Tool Talk #10: My DW735 Planer

Well over half of the emails sent to me are on the subject of tools. I have no objections to responding to them but I thought it would be beneficial to start a video library of sorts to briefly touch on what I think of a particular tool or set of tools. These won’t be in depth tool reviews as I know very few people are interested in that kind of thing and I really don’t want to go over all the details. Instead I’ll just focus on the things I like about the tool, things I don’t like about the tool, and would I buy it again. I have a huge list of “episodes” that can be made and plan on releasing one per week. Hopefully this will be helpful to some people.

DW735 Planer

I purchased the DW735 planer sometime around 2012-ish from Lowes for $599. You can see all of the specs on it here.

What I like:

  • It has two speed settings. I prefer to work with the slower setting as it gives me time to keep up with feeding the machine and removing material as I work alone.
  • It’s strong enough to take full 13″ cuts.
  • The fan chip ejection is nice if you don’t have a dust collector.
  • Changing the blades is pretty easy.
  • Snipe is manageable by feeding material in on an angle. Others have told me that getting the metal infeed and outfeed tables reduces snipe as well. I have no desire to invest any more money

What I don’t like:

  • I wish the fan chip ejection was off to one side instead of right out the back. My dust collection hose attached to it has gotten in the way several times.
  • It’s HEAVY. 92 pounds to be exact. Not quite something convenient to move around as the “benchtop” category might suggest.
  • The blades are indexed so they cannot be sharpened. They do have two sides but I would prefer to be able to sharpen blades over and over instead of buying the expensive replacements.
  • It’s expensive. And the replacement blades are expensive.

Would I buy the DW735 if I had to do it over?

Simply put, no. I wouldn’t buy the DW735 if I had to do it over again. I’ve realized that a planer is one of those tools where I see myself eventually getting a floor standing “last me forever” model so a benchtop planer is somewhat of a stepping stone. So to do it over again it doesn’t make sense for me to get arguably the best benchtop planer out there if I know I will eventually have to get rid of it to upgrade down the line. Completely aside from that, assuming I would never get a standalone floor model some day, I still don’t think I would buy this planer again. It’s a good performer but it’s just too expensive for what you get in my opinion. The blades cannot be sharpened so it’s somewhat of a money pit and it produces snipe just like the lesser expensive models from other brands. This model has upgrade options like the helix cutter head and infeed and outfeed tables but by the time you add those costs you’re already at the cost of a decent induction motor model. If you have a different model planer at a lower cost and are completely satisfied with it please leave a comment and let us all know what one you have.



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37 Comments

  1. Mike

    I had the 734 and didn’t like it much but sold and bought the 735 and but for some of the things you mentioned I really like it. I upgraded to the carbon coated blades which are over $200 but well worth the investment if you have no choice when it comes to room space. I would love a floor model but don’t think I can fit it in my shop and rationalize a reason for spending that much money. I would bet a low end floor model won’t be much better then this model. Grizzly has a couple of models about $1200 but as I have Grizzly tools I am not enamored by them. If I had the room and money I would by something by another manufacturer. For those that have little space and still want a good machine that will cut any kind of wood get this machine and upgrade the blades. Oh by the way, for whatever reason I hardly if ever get any snipe so very pleased with that.

    1. Chris Williams

      Mike – if you don’t mind me asking, what didn’t you like about the 734? I’m buying one today, used, from a local woodworker. I’d like some insight from someone who’s used it.

      Thanks!!

      1. Vincent burnworth

        Hi Chris, I have had the 734 for a couple months now and love it. I’d like to hear what Mike disliked about it too but I think it is a great tool.

      2. Mike

        At the time they didn’t make the better blades for the 734 and I feel like the 735 has more power but I could be wrong there. Also I get know snipe with my 735 where I did with my 734.

