Powermatic 15HH Planer Review [2023]

First introduced in 2018, the Powermatic 15HH represents the latest evolution in premium thickness planers. As the successor to the popular Powermatic 209HH, the 15HH gets a power boost with an all-new 15 HP TEFC motor providing abundant torque. While maintaining the same footprint as the previous 209HH, the 15HH increases planing width capacity from 18 inches to a full 20 inches. This allows the 15HH to flatten and straighten extra wide slabs that few other portable planers can handle. The 15HH also introduces thoughtful design upgrades like the direct-reading cutting depth scale. With years of refinement behind it and Potermatic’s proven reputation for durability, the 15HH delivers next-level performance for the most demanding woodworking shops. This newest model cements Powermatic’s status as the leader in elite thickness planers engineered for perfecting wide stock.

Overview Of Powermatic 15HH Planer

The Powermatic 15HH is a powerful and robust thickness planer perfect for serious woodworkers looking to achieve fine, smooth cuts on a wide variety of materials. This helical head planer features a 3 knife cutterhead housing 74 carbide inserts, providing superior cutting action that leaves boards ready for finish.

With its sturdy cast iron construction, quiet and efficient 15HP motor, and industrial build quality, the 15HH can handle high volumes of stock removal and dimensional planer work all day long in a professional shop environment. While it comes at a premium price point, the Powermatic 15HH offers serious capabilities for flattening, thicknessing, and fine finish planing on boards up to 20 inches wide.

Key features:

  • 15 HP TEFC motor for sustained power under heavy loads
  • Cast iron tables provide rigidity and dampen vibration
  • 74 4-sided carbide inserts on helical cutterhead
  • Cuts boards up to 20″ wide and 8″ thick
  • 16-20 feet per minute feed speed options
  • Seriously quiet operation compared to other industrial planers
  • Built-in mobile base with locking casters
  • Easy tool-less knife change system
  • Sturdy all-steel construction & industrial componentry

Unboxing & Assembly

Unboxing and assembly of the Powermatic 15HH is straightforward, with only a few parts to attach and minimal setup required. With an estimated weight of 500 lbs, you’ll want at least 2 people to maneuver the machine during uncrating.

Plan for 30-45 minutes to fully unbox and assemble for first use. You’ll need standard hex keys and wrenches, with no specialty tools required.

What’s included:

  • Assembled planer body with tables
  • Hand wheel and handle
  • Dust hood
  • Extra carbide inserts
  • Mobile base with casters
  • Manuals and paperwork

Assembly steps:

  1. Unbolt planer body from shipping skid
  2. Attach hand wheel
  3. Mount handle
  4. Attach dust hood
  5. Install and level infeed/outfeed tables
  6. Attach power cord

With just 6 bolts to drive for the dust hood, and 4 screws per table, the 15HH comes together quickly. The beefy cast iron tables may require some test fitting to align – expect to spend a few extra minutes dialing these in.

Helpful tip: Leave the original shipping crate intact until assembly is complete. Use the crate as a work platform to install the tables at an ergonomic height.

Overall, the 15HH arrives nearly ready to run out of the box, with very straightforward assembly and minimal setup time.

Fit & Finish

The fit and finish lives up to Powermatic’s reputation for premium quality and attention to detail. All castings have a smooth matte powder coat finish that feels slick and professional. The machine has a very high quality feel, with no rough edges or casting flaws.

All measuring scales have crisp laser-etched markings that are easy to read. The engraved Powermatic badges look sharp and well-placed.


The cast iron tables have accurately machined dovetails, with no slop or unwanted sideways play. Surfaces arrive coated in a waxy cosmoline to prevent rust in shipment. This protective coating cleans up easily with WD40 and scotchbrite, leaving a smooth surface ready for paste wax.

Minimal cleanup is required to get the tables prepped and slick for wood feeding. The tables feature nicely chamfered leading edges as well.

Fit and finish drawbacks:

  • Non-rotating casters could lead to flat spotting on shop floors that aren’t perfectly level.
  • Dust ports lack standard 4” fittings. Powermatic includes a proprietary molded hose that adapts to their dust collector. Aftermarket adapters are available.

Aside from those minor nitpicks, the Powermatic 15HH reflects the thoughtful design and robust build quality that Powermatic is known for. The machine looks and functions like a premium piece of workshop equipment.

Powermatic 15HH Noise Levels

For its size and power, the 15HH planer is surprisingly quiet in operation. With its fully enclosed fan cooled (TEFC) motor, helical cutterhead, and all-steel construction, this planer doesn’t have the high-pitched whine or metallic clanging of lighter machines.

Here are some key noise measurements:

  • Idle machine noise: 87-90 db
  • Running + dust extractor: 100-107 db
  • Comparable to a typical shop vac in noise output

The tone of the noise is lower-pitched, with more of a muted hum/rumble versus lighter planers that have a ring or tinny quality when running. The helical cutterhead design certainly contributes to the smoother, quieter performance.

