A thickness planer is an excellent tool to have in your workshop. Even if you purchase pre-pampered lumber from a retailer, there’s no guarantee that the faces are going to be exactly parallel to one another. This is where your own thickness planer comes in; its cutter heads will dig deep to ensure that your boards are well-prepared for further processing and assembly.
In today’s article, we’d like to check out the 6552 from WEN – a thickness planer that seems to be doing well in the market. Reviews have been mixed regarding this Chinese-made thicknesser, but the majority of the customers have nothing but good things to say. Let’s take a closer look at the 6552.
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For the most part, larger motors are preferable in thickness planers since they have to perform one of the most demanding jobs, namely chopping off thin layers off the top of boards. This tool comes with a 15-amp motor which is quite large for a benchtop planer.
The 6552’s cutter head is fitted with three blades for maximum cutting efficiency. In general, more blades mean a smoother surface, so we’re glad that this tool comes with more blades than the average planer.
The combination of the 15-amp motor and the 3-knife cutterhead really makes this tool stand out. It generates enough power and speed for the cutter head to deliver up to 25,500 cuts per minute. For those of you who don’t know, more cuts packed per minute translates into a smoother finish.
Benchtop planers have a limited infeed capacity. This is mainly due to its compact size and portability. However, this doesn’t mean that benchtop planers can’t be used for large boards. For instance, the 6552 can swallow and spit outboards as large as 6 inches thick and 13 inches wide.
Thicknessers can use either reusable blades or reversible blades. Reusable blades are those that can be re-sharpened after becoming dull. The sharpening process can be tedious if you don’t have the right tools.
Reversible blades are blades with sharp edges on both sides. After one side becomes dull, you flip the blade over and get as much use out of this side as the previous side. The 6552 uses disposable, reversible blades that have quite a lot lifespan, depending on how often you use the tool and the toughness of your boards.
The 6552 comes with infeed and outfeed tables that support boards up to 24 inches in length. The height of each table can be adjusted to help in producing the desired angle. However, we found that adjusting the tables just causes trouble and long snipe marks. It’s best to leave the tables flush with the central support under the cutterhead.
When it’s time to put the tool away or prepare it for transport, the support tables can flip up. This saves room and makes it more manageable to lift. This is pretty handy if you need to transport the unit from job site to job site. This is much better than having to screw the tables on and off.
It’s important that you only shave off a thin layer from the top of your workpiece at a time. Otherwise you’ll overwork the motor and dull the blades of a thicknesser quicker. The 6552 has a turning handle to adjust the cutting depth. Each 90° turn moves the blade 1/64 of an inch up or down. It has a maximum cutting capacity of 3/32 of an inch deep.
Thicknessers are notorious for producing tons of sawdust and chips. This is why it’s so important to find a thicknesser with a working dust port. The 6552 comes with a 2-inch port and 4-inch adapter which connects to a dust extractor or shop vac for optimal dust management. It is also assisted by a fan to help suction up and blow the dust through the port, collection most if not all of the dust produced.
If you’ve used a thicknesser before, then you already know how much trouble having to carry your stock from the outfeed end back to the infeed end for a second pass can be. It’s actually more annoying than anything else. The 6552 has a double roller system which allows you to push the stock back through the machine after finishing the pass. It does nothing to help the tool’s performance, but it is a handy feature that shaves seconds off of your workload.
So let’s get some things out in the open. The WEN 6552 is not the best thickness planer available on the market, but at its price category, it really is something to behold. The 3-knife setup produces up to 25,500 cuts per minute which is mighty impressive, and it can swallow boards as wide as 13 inches, as thick as 6 inches, and as long as 24 inches (without additional supports) to boot. It’s a pretty neat tool in our book and definitely worth the investment.