As I have admitted previously, my woodworking skills fall somewhere between nonexistent and marginal. I really enjoy working with wood, though (even if the feeling isn’t mutual), and someday I WILL make something every bit as good as the stuff on YouTube! Meanwhile, I use my woodworking tools on my projects when I get the opportunity. My use of my old Delta planer on a recent project resulted in its demise (more on that shortly); fortuitously, DEWALT recently provided us with one of their DEWALT DW735X Portable Planers to evaluate.
The DEWALT DW735X package includes the 13” DEWALT DW735 three knife, two-speed thickness planer, a dust hose adapter, dust ejection chute, an extra set of knives, and infeed and outfeed tables. Per DEWALT’s specs, the planer has a powerful 15 AMP, 20,000 RPM motor (10,000 RPM cutter-head speed) that handles larger cuts in wider materials with ease. The three knife cutter-head delivers 30% longer knife life and makes knife changes faster and easier. The two-speed gearbox allows users to change feed speed to optimize cuts per inch at 96 or 179 CPI. It has a fan-assisted chip ejection system, which vacuums chips off of the cutter-head and exhausts them out of the machine.
With a 19-3/4″ cast aluminum base, the DEWALT DW735X is 2X more rigid than a standard 10″ base and folding tables. The automatic carriage lock reduces the movement that causes snipe, without the need for manual engagement by the user. The planer also has a material removal gauge and extra-large thickness scale, which ensures accurate cuts with every pass. The extra-large turret depth stop allows users to return to most frequently-used thicknesses with ease. The planer can handle material up to 6” thick and 13” wide, and can remove up to 1/8” of material in a single pass.
The DEWALT DW735X Portable Planer – Redefining “Portable!”
The DEWALT DW735X is a very beefy, sturdy tool, weighing in at an unsvelte 92 pounds. This is great when you’re using it; the planer is rock steady, and even if it isn’t bolted down, it’s not going anywhere. When the planer arrived, though, I happened to be out of town. My wife, who is 5’1”, had to wrestle the 105-pound box in from the porch. She was not amused. My advice? If you’re having the DEWALT DW735X portable planer shipped, make sure you’re there when it arrives. If you’re not, be prepared to come up with some nice flowers and/or a nice dinner out and/or a gift certificate to a good chiropractor.
Once you, or some other
sucker unfortunate soul, has schlepped the planer inside, the fun can begin. There are only a couple of pieces to attach to prep the DEWALT DW735X for action. The crank handle gets locked into place with a screw, tightened with the T-handle tool that resides right on top of the planer. The tool also works to remove the blade covers and other pertinent parts that might need to be disassembled sometime in the future, so it’s handy having it right there. Now just click the turbo dust hose adapter into place, do the same with the infeed and outfeed tables, and you’re ready to make some wood chips fly!
The DEWALT DW735X Vs. The Mighty Oak
As part of an ongoing renovation, I’m installing a LOT of ¾” tongue and groove oak flooring. I’m also doing most of the trim in oak. The house has a lot of character. In case you don’t speak OldHouseEse, allow me to translate: There isn’t a plumb, level or square surface in the place. As a result of all this character, I’ve had to fabricate a lot of trim in non-standard thicknesses, to fur out doorjambs, window trim, and so on. The table saw works fine to get the filler pieces to approximately the right size, but doesn’t leave a very good finished edge. I’d been using my old Delta planer to bring the pieces to the final size, and get a decent edge.
This worked great, until there was an unfortunate incident involving leveling compound and a small hole in the floor. This small hole resulted in drainage into the basement, which unfortunately is where the planer was located. Directly under the hole, as it happens. If you’re familiar with leveling compound, you know it hardens pretty much like concrete. Turns out that wasn’t very good for the planer; its planing days were over. Time to pass the baton to the DEWALT DW735X!
To see the DEWALT DW735X in action, I lugged it out of my truck and into the garage, and set it on the floor. Yep, all by myself. As I might have mentioned, that sucker is HEAVY. For the sake of your back, and various other body parts you might like to continue using in a pain-free fashion, I heartily recommend getting a helper to move it, if at all possible. Large, sturdy handles built in to each side make it possible to move by yourself, and make it a relatively painless two-man job.
Once I was able to stand upright again, I grabbed a piece of the 1X6” oak flooring and an old, tired piece of 1X10” pine. When you slide the work piece in under the built-in gauge, and raise or lower the crank, the amount of material that will be taken off is indicated on the face of the gauge. I set it to take off about 1/16”, and backed the piece out of the planer. I donned my earmuffs and safety glasses, fired it up, and flipped the speed lever over to position 2. Per the instructions (of COURSE I read them!), you should only change speeds while the planer is running.
