Are Powermatic Planers Good? [Read Before You Buy!]

Powermatic planers are powerful and versatile woodworking machines used to flatten, straighten, and smooth lumber and boards. They utilize rotating cutterheads with multiple knives to aggressively remove material as stock is fed through, leaving behind a smooth, flat surface. Powermatic has been manufacturing industrial-grade stationary and portable planers for decades that are ideal for professional shops as well as avid hobbyist woodworkers.

Quick Summary

Are Powermatic Planers Good? – Yes, Powermatic planers are widely considered to be some of the best stationary planers on the market. Powermatic has built a reputation for making high-quality woodworking machines that are powerful, precise, and reliable.

Key features that make Powermatic planers stand out include:

  • Strong 3-5HP motors provide ample power for smooth, fast cuts
  • Precision engineered for accuracy and smooth operation
  • Durable all-metal construction and components
  • Large capacity – many models plane boards over 24″ wide
  • Quiet operation compared to portable planers
  • Advanced cutterheads (helical, carbide) give exceptional smooth finish
  • Convenient features like digital readouts and mobile bases
  • Top ratings for power, build quality and longevity

Though expensive, Powermatic’s thoughtful engineering and proven longevity make them an excellent choice for professional woodworking shops or passionate hobbyists. Their planers are built to last decades and produce flawless results.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll be taking an in-depth look at Powermatic planers – their key features, types of planers, basic operation, accessories, and maintenance. Whether you’re looking to buy your first planer or want to learn more about these industrial workhorses, read on for everything you need to know about Powermatic’s legendary planer lineup.

Types of Powermatic Planers

Powermatic manufactures a wide range of stationary and portable thickness planers to suit the needs of all woodworkers. Here are the main types of planers in the Powermatic lineup:

Benchtop Thickness Planers

Powermatic’s benchtop thickness planers are their most compact and portable models, designed for small workshops, on-site use, and hobbyists. They allow you to flatten rough lumber and boards up to 12-20 inches wide. Popular benchtop models include:

  • PM1000B – a compact planer with a 10″ width capacity and integrated mobile base.
  • PM1300WX – 13″ capacity, 3 knife cutterhead, and cast iron table extensions.

Floor Standing Thickness Planers

Larger stationary thickness planers designed for all day continuous use in professional shops. They can flatten wide boards up to 24 inches. Some feature steel cutterheads instead of traditional knives. Floor models include:

  • PM2000B – 15″ capacity planer with 4 knife cutterhead.
  • PM2244 – 22″ capacity planer with reversible knives.
  • PM2700TX – 27″ extra-wide planer with steel cutterhead.

Jointer/Planer Combination Machines

These machines combine a thickness planer and jointer into one dual-purpose woodworking machine. This saves shop space and allows quickly jointing lumber before planing it smooth. Powermatic’s 12″ and 8″ combo machines are:

  • JJP-12 – 12″ jointer and 12″ planer
  • JJP-208HH – 8″ jointer and 8″ planer with helical cutterhead

Portable and Benchtop Jointers

While not strictly planers, Powermatic’s portable and benchtop jointers pair nicely with their thickness planers to straighten and flatten lumber. Useful jointers include:

  • PJ-882HH – 8″ benchtop jointer with helical cutterhead
  • PJ-1211 – 12″ portable jointer on wheeled base

Key Features of Powermatic Planers

Powermatic has included innovative features on their planers to improve performance, board feed, chip ejection, cutting action, and overall ease of use. Here are some of the most notable features found across different Powermatic planer models:

  • 3 or 4-Knife Cutterheads – Most Powermatic thickness planers use 3 or 4 disposable knives arranged in a spiral around the cutterhead. More knives provide smoother, faster cuts. The staggered knife pattern gives a shearing action.
  • Steel or Carbide Insert Cutterheads – On larger planers, steel or carbide inserts replace standard knives. More durable than steel knives and all inserts can be rotated for a fresh cutting edge.
  • Serrated Infeed Rollers – Feed rollers with serrated teeth provide an aggressive grip, minimizing any slippage of your workpiece during planning.
  • Conveyor Tables – Extra-long infeed and outfeed tables allow you to plane longer boards without support stands. Tables are precision ground cast iron.
  • Digital Thickness Readouts – Allow you to precisely set cutting depth down to 1/128″ increments on certain models. Eliminates guesswork.
  • Material Thickness Stops – Conveniently set the thickness for repetitive cuts so each piece comes out exactly the same.
  • Double Dust Ports – Dual dust ports at the rear and bottom provide excellent chip extraction. Keeps your shop cleaner and allows bottom mount of portable dust collector.
  • Built-in Mobile Bases – Models like the PM1000B have a retractable mobile base allowing you to easily move the planer around your shop floor.

