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Today’s thickness planers vary in price from less than $300 to nearly $500. In an effort to learn whether the price differences reflect the quality and features of the machines, I put nine of them through a hands-on test. To begin with, it’s important that the infeed and outfeed tables be flush with the bed, and I found that all of these machines made it easy to adjust the tables up and down. In addition, I tested how accurately and smoothly the planers cut (all produced amazingly smooth cuts). I also measured the noise level of the machines, checked to see how easy it was to change knives, and gauged the effectiveness of the dust collection.
New knives and the optional dust-collection hood for the moderately priced Jet were the most expensive. Two separate cutterhead-locking handles slowed the locking process. There was minimal snipe.
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