Pros: Powerful, great warranty, easy to operate, easy to service when necessary
Cons: 1 very minor one - disposable knives.
After reading the other reviews, I'm having a hard time believing that the DeWalt 735 planer I bought recently is the same machine that many others have written about.
My older DeWalt model 733 recently came to the end of its useful life. I won't go into details here, but after an unfortunate experience with an imported planer, I ended up at my local tool supply store, needing a planer in something of an emergency. I was reluctant to purchase another DeWalt because the older one had a number of little glitches that made using it moderately unpleasant, but the store manager convinced me that the model 735 is the best machine available in its class.
I was first impressed with the overall appearance of the machine. Compared to other portable bench top planers, this thing looks like a sumo wrestler - short, squat and powerful looking. OK, so looks can be deceiving, but not so in this case.
I go the model 735 planer home and began opening the box. The packaging is sturdy and sufficient to protect the machine without being excessive. The planer is a bit on the hefty side at 92 pounds, but I was able top get it out of the box and onto a stand without any great difficulty. It would be easier with two people, but there is only one of me. The only action required of me was to attach the height adjustment handle and plug in the cord before the machine was ready to start work. The handle was easily attached using the convenient T-handled hex key that is also conveniently stowed in the top of the machine.
I immediately noticed that all of the controls are placed at the front of the planer, and thereby easy to reach. The model 735 has a pre-set depth stop on the left side that can be set at 1/4", 1/2", 3/4", 1" and 1 1/4". The handle that operated the pre-set stop is large, easy to operate with large easy to read graduations. The pre-set stops were dead on accurate out of the box. On the front of the machine, just above the infeed area, is a material removal gage that provides an indication of how much material will be removed. This gage is probably not intended to be extremely accurate, but it does serve as a useful guide. Just to the left and above is the feed selector lever. The feed rolls have two speeds - one for sizing and a slower speed for "finishing" cuts. The on/off switch is located just a bit to the right of center. It is large enough to operate easily. The machine also has a circuit breaker to protect the motor from those of us who don't know the meaning of light cuts. There is also a large easy to read scale on the right front corner that indicates the actual finish height of the knives. That scale is graduated in 1/32" increments, and is adjustable although it, too was dead on. The handle that operates the mechanism to raise and lower the head is located on the right side of the machine, is easy to reach and easy to operate. One full revolution of the handle will raise or lower the head 1/16". On the rear of the machine, in the center is the dust port. In addition to installing the above mentioned handle, I needed to attach the hose adapter to the machine. There were no tools required for that process, it just sorta snaps in place and is retained by a spring loaded pin. The mechanism that raises and lowers the head is ingenious. Instead of the flimsy post and screw arrangement of the model 733, the 735 boasts four massive corner posts that are actually Acme threaded rods. Inside the carriage assembly, on each corner, are nuts that are driven by a circumferential chain that insures even, trouble free travel. I think that covers just about all of the main features of the DeWalt model 735 planer. What happens when I put it to work?
I recall another writer mentioning that the machine is very loud - well I guess it probably is, just like any planer that I have ever operated. I don't consider the noise greater than other machines. The fact is hearing protection should always be used when operating any planer. With earplugs and glasses in place I started feeding the model 735 some wood.
The first few days I used the 735, I had a bunch of pine to plane. I have never, ever seen a planer in this class that would eat up pine the way this thing does. I was feeding 13" wide, 10'& 12' long boards taking cuts of 1/16" and the thing just gobbled them up. Just for kicks I tried a 3/32" cut with a 13" board and the circuit breaker tripped after about 6 feet of the board had gone through. With boards 8" wide or less though, the model removed 3/32" without any difficulty.
A few other writers have mentioned that the 735 didn't handle hardwoods well so I decided it was time to test it further. #1 was a piece of white oak 6" wide. I started with a 1/16" cut - no problem. Using the same board I cranked the depth to 3/32" and fed it in. The motor groaned some, and was obviously overloaded, so I decided that with 6" white oak, 1/16" is the maximum cut I would recommend. I found a 10" wide by 8' long yellow birch board and fed that in. At 1/16" the motor was, again, overworking so I backed the handle off 1/4 turn to take a 3/64" cut and the planer handled it easily. A few days later, I had a need to plane about 75 board feet of random width (4"-12") hard maple in lengths of 8'-10'. The results were similar; with 6" and narrower boards the 735 can handle removing 1/16" but when feeding wider ones it is best to back off just a bit.
When planing all of the above woods, I did encounter an occasional feeding problem. That is not unusual, sometimes even with planers that retail for $4000.00 or more. A little dab of spray silicone on the infeed table solves the problem quite readily.
The only criticism I can think of for this machine is that DeWalt has opted to use disposable knives. I am one who prefers to sharpen and re-use knives as long as possible and I don't really like the disposable ones, although they do appear to work just fine. The knives are very easy to change. Simply remove 4 screws (using the same hex key that installed the handle), lift off the top cover to expose the cutterhead cover. Three thumbscrews will allow the cover to be removed, exposing the cutterhead. The very same hex key will remove the screws that secure the knives to the cutterhead. The knives can then be reversed to the un-used side, or replaced. There are pins to provide precise location and no knife setting gage is needed.
I found that the DeWalt model 735 planer produced superb finishes on both pine and hardwoods, even when using the faster speed. The only problem I encountered was when I was planing my stack of maple boards. Maple produces a long, stringy chip and the model 735, like many planers, has a tough time disposing of that long stringy chip. The chip blower plugged up twice on the first two boards, requiring dis-assembly of the cutterhead cover, etc. When I shifted the feed to the slower speed, though, the problem went away and I finished the job without a hitch.
The DeWalt model 735 comes with a warranty that I consider nearly impossible to beat: For 90 days, no questions asked, if you're unhappy for ANY reason, return the thing to where you bought it for a full refund. How can anyone justify complaining about a machine that has a promise like that? TAKE IT BACK! During the first year, the warranty includes normal wear and tear. I assume that would include knives, although I have not done any research to confirm that assumption. For THREE FULL YEARS the model 735 is warranted against manufacturing defects.
I have gone on for much too long, so in summary: BUY IT!!