If you plan on taking your woodworking to the next level, then you need to ditch the pre-pampered boards from large retailers and mill your own lumber. You can purchase boards from lumber mills at a fraction of the cost – all you need to do is give them a thorough jointing and planing and you’ll be good to go. This, of course, means you’ll need a high-quality thickness planer to get the job done.
From the seemingly infinite number of thickness planers out there on the market, finding the right one can be a challenge. We pride ourselves in being able to distinguish the good from the bad, which leads to the question: is the Delta Power Tools 22-590 Portable Planer worth the investment?
Thickness planers need to come with powerful motors to dimension all types of wood. The more powerful the motor, the more versatile the thickness planer is since it can be used to shave layers off of soft and hardwoods alike. This DPT tool comes with a hefty 15-amp motor which delivers up to 10,000 RPM. This is the largest motor available in planers while still retaining its portability.
The electric motor drives the cutterhead to deliver a high number of cuts per inch. Planer cutterheads can come with either two or three knives, and more knives translate into cleaner finishes. This planer model comes with a 3-knife cutterhead for maximum cutting efficiency – up to 30,000 cuts per minute. However, the board’s isn’t even across the entire surface, requiring more than three passes to get the surface to the desired smoothness. This, unfortunately, means having to remove more material than previously planned.
Feed Rate and Cuts per Inch
The feed rate is the speed at which the planer’s rollers move the board from the infeed table to the outfeed table. This model only has one speed – 26 feet per minute – and the 3-knife cutterhead delivers around 96 cuts per minute. The surprising thing is that these specs match those of higher quality, more expensive planers, but produce considerably worse finishes.
Maximum Board Width and Thickness
As a portable planer, it’s not realistic to expect it to be able to swallow humongous pieces of rough lumber, but rather sizable boards should be able to pass through it without too much pre-dimensioning. The 22-590 can plane boards 6 inches tall and up to 13 inches wide. Nothing too amazing here since this is the average capacity for most portable planers.
Infeed-Outfeed Tables Support
The length of the infeed and outfeed tables determines the maximum length of a board that can pass comfortably under the planer’s cutterhead. Longer tables are preferred since they can support longer boards, but it would mean having to detach and reattach them when transporting the unit. This planer’s tables can support boards as long as 10 inches which, when compared to other portable planers, is actually quite short.
Snipe is the unintended removal of too much material on both the front and tail ends of the board. Even the best portable planers have this problem since the infeed and outfeed rollers do not grasp the board simultaneously as it passes under the cutterhead. After passing numerous boards under this tool, we and many others found that it manages/reduces snipe extremely well. This is actually quite a shock since it requires several passes to produce smooth surfaces.
It’s important that you adjust the height of the cutterhead before passing wooden pieces through the planer. If it’s set too far deep into the board, it’ll overwork the motor, dull the knives quicker, and leave deep scratches on your material. The cutting depth can be set to anywhere between 1/8 and 1-1/4 inches deep, though we recommend staying within the 1/8 to ¼-inch range for the best, yet slightly jagged, results. The gauge’s locking mechanism works like a charm to produce repeated cuts across all of your workpieces.
As your boards pass beneath the cutterhead, the knives will quickly remove thin layers of the material, producing copious amounts of dust, chips, and shavings. To help cope with debris, Delta Power Tools has included a 4-inch dust port in this model. Most of the debris will fall in the direction of the dust port where your shop vac or dust extractor can suction it up easily. You’ll still find quite a bit of dust near the base of the planer, but it’s not so much that you’ll curse internally as you sweep it all up.
As a portable planer, it needs to travel well and not weigh you down as you load and unload it from your vehicle. The 22-590, with its infeed and outfeed tables attached, weighs roughly 76 pounds – not too far off from the industry average. Needless to say, it travels well, and the durable casing is able to withstand bumps along the way.
Problems with the Drive Belt
One problem that numerous customers have complained about (not us though) is that the drive belt and pulley system isn’t perfectly in place straight out of the box. This can lead to burning through the drive belt quicker than normal. Fortunately, replacement drive belts are inexpensive, so if you do end up tearing through the first, you can get a second without spending too much. Furthermore, the misplacement of the pulley and/or drive belt can be fixed quickly by removing two stainless steel screws and wiggling the motor in place.
So after testing out the Delta Power Tools 22-590 Portable Planer for a while, here are our findings. First, there are plenty of better brand-name portable planers out there on the market. Second, this tool reduces snipe to mere millimeters but does a pretty poor job and producing smooth surfaces.
And thirdly, the 10-inch board support makes the 22-590 suitable for smaller projects so it probably won’t deserve a spot in a professional workshop. We were actually quite saddened so many unacceptable faults in this tool since it is produced by a reputable manufacturer.
Overall, this tool would probably work well in smaller woodshops but it’s not something that you would brag to your friends about.