A few months ago I was looking into planers and decided on the Dewalt 735X model…then a deal too good to pass up appeared for a gently used Porter Cable lunchbox planer and I bought it. I’ve used it a handful of times, until yesterday I was making a small cutting/serving board from hard maple and walnut when I noticed a significant amount of snipe at the last 3" or so of my board. Through some web reading and investigation I saw that this is a common issue with lunchbox planers, and figured out that I could feed a scrap board behind the good board and reduce this quite a bit. Either way I decided to sell the PC and upgrade (listed the PC last night and already sold it). So now I am without a planer at all (unless I want to use my XXL, which is slow). I’m back to looking at the Dewalt, but also looking at the Shelax cutter head to go with it. Then I realized that a larger planer might not be too much more expensive. I’ve also seen jointer/planer combos, but I’m a little suspicious of “Swiss Army Knife” type tools. Not really looking for a jointer since my table saw with a good blade seems to do pretty much all I ask from it for a smooth edge. Anyone have experience with this, is the Dewalt the way to go? Should I go with the (almost $400) Shelax cutter, better options, maybe bigger machines? Cost always comes into play, and I’m not a pro cabinet maker, but I would like to avoid buying twice or tossing alot of good wood.
I am not an expert regarding planers, but what I know about snipe is: (and this is a very rudimentary explanation)
The length of the infeed table relative to the length of your board you are planing affects snipe at the start of the board.
The length of the outfeed table relative to the length of the board you are planing affects snipe at the end of your board.
For me, since I make cribbage boards which are no longer than ~15", I can get away with a planer that has short infeed and outfeed tables. I have a Makita 12in planer and if I am not careful, I can get some snipe on the last 1/2" or so, but that is usually under a clamp anyway, so for me it is no big deal. I have not looked into the shelix head for my Makita because the blades last a while, they are really easy to replace, and they index themselves, which is great.
Also, since my shed has a wooden floor, I cannot put anything large in it like the big JET JJP-12HH like I want, so I settled. I bought a 10in portable jointer, the Jet JJP-10TBOS and it is exactly what the reviews say it is - great if you are jointing short pieces. Unfortunately, mine has the infeed and outfeed tables out of alignment, and to get them adjusted, the thing has to be mostly disassembled. I am going to get a shelix head for it - I think it’s this company that has them for my jointer. I have not done it yet, but it is on my “to do” list.
Kind of rambled on that. Sorry. Googling the DeWalt 735 turns up a few people who have done the shelix mod, but it looks like if you want to stop the snipe, you need longer infeed and outfeed tables. One person made 4ft infeed and outfeed tables using melamine coated particle board shelves.
I’m no expert either since I have only owned one planer for less than 6 months so you are probably light years ahead of me I leveled my infeed/outfeed tables to perfection(my OCD says they’re good). The particular piece I was planing was 12" long and about 11" wide. I was diligent about “catching” my piece as it was coming out and trying to apply a slight lift as I have read could help, it didn’t. One thing I read online was that snipe on lunchbox planers is due in large part to the cutter head ever so slightly dropping as the piece comes through the rollers, more so on hard woods where there is very little flex(I was planing 3/4" hard maple and walnut in a cutting board glue up, doubt it was flexing at all), it seemed to get better as the project got thinner, and definitely helped when I fed a piece of scrap behind it. I’ve thought about making larger infeed/outfeed tables, but my shop is too small to really make anything worth while. I guess I’m wondering if the Dewalt is going to be any better than the Porter Cable in this regard, it’s definitely heavier and seems more stable, but if I’m going to spend the money on the Dewalt and eventually the Shelax cutter head, maybe I should go full upgrade and get a larger Grizzly? Seems like I shouldn’t have to spend thousands of dollars on something just to get something that works, especially a tool that’s not going to be the “center piece” of my shop. I’m sure plenty of people are using smaller machines and doing just fine. Surely most folks aren’t cutting off 3" of material just to get to the center flat pieces? I’ll follow your suggestion and do more research on snipe and infeed/outfeed table length, sounds like there’s some math involved in getting it right too?
Thanks for the feedback!
Have you seen jay bates vid on the Shelax? Very informative.He also has other great videos on his main channel.
Thanks, that pretty much answered most of my concerns. Looks like I’ll probably go with the 735X to start and when the blades croak, and my bank account recovers, I’ll get the Helix head. Funny he mentioned figured maple as “always” having tear out with straight blades, which isn’t exactly snipe, but makes sense for me since I have mostly planed soft wood before yesterday and hadn’t had as much of an issue.
Separate machines are usually a better way to go. You typically go from jointer to planer, on combo machines you have to set up each one, so it takes a little while to change over.
Another option if you have 220 available is buy a used 15-20” planer and change out the cutter head with a Shelix head.
I’ve owned all 3 DeWalt planers, 733, 734, 735. The 735 is the best for minimizing snipe, however the stock blades dull quickly and chip easily. The drive sprockets also have a history of breaking. Not a huge deal, just have spares on hand. You can also purchase carbide re-sharpenable blades from Infinity Tools, but will need two sets if you need a set while the other is being sharpened.
The 734 is essentially the same as a 733 except with a 3 head disposable blades cutter head and same issues with the blades as the 735. The 733 has two resharpenable blades.
I purchased the Byrd Shelix head when it was introduced. Worth every penny. It is slightly smaller in diameter than the stock DeWalt cutterhead diameter so you can only take a 1/16” deep pass or less. It made it 8 years in my shop on the first cutting edge before I needed to rotate the cutters. One year later I needed to upgrade to an industrial planer due to the amount of cutting boards my Son was making for his business.