While still requiring hearing protection, the Powermatic 15HH is one of the quietest planers in its size and power class. This makes it significantly less fatiguing to run for extended periods. For shops where noise is a concern, the 15HH operates quieter than you’d expect.

Powermatic 15HH Machine Footprint

With its 20” capacity and 74” overall length, the Powermatic 15HH has a wide footprint typical of its industrial class. Required clearances are:

  • Length with tables: 74”
  • Width: 34 1/4”
  • Height: 54 1/2”
  • Footprint: 16 sq. feet

The minimum workable shop space for the 15HH Planer is a 2 car garage, with 10×20’ clear floorspace. For comfortable long stock feeding, you’ll want 12’ width minimum.

The mobile base makes it possible to maneuver solo, allowing the machine to be rolled where needed. Locking the casters secures it firmly in position.

Weighing over 500 lbs, the 15HH has the mass and stability of a permanent shop machine. The footprint is substantial, so be sure to plan your shop layout accordingly. This is not a machine to tuck into a corner or tight space. Leave room for infeed/outfeed support stands.

Power & Performance Of Powermatic 15HH Planer

With its 3-phase 15 HP TEFC motor, the Powermatic 15HH delivers abundant power and torque for rapid stock removal. The sheer weight and steel construction provide the inertia needed for smooth, vibration-free cuts even when taking very deep cuts.

The 15HH handles hardwoods, figured woods, and gnarly grain without bogging down thanks to the low-end grunt of the 15 HP motor. It’s a beast perfectly suited for surfacing large slabs or dimensioning timber frames. Power is never lacking.

Feed rate options:

Variable speed control dial offers two settings:

  • Low speed: 16 feet per minute
  • High speed: 20 feet per minute

While limited to just two settings, the ability to throttle down for finishing cuts or speed up for rapid stock removal provides helpful flexibility. Speed changes are made on the fly while the machine is running.

Max. cutting depth:

  • 1/8” cuts possible
  • 8” maximum board thickness capacity

Helical cutterhead advantages:

The 3-knife helical cutterhead design provides 74 four-sided carbide inserts, delivering a shear cutting action that slices through material smoothly with minimal tearing.

Benefits include:

  • Ultra-smooth, chip-free planing action
  • Significantly quieter operation vs straight knives
  • Each knife sits at a different height, reducing repetition of knife marks
  • Carbide cutters provide long edge life – 2X or more vs HSS
  • Indexing carbide inserts rotate to use fresh cutting edge

The helical cutterhead is a key factor in the 15HH’s ability to take whisper-thin cuts and leave boards with a glassy smooth finish. It’s a significant step up from traditional straight knife planer heads.

Ease of Use

The Powermatic 15HH strikes a good balance between industrial capability and thoughtful design. This is not just a hulking brute of a machine – it offers refined details that improve the user experience.

Convenient features that enhance ease of use:

  • Dial measures actual cutting depth, not just table height
  • Locking hand wheel secures depth settings
  • Tables have handy reference rulers etched into sides
  • Spacious distance between cutterhead and tables (over 5”) accommodates jigs and sleds
  • Built-in mobile base makes it easy to move machine solo
  • Cutterhead lock for safe knife changes
  • Magnetic on/off switch with thermal overload protection

The 15HH combines sheer size and power with subtle design touches that improve control and ease of use. It’s the small details like the direct reading depth dial that make this an intelligently designed machine – not just an oversized brute.

The 15HH does require a moderate learning curve to master feed techniques and adjusting cutting depth. But for a machine of this size and capability, it offers good refinement and thoughtful engineering.

Powermatic 15HH Dust Collection

A 4” dust port is centered at the rear of the machine, providing adequate airflow to capture most chips and dust generated in use. The 15HH planer produces a very large volume of chips when taking heavy cuts, so substantial CFM is required for clean operation.

At full 20” width capacity, the 15HH has over 300 square inches of open space around the cutterhead. Effective chip extraction across this large opening requires a 6” dust port and 650+ CFM system.

Stock dust collection performance:

  • The included 4” port provides “Good” chip collection.
  • Some dust blowback will occur, requiring cleanup of tables between boards
  • Emptying the collection bag/drum frequently is advised to maintain airflow.
  • Using a dust separator is recommended to reduce fine dust load.

The stock dust collection setup will capture about 70-80% of chips and dust in actual use. This may be adequate for small shops not running production volume. For cleaner operation, investing in a larger dust collector or adding a 6” duct adapter is advised.

Cut Quality

The Powermatic 15HH produces exceptional cutting quality thanks to its rigid cast iron construction, balanced helical cutterhead, and sheer horsepower.

It leaves full-width boards dead flat, without any milling marks or snipe. The shear slicing action of the helical carbide knives creates a glassy smooth finish, ready for paint/stain.