Regarding the speed setting: the motor spins at the same speed in both positions. The speed control determines how quickly the material passes through the planer. On speed 2, the board passes through at a rate that makes 96 cuts per inch (CPI), which is good for removing larger amounts of material. When you get closer to your final dimension, switch over to speed one. The 179 CPI on this speed leaves you with a VERY smooth finish.
I ran the piece of oak through four times, using the slower feed setting for the final pass. When the oak came out, it was smooth enough that, for many applications, including mine, it could be used with no further sanding. The motor on the DEWALT DW735X was steady and powerful, and felt like it could happily keep munching on oak as long as you felt like feeding it in. I then grabbed the pine board and fed it through a couple of times. It removed the rough, pitted surface, and made the old beat-up piece look purty again.
Not being a gen-u-wine woodworker, I unfortunately have no kick-ass dust collection system set up. I may invest in one anyhow, because I do have quite a bit of planing left to do, and planing with ANY planer generates an incredible amount of wood chips. My old Delta planer, before being encased in cement, left a healthy pile of shavings within about 2 – 3’ of the planer. The powerful motor and ejection system on the DEWALT DW735X spews out an impressive amount of wood debris, and it spews it out with a lot of gusto. I had the planer near the front of my 24’ deep garage, and it distributed a wake of chips all the way to the back wall. To handle this volume and velocity of debris, the ideal setup is a 4” dust collection system; user reviews say a regular shop vac has a tough time keeping up. On a budget? Have a good broom and dustpan, and be prepared to use them.
A Snipe Hunter’s Guide To The DEWALT DW735X
The infeed table is pretty much a must. It helps make sure the material is completely flat as it’s fed through the planer. As it enters the DEWALT DW735X and hits the feed rollers, the material is propelled through and out the back. The whole process is smoother than Caitlyn Jenner’s stubble-free cheeks. The outfeed table helps keep your work piece flat and stable until it’s clear of the cutter heads, making it less likely you’ll end up with snipe.
If you’re unfamiliar with the term “snipe” in the context of woodworking, it’s different from the type of snipe a newbie might be sent after in a snipe hunt. When I worked as a framing carpenter, for example, the new guy would be sent to fetch the board stretcher, or instructed to be sure to use a left-handed hammer or framing square. In the woodworking universe, snipe actually exists, and it’s not something you want to find. If the board is elevated as it enters or exits the planer, you can end up with a depression at the beginning or end of the piece. That’s your snipe. Snipe can almost always be eliminated by simply supporting the work piece so it remains perfectly flush with the surface of the planer until it’s totally outta there.
After using the DEWALT DW735X on the oak, I noticed a very minor amount of snipe at one end of the cut. It was so shallow, I didn’t even notice it at first, and it wasn’t enough to even show up in a picture. I figured one of the tables just needed to be adjusted, so using the adjusting screws on the side, I went at it. I got the front table adjusted so both sides were perfectly level with the planer, but when I put a straightedge on it, the center didn’t line up. That’s when I realized the table was actually deflected downward in the center. That’s a fancy way of saying it was dented.
We got in touch with DEWALT and told them about the problem. Their initial response was that they would send an entire new DEWALT DW735X kit. In the interest of saving my marriage, we convinced them to just send a new set of tables. When they arrived, I checked to make sure they were flat. Yep, I’m a quick learner. The new tables were perfectly flat, and I had them installed quickly. I made four passes with a piece of oak, checking for snipe after each pass. The verdict? Snipe free! Checking other reviews, I couldn’t find any other mention of issues with the tables; my guess is the dented one got dropped and stepped on somewhere in the packing process. If you have a similar issue, DEWALT’s customer service reps should have you back on the level quickly.
Just Plane Solid
As I mentioned, the DEWALT DW735X is a VERY solid, well-constructed tool, and I expect to get many years of use out of it. It’s well thought out, with a lot of pro-grade features. I particularly like the turret depth stop, which will stop the planer from removing material beyond your pre-set depth, so your finished pieces will all have exactly the same thickness. Buying it in the kit, with the tables and the extra set of knives, makes a lot of sense. It saves money, ensures your work has a more stable entry and exit, and guarantees you won’t have to send your apprentice out for left-handed planer blades anytime soon.
If mine ever migrates to the basement, it will be shrouded in heavy-duty tarps, to spare it the fate of the poor Delta. And before any future floor-leveling projects, the floor will be meticulously inspected for ANY cracks, crevices, or other sources of escape for the deadly liquid. The DEWALT DW750X has solid reviews pretty much everywhere it is sold. The tool comes with a warranty as beefy as the planer: A 90-day money-back guarantee, a one-year free service contract, and a three-year limited warranty. The DEWALT DW735X is available for around $650 from both Home Depot, and our sponsor Rockler.
You can also find the folding tables, replacement planer knives and mobile stand separately and on sale via our sponsor Tool Authority: