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  • Oliver Planers

    Oliver Planers FAQs

    Absolutely, especially if you're committed to woodworking. A thickness planer is an invaluable tool in any woodworker's arsenal, essential for milling rough stock to achieve a smooth surface and uniform thickness. It allows you to precisely control the thickness of your boards, a feature not typically available when relying on pre-milled lumber. Although the milling process, which includes planing or jointing one face of the board before planing the opposite face to parallel, can be time-intensive, a benchtop planer significantly speeds up this process compared to manual hand tools. Moreover, owning a thickness planer can lead to savings, enhance your woodworking skills, and enable the creation of custom projects. When considering a used planer, assess its condition and storage history. A well-maintained, rust-free used planer can be a great deal, with the option to upgrade later as needed.

    Thickness planers range from 12-13 inches, suitable for smaller tasks and DIY enthusiasts, to 25 inches for more extensive, professional use. Stationary wood planers, ideal for large, commercial projects, require a fixed workspace and are more complex, necessitating professional handling and maintenance. Conversely, benchtop thickness planers strike a balance between power and convenience. These are lighter, smaller, and portable, making them perfect for professionals who need to transport their equipment between various work sites.

    Most wood planers typically have a minimum thickness capacity of 1/4", while some models, particularly the 'lunchbox' type, can handle materials as thin as 1/8". These limitations stem from the machine's specific mechanism, including the roller type and design, and the crucial need to prevent the knives from contacting any non-wood components. To facilitate the planing of thinner materials, adding a base to the planer bed is an effective solution. For instance, using a 3/4" melamine base, cut to the width of the planer and slightly longer than its extended infeed/outfeed tables, can enhance the planer's capability. A cleat at the infeed end helps secure the base to the planer bed. This modification enables smoother planing of thinner materials, as demonstrated in the use of a 12-1/2" Jet planer to efficiently plane down to 1/8" without any issues.

    Most machines will have a very accurate digital readout or thickness gauge built-in, allowing you to confirm that you're planing to your desired thickness. If your planer doesn't come with one, you can purchase a Wixey digital planer readout which easily mounts to Dewalt, Delta, Ridgid, Ryobi, Makita, Craftsman and other brands.

    The type of cutterhead you choose significantly influences the quality of cut and overall user experience. Straight cutterheads, the traditional choice, use straight knives aligned parallel to the axis of the cutterhead. They are generally less expensive and simpler to manufacture but can be noisier and may leave marks or tear-out on the wood. Helical cutterheads, like the BYRD Shelix Cutterhead, on the other hand, feature small, square carbide cutters set at an angle to the axis of the cutter head. This design offers a shearing action as it cuts, resulting in a smoother finish with minimal tear-out, even on figured woods like maple. Additionally, a machine with helical cutterheads will operate more quietly and their cutters have four sharp edges, making them more durable and easier to replace. The choice between straight and helical cutterheads depends on the desired finish quality, noise level, and maintenance preferences.

    Choosing the Best Oliver Planer for your Woodworking Projects

    A stack of freshly planed wooden boards on a workshop table

    Are you tired of laboriously hand-planing your wood for that perfect finish? Look no further than Oliver Machinery's planers – the game-changer for woodworkers. With their innovative helical cutterhead design, an Oliver planer offers numerous benefits that will elevate your woodworking experience. Say goodbye to snipe marks and hello to smooth surfaces. 

    What is best, Straight or Helical Cutterheads?

    Should you go for a thickness planer with a BYRD Shelix cutter head or a machine with a straight cutterhead? In my professional opinion, if you can afford the upgrade, you should go for the Byrd Shelix cutterhead. Its 4-sided carbide inserts will give your wood a smooth finish that are definitely worth the extra cost.

    Helical Planers: A tool for Professionals

    The bottom line is, if you're passionate about crafting exquisite woodwork, a helical planer is for you. However, casual DIY enthusiasts may not require one, as it comes with a premium price tag. For occasional touch-ups, stick to your trusted tools.

    But if you aspire to elevate your craft, save time and effort, and demand flawless finishes and precision cuts, then a helical planer is a dream come true.

    Consider your woodworking needs carefully. Are you a casual carpenter or a true woodworking aficionado? If it's the latter, a helical planer might be the missing piece of the puzzle.

    How to select the perfect planer for you

    Now, let's discuss selecting the perfect helical planer in a nutshell.

    First, cutting width matters. It determines the size of boards you can feed into the planer. Choose wisely to avoid limitations.

    Next, more cutter head knives mean a smoother finish, reducing tear-out. Consider the number of knives when selecting a planer.

    And I personally appreciate the precision and convenience of the Wixey digital readout, so be sure it comes built-in with whichever machine you select.

    Lastly, factor in the planer's size. Choose one that balances capacity with space-saving.

    If you're still unsure whether a planer with a BYRD cutterhead is for you, keep reading below:

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