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This is my first tool review here. I've purchased a new Steel City Tool Works 40200H 13" planer and will document all of my initial impressions of the machine. I've only owned it for a few days, so I can't speak of its durability under any extended use, but can return to this thread to update it periodically with new notes. I hope this is helpful to anyone looking to make a similar purchase. I researched this purchase for about a month before pulling the trigger. As far as bench top planers go, it came down to this one and the DeWalt DW735. All other things being mostly equal, I chose the Steel City machine because the operating noise level is supposedly lower due to the helical cutterhead, and I will be running this in my basement workshop.

I am relatively new to woodworking and became interested in purchasing a planer after finding a local resource from which I can get a wide variety of milled and dried hardwoods at good prices. I've been messing around with small projects and decorative items, but would really like to eventually get into building some bookshelves and furniture items.

Enough about me. On to the machinery!

Before the planer arrived, I put together a somewhat hefty stand from 2x4s, 2x6s and a top of two layers of 3/4" plywood. It's all on sturdy locking casters to easily move it around my small work space.
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Front view:
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Rear view:
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Rear view with housing removed:
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Close up of cutterhead:
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This isn't the best representation of the "helical" cutterhead. There seem to be alternating rows of the square blades, some in line, and some in more of a spiral pattern. I was under the impression that the unit would be shipped with 2 sided blades, but they appear to be 4 sided and the manual mentions this as well. Each blade has a tiny mark in one corner for reference. As a blade is worn, chipped, or otherwise damaged, the hex screw holding it in place can be loosened and the blade turned 90 degrees and reseated into its holder without further adjustment. There are 26 individual blades.

I think I can only do 5 pics per post, so the next post will mention more about unpacking and cleaning, then on to operation.
 

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The machine weighs in at around 90 lbs. and has a very solid feel to it. Unpacking and assembly took only a few minutes. I had to remove a couple styrofoam inserts and attach the handle to the depth adjustment wheel. I then installed the dust chute to the rear of the unit with 3 knobs. Very easy. I mounted it to my stand with four 5/16" bolts with nuts and lock washers. The dust chute accomodates either a 2.5" or 4" hose. The 2.5" hose from my Ridgid WD1450 vac fit snugly and securely.

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The manual then walks you through checking the table extensions to see that they are level, and instructs you on how to adjust it if needed with simple screws and lock nuts. The outfeed table was dead on with my unit, but the infeed table was off by maybe about 1/32". The adjustment was easy and took about 10 minutes.

A quick word about the manual... It is written in English only (and not "English as a second language" English), and is pretty clear. It is generally grammatically correct, but the writer could have used a spell checker or proof reader. Typos abound, and as I have done a fair amount of technical writing, I'm annoyed by this. The loose parts list includes the "Operator's Manuail" and lines like "When mounting the planer to a workbench, holes shoutd be drilled through the supporting sudace of the workbench" are everywhere. A minor issue, I know. Please don't bother to correct my mistakes in these posts. You didn't pay $600 for this review. ;)

If you've read any reviews of this machine, you'll come across some complaining of gobs of grease all over the machine when it is removed from packaging. I didn't experience anything like this. There was some grease on the plate directly below the cutterhead that was easily cleaned up with the cutterhead raised. The cutterhead itself had a thin film of grease. It wasn't terribly easy to get to, but I was able to wipe it down pretty well and clean it up. When I first turned it on, a very small amount of grease did splatter from the cutterhead and onto the plate below. Again, nothing major and easily cleaned up. The first 10 or so passes of wood through the machine did show some yellow grease, so, as recommended by other reviews, run scrap through at first, not your best piece of exotic wood.

Here is what that plate looked like after packing foam was removed:
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The first piece I fed through the machine was a pine 2x4 chunk. With the vac on and the machine running, it was loud in my enclosed space, but not deafening. I was wearing my 25db ear plugs. I removed one to check the volume. Yeah, keep them in. I have minor hearing loss already and don't need to lose more. The volume really wasn't screaming loud when it was cutting the wood. I was very happy with that.

Here is the pine, before:
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And after several passes, 1/32" per pass:
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You may be able to spot a very faint snipe line on the after pic. I basically fed the wood in without any support and let the machine do its thing. The snipe was barely noticeable to the eye or touch. As you'll later read, I learned how to correct this to eliminate it.

Next up - some more challenging hardwoods...
 

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Next I grabbed a 12 x 4 1/2 x 7/8" piece of walnut crotch. I planed it on both sides, down to 3/4. This short piece showed no noticeable snipe and came out nicely. I suppose it's glue up ready, but I think I would still give it a quick sanding. Here are the pics:
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Next was a piece of birdseye maple that I've been waiting for a while to plane down and see what beauty was lurking inside. It was 30 x 8 x 2 1/8" and I planed it down to 1 5/8" with multiple passes on both sides, 1/32" per pass. By this point I was starting to get a technique down for feeding the wood. This was a very heavy slab. At first I could feel it shifting as the rollers grabbed it and there was a bit of snipe. After a few passes I learned the proper touch in supporting it just slightly as it fed in and as it came out beyond the outfeed table. The result was zero snipe and a real purty piece of wood. There was a bit of tear out on some of the birdseye knots, but nothing that couldn't be sanded down to smooth.

