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Opinions on the above Planer were recently asked for in a thread down in "Hand Tools - Powered" so I stepped up to the Pitcher's Plate with the following Review, which I humbly submit forthwith for your Learned Consideration...
I have the AEG "PL 750" 750w 82mm Planer, and overall it's not a bad unit without being outright brilliant. In spite of its belonging to a German brand, the unit is in fact made in China - regardless of the highish price tag (I paid $165 for mine on special at Glenfords…) that sits somewhere between traditional Made-In-China and Made-in-Germany prices. In fact, I strongly suspect that it is coming out of exactly the same Chinese factory as the latest generation of parent-company Ryobi’s Planers. If you’re near a library that carries Australian Wood Review magazine, Forumite "Dean" Bielanowski reviewed this particular AEG amongst a few other upper-spec Planers back in Issue 56.
At any rate, my unit is pictured in the first photo below. Whilst the machine is supplied with two sets of reversible "Slither" type blades, I bought it because it was the most affordable unit on the market that was setup to also take full-size resharpenable "Planer Knives", as well as having the ability to eject woodchips to either side. Planers that will take full-size Knives don’t exactly grow on trees nowadays; TradeTools sell a sort of house-branded clone of the Maktec clone of the Makita 1900/1902 for under $100 which takes proper Knives, but like the Makita original, it’s Chip Ejection is to one side only (which quickly becomes the wrong side if you’re right-handed and wanting to plane upside down!..) In addition, one would have to buy the original Makita "Chip-Chute Adaptor" (cost unknown…) in order to hook the TradeTools unit up to a ShopVac-type Extractor, so its cost advantage over the AEG would have decreased. Of further appeal to me was the AEG’s low weight of only 2.7kg (again important for overhead planing...), which made it one of only three name-brand Planers that boasted weights of less than 3kg, and its cord length of 4m was simply unrivalled. Throw in the fact that the AEG was presented in a good-quality Carry Case (with plenty of room for the cord, and with proper Hinges instead of just bending bits of plastic...), and came with a two-year warranty, and for me the price tag of $165 seemed quite reasonable, since it was also the lowest asking price for any name-brand Planer on the market.
Upon handling the unit for the first time, however, the first thing I noticed was that the Power Switch had a somewhat "spongey" feel to it. Since then, I've had a "feel" of a couple of other PL-750’s sitting on the shelf at two nearby BigB’s and they've both pretty much felt the same as mine. As things have turned out, this "sponginess" hasn't constituted a problem yet in use, but only time will tell in this regard because Power Switches can burn out on tools just as often as can the Windings on their Motors, so good quality is a prerequisite…
You might have also noticed that the unit employs a pressed-steel Baseplate instead of the more-typically-used cast-alloy type. Having had the machine apart, I can confirm that the Plate is of a sufficiently-chunky gauge – with a turned-up lip around the edge for stiffness to boot – as to ensure ongoing flatness in use. If you look closely at the second photo below, you might think that you can see "wear" marks on the Baseplate (especially along it’s rear, and bottom edges as you look at the photo), but in reality that's just the Plate’s original metallic silver paint coating that is wearing off. I have no doubt that the steel Baseplate will "wear" more slowly than the more-commonly-used cast-alloy Baseplates that are found on other Planers. And in case you’re thinking that "non-flatness" is the reason that the paint is wearing more quickly off the edges of my unit’s Baseplate, it isn’t. Rather, the rear paint-wear is prominent because I straighten a lot of warped timbers with the Planer, as well as mildly "contouring" a few for jambing against unstraight walls, and in doing so I end up having to lower the unit onto a lot of timber somewhere in from the timber's end quite regularly. In this situation, you have to drag the thing along the rear edge of its Baseplate just a little to begin with in order to disengage the small plastic drop-down "Blade Protector Stand" that recesses upwards into the back, which otherwise happens automatically if you are planing in the normal fashion wherein you start from the end of a timber stick. This dragging of the Baseplate’s rear edge to disengage the Blade Protector Stand is the cause of the rear-edge’s extra paint wear. As for the paint-wear on the side edge of the Baseplate, this is due to the fact that I attach the thing’s Fence to the opposite side every now and then in order to centre it on 70mm WIR Jambs, and then instinctively pull over towards – and in doing so lean more heavily on – the side of the Baseplate that is showing the paint-wear, in order to positively engage the Fence against the side of the timber stick in question.