I sold the 735 and found a used 15” industrial planer, purchased the Byrd Shelix head from Grizzly on sale, purchased new rollers and worn out parts for the machine, rebuilt it in a weekend with my Son, and was only into the refurbished Shelix planer for $100 more than what I sold the DeWalt with the Shelix head for. Wish I would have gone the industrial planer route years ago.
Buy as large of a machine as you can afford at the moment. You will inevitably need more capacity than what you need today in the future.
I bought a planer back last year. I had grand plans to do some cool things with it.
I have a real issue with space though. Whilst it does what it says on the box I found I got allot of snipe. I was going to build a sled table but have no where to put it.
I also found none of my boards were straight. I now need to go out and buy a jointer.
I’m actually finding ways in which I can use my shapeoko to plane and surface boards.
Hey Luke, you bought the Dewalt table saw too right? I’m finding with a good sharp blade my need for a jointer is mostly unnecessary. Are you not getting clean cuts? I have a small router table with inserts to offset the fence that will allow me to do flatten board edges if needed, but so far not needed.
I ordered the Dewalt DW735X planer. Should be here in a couple days, will report back on my findings once it’s here. Going to hold off on the Shelix cutter head for now, quite spendy!
Yep, I sure did and the table saw is excellent.I might need to get a better bade on it. I think I’m still running stock. I also can’t use it to face boards… I might actually sell the planer as I’m not using it as much as I’d hope to for the above reasons.
I’d be keen to hear your feedback in it.
Sorry I’m chiming in after you ordered.
I have a friend with the DeWalt, and I got tired of heading across town to do my planing. I don’t use one enough to justify even the DeWalt, but I got this one when there was a price drop.
I’m not exactly a pro, but it seems to do the same job. Snipe isn’t really an issue if I’m good with the lift trick.
I have a Delta 13" planer with the Shelix head installed.
Changing the head did not change the snipe issue.
It was a great improvement in quality. I no longer worry about grain direction and which end of the board I put into the planer.
Best reduction in snipe I have found is to have well adjusted infeed/outfeed tables and avoid any upward or downward pressure on the end of the board on entry or exit.
A good blade makes a big difference. The included blade is fine for rough work, but it’s not the best for anything fine.
I actually own several tools from Wen. For the price they cannot be beat, easily the top end of lower end tools at the lowest price. I’ve seen several of the same tools rebranded and sold for twice the price. After owning the Porter Cable though I wanted to get the best I could afford. The next step up beyond the Dewalt is just slightly out of my price point. The Dewalt will be here in two days and I’ll give it a shot. If it’s not “that much” better I’ll send it back and start saving my money.
I think the Porter Cable is a rebranded Delta, the chip collector I bought for it was actually for a Delta planer. But the PC I had was only a 12 1/2”, so probably a different model?
I leveled mine as flat possible and rechecked it several times. I tried just letting the board feed itself and catching as it pushed itself out, or lifting slightly, or lifting more aggressively, or taking really light cuts. The only thing that really worked was to feed another board behind the first, but that turned into a juggling act. My suspicion is that the head was actually tilting a bit as the boards passed the rollers, as was mentioned in some article or another in my web research. Ironically I read 100 reviews on the Dewalt that say “zero snipe”, then I come across more reviews that say “I returned it because the snipe is so bad”. So I guess I’ll see for myself in a couple days, haha!
Here’s my 2 cents. I also have a Rockwell/Delta 13”.
I’ve considered the Shelix but decided to buy a second set of blades and a Deulen sharpening jig instead. https://www.deulentools.com/
Over the years I’ve learned the idiosyncrasies of my machine and am able to plane soft and hardwoods with almost ready to finish surfaces. IMHO sharp blades are the key. I generally swap mine out after each project. They are easy to sharpen and changeout takes 15 minutes, maybe an half hour.
These are the original blades that came with the planer, still lots of life left. Also, the sharpening jig.
How does the jig function?
That’s something I hadn’t considered, very cool and simple. The 735X comes with an extra set of blades, but they call the blades “disposable”, wonder if they can be effectively resharpened? Don’t see why they can’t?
Small update: My new planer is due to land here tomorrow, but instead it got delivered at 6:00am this morning and dumped on my front walkway in the pouring rain (Thanks Amazon!). I managed to drag it up to my front door and somewhat out of the rain before being late to work. My wife was home, so it was mostly safe and I drug it to my garage on my lunch break. Just unboxed and checked it out, appears free of damage, so I’ll whine a little, then be ok This is a much more substantial machine than the Porter Cable it replaced. Will report back once I have time to set it up properly and run some boards through it. I also bought the Wixey thickness gauge DRO, which is probably overkill, but I like DROs, because, their, uhm, digital?
Thanks for all the replies. For what seems like such a simple machine it seems like there’s a little more learning curve than I expected. Figured it be like plug it in, have great looking boards, repeat.
Here you go Mike. https://youtu.be/IgaDpbDhlss
To quote the inventor “ all you need is a smart monkey”
Just spent 30 minutes setting up and adjusting. Some minor snipe, but nothing like before, and the finish at high blade speed, wow!!! First impression is I think we have a winner!
I too have the 735x, and it’s an absolute beast of a machine (I especially love the depth stop feature… I planed some 1” rough cut Black Walnut yesterday to ¾” (according to my 735’s dial)… I took the plank from the machine, measured it with digital calipers, and the reading was 0.755”! Not too shabby!
I also considered upgrading to a helical cutterhead, but the cost/return just didn’t make sense ~to me~.
Instead I opted to also add a small jointer to my shop - the baby King Canada benchtop jointer, which (for $400CAD, so about 30C USD ) comes with a helical cutting head right from the get-go… it’s a joy for creating perfectly flat edges on pre-cut boards now, to the point that I’ve had a ton of fun recently making cutting boards/serving platters/charcuterie boards (or whateverthehellyacallem!) out of scraps jus’ ‘cos!