NEW! Faster Search Option


20 inch planers all look alike....

Y1RET's picture


I am a hobbyist woodworker and have a small shop in my basement. I am looking at upgrading my planer. Currently I have a portable Delta 12 inch planer that I have installed on a stand with dust collection. It works well and has always done a good job except for snip, which I usually deal with by planning the lumber before cutting it to length. However, I am in the middle of a project that requires wider panels and I have a couple more projects coming up also requiring wide panels. I have looked at 15-inch planers but there was not enough additional capacity to justify the extra expense. When I started looking at 20-inch machines I found I can buy what looks like the exact same machine painted a different color, from different vendors. Looking at the Grizzly, General, Jet, Shop fox, Powermatic, Sears, Steel City … they all have 20-inch planers that look exactly alike. They must have to have come out of the same casting. I am wondering if they are all being produced by the same manufacture and resold in different colors. They come in three and five HP motors and either cast iron or roller in and out feed  tables. Some have a spiral head but you can buy a spiral head for any of them. I have ask both General and Grizzly about the similar machines and received marketing replays about quality, how they are inspected and how Grizzly is a direct marketer without dealer mark up. However, I have no real answer about the technical differences. Do you know if the internal parts are different? Would a Powermatic be better built than the identical Grizzly? Does one company use better bearings or different steel in the parts?  Do you know if there is any real difference at all? If there is why do they all look alike, I would think vendors would want do something to make there product at least look different from everyone else’s.


Thanks for any information you can provide about this.



JohnWW's picture

(post #124785, reply #1 of 6)

There is a very good chance that the machines were all made in just one or two factories in Asia.  The manufacturers can specify the quality of the bearings, the motor brand, belts, controls, cutter head, and anything else that is bolted onto the basic machine.

At Fine Woodworking when we do a tool review we have noted when two, or more, machines are nearly identical except for the cosmetics, but I don't know of any publication that has done a review of such large planers and could supply the information you need.

John White, Shop Manager, Fine Woodworking Magazine

John White Shop Manager for FWW Magazine, 1998 to 2007

Y1RET's picture

(post #124785, reply #2 of 6)

Thanks for the help. It would be a very interesting article to take some of them apart and see exactly what the differences are although it may not make some of the vendors happy if it turns out you could get the same thing in green for half the cost of yellow.  

JohnWW's picture

(post #124785, reply #3 of 6)

At times some machines at 1/3 less in cost appeared to be identical to the more expensive machine, which adds a real wild card when trying to make an intelligent choice about cost versus performance, so you have my sympathy.

I would love to tear apart some machines right down to the bare metal and compare the quality of the construction part by part, but it would be a massive job, well beyond the resources of any magazine.

John W.

John White Shop Manager for FWW Magazine, 1998 to 2007

Y1RET's picture

(post #124785, reply #4 of 6)

Beyond the resources of this consumer also. Perhaps the best answer is to skip the look alikes and get the Wood master. At least there is only one of them.

Y1RET's picture

(post #124785, reply #5 of 6)

Instead of taking the look alike planers apart to see if there is, any difference what about a comparison tool test of them.  One of your comparison tests would provide your readers as much valuable information as taking them apart. Knowing that the name brand machines perform better (or not) than there cheaper cousins would be a bid help to your readers who are trying do decide what to send there hard earned money on. Judging from the forms I have been reading I believe many people would be interested is such a test.    

Gary Johnson's picture

20 inch planers (post #124785, reply #6 of 6)

I too am shopping for a 20" planer and have similar questions.  However, I live in British Columbia and I can see that the price on Grizzly is much less than I can buy here in Canada.  I have to check out the dutiies but is the Grizzly any better than the General?