        1. Mike

          I didn’t like that bar lock on the 734 and it has one speed where with the 735 you have 2 and the slower speed I think gets you a cleaner cut

  2. Chris Williams

    Good review, Jay. Thanks. Today, I am going to be purchasing a used Dewalt 734 from a local (Indianapolis) woodworker. The unit includes the infeed/outfeed tables. I’m really excited about it, since this is the last piece I need for a pretty well rounded shop. Like you said, I couldn’t justify spending $600 dollars on the 735. I had a shot at one at a tool auction, but they pushed the price up beyond what I was willing to pay for it. Looks like it’s all gonna work out okay! Oh, and – DECAF, bro! (or at least 1/2 caff). LOL

    1. William

      Hey Chris, i have a question. I also live in the indianapolis area and have been looking for some used power tools for woodworking. I see that you went to one and probably already bought a planer used. Where do you find these treasures?

      William

  3. Antoine

    I bought my first planer a few months ago after doing quite a bit of research. I was definitely on a budget. I was hoping to find something used in my area, and unfortunately, our used market is pretty slow. It was right around Black Friday, and I took a risk and bought the cheap delta that Home Depot had on clearance for about $250 new. I have to say, despite its cheap price tag, it performs very well. Yes it has downfalls, the biggest being that it only has two blades, but I have not found that to be a big deal. The dust collection on it works well (and it IS a shroud pointing off to the side! :) ), the height adjustment is fluid, changing knives is easy, it has a decent amount of power, and it leaves a smooth cut. Yes it snipes quite a bit it you let it, but it’s easy to manage. Even though the tables that come with it are somewhat cheap, they do a good enough job to give support to most boards. Would it be suitable for the professional woodworker? Absolutely not. For the hobbyist? Absolutely! Great tool talk video, Jay. Thank you!

    Antoine

  4. Gary

    I have had a Delta 12 1/2″ for almost 20 years. Don’t remember what I paid for it but I would guess about $250. It is the old style with a locking head to lock the height, I don’t think the newer ones have that feature. It works well as long as the blades are sharp. I have tried for years to eliminate or even reduce the snipe but not much luck. I think it is one of the properties of a bench top planer. I have considered a newer one in the past, like the one you have, but just couldn’t justify the purchase since I don’t even have a jointer. Thanks for the tool talk episodes.

    Gary

    1. John

      I have the same model Gary.And same revue,it is not the BEST but does the job.Sometimes very little snipe,sometimes deeper.I try to remember to cut the wood a few inches longer.

      1. Stephanie

        I am with you John. I have the 734 also and it works fine for me. Like you I plane first and then cut my lengths. I get snipe some of the time, but mostly not. I am just a beginning woodworker.

  5. Gary

    I was lucky enough to pick up a barely used 735 with mobile stand and the indeed our free tables plus a spare set of blades…..for $250. I think at that price a winner. They come up quite a lot on craigslist in my area.
    At that price I’m willing to upgrade to a helical head so its going to do me for a long time.
    I have thought of getting a second lunchbox style for initial passes on some of the salvaged stock I work with. I’ve seen the delta for 120 locally and that is hard to pass up.

  6. Mark

    A tip: if you notice the chips are not being removed very well, with or without dust collection, check the fan assembly. The fan may be jammed up with chips or just broken. In eather case if you are using dust collection, you can just remove the fan. In my case my fan was broken. The plastic housing was melted from friction, so I bought a new assembly and just installed the housing but not the fan. I now just use my dust collector. It works great and never clogs.

  7. Blackbeered

    Don’t remember paying anything near $600 when I upgraded from the 734. Only regret is that I sold the 734 for $125; should have kept it for ‘rough’ work. As for its weight, it’s portable only if you’re a trim carpenter and need to move it job-to-job; otherwise, for guys like us, it needs to be on a mobile base in the shop. When I made my ‘mobile’ base, I opted to replace the pair of metal tables [a major source of snipe in my opinion] with ~ 3′ long in/out feed tables made from melamine white board; these boards are mounted atop lengthwise steel rails which are leveled with two pair of jack screws, fore and aft … so my tables are kept ‘dead flat’ and snipe’s been nearly eliminated. [I never go to final assembly with the product off the planer; I always take the material to the sander for the last 0.010″. I seldom use the slower “finishing” speed.] Since the “mobile” base weighs in at nearly 400 lbs when the bottom shelves are full, it doesn’t need lifting casters [but mine does]. After ~ 2,000 BF, I haven’t had to change blades. I like that the head locks automatically.

