Are Delta Planers Good? [Key Features & Benefits]

A delta planer is a type of woodworking machine used to flatten and smooth boards. It consists of a sturdy table and a cutting head assembly that rides along the table on rails.

The cutting head has three or four sharp blades mounted in a triangle or delta shape. As the cutting head moves back and forth over the workpiece, the blades plane off thin layers of wood to create a flat, smooth surface.

Delta planers are ideal for flattening rough lumber and producing straight, parallel boards for furniture making and other woodworking projects. They are versatile machines capable of precision planing on boards up to 12-20 inches wide, depending on the specific model.

Key Features and Benefits of Delta Planers

Delta offers several models of planers for hobbyists and professionals. Here are some of the key features and benefits of Delta planers:

  • Powerful motors – Delta planer motors range from 3-5 HP on the most common models. This allows for smooth, efficient planing cuts even in hardwoods.
  • Helical cutterheads – Many Delta planers come with helical cutterheads which have spiraling rows of carbide inserts. Helical cutterheads provide quieter, tear-out free planing.
  • Infeed and outfeed rollers – Rollers before and after the cutterhead help control workpiece movement and reduce snipe (dips at the end of a board).
  • Automatic thickness adjustment – Simply set the desired finished thickness and the planer automatically adjusts the cut depth. Takes the guesswork out of planing to a precise thickness.
  • Depth stops – Allow you to easily and consistently plane boards to the same thickness. Useful for batch planing projects to uniform size.
  • Cutterhead lock – Locks the cutterhead when changing blades to prevent accidental injury.
  • Strong rigid construction – Delta planers have a sturdy cast iron and steel construction that absorbs vibration.
  • Large tables – Provide ample workpiece support for smooth, accurate cuts. Many models have grooved tables that allow you to plane boards over 12″ wide.
  • Dust collection – Most models have dust ports to connect to a dust collection system. Keeps your shop cleaner and reduces cleanup.

Disadvantages of Delta Planers

While Delta makes excellent planers, there are a few potential downsides to consider:

  • Higher cost – Delta planers are priced as premium machines, at the higher end for planers. Budget-minded buyers may want to consider other brands.
  • Large footprint – Delta planers tend to be heavier and take up more shop floor space than portable benchtop models. Make sure you have room for one.
  • Learning curve – There are adjustments and setups required to get the best performance from a Delta planer. Beginners may struggle until they gain experience.
  • Snipe issues – Some users report problems with snipe, even with the infeed/outfeed rollers. Careful adjustment and feed speed can minimize snipe.
  • Dust collection – While they have dust ports, dust collection is not perfect on Delta planers. Expect to still deal with some dust and chips.
  • Safety concerns – As with any power tool, there are risks of injury if proper precautions are not taken. New users should thoroughly learn safe operating procedures.

Models of Delta Planers

Delta has produced many planer models over the years. Here are some of the most popular and well-regarded:

Delta 22-555 Portable Thickness Planer

  • Compact benchtop design with handle for portability
  • 12.5” width capacity
  • 2 knife cutterhead
  • 2 HP motor
  • Automatic thickness adjustment
  • Max cut depth of 1/8”

Delta 22-560 Classic Portable Thickness Planer

  • Benchtop design, weighs 105 lbs
  • 15” width capacity
  • 3 knife cutterhead
  • 3 HP motor
  • 1/8” max cut depth
  • Two-speed gearbox

Delta 22-590 13” Portable Thickness Planer

  • Benchtop design with integrated mobile base
  • 13” width capacity
  • 3 knife cutterhead
  • 3 HP motor
  • 1/8” max cut depth
  • Depth stop for repetitive cuts

Delta 22-560C Classic Portable Thickness Planer with Helical Cutterhead

  • 15” capacity
  • Helical cutterhead with 64 carbide inserts
  • 3 HP motor
  • 1/8” max depth of cut
  • Built-in mobile base

Delta 22-555C Compact Portable Thickness Planer with Helical Cutterhead

  • 12.5” capacity
  • Helical cutterhead with 56 carbide inserts
  • Quieter operation and reduced snipe
  • 2 HP motor
  • 1/8” max cutting depth

