When I was researching it I found very few reviews of this machine, or even photos beyond the 2 standard manufacturer ones.
Since posting about buying it I’ve seen quite a few people landing here having searched for the model name, so I thought I’d post the photos I would like to have seen when researching and my thoughts so far in the hope that they’ll be useful to anyone else in a similar situation.
If you have any questions not answered by this review or would like to leave some feedback then please leave a reply/comment.
Assembly and instructions
Homewood kindly assembled it for me, so I can’t comment on ease of assembly.
The instructions are a bit vague and the language a little odd in places (“cannula” instead of “hose” for example) but they’re mostly understandable with a bit of thought.
The machine seems sturdy and well made and rests solidly on four large rubber feet. It is fairly noisy in operation, but not as loud as I was expecting.
The kill switch is large and hides the on switch
To start the machine in either mode you slide the kill switch up until it hinges out and exposes the on and off switches. Trying to click the kill switch back into place will press the stop button, so you have to leave it slightly ajar (I think this is how it’s meant to work)
There is a reset switch, which I believe is for resetting the overload protection
There are two blades, fixed by allen bolts
The rear panel has a wire frame to wrap the power cord around, which is useful when moving or storing the machine
Whilst the machine has in built chip extraction to a large fabric bag via a flexible 63mm hose.
I’ve not found it particularly effective, but since I intend to connect it to a vacuum/extractor I’m not particularly bothered about this.
The cast aluminium tables seem flat and fairly well made. There’s a fine semicircular ridge pattern on them which I assume is from some grinding/milling process during their manufacture (the circular pattern where the center of the circle would be on the left is the real pattern – everything else is moire from the digital camera).
The fence is flat and can be slid parallel to the table, giving a variety of positioning options from mostly on the infeed side to central
The tilting mechanism allows the fence to be clamped firmly in place. Adjustable stops allow you to set 90 degree and 135 degree positions.
I find I have to push the center of the black lever on the right hand side over towards the left until it clicks before the fence will tilt freely. I think the bolt head is catching on the left of the mechanism or something.
The lever at the top clamps the fence on the side to side (infeed to central) travel
In my experience it can be a little fiddly to get the fence perpendicular to both the infeed and outfeed tables simultaneously, but perseverence and fiddling with both the sliding and tilting mechanisms will eventually result in squareness.
Update 07/04/2012: Since receiving a digital goniometer I’ve discovered that the tables are actually 0.2 degrees out, which explains why I can’t get the fence perpendicular to both!
As the adjustable stop is on the left and there is a certain amount of flex in the mechanism, on mine it is possible to get the fence square with the outfeed table and then (ab)use the adjustable stop to get it square with the infeed side as well.
The depth adjustment is via a knob on the end of the infeed table, which is a little stiff.
The instructions are a little vague on the subject, but screwing the knob anticlockwise lowers the infeed table and increases the depth of planer cut.
There is a depth gauge for the planer just next to the thicknesser depth adjustment crank handle.
Although the planer can be set for a 2mm depth of cut, I’m not intending to use any more than 1mm.
The blade guard lifts up only an inch or two to accommodate timber passing underneath. A stop prevents it from lifting any further.
For thicker timber the blade guard is slid outwards to allow it to pass between the fence and the end of the guard, while still covering the unused section of blade. There is a lever to lock the guard in place and prevent it sliding in/out during use.
As the fence can only be set to the right of the infeed table (facing the blades) it is likely that the blades will wear unevenly unless only 8″ stock is ever planed (This can of course be mitigated by placing the timber away from the fence side when thicknessing).
It would be great if the fence could be mounted over the table, but I appreciate that this would make the blade guard arrangement a lot more complex if this idea was to fly.
Conversion to thicknesser mode
Although the instructions recommend you remove the fence and planer blade guard when converting to thicknesser mode, I’ve found that you can drop the fence back to 135 degress and pull the planer blade guard sideways until it’s clear of the table, then lift its arm up a bit and the dust extraction hood will then fit onto the top of the planer table.
This saves time and coupled with the fact that you don’t need to move the planer tables, means the conversion process is pretty painless (the most time consuming part is re-setting the planer fence square when you convert back).
Two captive keys are permanently attached to the dust collection hood/guard and locate into slots either side of the outfeed table.
They also activate an interlock switch which prevents the machine from running without the hood/guard in place.
Thicknessing depth is adjusted by cranking a handle on the top of the machine by the planer depth gauge (thicknessing depth is independent of planer settings).
There is a depth gauge on the thicknessing infeed side of the machine.
Thicknessing is a simple matter of feeding the timber in until it engages with the roller and then ensuring it doesn’t drop as it exits the machine.
The machine has anti-kickback fingers near the feed roller.
There are warning stickers stating the machine is not designed to thickness multiple pieces of timber simultaneously.
I would have liked a larger table, or perhaps one of the pull out extensions that I’ve seen on other models, although many of those look like they’d cause more harm than good.
It’s not too much of a hardship to arrange a folding roller stand and this is likely to mark the wood less.
Things I like:
- 8″ thicknessing capacity (most other 8″ planer-thicknessers have only 5″ thicknessing capacity)
- Easy to switch between modes without removing fence etc.
- Built in dust extraction (great if it worked!)
- Sliding fence (center to infeed bias)
- Fairly accurate depth gauges
- Solid and stable, thick rubber feet
Things I don’t like:
- Fence a bit fiddly to get square
- Pressed steel thicknessing bed (not cast iron)
- Cast aluminium tables (I would prefer cast iron)
- NVR/emergency stop switch a bit fiddly
- Built in dust extraction ineffectual
- A bit noisy (but not as bad as expected!)
So far I’m very happy with this machine and would recommend it.
It seems well built and has given good results with minimal effort.