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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-11-2012, 10:32 PM Thread Starter
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Planer Tool Information

I have been given a 12 inch "portable" planer (weight listed as 100 lbs.) and would like some assistance. I have the "Assembly & Operating Instructions" booklet. The booklet calls it Professional Woodworker (TM) Model GM-1206 and identifies the seller as Harbor Freight. Has anyone used this tool or be able to tell me anything about it's accuracy and quality of cut. I understand that it will not be of Porter-Cable or DeWalt quality but is it worth trying to use for something other than a boat anchor or large doorstop? I just got it today and don't know if Harbor Freight can provide any parts or the blades or blade setting jig. Haven't even had time to plug it in. Any information or comments about this tool would be greatly appreciated.
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-11-2012, 10:46 PM
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Since it was given to you, all I can say is run some wood through it, and see what it does.
I am in need of a planer myself.
From the advice I have got, along with reading what I can, the small planers are marginal at best.
It seems a good planer that is truly accurate weighs in at around 600lbs and up!

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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-11-2012, 10:55 PM
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If it's anything like the one on their site now you'll need to build some in-feed and out-feed tables for it if you hope to get anything close to useful out of it.

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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-12-2012, 07:34 AM
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Most small (portable?) planers have a serious snipe problem. All planers have this problem to some extent. Snipe occurs when the planer head drive rollers enter or leave the ends of the board being planed. The planer head shifts slightly and the cutter head digs into the board being planed, producing a slight dip or hollow across the board. Some portable planers have a head lock to reduce this problem, but most still have it and some of the cheaper models have it severely.

If you are planing a long board and can waste the first and last 6" of the board, snipe will not be a problem for you. Just cut it off and use the middle area of the board for your work. If you can't waste this area there are tricks that can reduce it but you probably won't be able to totally eliminate it.

The first trick is to start planing a scrap of the same thickness about 3' long. When this scrap is fully running through the planer head (off to one side) insert your good board. When the scrap comes fully out of the planer head, hold it ready by the planer to run back through the planer just before the end of the good board is reached so the planer always starts and ends on the scrap and not on your good board. Having the scrap going through the planer head will keep the head level and prevent the head from tipping at the time that the leading and trailing ends of the good board are going through, so the good board will not receive the snipe. You can also raise the ends of the in-feed and out-feed tables and this will also reduce the snipe, but you will likely never completely eliminate it.

The only portable planer that I know of that produces no snipe (it actually still does but it's almost non-existent) is the DeWalt DW735. It does this by using 4 posts to hold the head level, plus in-feed and out-feed tables to keep the board being planed as level with the cutter head as possible. I own one of these (my third portable planer) and I still get a snipe line across the boards, but it's so small that it can be removed with a couple of swipes of 150 grit sand paper.


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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-12-2012, 10:19 AM
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Excellent explanation of snipe and the benefits of the 4 post system of the DeWalt 735.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-19-2012, 09:19 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the help.

I appreciate the responses I've had. The snipe explanation made it clear why I've had such "ski jumps" at the end of my wood. Just for information, I wrote to Harbor Freight to inquire about parts for this unit and they state that "it is not a Harbor Freight product" although they are named in the assembly booklet that came with the machine. I am wintering away from home where the planer is now so it will be a few months before I get to try it out. If it works OK I'll let you all know and if not, think of me going fishing with it. Thanks again. Jack.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-19-2012, 12:17 PM
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A trick I use to minimize snipe is to put a 4" long, melamine covered MDF shelf through the planer and rest it on the beds. I screwed a strip of hardwood on the bottom that catches the infeed table. I'm giving up 3/4" but I'll never need the full depth anyway.

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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-19-2012, 10:05 PM
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Your experience with Harbor Freight is not unique. I've never heard of anyone ever being able to get parts for any of the power tools from Harbor Freight. You're just on your own and most of these tools are unbranded tools from China with no service or parts support in the US. I still buy a number of small tools through Harbor Freight, but no longer any power tools.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-26-2012, 10:57 AM
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As a note, I have the Dewalt 734 planer. Using the head lock, and following boards in one after another, snipe is nearly non-existent on that as well. Except for where I nicked the knives, the results are well above marginal. The secret (and is true with any planer) is not taking too much material and making sure the knives are sharp.
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