Trying to choose a planer? Read our plain-talking guide

Originally a mediaeval tool, a planer cuts wood to the desired thickness, while at the same time creating perfectly parallel surfaces and beautifully bevelled edges. Whether you’re levelling floor joists, smoothing rough surfaces, or ensuring accuracy in cabinet-making, a reliable planer is an essential component of any woodworker’s toolbox. It’s therefore worth taking the time to decide which features are most important to you when you’re looking to buy one.

What to look out for

Electric power planers can dramatically cut task times, while providing a professional, clean finish. Key aspects to consider when selecting an electric planer include: power, cutterhead quality, cutting widths, weight, dust collection, and portability.

Selecting a tool that has enough power to drive the motor, no matter what type of wood is being cut, is essential. One measure of power is the speed (in revolutions per minute) at which the motor turns. Anything less than 8000 rpm isn’t going to provide the drive needed.

We’ve picked out three of our most popular models across the varying price ranges, all with impressive durability and performance, to demonstrate the versatility of the tool and to point you in the right direction on your hunt for the ideal planer.

Our top picks

At the value end of the range, the Bosch GHO 26-82 Planer 110V provides plenty of power for a small machine. Its compact size makes this tool perfect for transporting on-site. For a competitive price, you’ll get the fastest and best value blade changes on the market, and it also comes with parking rest, and lock-off switch, and chip clearance suitable for both right and left handed users.

At the other end of the market, the Festool EHL65EQ One Handed Planer 240V should be on your shortlist. This machine is designed with comfort in mind. Complete with a soft-grip handle and weighing only 2.4kg, it’s a versatile and portable addition to your power tool collection.

The Festool Planer works to a planing depth of 4mm, and 23mm rebate, with a spiral blade that reduces noise levels while working. As you would expect with a Festool product, the dust extraction at the left or right hand side means the dust is taken away immediately so you can clearly see what you’re working on, and you won’t need to clean up afterwards. With infinitely variable chip depths, this planer has the advantage of a quick blade change thanks to its automatic adjustment for greater speed and efficiency.

Another respected name in the market – DeWalt – offers a powerful model that copes with even the hardest wood. The DeWalt D26500K 4mm Planer 240V has left and right chip rejection, front handle depth control and a large planer blade drum which rotates at high speed to provide an excellent finish.

If you’re looking for a planer, we’ll point you in the right direction – matching your requirements with the ideal model. Give us a call or pop into the store for one-to-one advice.

Tips on how to keep your gas nail gun firing

Nail guns – or nailers as they’re also known – are one of the handiest tools in the toolbox. Far from being a luxury, it’s an essential piece of kit for any keen DIYer or tradesperson involved in construction.

It can help you get the job done quickly, and improve accuracy, as the nails are driven in at high speed. It could also save the odd finger here and there too!

However, as a repair and maintenance centre, we handle a significant number of nail guns every week that have stopped working due to a lack of regular servicing and basic care.

Nail gun maintenance doesn’t need to be carried out in a professional workshop. There are things you can do at home to keep your nail gun performing at its best. Not only will it help you save money in the long run, it will also ensure your safety.

Here we’ve put together our top four maintenance tips:

1. Cool it down

If you’re maintaining your nail gun after use, make sure you turn it off and let it cool down. Remove any gas, batteries or nails before conducting checks. This equipment is highly dangerous if handled incorrectly.

2. Oil it every day

The moving parts of the nail gun need to be oiled every day and in between sessions during periods of heavy use. Different manufacturers will recommend different oil types dependent on the machine you have, so check the manufacturer’s guidelines for suggestions. Pay particular attention to the O-rings inside.

3. Keep it clean

Airborne dust and debris can build up in the system and interrupt the nail feed. Use a degreaser to wipe off built-up dirt. Again, check the guidelines for recommended cleaners that match your brand. Avoid using a cleaner that leaves a sticky chemical residue. You can also rub down your gun with a lint-free cloth that won’t shed fibres.

5. Give it a once-over every month

Nail guns are subjected to high levels of pressure and movement, which means screws can loosen and parts can break off. Check it over once every month to make sure nothing is loose or out of place. Tighten bolts where necessary. Replace worn-out parts such as O-rings, battery pads and filters with approved spares or take it to our service centre for more advice. Make sure you’re using the right fuel cells – check they’re in date too!

If your nail gun isn’t performing correctly, don’t spend hundreds on a replacement until you’ve popped into our Redhill workshop. It’s open Monday to Friday, 7am to 6pm, so there’s plenty of opportunity to come along and speak to our expert team.

 

Our guide to buying a reliable router

If you’re on the lookout for a full-sized woodcutting router, the sheer number of products on the market can make the choice confusing. Before you spend hours searching the internet for advice and recommendations, we’ve put together a guide on how to purchase a router that will last.

Whether you need a router for your trade or a DIY project, there are two names that stand out from the crowd. For reliability and power, we recommend DeWalt and Festool, two trusted manufacturers who have led the field in recent years.

A router is a heavy duty wood cutting device on a fixed or plunge base. In this instance, we’re examining products at the higher end of the market, specifically routers with a plunge base used by those in the trade. These models are able to perform a wider variety of cuts in comparison to fixed based ones.

Need to cut, trim, join, carve or hollow? A good router can make light work of almost any job. The versatility of this tool is also down to the number of accessories available, so look at what’s on offer to select the best all-rounder.

What to look out for:

  1. High power output – you need a tool with enough power to cut through the toughest wood
  2. Soft-start motor – to ensure a smooth start for greater precision
  3. Plunge action – look for a smooth plunging mechanism
  4. Variable speed – this is important for different materials and tasks
  5. Dust extraction – to avoid build-up and clogging

There are two size options available on most leading brands, a quarter inch or half inch collet (the sleeve that holds the bit). However if you’re looking for the ultimate machine it’s best to go for a half inch router as it can be adjusted down in size.

The benefits of a DeWalt router

Enjoying a long-established history in tool manufacturing, the DeWalt Products Company began life in 1924 and has grown to be one of the biggest names in the industry. In 1994, DeWalt bought out German power tool business ELU, a manufacturer with a reputation for forward-thinking technology. This has led to an impressive offering of powerful routers that are worth the investment.

We stock a range of plunge routers from DeWalt which offer no-load speeds of between 8000 and 2400 rpm. Other key features include: electronic speed control for consistency; soft start to eliminate misaligned movement from a rapid start; and a precision guide for cutting accuracy. DeWalt has a patent on its plunge arms, which are coated to make the action smoother no matter how dusty they get. Cheaper routers have plastic shields to prevent dust build-up but these aren’t as effective. Prices start from £234.35 for the DeWalt DW615 Plunge Router 110V and 230V.

The advantages of a Festool router

Festool’s routers are ergonomically designed for a smooth glide, and are available in the quarter and half inch collet sizes. Although in the higher price bracket, the three-year manufacturer’s warranty makes it a guaranteed investment.

Its distinctive one-handed design is innovative but means it’s important to try before you buy. Some of our customers love the shape while others prefer the traditional style. We’ve got a selection on display at our shop for you to handle. Our Festool routers start from £389.64 for the Festool OF 1010 EBQ-Plus Router 240V, which features electronic feedback control, a quick-acting brake and chip extractor.

We also stock a range of router accessories including jigs, cutters and guide rails for the perfect finish on all jobs. If you need advice or guidance, pop in store and speak to our expert team, and we’ll find the router that’s right for you.