Planing down a bunch of hard maple on the last project really got me thinking about an upgrade to my planer. My Rigid 13″ planer has served me well for the last 10 years or so, but the quality of the replacement blades seems to have dropped off in recent years, so I have been eating up blades on the harder wood. Couple that with a maximum cut depth of 1/32″ and you really start to think about an upgrade.
Then Black Friday comes along, with Jet’s 15% off, Rockler’s free shipping (including freight with lift gate service), and no tax, because there are no Rockler’s in my state. All that equals approximately $700 in savings on the Jet 15″ planer with a helical cutting head. The JWP15-HH can easily cut 1/8″ deep on the hardest maple I have. That speeds my milling process up about four times faster. The helical head carbide cutters are angled to cut in shear, reducing noise considerably and removes all of the scalloping in the wood, that you can get with straight blades.
Two weeks after my order was placed, my new planer was delivered to my garage.
This baby comes with all the tools you need to set up or maintain this machine.
Getting the planer in the shop took a couple of people and a little bit of care. It weighs about 500 pounds. My oldest son and I put it on a moving dolly and I built some ramps to get over the door threshold. It actually had two retractable bars on each side that you are supposed to use for lifting, which was awesome since we had no other way to lift it… Once it was in the shop, we took it off the dolly and could use the built-in mobile base to maneuver it around.
Setup wasn’t difficult, just time-consuming. I had all day, so I took my time.
First thing I did was install a plug to the end of the wire. It comes without one because you have the choice to hard-wire it as well. Kind of annoying that they didn’t include a $10 plug on such an expensive machine.
After that, I laid out everything that came with the planer.
The next step was to clean all of the rust preventative oil that was thickly smeared onto every unpainted surface.
The best way that I know to do this is with WD-40 and some paper towels.
Once cleaned off, I sprayed some Boeshield T-9 on the table tops to protect against rust and to lubricate the surfaces.
After the infeed and outfeed tables were done, I moved on to the rest of the machine…
The last thing I cleaned was the helical head cutter. All these teeth are sharp so I was very careful. It took a while.
Check out these teeth. Four rows of blades around the cutter head, all in a spiral. Each cutter has four useable sides making it easy to repair a chipped section by rotating the blade 90 degrees.
Following cleanup, it was time to install and level the infeed and outfeed tables.
I laid a straight edge across the top of the bed and tables, then adjusted the screws below to level everything out.
The dust shoot was the last part to install. Not real happy about the bolt locations being under the top rollers. I also wish the outlet direction could have been flipped to meet up with my dust collection inlet above.
Now I run into a little snag that I did not realize when I purchased this planer. On my old planer, the bed was in a fixed location that matched my work bench, which became an extended outfeed table, and the cutter head moved up and down to accommodate the wood thickness. The bed on this new planer is the part that adjusts. That is not cool. Pretty much any of the possible bed locations are below my work bench top.
My temporary solution, until I completely redo the layout of my shop, is to raise this guy up so that most of the cuts I take will be above the bench top. That means I need to build a 4″ platform strong enough to hold a 500 pound planer.
I won’t show you how much fun this thing was to lift and move with that outfeed table installed, but it was a challenge…
Next I installed the infeed table, then rigged up a temporary connection to my dust collector.
Time to play!
The first piece that I ran through was a piece of knotty, rough-sawn white oak.
First cut was 1/8″ deep, cleaning and leveling the entire face in just one pass.
Second test piece was a piece of scrap hard maple with several knots and swirly grain. Only a tiny bit of tear-out, and no scalloping. The first cut was also 1/8″ deep. Oh, also I wanted to mention that the noise level was considerably more bearable than my old straight-knife planer. I even made a pass or two with no hearing protection and it was quieter than my dust collector, definitely bearable but I will continue to wear my headphones anyway.
This planer was a little pricey up front, but I think it will save a lot of time in the long run, and the 4-sided carbide blades should last me probably 40 times longer than my steel ones as long as I don’t plane any nails. The noise reduction is a big plus as well, with other people working in my shop. All in all, I definitely think it was worth the plunge. The only real complaint I have is the adjustable table. It makes it almost impossible to have an extended outfeed table beyond the planer, but I also understand the necessity in the design of the machine. When I reconfigure my shop, I will have to make room for it to be out in the open, but that might have to wait a few months…