Delta X5 Heavy-Duty Professional Benchtop Planer

  • 15” width capacity
  • Helical cutterhead with 74 inserts
  • 5 HP motor
  • Servo-controlled drive feed system
  • Max 1/8” depth of cut
  • Weighs 250 lbs

Advantages of Benchtop Thickness Planers

Delta’s benchtop thickness planers like the 22-555, 22-590, and 22-560 offer some nice benefits for small shops and hobbyists:

  • Compact size – Takes up very little floor space in a crowded shop.
  • Portable – Light enough to move around the shop or transport to job sites.
  • Affordable price – Cost thousands less than industrial floor model planers. Great value for the performance.
  • Easy storage – Fits under a workbench or on a storage shelf when not in use.
  • Cuts common thicknesses – Despite small size, can plane boards up to 12-15” wide and remove up to 1/8” thickness in a pass.
  • Quieter operation – Produce less noise than giant industrial machines.
  • Great for smaller projects – Ideal for planing boards for furniture, boxes, cutting boards, and other small wood pieces.
  • Easier to clean up – Contained dust collection of a benchtop model is easier to manage than a large floor model.

For small hobby or DIY woodshops, a benchtop thickness planer like those made by Delta provide excellent function while saving significant shop space and money compared to heavy stationary models. They are an attractive option for many woodworkers.

Advantages of Floor Model Thickness Planers

For professional woodworkers and discerning hobbyists, Delta also makes larger floor model planers:

  • Wider capacity – Can accommodate boards up to 24″ or more wide. Better for wide live-edge slabs or large tabletops.
  • Heavier duty – Sturdier frames, more powerful motors, and longer beds support larger workpieces.
  • Higher production – Take deeper cuts and plane more board feet per hour than benchtop models.
  • Advanced cutterheads – Offer helical or spiral cutterheads that leave an ultra-smooth finish.
  • Easier to feed – Infeed and outfeed tables simplify feeding wide or long boards.
  • Better dust collection – Large dust chutes and ports integrate with central dust collectors.
  • Higher resale value – Hold value better if you ever want to sell the machine later.
  • Workpiece support – Long beds and roller supports decrease snipe on the ends of boards.
  • Quieter operation – Advanced cutterheads mean smoother, quieter cuts.

For professional shops producing large quantities of planed boards, Delta’s floor model planers are worth the significant extra investment over benchtop machines. Amateur woodworkers may also appreciate their performance for handling wider slabs.

Delta Planer Price Considerations

Delta planers range widely in price:

  • Benchtop models – Start at around $300 for a small portable planer up to $800 or more for a 15” model with a helical cutterhead. Great for DIYers on a budget.
  • Floor models – Range from $1500-$3000 for contractor style planers designed for small professional shops.
  • Industrial models – Go up to $5000+ for heavy duty planers meant for 24/7 production use.
  • Used models – Can sometimes be found for 50% or less than new price. Makes an expensive machine more affordable.
  • Reconditioned models – Delta sells factory reconditioned models for 20-40% less than new. Come with a warranty.
  • Cutterhead upgrades – Upgrading a standard cutterhead to helical adds $250-$500 to machine cost. Provides superior finishes.
  • Accessories – Extra knives, infeed rollers, and mobility kits will add a few hundred dollars more to the total.

For most hobbyists and small shops, a benchtop model in the $500-$800 range offers an excellent balance of price and performance. Floor models may be worth the added cost if production needs demand wider planing capacity.

Differences Between Portable and Stationary Planers

Here are some key differences between portable benchtop planers and larger stationary floor models:

  • Size and weight – Portable planers take up minimal floor space and can be moved around or stored easily. Stationary planers are giant machines weighing hundreds of pounds.
  • Width capacity – Portables max out around 15”. Stationary models can plane boards over 24” wide.
  • Depth of cut – Both have similar maximum depth cuts around 1/8” per pass. However, stationary planers have more power to handle deeper cuts.
  • Infeed/Outfeed tables – Stationary models have large infeed and outfeed work tables to support long boards. Portables just rely on the planing bed.
  • Material production – Stationary models are built for high throughput in industrial settings. Portables have much lower material removal rates.
  • Price – Portable planers are very affordable for most woodworkers. Heavy duty stationary models cost several thousand dollars more.
  • Dust collection – Stationary planers accommodate large dust ports and central collectors. Dust collection is limited on more compact portables.

