admin on July 21st, 2008
For a non-professional wood worker, buying a planer is a big deal. Cheap ones are flimsy and promise horrendous snipe, rough surfaces, and endless sanding. More expensive planers are, well, expensive. In the middle is the Dewalt DW735, a well-designed, reasonably priced, relatively portable, two-speed, three-blade planer that promises glassy smooth surfaces and virtually no snipe. As you might expect, no tool has ever entered my shop with higher hopes and expectations.
For the most part, the DW735 delivers. The two-speed transmission and three-blade cutter head add up to 179 cuts per inch, which leads to super smooth surfaces. The DW735 also has an absurdly powerful blower built in that removes chips from the cutting surface and forcibly ejects those chips from the back of the planer (more on this later). The scale on the right side of the infeed is easy to read, precise, and perfectly calibrated out of the box. The “depthometer” on the front of the unit is extremely useful, as it tells you how much you’re about to attempt to remove.
If you’ve looked around the internet for the DW735, you might have noticed that it’s often pictured with shiny, flip-up infeed and outfeed tables. That’s because it’s mostly useless without them. Plan on $50 for the pair.
People seem to refer to the DW735 and other planers in its class as “portable”. I guess that’s technically true in the same sense that buildings, bulldozers, and boulders are portable. I’ve personally found the 92 lb. cube to be unpleasant to move and I hope not to for a long time.
Three of the most contentious features of the DW735 are the $50-$75 “disposable” blades. Many have stated that the blades were ruined within a few board feet of brand new, while others claim to plane thousands of board feet without replacing the blades. My experience is somewhere in between. After observing that the blades are quite flimsy, I committed to minimize stress on them by using the lower feed speed for hard woods and taking off only around 1/32″ to 1/16″ per pass. If you’re really nervous about the blades, take comfort in that Infinity Cutting Tools sells high speed steel (HSS) blades for the DW735 that can be resharpened.
I don’t consider myself to be a wimp when it comes to noisy tools, but the DW735 is light-fixture-shaking, spouse-irritating, neighbor-waking loud. Easily the loudest tool I own, I believe that any use without hearing protection would certainly result in instant hearing loss and a serious headache.
If you don’t own a dust collector, the DW735 (or any planer for that matter) presents something of a problem. I hooked the planer up to my 12 gallon shop vac only to realize that the blower in the planer has more blowing whoop than my shop vac has sucking whoop. I also tried a fancy cyclone trashcan lid, which relies on suction to stay stuck to the trashcan. The DW735 made short work of that idea, blowing the lid clean off the can, even with the shop vac running. In short, you need a dust collector. If you just considered letting the chips fly, I don’t recommend it. I planed a short walnut board with the included diffuser about 6 months ago and I’m still finding little brown chips.
In the end, the DW735 is a solid value, offering more features, capability, and quality than anything in its price range, but given the opportunity for a redo, I might hold out for a more expensive, “stationary” unit with an induction motor and blades that are meant to last. You can find another review at newwoodworker.com.