  8. Ian

    Well, I have no planer as of yet. However, I almost always buy my tools used from sellers on craigslist. Doing it this way saves me from having too much money invested in any one tool. Thanks for the review!

  9. Chris

    I have a 734 that just celebrated it’s 16th birthday and have been very happy with it. I put it on a mobile base a couple years ago and wondered why it took me so long to finally go that route. My back sure thanks me now.

    The replacement blade prices always bugged me but I have a local sharpening shop that takes care of my jointer and planer blades now. I’ve gotten two sharpenings out of the current set of blades and have been very happy with the performance. The shop owner mentioned that three to four runs is about all to expect from them depending on how bad they are nicked up. I can get 3 sharpenings for the cost of one set of blades so it’s really cut down on expense.

    I’d really love to move up to a spiral head but with the sharpening resource, it’s hard to justify the added cost. My brother just upgraded his old 733 to a spiral head and has been thrilled with the life it gave this old machine. As long as the motor is still good, it’s a hard machine to justify getting rid of.

  10. Joseph Zawodny

    Jay: I have the exact same machine and your observation with the blades is correct. I have since replaced the blades with a “Shelix” cutter head. Not cheap and it adds quite a bit to the cost of the machine. I use this machine quite a bit. I have a very small garage and cannot entertain the idea of a larger floor model. I have the exhause port attached to a “Dust Deputy” and all of the chips go into 5 gal bucket. Works quite well. The machine sits on a cart designed for the machine. It is not the most ideal planer, but with limited space and $$$$ it is okay for now.

  11. Bob Burch

    In my experience it’s a good buy at $600. I used an old Powermatic 15 in at a shop I worked in and it was a beast. It would handle anything but the finish was not very good. If possible I would have that for dementioning and the DW735 for finish work. It leaves a glass smooth surface at the slow speed. That said, I use the 735 everyday and it never let me down.

  12. Ed

    I have a planner that I’ve had for about 10 years, I have never changed the blades and it still does a great job. I don’t know what the name of it is, I only know that it was a low end, that I think I paid only $200 or less for. I’m not really sure. They don’t make tools like they have in the past, quality is down, while the prices have exploded.
    ed

  13. Tom Pritchard

    Had you thought about the helical style cutter? I have the Porter Cable cheap model. As you the blades are fairly expensive. I do work in a tool & die business so I do have a way (Via surface grinder) to sharpen only a couple times. For what I paid on the cheaper model it seems to serve me well. This link:http://bumpaswoodcreations.blogspot.com/ is my blog that I show a recent project I made using red oak. I used that planer for all my material. It worked well.

  14. K Brown

    Agree with Mark on the chip issue. I have the 735 (bought used on craigslist for 400) It works great, except the fan housing has worn out and there is now a small hole on it. Because of this, it fills with chips and needs to be opened up cleaned out. If you’re not careful the gears jam up and you can do some damage.

    I’ve had success putting in my own feed tables by just taking 1/2″ melamine and securing it in, which also helps me plane down to very thin stock.

    I’m still using stock blades, but considering upgrading as they are on their last leg.

  15. Bud Rogers

    B. Rogers

    I am a small time hobby wood worker and own a Delta bench top. I have had good luck and find it meets my needs. I would or will buy another when needed.

  16. Jake

    I wore out a delta lunchbox ($200), and then bought a dewalt 734 ($400), and then found an old iron powermatic 160 16″ planer for $300. I think the powermatic could use the dewalt as a toothpick. They don’t show up very often, but I try to stick to old American made iron. They aren’t afraid of a hard days work and they’re almost indestructible. D

  17. Dave Ramirez

    I have a 735 which i upgraded from an old Craftsman planer. It does have a little snipe on the very end sometimes, but not often enough to worry about, during finish wood dimensioning i just trim it off. The real reason i replaced the Craftsman was the surface quality, of course when it was new it was nothing less than excellent, but now several years later (swapped the blades once), it still provides an excellent finish even in the fast speed. In my opinion the 3 cutter head design really does it. The Craftsman planer had a 2 blade cutter head and even in the slowest feeder speed would make kind of a wave effect on the surface when you looked close which required alot of sanding to remove. For me, The Dewalt was worth the trade up cost for that glass smooth finish even after several years use. If you do change machines go for the 3 blade cutter head models as any other I think you’ll be dissappointed.

