Steel City 40200H 13" Planer - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 9 Old 02-11-2011, 04:21 PM Thread Starter
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Steel City 40200H 13" Planer

After buying this planer a few weeks ago, a couple guys asked me to do a more formal review. I'm horrible at write ups like this so I'm gonna post my thoughts on this thing and I'll miss a lot. This is also my first planer so I dont have anything to compare it against. Please post any questions you have and I'll do my best to answer them.

I purchased this machine at Woodcraft after a small battle over the price. They had it listed at $599.99 and the Steel City promotional flyer had it listed for $549.99. It took 3 days and finally speaking with the owner of the Woodcraft store to get this machine at the promotional price. 50 bucks is 50 bucks and I really didnt understand them not wanting to give the promotional price but they did in the end.

This machine came well packaged from the factory. It would take a serious drop for this machine to be damaged while in its packaging. After getting it out of its packaging and mounting it on a cheap tool stand I picked up at Sears I noticed the grease. I went back to the owners manual mainly to see how they reccomend going about getting the grease out but went ahead and read the whole thing. (not a bad idea with any new tool) The manual said to spray all the bare metal surfaces with a common household cleaner/grease remover. I tried a couple different things we had here to try and break down the grease but nothing worked really well. I got the best results with Mean Green but it didnt really work well. Ive read in some other posts that brake cleaner works well. I didnt try that. I spent quite a bit of time trying to clean it. When it looked clean I started running some scrap pine through it. It all came out covered in grease and the cutter head slung grease all over the table. Back to step one. I sprayed everything down with a heavy coat of cleaner and let it soak for a minute then wiped it all down again. I then started running more scrap pine through it to try and clear out the remainder of the grease. Bottom line is, I dont think its possible to get all the grease out in the beginning without completely disassembling this thing. I have cleaned and cleaned and I still am getting a little bit of grease everytime I use it. Nothing like I was getting in the beginning but its still noticeable.

Noise levels on this machine are very low. I have read lots of reviews on other machines where noise levels are insane. My shop vac is louder than this planer. My shop is in the basement and no one has complained about this machine running even late when everyone is sleeping. I also have a 6 week old baby that dosnt get woken up by this machine. Noise levels while planing wood seem to be about the same as when at idle.

Chip collection seems really good. It comes with a 4" port and a 2 1/2" port. I'm using a shop vac and I'm collecting 90 to 95% of the chips. It does send a few chips out the front of the machine as you can see in the pic. I dont know if haveing a proper DC would fix that or not. The first time I ran a piece of wood through it, I forgot to hook the shop vac up and it will blow chips 10' across the shop.

I do get some very light tool marks on the wood. They look similar to sanding scratches. They are barely noticable and because planing is one of the first steps in finishing lumber it dosnt bother me. Most people will do alot more sanding on thier projects than what would be required to only remove these marks.

Snipe with this machine depends on the lock feature. It has a snipe lock feature that locks the entire cutting head assembly in place. If you lock it you get virtually no snipe. If you forget to lock it, snipe is quite noticeable. It's irritating to have to lock and unlock this thing between every pass just to move the cutterhead 1/64". I'm sure like anything else though, over time it will just become habit and I wont even notice haveing to do it.

This machine also has a neat little indexing slide on the side that lets you repeat standard thicknesses. I really like this feature. As a new user of the planer it makes thicknessing all my stock a sinch. Mine was spot on from the factory. It is adjustable though if it would ever be necesary to adjust it. It has several indexes from 1/8" to 1 1/2".

This machine is capable of planing stock up to 6" thick and 13" wide and down to 1/8". They seem to really push the point that this thing can plane down to 1/8" in all the promotional advertising. The manual says to never attempt to plane stock thinner than 3/16". I did plane some lumber down to 3/16" without any trouble. I havnt tried 1/8" yet. It will also plane lumber as short as 7".

Overall, I am really happy with this planer. It does everything I need it to do. Its a lot of fun to buy rough lumber and see the evolution to finished lumber. I definately would reccomend this machine for a hobbyist woodworker.

I'm sure I missed a lot of points that some of you will have questions about. Again, writeing reviews isnt a strong point for me but ask away and I'll do my best to answer them.

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post #2 of 9 Old 02-12-2011, 06:34 AM
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Laziness,the true mother of invention

Nice write-up.

Just wondering about the snipe lock "handle"....I was sittin at a Tig bench yesterday and theres a station that involves locking and unlocking a swivel vise's base about every ten seconds or so.........while this dosn't seem like much,do it for 4 hrs straight.My solution is simply a longer handle.Yeee-haw

So,look at that snipe knob,handle,whatever with a "lazy" viewpoint.Is there anyway to make it more friendly?Let me know iffin you need anything for it from the mach shop.Am sure you'll get many miles of lumber through that planer.BW
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post #3 of 9 Old 02-12-2011, 01:50 PM
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Great write up BB!! In looking at your photo if you replaced the black plastic with orange and swapped the helical head with a 3 knife head, it would look identical to the Ridgid I bought last year. Makes you wonder where all this stuff really comes from.
Thanks for taking the time to introduce us to your new planer. If I had known about this one when I was in the market last year I would have probably gotten the Steel City instead of the Ridgid just for the helical head.
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post #4 of 9 Old 02-12-2011, 03:00 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BWSmith View Post
Nice write-up.

