Erbauer P/T1500 Planer/Thicknesser

This is an old video, and the text below was originally posted as a blog post on the old website. As I mentioned in AWITW 149 I did this because I could go into more detail in a blog post than I could in the video description on YouTube; it was a short-lived experiment, but I thought I'd repost a few of these for you here, as the information contained remains valid. Let me know what you think! Peter


Direct video link - https://youtu.be/bzzzO70OfXY


Wether to buy an entry-level new machine or a 'quality' used one is always a trade-off, so I thought I'd try the cheapest 10"/250mm planer/thicknesser you can buy new in the UK right now, and see how it does. NB. These are my initial thoughts - I haven't owned it long enough to assess it properly, so I'll be revisiting it once I've run some more timber through it in a few months time.


Highlights:

  • A planer/thicknesser is a combination machine that lets you use both sides of the cutting head, so you can plane one face and one edge of a board, above the blade, and then plane (AKA 'thickness') a parallel face and edge to those beneath the blade; this versatility does make for some compromises.

  • Entry level machines are almost always planer/thicknessers - I'm only aware of one entry-level machine that only planes and doesn't thickness.

  • As we discovered with tracksaws, build quality/quality control can be an issue with these entry level machines, so set your expectations accordingly.

  • Entry-level machines like this are noisy because of their brushed motors, so hearing protection is essential.

  • These machines seem to produce a volume of chips/shavings completely disproportionate to the material being planed, so high-volume, heavy duty dust/chip collection is essential.


Health & Safety Notes:

All wood dust is hazardous, so be sure to take appropriate precautions; I recommend using dust extraction/collection with all power tools

Your safety in the workshop is your responsibility; treat tools with respect and if you feel at all uncomfortable carrying out any operation, stop!


Related videos:

Supermarket saws and Quality Control - https://youtu.be/X5e2s39H1Sc

It's bigger than I was expecting - https://www.instagram.com/p/B3objx2A7W8/

£220 Planer Thicknesser - https://www.instagram.com/p/B3_oo56Agfd/


New or used?

As I mention in the video, the 'buy entry-level new, or quality used' debate has been raging for a long time - I went through it myself when I was looking for a bandsaw a couple of years ago - and likely isn't going to go away. The argument for buying used usually goes something like this;

"Why waste money on a cheap Chinese [insert tool/machine here] clone when you can buy something lovely and old that won't need much fettling for not much more money? They're mechanically very simple, almost nothing to go wrong - I bought my [insert tool/machine here] from a lovely old boy, a time-served joiner who was retiring and I picked it up for a song..." etc.. etc..


Yeah, it's a great story, but based on my experience with bandsaws this never, ever happens to me. I don't know where this fantasy world is where people can pick up bargains from kindly old folks, but it's not where I live. I spent best part of a year schlepping around the M25 trying to find a small bandsaw a couple of years ago, and seeing absolute rubbish being offered up for top money - so I gave up and bought something cheap, and new.


The other thing of course is that as someone who's new to these machines, I don't really know what I'm looking for, so an old machine could look great *and* have all the 'trigger' words (cast iron, induction motor, heavy duty) but still be a pile of junk because you can't get something trivial but essential like a drive belt that snaps as soon as you get it home. Oh, and the 'mechanically simple' line usually comes from someone who can strip down a Myford Super 7 with nothing but a straightened-out paperclip and a hairpin. 🤷‍♂️


So, when I felt the need for a planer/thicknesser recently, I scoured eBay, found that nothing had changed, and bought the cheapest new machine I could get locally. Well, not quite; the cheapest is the Titan from Screwfix, and at only £160 it sounded quite promising, especially as a couple of other YouTubers I know have them or have had them. It is a smaller machine, and I could probably live with the 200mm planing capacity, but I thought the 120mm thicknessing might be a bit tight; I opted for the Erbauer, as far as I know the cheapest P/T with 250mm planing and 200mm thicknessing capacity, and at only £60 more, it seemed like the sensible option.


It's big!

Yes, the box it comers in is absolutely enormous - see the instagram video above - and there's still some self-assembly required. I was in the middle of a load of work when it arrived, so I had this massive box hanging around for a week before I managed to get to it -and yes, I confess I left it in the van for a couple of days, just to keep it out of the way. But I eventually got to it, and despite possibly the worst instruction manual I've come across, I had it bolted together and planing in an afternoon. And how it planes! I'm not honestly sure what I was expecting, but I don't think I was expecting it to produce a finish this good...


It's loud!

Yes, I was expecting it to be loud, and it doesn't disappoint in the regard - ear defenders essential! But it was when I switched it over to thicknessing that the niggles started. When I unpacking the box, I found a little plastic nubbin broken off something - and that turned out to be essential; it's a little dingus that needs to fit into a hole in the machine body to depress a microswitch that lets the motor run - it's to ensure you have the extraction shroud, and therefore the blade guard, fitted - and fortunately it was easy enough to glue back on. We'll see how it lasts, but it's a simple enough thing to replace the functionality of if I need to.

Now I'm not going to re-hash everything I said in the video about the faults with the machine - suffice to say it's working, and produces a great finish wether planing or thicknessing. Yes, it's an entry level machine, with all that that entails, and I think whenever you buy something like this, you need to set your expectations accordingly. Buying from a retailer like Screwfix gives you the safety blanket of a local outlet that the machine can be returned to in the event of any problems, and that was always an option, despite the baffling requirement from SFX CS to have the machine disassembled.

About snipe

Didn't get any. Snipe, if you don't know, is where at the very start or very end of a cut, the cutting head 'digs in' a bit and produces a 'scoop' out of the end of the board; this is usually down to lack of support for the board - as the board passes through the machine, the weight of the board can make it pivot into the cutting head, producing snipe. It's particularly common in planer/thicknessers, because the cutting head is fixed - it's the bed that moves up & down to vary the thickness of the board - so the board support (the in & out-feed) has to be constantly changed, or monitored. I did this, and I didn't get any snipe. Yet.


In conclusion

It's new, it's cheap, it's heavy, it's loud. And it produces a really good finish. Niggles aside, if you're in the market for an planer/thicknesser of this capacity, then I think it's worth considering. There are many other machines that are visually similar at much higher prices - like 50-60-% higher - and if you have the budget, or just feel more comfortable buying one of those, then I wouldn't stop you. But if this is all you can stretch to - all you're prepared to comitt to a machine of this type right now - then the Erbauer is a lot of bang for the buck.





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