by Derek Cohen
In “Why Portable Planers are Better” (February 2016, issue #223), Christopher Schwarz presents the case for a planer (“thicknesser,” on my side of the Pacific) in a small shop as the main aid in preparing stock. I think a jointer is the better machine for this, especially when paired with a band saw.
The first thought that comes to mind about the lunchbox planer is that they are extraordinarily noisy! The universal motor wails like a banshee in heat, and is a mating call for the environmental police, panicking neighbors, and complaining family.
And flattening one side of a board with a jack plane preparatory to sending it through a planer? It is not usually a case of waving the plane over the board, and all is done in a matter of minutes. It can be hard work.
First off, let’s get past the issue of size – that the portable planer has a small footprint while an 8″ jointer takes up more space than Texas. One may indeed tuck a portable planer away in a smaller corner. In use, however, both machines require about the same space for the infeed and outfeed of longish boards.