As regards the issue of outright Baseplate "flatness", it's quite good actually. It only just misses perfect parallelity to the Blade Drum by the slightest of "poofteenths" on just one side along it's front edge (ie. just behind the Blade Drum on one side), but the rest of the Baseplate - even on that same side - becomes more or less perfectly flat from about an inch or so behind the Blade Drum backwards. You can sort of pick the small patch that I am referring to in the second photo by the giveaway sign of a thin coating of dust on top of the upper left Baseplate screw in the photo, while the other three are shiny and black. But since the Baseplate becomes more or less perfectly flat across it’s whole width from behind this patch backwards, it performs for all intents and purposes on timber as a perfectly flat surface should. In other words, flatness is fine...
Regarding the parallelity of the height-setting Shoe at the front with respect to the main rear Baseplate, it seems very good also. As you can see from the second photo, the Shoe has been made of cast-alloy in order to allow the machining of a "Chamfering-Groove" into it. There is no detectable wear evident across the Shoe yet, but then again I haven’t used the unit as heavily as it might sound from this review.
One particular gripe that I have with the Shoe is the fact that because I sometimes start planing from somewhere in from the end of a timber stick (rather than from the more typical starting point at the very end), a completely straight front-edge to the Shoe would be more preferable than the unit’s slightly curved front edge that you can see in the second photo. This is because when planing in this manner, one leans the unit forward so that it supported by the combination of the Baseplate’s front edge, and the Shoe’s front edge. A perfectly straight front edge on the Shoe would obviously allow better control of this "contouring" technique, without any prevailing tendency for the unit to roll over slightly to one side or the other.
A critical parameter for Planers, Shoe "Steadiness" – both front to rear, as well as side to side – seems very good without being perfect (and certainly much better than the older generation Ryobi that I previously used). I have certainly not yet detected any telltale signs of a shortcoming in this regard in any of the timber that I have so far planed with the AEG.
With respect to another critical parameter – the Cutting Alignment for an installed set of non-adjustable Slither Blades with the bottom of the Baseplate - my best estimate is that they project a cut of approximately 0.5mm below the bottom of the Baseplate. In practice, however, this slight projection below the Baseplate does not seem to constitute a problem, or warrant any technique other than that normally used with Planers, because I have always achieved good results regardless. Perhaps uncoincidentally though, I have also noticed that with the Blades rotated out of the way, the Shoe has to be wound "up" to it’s first non-zero cutting-depth setting of 0.4mm in order to become perfectly aligned with the Baseplate. You can gauge such alignment by sitting a Planer on top of a very flat surface like a 32mm Laminated Benchtop and then looking sideways at it for giveaway slivers of light shining through from underneath. It may well be that quite a few other models of Planers are setup with this slight Cutting Projection below the Baseplate.
In the course of having the unit apart, the quality of the construction has appeared quite good to my eye, with proper Ball-Bearings at each end of both the Blade Drum Spindle and the Motor Armature. The internal design is quite clever in so far as the Chip Ejection facility is of the "Powered" variety, being "fan-forced" (so to speak) by the Motor's Cooling Fan as a result of the Chip Chute being in-line and "upstream" of the escape route for the Motor’s exhaust air. As a result, when hooked up to a ShopVac type Extractor – and even when planing material as fine as white ceiling plaster (yes, I said ceiling plaster...) – I have found the Dust Collection to be virtually perfect. I believe that the latest generation of Planers from parent-company Ryobi utilise the same system. I haven’t yet bothered to test the Dust Collection using only the supplied Bag, but being "powered", I imagine it would still be very effective. Any weak link would undoubtedly boil down to the good old "Usual Suspect" – namely the cloth that the Bag is made of…
As regards the "finish" of timber that I have planed with the unit, it is simply excellent. The third photo below is of an unsanded piece of hardwood that was planed using the standard "Slithers", and illustrates the complete lack of any type of "scalloping" that might otherwise result from either an uneven Blade Clamping arrangement or an unbalanced Blade Drum. I have seen the unit produce a very-slight flakiness when planing against the grain of very-young lightweight softwoods, but since there has still been no scalloping present, I have deemed this flakiness to be both unavoidable, and easily removed with a light sanding. Furthermore, in the course of hitting some very tough old hardwood sticks up to 75mm wide with it, I’ve not yet been able to "Bog" the thing down, so the "grunt" factor can be considered as sufficient.