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Lastly, here are the wood shavings pulled from my vac:
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And what was left on the planer at the end of the night:
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I was pretty impressed overall with this machine. It got the job done as far as I can tell, wasn't deafeningly loud, and didn't leave much of a mess at all. Setup was very straightforward and not intimidating in the least. Again, I'm a novice and this is my first planer, so I have nothing to compare it to. I would appreciate any feedback that would improve this review. Let me know if there are other tests that would add to this assessment. I have learned a lot lurking around here and appreciate the opportunity to give back in any way I can. Thanks for reading!
 

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This is my first tool review here. I've purchased a new Steel City Tool Works 40200H 13" planer and will document all of my initial impressions of the machine.
Really good review, Dean. Keep us posted as you get a little more clock time on that beauty.

Paul
 

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Thanks for the great review and looking forward to hearing from you after more use. I've owned a SC 3 HP Cabinet Saw for 5 years and have found it to be an excellent saw. I am in need of a planer and you have convinced me to buy the SC 40200H.:thumbsup:

Note: I just found this model on Amazon Prime
 

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Note: I just found this model on Amazon Prime
I ordered mine with Amazon Prime. Can't beat the free 2 day shipping!

I was out to see my wood guy last weekend and picked up some great rough cut stuff. I spent a couple hours planing some down the other night. Mom's birthday is coming up and I'm going to be making her a large cutting board. Fed the planer a lot of walnut, cherry and hard maple. I've got a technique down now that results in basically zero snipe. I've found that you shouldn't slowly feed the wood in and wait for the rollers to grab it. Instead, as you get to know the feed speed, feed it steadily into the roller at that speed. I also give it a light pull and lift, just enough to support it a bit as it comes off the input roller at the end of the board, as it exits.

The machine apparently draws quite a bit of power, as would be expected. Had it plugged into an older surge protector along with my vac and shop radio and I managed to kill the surge protector. Nothing burned or anything, it just died. Plugged it into a cheap outlet strip and it kept tripping the reset on that. I finally plugged it into a different circuit on its own and it ran fine.
 

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So almost a year later are you still happy with this machine? I am asking as I need to replace my 20+ year old Craftsman and debating with myself between a Steel City or the Dewalt DW735
 

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So almost a year later are you still happy with this machine? I am asking as I need to replace my 20+ year old Craftsman and debating with myself between a Steel City or the Dewalt DW735
Yes, a year later I'm still very happy with this planer. It's seen hundreds of board feet of lumber and works as well as the day I unpacked it. It's very reliable and requires basically zero maintenance. I recently turned the small blades on the cutterhead. It was a very easy procedure and took maybe 20 minutes and I have brand new sharp blades. Setup is a breeze when I need to use it in my small basement shop. I roll it out on its cart, plug it in, attach my shop vac, and it's ready to go.

Let me know if you have any specific questions. I'm happy to help out!
 

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For all Steel City/Carbatec/Hafco/Accu-head planer owners. . .

Hi guys,
As a fellow owner of a Hafco TS-13S (it's the Steel City 40300H) - the one big issue I had was the price of the blades, along with the fact that places insist on selling them in packs of 10 so requiring you to pay at least $120 for a full set of blades.

However a I have had custom router bits and things produced previously so I decided to speak with some supplies and will very soon (i.e. my first batch will be in my hand next week) be offering for sale on Ebay a Full set of 26 carbide blades for less than $80 (postage and things need to be confirmed)!

Also to sweeten the deal you can choose from K01 or K05 carbide - K01 is the hardest carbide and intended for best result when working hard woods, K05 is usual used for general purpose.

I'll also post videos with demonstrations of the blades planing some very wavy burled hard timber.

I'll provide links to my Ebay items when available (as along as I aren't breaking forum rules in that respect).

Just as a further note - unfortunately 4 sided blades cannot work in the accu-head cutter due to how the blade sits in the groove when there is a bevel on the edge the auto aligning is lost. This is something tested in my sample batch.

:)
 

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When you plane something rough sawn like that birds eye maple. Brush it down good with a wire brush to remove any dirt or most importantly rocks that could be stuck in it. At the price of those blades gotta do every little thing to keep them sharp.
 

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hint

It might be helpful to also wet the surface with a damp rag before running the bird'seye maple thru to lessen chip out:thumbsup:
 

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This thread got me thinking so i googled this planer. I cant hardly find one for sale. They should all come helical any way. Not a bad price from what i could find. Thanks for the review
 

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After seeing all the great reviews on the Steel City Model, I decided to look into it a little more as my Craftsman is wearing out. I sent an email to Steel City and received the following in reply on
February 2, 2015:
"All our original bench top models, 40100 ; 40200H ; 40300H, have been discontinued.
Our new 40100 Type 2 straight knife planer is now available. However, the replacement for our 40300H and 40200H, new model 40305, will not be available until mid-March. It supposedly will have a new style helical head and 2 speeds...but we won't know for sure until they ship."
 

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I picked up a 40300h a few months ago from woodcraft. Might want to check to see if they have any left. 499 plus tax when I got it.
 
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