  18. Stephen Buckle

    I have the DW734. I bought it from Amazon for $299.00 in 2002. Since then I have put thousands and thousands of board feet of hardwoods through her and she has performed great. The only issue I have with it is the rollers don’t work well in the cold temps. I have a problem with the cost of the blades as well but I have found them for sale on Ebay, Kijiji, and Craigslist fairly cheap. It does have one speed so the 2 speed DW735 would be better and it can do 12″ wide boards but with only light cuts. In-feed and out-feed tables are essential. The 735 will be my next planer unless I can find a 15″ single phase at a decent price. I have a small shop I share with my wife’s car so all my tools are on rolling tables. The planer sits in one spot but is on a rolling cart as well!!

    As for the helical cutter, they sound great but I read an article a while back saying essentially that they can leave a scalloped finish as well it is harder to push the board through a jointer because with a 2 – 3 blade jointer the blades make contact with the woo intermittently, while the helical cutters always have contact with the wood. As well a Fine Woodworking podcast addresses the helical cutters at the 30 minute mark. The biggest issue is that since the blades are always engaged they pull a lot more amps. A lunchbox retrofit planer was actually pulling 23 – 25 amps. So if you have a 20 amp circuit it could be a problem.

    http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/1/4/d/14d97b925c3fb7a8/shop-talk-live-episode-84.mp3?c_id=8952605&expiration=1456454397&hwt=7ded02f69d3d7d5a115d33812b26acef

    Cheers all!

  19. WEDaly

    FYI Infinity Tool makes carbide tipped blades for the 734 and 735. They claim they last 10x longer than OEM blades.

  20. Roger Stephenson

    When I was planning to return to the US in 2010 I invested in a couple of the larger Grizzly tools, a bandsaw and a 15″ planer with the helical cutters. I have found both to be excellent investments. The only issue is the dust collection being straight out the rear of the planer, I keep a piece of small rope mounted on the ceiling and suspend the hose from it at a point near the planer. Shadetree approach but it works for me.

  21. jeff

    I see a lot of comments on planers and I have 4 comments and a statement.
    When buying a planer first of all it need to have at least 3 knives, that 2 sided and you don’t have to try to adjust.
    Side exiting dust collection.
    A must have is a locking bar.
    Also have in and out feed tables either fixed to the planer orv you make your own.
    Now for the statement. All planers will produce SNIPE. Unless you have a Helical head.
    Snipe is very easy to eliminate , first you need a scrap piece of wood that you feed in first followed by your good board, then at the outfeed side lift up on your good board as it comes out..
    I have Dw 734 That I bought recondition from Dewalt outlet and That I have run 3000 board feet of Seplie through it that I planed down from 3/4 to 7/16″ on one run. With the knives it came with.
    Knife ware is all about the operator, looking at the wood before he runs it through.
    Jeff

  22. Gene Duckett

    I just bought a Steel City, Helical from Highland Hardware. The cutter heads are carbide and I paid about $500 for it. The chip ejection is to the side so the dust collection hose never gets in the way. If one of the cutter heads gets nicked, it is cheap and easy to replace. The width is a full 13″. Before, I had an older Delta 15″ that was a single phase 230v motor. That hummer was heavy. It had a 3 blade cutter and sending off to sharpen, or buying new was also expensive. And setting the blades was pain.

    I sold it for $500 and bought the Steel City. so it was a wash. I like the steel city helical.

  23. DW

    Jay,

    Have to agree on the expensive planers. I have had a really nice used dewalt 733. And an old delta rust bucket that cost me $50. They both do the same thing. They both produced snipe. but the delta has slightly more snipe. For the price of 735 I would expect no snipe.

  24. JR

    I have a Steel City with the helical carbide insert head. It is a great tool and I really like the carbide inserts. They stay sharp and have two cutting edges per each insert.
    Related to snipe. I created a planer board that just about eliminates snipe. It is an 8′ 3/4″ thick melamine shelf with supports that match the height of the planer bed. I slide it into my planer prior to use and then let my wood stock ride on top of it. No snipe. It also means I don’t have to stay on the infeed side when inserting boards or play catch on the outfeed side.

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