Both models are powered by a 15 Amp motor. That motor spins up to a maximum speed of 20,000 RPM. At the cutter head however this translates into 10,000 RPM.
The 2:1 reduction from motor to cutter head helps to increase the torque available to the blade giving it a better cutting ability especially on harder woods.
The DW734 is a single speed bench top planer. A single speed planer will have only one infeed speed thus it will have a fixed CPI(cuts per inch).
The DW735 is a two speed planer. Having the choice between a low and high speed gives you the option to tailor the cutter head to the type of finish that you want on a specific variety of wood.
The two speed gear box allows you to select either a high or low setting. The low setting "2" will give 96 CPI which is good for coarser work and the higher setting "1" will give 179 CPI which would generally be better for finer finishing work.
The DW734 uses a 12-1/2 inch knife whereas the DW735 uses a 13 inch knife. Originally it came with sharpen-able knives but now it is shipped with reversible disposable ones.
The DW735 has a 13 inch knife head and also uses the disposable knives. The knife heads are reversible and DeWalt claim that they will generally last about 30% longer than other brands.
A carriage lock along with properly set up infeed/outfeed tables is what helps ensure that you minimize the amount of snipe on the boards that you cut.
Both the DW734 and DW735 have a carriage lock but one is manual and the other is automatic, each has their advatages and disadvantages.
On the DW734 the carriage lock is manual. A manual carriage lock allows you to have better control over the locking mechanism, the disadvantage is that it is an extra manual setup step for every board.
The DW735 has an automatic carriage lock. Although this means you don't have the same fine grained control over the lock it does eliminate an extra manual step which can be a real time saver if you are planing lots of boards.
The DW734 comes with a set of infeed and out feed tables the DW735 does not. With the DW735X however you do get the tables included.
Although not a huge issue there is a difference in the weight between the planers. The DW734 is the lighter model as you would expect weighing in at 80 pounds and the DW735 comes in at 12 pounds heavier at 92 pounds.
The two models only differ by what is included in the box and the price of course. The X in the DW735X stands for eXtra's.
With the DW735X you get the infeed and outfeed table and an extra set of blades.
Although you can operate the DW735 with out the feed tables it will increase the risk of snipe along you boards especially for longer boards which will tend to bend easer than shorter ones.
The DW735X is a two speed bench top planer. It has a 15 Amp motor that gives a maximum blade speed of 10,000 RPM.
At the lower speed you will get 96 cuts per inch and the higher 179 per inch.
As stated above you get the addition of the feed tables in the 'X' package along with an extra set of blades.
It has a maximum height clearance of 6 inches and a width of 13 inches. The cutting depth per run of the boards is 1/8 of an inch.
The DW734 is the older, smaller and lighter brother to the DW735 model. It has a manual carriage lock and has is a single speed bench top planer.
The infeed and outfeed tables are included in the box. On earlier versions the knife cutting heads could be re-sharpened however, on newer models the have the same disposable ones as the DW735.