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Q & A: What’s the Deal with Combination Planer/Molders?

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Q & A: What’s the Deal with Combination Planer/Molders?


Q:

I’m shopping for a planer, and am also planning to do a bunch of trim work in my house: crown moldings, door casings, and the like. I’m intrigued by the planers that also can be used to make moldings. What do you think of them?



A:

The least expensive molder/planers sell for around $800 and have a 13-in. capacity. This is around $500 more than you would pay for a similarsized portable planer by the same manufacturer. One thing you’re getting for the extra money is stability; the molder/planer weighs three to four times as much as the portable planer, and has its own stand. You also get a heavy-duty induction motor, rather than the lighter universal motor of the portable planer. Simply put, you’re getting a heavier-duty machine that will put in more miles of planing, but also costs more and takes up more space.

Whether you can save money making your own molding depends on how much you cut, and how much you pay for lumber. In our neck of the woods, 1x4 oak sells for around $1.60/ft., and oak crown molding sells for around $2.50/ft., so you can save about $1.10/ft. The cutters for crown molding cost around $100, so you break even at 90 ft. of molding,which is a couple average size rooms.

Cost aside, a molder/planer gives you the unique capacity to make moldings from cherry, white oak or other interesting woods.You won’t find these moldings at the lumberyard!




This story originally appeared in American Woodworker Tool Buyer's Guide 2002.

Tool Buyer's Guide 2002

Purchase this back issue.