For most DIYers and hobbyists, a portable benchtop thickness planer offers an extremely versatile and useful machine for the money. Professional production shops may require a larger stationary model.

Recommended Thickness Planers for Different Needs

Here are my recommendations for Delta thickness planers based on different use cases:

  • For a woodworking hobbyist on a budget – Delta 22-590 13” Portable Planer
  • For a small DIY shop doing occasional projects – Delta 22-560C 15” Portable Planer with Helical Cutterhead
  • For a cabinetry business planing smaller boards – Delta 22-555C 12.5” Planer with Helical Cutterhead
  • For a professional shop running all day – Delta X5 Heavy-Duty Benchtop Planer
  • For a large millwork operation planing wide slabs – Delta 50-345 20” Stationary Floor Planer
  • For a furniture builder needing 24” capacity – Delta 50-766 24” Stationary Floor Planer

I recommend spending what you can reasonably afford while still getting a machine capable of handling your current and future workload. Benchtop models offer great value for DIYers and small shops. Step up to a floor model if you routinely work with wider boards.

Planing Tips for Delta Planers

Here are some tips to help you get the best performance and longest life from your Delta planer:

  • Carefully read and follow the owner’s manual for setup, adjustments, and safety procedures. Don’t guess.
  • Wax the beds with a paste wax applied with steel wool and buffed out. This reduces drag as the workpiece moves over the bed.
  • Keep blades sharp and well adjusted. Rotate or replace blades once they get dull or nicked. A sharp blade makes planing easier.
  • Take light passes to reduce strain on the machine. For final surfacing, 1/64″ depth of cut or less is ideal.
  • Slow your feed rate down when planing dense exotic woods to avoid excessive chip out or burn marks.
  • Avoid rocks, nails, or knots in wood that can chip blades. Inspect boards carefully first.
  • Allow motor to reach full speed before feeding boards. Don’t force a board through a planer at startup.
  • Wear hearing protection. Use dust collection. Follow standard safety procedures when thickness planing.
  • Blow out dust routinely using compressed air to prevent dust buildup on the planer bed and rollers.
  • Invest in additional knives and a helical cutterhead upgrade if desired. These will enhance the long term performance of your planer.

Following these tips will help you get smooth flat boards, longer planer life, and safe operation. Review the owner’s manual thoroughly to understand your specific Delta model.

Standout Features of Delta Planers

Over the years, Delta has included some standout features not always found on competitor’s models:

  • Two-speed gearbox – Allows switching to slower speed for planing hard woods or when taking very light passes. Adds flexibility.
  • Automatic thickness adjustment – Makes it easy to precisely set cutting depth and repeat that exact thickness. Convenient time saver.
  • Integrated mobile bases – Plane can be tipped back and rolled around a shop on built-in casters. Custom Delta accessory.
  • Screw style chipbreaker – Allows quick and easy adjustment of the chipbreaker clearance.
  • Intelligent digital readout – Displays current bed height setting and allows dialing in exact target thicknesses.
  • Serrated steel infeed roller – Improves workpiece traction as it enters the cutterhead. Unique Delta patented design.
  • ** spring-loaded dust brushes** – These brushes on the cutterhead help contain chips and dust. No other planer has this.

Delta has always focused on useful innovations and attention to detail on their planers. These features improve functionality for the user.