The Fence arrangement is very good, by normal Planer standards, but still too short in length (as are all Planer Fences…) to allow completely carefree Fence usage. When will Powertool Manufacturers realise that Planer Fences have to extend backwards significantly past the point where the user’s hand grips the tool, in order to prevent lateral "skewing" to a "foolproof" degree?... I note that parent-company Ryobi’s own latest-generation 750w model – the ERP7582K – comes with two fences; one for each side, for concurrent use. This is a very clever idea as two fences would keep the Planer on correct track along wide timbers without any effort whatsoever.
All in all, I’d have to say that I am quite happy with the PL 750, but by way of comparison I’ve only had significant hands-on experience with two other Planers: my brother’s legendary Makita 1900, and my own previous older-generation 650w Ryobi. To summarise, the main drawback that I have found with the AEG is the slightly-curved leading edge of it’s front Shoe, which hinders the unit’s ability to accurately "contour" (ie. to commence planing from somewhere along a piece of timber, rather than from its end). I note that proper Made-in-Germany AEG Planers (which are almost impossible to buy over here) have straight leading edges on their front Shoes, as do all Bosch, DeWalt, Hitachi, Makita, Metabo, and Milwaukee Planers. That surely must be saying something about the issue. The "spongey" Power Switch is also a drawback, but of a so-far secondary nature.
Given that the latest 750w Ryobi Planer is of a remarkably similar specification – a 750w Motor, powered Chip-Ejection with switchable Exhaust-Direction, pressed-steel Baseplate, Made-in-China, Heck - it even almost looks the same as the AEG, and it also comes in a Carry Case, but has two Fences instead of just one (and I can tell you, that second Fence would make planing much easier on wider timbers) – you’d have to ask yourself whether it was worth the extra money to step sideways into the AEG, and also whether the AEG wasn't in fact just coming out of the same factory as the Ryobi anyway. But bear in mind whether you might be wanting to "contour" or straighten some timber at any stage down the track, and therefore whether a curved front-edge to the Planer's "Shoe" will end up being a drawback, because like the AEG the Ryobi has this curved front-edge also...
The reader is invited to post any more queries regarding this machine that he or she might have…
I was wandering around the local green and red hardware today looking at planers, thinking of the Mactec clone of the 1900 series Makita (BW apparently haven't sold Mactec for a couple of years) but came across a brand new discounted PL750 instead. The one off sale price of $98 was too good to refuse so I pulled out the credit card.
I haven't had the chance to fire it up yet, but I see what you mean about the power switch - it's terrible. There is no way I would have paid the retail price of around $200 with such cheap and nasty feel to such an important component. I can't help but worry they have economised somewhere else improtant as well. Despite this, I decided to take a punt given your write-up that I read only yesterday, and the price wasn't too bad either.
The only difference I have spotted so far between yours and mine is I only have a fence mount on the LHS and you said that you swap the fence side occasionally. The plastic casting is set up for it on the right; they just didn't drill the hole and install the captive nut. No big deal.
Cant wait to make some wood chips and see how it goes.
Originally Posted by mikm
The only difference I have spotted so far between yours and mine is I only have a fence mount on the LHS and you said that you swap the fence side occasionally. The plastic casting is set up for it on the right; they just didn't drill the hole and install the captive nut.
My apologies, Mikm...
When I said...
Originally Posted by Batpig
As for the paint-wear on the side edge of the Baseplate, this is due to the fact that I attach the thing’s Fence to the opposite side every now and then in order to centre it on 70mm WIR Jambs, and then instinctively pull over towards – and in doing so lean more heavily on – the side of the Baseplate that is showing the paint-wear, in order to positively engage the Fence against the side of the timber stick in question.
...what I actually meant to say was that when needed, the Fence gets fitted to the side opposite to the side of the Baseplate that is showing the paint-wear. As the paint-wear in my photo is on the RHS of the Planer's Baseplate (if you were looking down from above), it means that I've been (having to...) fit the Fence on the LHS, because like yours, the Captive Nut and Screw Hole are (well, were...) only on that side of mine too...
But you are quite correct when you state that the other side of the Casting is also set up for the Fence. In the photo below, you can see that I've gone and drilled the required hole and fitted the appropriate nut on the RHS (you can just see it being a little bit shiny in the hole...) so that I can now install the Fence on both sides (just like the top-spec Ryobi...).
Best Wishes, and Good Luck.
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