Basic Operation of a Powermatic Thickness Planer

Operating a Powermatic thickness planer is straightforward once you understand the basic steps. Here is an overview of the process:

  1. Inspect Stock – Make sure the board or lumber you are planning is free of nails, staples, excessive knots, or other defects that could damage the knives.
  2. Set Thickness – Adjust the cut depth to remove the desired thickness from your workpiece. Use the digital readout if your model has this feature. The thickness stop is useful for batch planning multiple boards to the same dimension.
  3. Adjust Table Extensions – Make sure infeed and outfeed tables provide ample support for your board length. Lock the extensions in place. You can also use optional planer stands and rollers.
  4. Turn On Dust Collection – Always run dust collection before operating the planer to extract chips and minimize dust in your shop.
  5. Feed Lumber – Turn on the planer and carefully feed your stock over the infeed table keeping downward pressure as it engages the cutterhead. Allow rollers to grab and pull board through without forcing it.
  6. Check for Snipe – Lightly sand the ends of the planned board to remove snipe (gouges at the end) if needed. A snipe preventer attachment can help minimize snipe.
  7. Repeat Cuts If Needed – For deeper cuts take lighter passes of 1/16″ or less removing a little at a time until you reach desired thickness.
  8. Clean Chips – Regularly clean all chips off the tables, cutterhead, rollers and frame to prevent buildup. A shop vac easily sucks up debris.

Proper feed rate and pressure are critical to smooth, even planing. Let the machine do the work. Rushing or forcing the cut leads to poorer results.

Common Accessories and Attachments for Powermatic Planers

Powermatic offers a variety of optional accessories to further enhance your planing experience:

  • Infeed and Outfeed Roller Stands – Provide seamless support for long boards without the need for extra helpers. Mounted stands with rollers make the job even easier allowing single person operation.
  • Narrow Boards Adapter – Attaches to the cutterhead housing to safely plane boards under 3″ wide without kickback. Essential accessory for planing narrow stock.
  • Snipe Preventer Attachment – Greatly reduces snipe gouges at the end of your workpiece. Easily mounted and adjustable.
  • Cutterhead Guard – A clear removable guard that encloses the planer cutterhead for an added layer of protection but still allows you to see the cut. Useful for novice users.
  • Mobile Base – A retractable mobile base like the one on the PM1000B allows you to readily move the machine around your shop. Makes it easy to shift planers when needed.
  • Carbide Insert Cutterhead – A solid carbide spiral cutterhead is available for machines like the PM2000B replacing standard knives. More durable and lasts 5x longer than steel knives.
  • Feed Speed Control – Allows you to adjust the automatic feed rate on certain models for optimum cuts on tricky woods or extra smooth finish.

Routine Maintenance for Powermatic Planers

Consistent maintenance helps any Powermatic planer run smoothly for years and avoids costly breakdowns. Here are important regular maintenance tasks:

  • Clean and Lubricate – Wipe down tables to remove all chips and debris. Lubricate guide posts and elevation screws with lightweight machine oil.
  • Check/Rotate Knives – Periodically inspect knives for nicks, dull spots or excessive wear and rotate or replace. Keep knives sharp for best performance.
  • Adjust/Align Tables – Over time vibration can knock tables slightly out of parallel. Realign and tighten all locking knobs and gibs.
  • Inspect Wiring – Check for any loose electrical connections or damaged wiring and cords.
  • Clean Cutting Head – Carefully remove buildup around cutterhead using a wooden scraper. Vacuum chips from inside planer.
  • Check/Replace Drive Belts – Check drive belt tension and watch for any cracking or wear. Replace belts periodically.
  • Calibrate Cutterhead – For consistent smooth cuts it helps to periodically recalibrate or realign the cutterhead.
  • Sharpen/Replace Inserts – Carbide insert cutterheads need periodic sharpening or replacement of worn inserts to maintain performance.