Delta vs. Other Planer Brands

Delta isn’t the only thickness planer option. Here’s how Delta compares to other planer brands woodworkers may consider:

vs. DeWalt:

  • Delta offers wider planing capacity on their benchtop models than comparable DeWalt planers.
  • DeWalt planers are typically less expensive for comparable features.
  • Delta joiners are built with more metal components while DeWalt uses more plastic.
  • Cut quality is very similar between Delta and DeWalt helical cutterheads.

vs. Makita:

  • Delta focuses just on woodworking while Makita serves construction/contracting markets.
  • Makita planers offer great value but may lack some of the refinements and features of Delta.
  • Delta cutterheads produce a smoother surface finish.
  • Makita planers are more portable with better jobsite durability.

vs. Grizzly:

  • Grizzly sells mostly direct and has very attractive pricing.
  • Delta models have more power and precision. Grizzly focuses more on value.
  • Grizzly offers wider planing capacity on their floor models vs. Delta.
  • Delta’s fit and finish is better with more attention to features.

vs. Powermatic:

  • Delta competes on performance while Powermatic is priced higher as a premium brand.
  • Delta joined the Powermatic product lines after being purchased by Stanley Black & Decker.
  • Powermatic focuses more on industrial-grade stationary planers. Delta has a full benchtop line.

vs. Hammer:

  • Hammer is known for pioneering helical cutterheads and spends far more on R&D.
  • Delta sells models with Hammer’s cutterheads but doesn’t engineer them directly.
  • Hammer offers a wider range of specialty cutterheads not found with Delta.

No one brand is definitively “the best”. Choose based on features, budget, brand reputation, and planer capacity needs. For most small shops, Delta is an excellent choice for thickness planers due to their competitive pricing and proven performance.

Thickness Planing vs. Surface Planing

It’s important to distinguish between thickness planing and surface planing when choosing a planer:

  • Thickness planing involves cutting an entire board thinner by removing material from the top face. Delta’s thickness planers excel at this task.
  • Surface planing means flattening or smoothing just one side of the board while keeping it at the same overall thickness. This requires a jointer rather than thickness planer.

While they sound similar, jointers and thickness planers perform very different woodworking operations:

  • Jointers create a flat reference face to feed against the fence of a thickness planer.
  • Thickness planers then plane the opposite face parallel for uniform board thickness.
  • Planers dimension and straighten warped boards but don’t flatten faces like a jointer.
  • Jointers create perfect 90 degree edges but don’t alter overall board thickness.

Understanding when to thickness plane versus surface plane is key to proper wood preparation. Use the right machine for the task for best results.

How Wide of Stock Can a Delta Planer Handle?

Delta offers benchtop thickness planers capable of handling stock up to 12.5”, 13”, and 15” wide. Their floor standing stationary models can accommodate up to 24” or wider.

Here is the maximum board width capacity of common Delta planer models:

  • Delta 22-555 Portable Planer – 12.5” width
  • Delta 22-590 Portable Planer – 13” width
  • Delta 22-560 Portable Planer – 15” width
  • Delta X5 Benchtop Planer- 15” width
  • Delta 50-345 Floor Planer – 20” width
  • Delta 50-764 Floor Planer – 24” width
  • Delta 50-766 Floor Planer – 24” width
  • Delta 50-767 Floor Planer – 24” width

The wider the planer, the larger the boards it can handle. Benchtop thickness planers in the 12”-15” range will be sufficient for many typical woodworking projects. For surfacing large slabs or wide panels, a 20”+ stationary floor model is recommended.

Keep in mind that maximum board width is limited not just by the planer itself but also your abilities to safely manipulate the workpiece. Long, wide planks present challenges with material handling that narrower stock does not. Make sure your shop is equipped to properly joint, lift, feed, and collect finished boards up to the full width capacity of your selected planer.

What is the Maximum Depth of Cut on a Delta Planer?

Delta planers are capable of removing anywhere from 1/8” to 1/4″ thickness per pass, depending on the specific model.

Here are some common max depth of cut specs:

  • Benchtop planers – Most have a max cut around 1/8” (some models may reach 3/16”).
  • Floor planers – Remove up to 1/4″ thickness in a single pass.
  • Helical cutterheads – Typically max out around 1/8” depth due to multiple, overlapping cuts.

It’s important to note that max cut depth relates to the planer’s capability, not what you should necessarily use for ideal results. Taking very heavy 1/4” cuts risks bogging down the motor, tear out, and an inferior surface.

For the final pass when surface quality matters most, Delta recommends keeping depth of cut to 1/64” or less. Multiple light passes produce the best planed surface. Allow the machine to do the work by removing a little material at a time.

