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Jet 15" Planer (2004)

I purchased this planer used in 2004, and sold my Dewalt 12" DW733 to offset some of the upgrade cost. After many happy years with the Dewalt I finally found a big monster planer at a price I couldn't refuse. The planer performs well. Not outstanding, not the best thing since sliced bread, but well.


  • Heavy. Rock solid. Plenty of cast iron and a very large motor. Keeps vibration to a minimum.
  • Large. Having the capacity to run 15" boards or glue-ups is a real luxury.
  • Relatively quiet. The induction motor and large mass keeps the noise to a reasonable level. When it's cutting wood the knives make unavoidable noise, but at "idle" it's fairly quiet.
  • 2 speeds. You can hog wood off with the high speed and then crank the speed down for the final passes. That's a very nice feature my DW733 did not have.
  • Infeed and outfeed rollers do a good job supporting boards and helping to prevent snipe.
  • Return rollers on top of the planer are handy to slide boards back to the infeed side for another pass.
  • Powerful. The big motor provides the capability to hog off 1/8" in a single pass. I can't imaging that I'll be making cuts that heavy very often, but it's good to know the ability is there if needed. It's evident the planer has power to spare - I haven't ever bogged it down.
  • The 3 knife cutterhead provides glass-smooth finished surfaces with sharp knives.
  • Effective chip collection. Not a single clog to date. Nuff said!
  • Built in casters inside the closed stand make moving the planer around very simple. The locking caster brake works well.
  • Adjustability. This is a blessing and a curse. Almost everything is adjustable on this thing: the infeed and outfeed roller spring tension, the table bed rollers, the chip breaker, the infeed/outfeed roller heights. Once I had everything tweaked properly all the adjustments haven't needed attention. But working through all the setup adjustments in the manual is a daunting task. Be patient and it will be time well spent. Most of the settings did not need to be tweaked from the previous owner - even after making a cross country trip from his shop to mine.


  • Serrated feed rollers leave small impressions on the surface of the board when making very light cuts. For "normal" cuts this is not a problem.
  • Heavy. Was a challenge getting into the basement.
  • Large. Going from a portable planer to a stand-alone planer caused me to change the tool layout in my shop to make room. It's good news in the end, though, since I like the new layout much better than the old - a fortunate accident if there ever was one.
  • Changing knives is an acquired talent. It's much like changing jointer knives. The jig they provide to set the height is not magnetic, so you're forced to use jacksrews to set the height and judge when the edges contact the jig by feel. I've managed to get quite competent in this process, but it's definately not as easy as the magnetic knife jigs available with the lunchbox planers and on the aftermarket. If budget allows I may purchase one of the aftermarket magnetic gages to make life a bit easier, but they're by no means required.

All-in-all I like the planer very much. I'm not sure it was a justified upgrade from the DW733 (they both plane wood very very well), but I'm happy to own it.

Update April 2006:
After a couple years of reliable service from this planer I noticed an oil leak that seemed to be coming from the gearbox. Sure enough the oil seal on the lower sprocket shaft was weeping oil. It took me some time to get replacement parts (bearings, seals, gasket, oil) and tools (I had to buy a bearing puller), but the repair went fairly smoothly. I was apprehensive about tearing the planer apart, but in the end the rebuilt gearbox seems to be holding oil. Hopefully the leak won't happen again, but if/when it does I'll probably purchase a Byrd helical cutterhead and install it while the machine is torn apart.

Update April 2008:
The other weekend in between business trips I was able install Byrd Shelix cutterheads in my jointer and planer with the help of a friend. I had been selling misc shop tools that haven't seen much use to raise the cash, and I finally raised enough to purchase both the jointer and planer heads thanks to a great sale price from Grizzly that was matched by Holbren (who threw in free shipping as well).

From reading others experiences I gathered that the jointer head would be fairly straightforward to install, but from my personal experiences with tearing my planer apart I knew that would be a PITA. Much to my surprise, they both went fairly easy, and we were able to get the two machines done in about 4 hours. My friend was a huge help, and we had to re-use some parts that I wasn't planning for, but overall it was a much easier task than I expected. So I thought I'd capture some lessons learned here for folks who might tackle the same task in the future.

The planer was definately harder to do, but it didn't take much more time (probably thanks in part to my previous experience with "repairing" the gearbox). The biggest issue with the planer is the $%#@* gearbox. It looks easy in Byrd's step-by-step document, but my gearbox did not come apart (on either occasion) nearly as nicely as the one in Byrd's pics. The shafts and gears interlock with each other, there are bearings all over the place pressed onto shafts and into the box housing, and the oil seals are tricky to seat properly. Also, I think there's a fundamental flaw in the gearbox that permits the oil leakage - it needs an additional fastener in the upper corner of the case to get a better clamp load on the gasket. Before you start the planer head make sure you have print outs of the exploded parts diagrams, replacement oil (I used 80-90W gear oil), replacement bearings and seals, several bearing pullers (the cheap HF set I purchased had several sizes and worked great), shop rags to handle the grease/oil, a dead blow hammer and deep well sockets to coerce bearings into/out of their housings and shafts, leather gloves to protect your hands from getting sliced on the cutters, and some real estate to lay out all the pieces/parts. If you have some base knowledge of bearings, take your time, don't chip the new cutters, and keep everything neatly organized and you'll get it done.

The shelix head has been a fantastic addition to the planer. Woods don't tear out (even heavily figured boards), it's a simple task to rotate the cutters when they dull or chip, and they stay sharp much much longer than HSS knives. The shelix heads aren't cheap, but if you can raise the cash (and watch for sales) they're FANTASTIC upgrades that are worth the install hassle and purchase price.

� Copyright 20010 Chris Billman