Proper cleaning and adjustments are key. A well-maintained planer will provide years of reliable service. Check your owner’s manual for further brand specific maintenance tips.

Troubleshooting Common Powermatic Planer Problems

Here are solutions to some typical problems you may encounter with a Powermatic planer:

Snipe at End of Board

  • Increase number of passes taking lighter cuts
  • Install snipe preventer attachment
  • Keep downward pressure on workpiece during entire cut

Rough/Torn Grain

  • Feed workpiece slower
  • Rotate, sharpen or replace knives
  • Check board for defects, knots, etc.

Machine Vibrates Excessively

  • Adjust and lubricate all gibs
  • Inspect/replace any damaged knives
  • Tighten/realign cutterhead and tables

Machine Stalls or Lugs

  • Reduce feed rate
  • Open chip ejection ports if clogged
  • Sharpen/replace dull knives

Uneven Cuts

  • Recalibrate cutterhead alignment
  • Make sure tables are parallel front to back
  • Rotate or replace worn knives

Finish Cuts Not Smooth

  • Increase number of light finishing passes
  • Replace nicked or defective knives
  • Use finer sandpaper on infeed rollers

Careful inspection of issues along with proper adjustments will have your planer smoothly up and running again. Contact Powermatic support for severe issues needing repair.

Check this in-depth article about Common Powermatic Planer Problems

Choosing the Best Powermatic Planer for Your Workshop

Selecting the ideal Powermatic planer depends on your budget, space constraints, and typical project size. Use this guide to pick your perfect planer:

For small home shops with limited space – Consider a compact benchtop model like the PM1000B 10″ planer or PM1300WX 13″ planer. Very portable if needed for on-site use.

Bigger home shops able to handle full 4’x8′ sheets – The PM2000B 15″ planer has excellent power with dual dust ports. A great midsize choice. Or step up to the big PM2700TX with 27″ capacity.

Professional cabinet shops milling very wide boards – Go for the mighty PM2700TX 27″ planer or other large floor standing models which can smoothly flatten even 24″ boards in one pass.

Shops that frequently edge joint and straight line rip lumber first – A jointer/planer combo machine like the JJP-12 allows you to quickly joint and plane in the same compact machine.

Users that prefer carbide over standard knives – Certain models like the PM2000B allow upgrading to an insert style carbide cutterhead for superior durability and edge life over knives.

No matter your specific needs, Powermatic makes a high-quality planer well suited for the job. Carefully measure your dimensions, review key features, and choose the model that best fits your workspace and project demands.

Final Words About Powermatic Planers

For over 90 years Powermatic has been designing and building top tier stationary woodworking machines. Their planers represent the pinnacle of wood flattening technology – powerful, precise, built to last, and made for the professional woodshop. Models ranging from benchtop portables to extra-wide industrial surfacing machines provide an ideal thickness planer for any workshop.

While pricey compared to consumer brands, Powermatic’s thoughtful engineering and strict quality control ensures your planer will withstand decades of daily hard use. If you’re investing in a planer, it’s worth examining the Powermatic lineup. Their innovative features deliver flawlessly smooth, perfectly flat lumber ready for the finest woodworking projects. Simply put – In Powermatic you’ll find the ultimate planer your shop deserves.

FAQS About Powermatic Planers

Is Grizzly as good as Powermatic?

Grizzly is not considered to be quite as good as Powermatic overall. Grizzly makes more affordable stationary woodworking machines aimed at hobbyists, while Powermatic is a premium professional-grade brand.

Is Jet or Powermatic better?

Powermatic is generally considered better than Jet in terms of power, precision, build quality and reliability. Jet offers competitive stationary woodworking machines at slightly lower prices.

Is Powermatic made by Jet?

No, Powermatic is not made by Jet. Powermatic and Jet are separate competing brands often compared to each other.

Who manufactures Powermatic?

Powermatic stationary woodworking machines are manufactured by JPW Industries in Tennessee. The company has been making Powermatic machines in the USA since 1921.

Is Powermatic made in China?

No, Powermatic machines are made in the United States, not in China. Powermatic is known for domestic manufacturing.

Is Powermatic 80 durable?

Yes, the Powermatic PM1000 and PM2000 series (including the PM80) are built with thick cast iron and steel components that make them very durable for years of shop use. The PM80 is Powermatic’s most popular and longest running table saw model.