Delta has just introduced a new 13" planer, the 22-590.
It replaces the 22-580, a model that received top marks in
our planer tool test back in 2003. In the years since, few
other small planers have met the very high standard set by
the 22-580. Is the new model a step forward?
The answer is a mixed bag. We won’t be able to make
a fi nal judgment until we’ve used the 22-590 for a year or
so (we’ve had a 22-580 in our shop since '03), but here’s a
comparison of three important features.
The new model introduces a three-knife cutterhead.
Running at 26 feet per minute—a good clip—it produces
96 cuts per inch (cpi). The higher the number of cuts per
inch, the smoother the surface you’ll get. Few other planers
can match 96 cpi, so the new model does quite well in
The old model, the 22-580, had a two-knife cutterhead.
It was capable of producing 90 cpi, but this required you to
switch the feed rate to a much slower speed. At the normal
feed rate, you would get 60 cpi, which is OK for anything
other than a fi nal pass. A lower cpi has the benefi t of putting
less wear on the blades.
In sum, the older model gave you the option of two
surface qualities, medium and fi ne, while the new model
only produces a fi ne surface. Delta has compensated for
the additional wear on the 22-590’s blades by upgrading
A second major difference between the models is the
thickness scale—the indicator that tells you how thick
your planed board will be. These scales are notoriously
hard to read. The older model broke new ground by introducing
a scale with an easy-to-read cursor, conveniently
positioned on top of the machine. The new model abandons
this approach, reverting to a commonly used type of
scale that’s frankly awkward to read.
A third difference between the models is the depth
stop. The new model allows you to dial in a thickness anywhere
from 1/8" to 1-1/4". However, it’s not a very positive
stop—when cranking the depth-of-cut handle, it’s hard
to tell when you’ve exactly arrived at your pre-set thickness.
The old model allowed you to dial in virtually any
thickness from 1/8" to 6". This stop was very defi nite—you
knew when you hit it.
Overall, if surface quality is the most important aspect
of a planer’s performance, the 22-590 continues an excellent
tradition. But we wish it were more user-friendly.
Delta Tools, deltaportercable.com, 800-223-7278,
13" Portable Thickness Planer, 22-590, $500.