Key factors influencing the premium cut quality:

  • Massive cast iron tables dampen vibration
  • Precisely machined dovetail mounts align tables
  • 4-sided carbide cutters provide ultra-sharp edges
  • 15 HP motor powers through figure and grain changes
  • Industrial build quality and weight (500 lbs)

From rough, twisted planks to furniture-grade exotic woods, the 15HH transforms material into smoothed, perfectly flattened boards with a polished finish. This machine delivers a cut quality exceeding what most woodworkers need for fine furniture building.

The 15HH leaves hardwoods, softwoods, figured grain, and gnarly slabs equally smooth. It’s overkill for basic S4S dimensional planing – this machine is built for fine finish work at exceptional standards.

Powermatic 15HH Planer Customer Support

Powermatic is owned by JET Tools, which has been manufacturing woodworking machines for over 80 years. They have an established reputation for quality and customer service.

The 15HH Planer is covered by a 5 year warranty covering parts and labor. A 30-day money back guarantee covers return shipping costs if you’re not fully satisfied.

Service options include:

  • Online support site with manuals/documentation
  • Phone support available weekdays
  • Warranty centers located across the U.S.
  • Training seminars held at annual woodworking shows

As an industrial power tool from a legacy brand, the Powermatic 15HH offers professional-grade support channels. Response times may be a bit slower compared to smaller companies. But the infrastructure is there for service over the long haul.

For urgent issues, some users report faster help by contacting JET/Powermatic through their business Facebook pages versus phone support.

Recommended Accessories For Powermatic 15HH

Here are some worthwhile accessories to improve your experience with the Powermatic 15HH Planer:

  • Byrd Shelix cutterhead – $349, converts machine to spiral carbide cutters for ultra-fine finish. Easy install.
  • Roller stands – $150, provide extended infeed/outfeed support for finish surfacing longer boards.
  • Flood coolant system – $119, protects carbide knives when planing woods with silica (like exotic hardwoods) by lubricating cut.
  • Carbide inserts – ~$60 for 10, economical replacements for the helical cutterhead knives. Index to unused edges as needed.
  • Cutterhead wrench – $25, makes removal and indexing of carbide knives much easier.
  • Shop air filter system – Starts at $400, improves air quality by capturing fine dust not grabbed by planer dust collection. Critical for cleaner, healthier shop air.

Competitor Comparison

The main competitor to the Powermatic 15HH is the Wadkin AGS 10 inch – a similar industrial class planer from a British brand. The Wadkin offers a 10 inch max cut vs 20 on the 15HH.

How the 15HH compares:

  • More powerful 15 HP motor vs 10 HP on Wadkin
  • Wider cuts – full 20” planing capacity
  • Quieter operation
  • Larger tables accommodate bigger jigs
  • More robust build construction
  • Easier to source spare parts and support being US-based

For smaller professional shops producing furniture or custom work, the Powermatic 15HH provides superior capability and cut quality versus the Wadkin. It’s the clear leader in performance for 15+ inch planers.

Stepping down in price, the DeWalt DW735X is a popular portable thickness planer. The DeWalt competes well under 15” width capacity. But the limited power and overall quality can’t match the heavier 15HH for fine finish work and daily production shop use.

For serious woodworkers and professional shops, the Powermatic 15HH represents the gold standard in wide planers. If your work demands the very best finish at 20” capacity, the 15HH delivers exceptional capability not matched by competitive brands.

Final Words About Powermatic 15HH Planer

The Powermatic 15HH is in a class of its own for industrial planing of wide stock with a mirror-smooth finish. This is the machine you want for furniture components, fine woodworking, or surfacing large slabs.

It’s overbuilt for a small hobby shop doing occasional project work. The Powermatic 15HH is purpose-designed for production environments that demand the very best results planing wood up to 20 inches wide all day long.

From the thoughtful details to the sheer brute force of its 15 HP motor, the 15HH is engineered without compromise. This is a true professional woodworking machine built to handle the most demanding workloads.

For shops whose work depends on consistently perfect planing at widths over 15 inches, the premium Powermatic 15HH delivers on that promise. It’s the pinnacle of quality and performance when wide stock finish matters.


  • Remarkably smooth, quiet operation from helical cutterhead
  • Massive cast iron construction dampens vibration
  • Generous 15 HP TEFC motor powers through any wood
  • Leaves full 20” stock dead flat with glassy finish
  • Easy control of cutting depth via direct reading dial
  • Locking hand wheel secures table height settings
  • Beefy build quality made to last years in production environments
  • Comes mostly assembled – quick to get up and running


  • High initial cost relative to competitors
  • Non-rotating casters could cause wheel flat spots
  • Requires 220V wiring
  • Substantial footprint – make sure shop has room

In summary, the Powermatic 15HH is the premier thickness planer for wider stock that demands perfect results. For 20” capacity planing, no other machine delivers this level of quality and capability. It’s the planer you buy once and use daily for decades – an heirloom-level tool built to satisfy the most discerning woodworkers.