Just wondering about the snipe lock "handle"....I was sittin at a Tig bench yesterday and theres a station that involves locking and unlocking a swivel vise's base about every ten seconds or so.........while this dosn't seem like much,do it for 4 hrs straight.My solution is simply a longer handle.Yeee-haw

So,look at that snipe knob,handle,whatever with a "lazy" viewpoint.Is there anyway to make it more friendly?Let me know iffin you need anything for it from the mach shop.Am sure you'll get many miles of lumber through that planer.BW
I'm not sure adapting a different handle would really be effective. The handle is located right next to the crank. Its just getting into the habit of locking and unlocking it. It shouldnt be too big a problem with me since I havnt owned a planer before. I just posted that point because others who have a planer without this feature could be annoyed by it. Thanks for the offer to make me something different though!!
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post #5 of 9 Old 02-12-2011, 03:02 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnK007 View Post
Great write up BB!! In looking at your photo if you replaced the black plastic with orange and swapped the helical head with a 3 knife head, it would look identical to the Ridgid I bought last year. Makes you wonder where all this stuff really comes from.
Thanks for taking the time to introduce us to your new planer. If I had known about this one when I was in the market last year I would have probably gotten the Steel City instead of the Ridgid just for the helical head.
Best I can tell from my research prior to purchase, this is the same planer, just a different cutter head.

Last edited by BassBlaster; 12-27-2011 at 09:32 PM.
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post #6 of 9 Old 04-21-2012, 01:05 AM
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I switched from a PM lunchbox, to an old 500# Boice Crane 12" planer. There is a huge difference, in speed and ease of use.
It doesn't need infeed or outfeed tables. I plane 8' boards, just by holding the outfeed up, until 1/2 way in, then hold the outfeed.
There are no table locks, to mess with. just turn the elevation wheel a 1/4 - 1/2 turn, and run the board. Just not having to unlock and relock, table or cutterhead locks, save a bunch of time.
The elevation wheel moves so easy, that when lowering the table, I can give the wheel a spin, and it will turn a few turns, by itself. On the lunchbox, I had to keep cranking. Of course, it had plastic bevel gears.
Point being. If you can fit a stationary planer in your shop, that would be my first choice. An old arn one would be my first pick. When old ones pop up in ads, they are between $200 - $500, from what I have seen. I paid $150 for mine and just had to plug it in.
Oh, yeah, they are much, much, quieter than a lunchbox!
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post #7 of 9 Old 04-21-2012, 07:18 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pirate View Post
I switched from a PM lunchbox, to an old 500# Boice Crane 12" planer. There is a huge difference, in speed and ease of use.
It doesn't need infeed or outfeed tables. I plane 8' boards, just by holding the outfeed up, until 1/2 way in, then hold the outfeed.
There are no table locks, to mess with. just turn the elevation wheel a 1/4 - 1/2 turn, and run the board. Just not having to unlock and relock, table or cutterhead locks, save a bunch of time.
The elevation wheel moves so easy, that when lowering the table, I can give the wheel a spin, and it will turn a few turns, by itself. On the lunchbox, I had to keep cranking. Of course, it had plastic bevel gears.
Point being. If you can fit a stationary planer in your shop, that would be my first choice. An old arn one would be my first pick. When old ones pop up in ads, they are between $200 - $500, from what I have seen. I paid $150 for mine and just had to plug it in.
Oh, yeah, they are much, much, quieter than a lunchbox!
I'm not looking for options to buy a planer. This is a review of a planer that I allready own. Its intended to give others that may be interested in this planer more information about it. I'm confused by the intentions of your post.

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post #8 of 9 Old 06-04-2012, 02:40 PM
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You might want to see how others have faired with this planer.
http://lumberjocks.com/reviews/1863

And this is exactly the old Rigid design used back in 2000, save they have put on a helical head. For your information, I have used an old Rigid of this exact design, (save I have twin straight blades), I bought in 2001 until about five months ago, when I replaced it with a Grizzly G0453P 15" helical. The Rigid ran fine and I agree, the indexing feature is a great feature when you are trying to do many standard size boards, or just don't want to take a chance on going too low. Also, the feed rate indicator on the front is handy so you don't try to take off too much at once, or you want a skim finishing cut.
I didn't have any problems with the locking feature unless my blades were very dull. Tip your table ends up a little with the adjustment screws underneath and the locking feature left undone should stop sniping.
Good luck!

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post #9 of 9 Old 10-29-2012, 10:07 PM
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Steel City 40200H

Well I took the plunge and bought one. Time will reveal the wisdom of the choice. I'll keep you posted on my experience. The planer and the Shop Fox 14" bandsaw, both new purchases, will give me plenty to chew on.
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