After my abortive attempt to buy some woodworking machinery and a bit of a rethink, I’ve ordered a SIP 01552 8″ benchtop planer thicknesser from a local company, Homewood (they don’t list it on their website at the moment).
There seems to be very little in the way of reviews on the SIP on the internet (I have now posted one), so I ended up subscribing to the electronic version of The Woodworker to get access to the Summer 2011 back issue (available for sale here) with a group test including it and the Axminster MB9020, which I was also considering.
The review of the SIP mentioned not needing to mess about with the planer table when converting to thicknesser mode, which is a big bonus compared to some of the alternatives. It also has inbuilt dust collection (not that I expected very much from it).
Homewood also suggested the Fox F22-564-250, which has a 10 inch planing capacity but can only thickness up to 5 inches. As the difference was about £80 and a toss up between being able to plane more or thickness more, I don’t think I’d have gone far wrong with either option.
(I don’t think I’ll ever need to deal with 8″x8″ timber, but I might want to put an 6″x2″ though on edge or something …)
My wife wouldn’t be massively impressed if I ordered 32kg of machinery and then wasn’t in when it arrived, but most of the people I spoke to insisted on shipping direct from the manufacturer to me “in 3 working days” or offered a next business day upgrade for about £30.
In an impressive display of how customer service should be, Homewood offered to have it shipped to their shop, where they would assemble and test if for me and hold it until I was able to pick it up!
Homewood weren’t the absolute cheapest I found, but once I factored in the cost of next day delivery from everyone else, it was a very easy choice.
I drove over to Worthing earlier and the SIP is now ensconced in the workshop waiting for me to find it a better home than perched on top of one of my folding workbenches.
So far I’ve only had time for a quick go planing and thicknessing a bit of rough 2″x2″ and I have to say I’m very impressed.
The fence is a little bit fiddly to get square (at least at both sides of the blade simultaneously!) and as expected the built in dust collection isn’t particularly effective, but it’s better made and a lot quieter than I was expecting.
I’m also very glad to have found Homewood and will definitely use them again in future.