Brawn, capacity and endurance make all the difference.
By David Thiel
Is gaining 2″ of planing width capacity worth an extra $300 to $1,000? Nope. So if that’s the reason why you’re considering buying a 15″ planer, borrow a friend’s instead.
The real reason to buy a 15″ planer is the motor. Well, yes the extra capacity is nice, and the weight and sturdiness of the planer is a plus. But it’s the 3-hp, 220-volt induction motor that makes these machines something to lust after.
While testing benchtop planers in an earlier issue we quickly noticed the significant strain put on the 110-volt universal motors by running a wide board. The 13″ capacity on those planers is coming close to asking too much of the high-speed, short-duration design of universal motors. So while I won’t say never, I will say it’s unlikely you’ll ever see a 15″ planer powered by a universal motor.
On 15″ planers, the motor can run for hours (under load running anything from pine to figured maple) with nearly insignificant drops in speed. These planers are designed for the woodworker who has occasion to run 300 board feet (or more) of hard wood a few times a month.
From the February 2005 issue #146
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