Don’t exceed the planer’s max depth capacity, but also don’t equate max depth with best results. Use the appropriate depth of cut for the task at hand.

What Size Stock Can You Plane with a Delta Planer?

In terms of workpiece dimensions, Delta planers have good flexibility:

Length – Delta’s benchtop planers can handle stock up to about 12 feet long. The beds on larger stationary models will support up to 16 feet or more.

Width – As discussed earlier, this ranges from 12” on a portable planer up to 24”+ on heavy floor models.

Thickness – Delta planers generally accommodate boards up to 6 inches thick. This makes them suitable for surfacing dimensional lumber, timber, and thick hardwood slabs.

Minimum size – Delta does not recommend planing boards under 3 inches wide as narrow pieces can tilt or get pulled through the equipment. There is no defined minimum length.

So in summary, Delta planers can handle material ranging from:

  • 3” to 24” wide
  • A few inches to 16 feet long
  • 1/4” to 6” thickness

Proper material prep, feeding techniques, and grain orientation are necessary to successfully plane boards, especially at the extremes of the planer’s capacity. Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and safety procedures for your particular machine.

What Types of Wood are Recommended for Use with Delta Planers?

Delta’s thickness planers can surface a wide variety of wood species:

  • Softwoods – Pine, cedar, spruce, and fir plane very easily due to straight grain and low density. Reduce feed rate to avoid tear-out.
  • Hardwoods – Oak, maple, walnut, and mahogany also plane well if grain direction is considered. Take lighter cuts on dense exotic species.
  • Reclaimed lumber – Old barn wood and timber with nails or holes present risks of cutterhead damage. Inspect thoroughly first.
  • Dyed/treated wood – Colored exterior woods may bleed dye when planed. Pressure treated lumber also risks staining blades.
  • Plywood/veneer – Must be secured to a rigid backing board first to avoid veneer chipping on the edges.
  • Exotic imported woods – Dense rosewood, ebony, and lignum vitae can prematurely dull cutter knives. Allow for more frequent blade changes.

Any wood species can technically be surfaced with a thickness planer. However, following the wood grain direction, taking light finishes passes, and inspecting for any embedded debris will produce the best results and protect your planer. Know the properties of the material before attempting to plane it.

What Safety Measures Should Be Taken when Using Delta Planers?

While convenient and efficient, power woodworking machinery always warrants safety awareness:

  • Use eye and ear protection – Flying chips and high noise levels make protective gear mandatory.
  • Wear a respirator – Planers produce large amounts of fine dust. Use a NIOSH approved respirator to avoid breathing dust.
  • Feed properly – Only plane boards a few inches wider than the planer bed. Never try to surface single narrow strips. Use push blocks if needed.
  • Avoid snipe – Carefully support workpiece ends to prevent them dipping as they enter/exit the cutterhead.
  • Prevent kickback – Make sure wood grain runs properly through the planer and the workpiece is firmly held down.
  • Guard fingers – Keep hands well clear of the cutterhead area. Don’t reach into the machine during operation.
  • Disconnect power – Power off and unplug the planer before any maintenance, cutterhead cleaning, or blade changes.
  • Clean machine – Don’t allow buildup of dust, chips, or pitch on the planer bed and rollers which can impair function.

Following manufacturer safety instructions, taking preventative measures, and using common sense when running your planer will help avoid accidents. Never become complacent around industrial woodshop equipment.


Delta thickness planers are an excellent choice for smoothing and flattening lumber in any woodworking shop. They combine proven performance, reliability, and great features perfect for hobbyists and professionals alike.

Key advantages of Delta planers include powerful motors, advanced cutterheads, smooth automatic thickness adjustment, and thoughtful design details that aid wood preparation. They excel at processing smaller workpieces but floor models are also available for surfacing wide boards.

While a major investment, a quality thickness planer like those made by Delta is one of the most useful and productive shop machines you’ll ever own. It enables fast precision milling of lumber to consistent thickness and flatness needed for detailed wood projects. With proper care and maintenance, a Delta planer will provide many years of smooth planing capability.