Pros: excellent performance, great price, easy blade changes, 2 yr warranty, cutter head lock
Cons: no depth gauge, flat top would be nice to hold lumber between passes
This was my first planer purchase and was compared to others under $400 by Jet, DeWalt, Ridgid, Craftsmen, Grizzly and the older Delta 22-540. I had read some user concerns about an internal problem in the early versions of this model, but follow-up notes assured me the problem had been fixed. I had the opportunity to witness planing results from the DeWalt DW733, the Delta 22-540 and the 22-560 at a local Woodworkers Warehouse. The 22-560 clearly outperformed it's predecessor (the 22-540) and was created a surface every bit as smooth as the DeWalt, but with less snipe. The cutterhead lock appears to work extremely well because the snipe is usually undetectable.
The clincher to choosing the 22-560 was a sale price by a local home center that was beat by 10% by a national home center resulting in a final cost of $225. The combination of low cost, a 2 year warranty (most are only one year except for a lifetime warranty on the Ridgid), a set of free replacement blades and excellent overall performance make the 22-560 a bonafide value.
Set up is just about non existant. In the 6 months I've used it, I've planed maple, oak, pine, walnut, and lots of cherry. None of those types of wood have posed any problems to the 22-560 whatsoever. The blade changes are a fast 5-10 minute job even for a novice.
I did end up buying a dust chute ($20) for it because it throws chips all over, but I believe most planers without dust collection do. It's fairly loud and should be used with hearing protection. Roller stands help support long boards when the situation merits them. It would be nice if the top of the planer were designed to hold a board as it's passed from the outfeed table back to the infeed side for another pass. My biggest complaint is that the 22-560 does not feature a gauge to indicate how thick the board is before the pass, meaning you have to measure and/or experiment with how far down to set the cutters.
At the time of this writing it appears Delta has a replacement in mind for the 22-560 with a 22-565, meaning the 22-560 could be offered at a closeout price. The 22-565 featured a different color scheme and offered a free stand ($299 @ HD). From a glance, those were the only differences I noticed. Delta has also recently released a 22-580 ($450)which is an upscaled benchtop planer that offers two speeds. One speed for bulk work, and a slower speed for a smoother finish.
The 22-560 is serving me well. The money saved was well spent on my next major tool purchase and on wood for projects. It would be hard for me to justify spending more considering what a great job it does.
Update 7/1/04: Delta has revamped it's line and model numbers again. The 22-560 which became the 22-565 is now the TP400 which is a member of Delta's Shop Master line. Retail still ranges ~ $300.
The lack of a depth gauge has started to become more apparent to me. My 22-560 is still going strong and doing a great job, but there are many times I have had to experiment with the height adjustment due to the lack of a built in depth gauge...it would just make life a little easier. My original rating of 5 stars may have been a bit optimistic, so I'm downgrading to 4-1/2 stars which will of course read as 4 stars in the rating system.