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Lightweight but solid, this two-knife model is a decent starter machine.

Web site:
Blog: See the inside of a straight-knife planer and a helical-head version.
Blog: Get the skinny on spiral cutterheads.

I admit to some skepticism as I unboxed the Grizzly G0790. This benchtop planer has only two knives, and at just $285 (plus $49 for shipping), I wasn’t expecting to be impressed. And while I’m not completely blown away by the machine’s performance, I have to admit that for the price, it performs surprisingly well.

According to the manufacturer, this one-speed, 65-pound, 2-horsepower, 110-volt planer takes 60 cuts per inch, has a feed rate of 26 feet per minute, a cutterhead speed of 8,750 revolutions per minute and makes 17,500 cuts per minute. The maximum cut width is 1212“; the maximum stock thickness the planer will handle is 412“.

In other words, it will handle surfacing most of your rough-sawn stock needs. But here’s the catch – the most stock I could remove in any one pass on 8″-wide boards was just a hair over 132” in white pine. With maple, red and white oak, I was able to remove no more than 132“, the maximum amount recommended by Grizzly.

Inexpensive & decent. For less than $300, you can get a pretty good two-knife planer; one drawback is its 1⁄32″ maximum stock removal per pass.

On the flip side, I experienced only about .002″ in snipe at the outfeed end of 4′-long workpieces (and almost none on 2′ pieces) and the overall surface quality was decent enough to hit it with a smooth plane or sander and be ready to finish. (To be fair, though, I wouldn’t expect a finish-ready surface from any powered planer.)

Assembly was fairly simple and intuitive (with easy-to-follow directions, if you’re so inclined). The top-mounted cutterhead elevation crank is conveniently located, and one full turn equals 116” movement.

While the machine comes with reversible knives installed, I inserted a new pair to test how easy it was – and it was simple, if a little laborious. Remove two screws to release the blade guard on the back, then turn the cutterhead until the six gib screws on one side face up. Remove them, then remove the gib and blade using the supplied magnetic handles. The new (or flipped) blade fits over registration pins, and can be shifted slightly right or left to eliminate lines from nicks in the knives . Screw the gib back in place, and you’re back in business. The blade change took about 30 minutes total, and that included having to fuss with properly reinstalling the somewhat bockety blade guard. (I’d add a piece of weatherstripping where the cover meets the machine, to cut down on dust issues.)

The G0790 includes a 238” dust port and a dust collection bag – but skip the bag and connect the machine to a vacuum; the bag collection is ineffective. I’d also recommend a dust mask; not everything gets collected (typical for a benchtop model).

Another safety consideration is the high noise level – at 112 dB in use, be sure to use ear protection.

Despite the minor drawbacks I’ve noted, if you need an occasional planer and don’t mind taking your time to get to final thickness with multiple passes, for about half the price of most benchtop models, the G0790 might be the right small planer for you.

— Megan Fitzpatrick

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