Jet has come out with a new 13″ helical-style benchtop planer (JWP-13BT), featuring 6 rows of individual cutters, 26 in total. Each quick-change knife insert can be rotated if damaged or worn, or replaced when needed.
Usually, helical-style and knife insert planer cutter heads provide a big advantage in that users don’t have to replace or sharpen entire knife blades if there’s a chip or other damage in just one spot. Helical-style planers are often quieter than machines with straight knife cutter heads.
The Jet planer doesn’t look to have a true helical cutter head, but you should still see some advantages over straight knife blades. Jet’s cutter head has 6 rows of cutters that look to create two complete cutting passes. Instead of square inserts, Jet equips their cutter head with rectangular inserts, and each is fastened to the cutter head with two machine screws.
- 15A, 2 HP
- 10,000 RPM
- 18/26 feet per minute feed rate settings
- 4-post design
- Cast iron table bed and steel cover construction
- 1/8″ maximum depth of cut
- Maximum workpiece size of 13″ wide, 6″ tall
- Adjustable depth stop
- Adjustable and folding infeed and outfeed tables
- Built-in side handles
- Weighs 74 lbs
- 4″ dust port (400 CFM dust collector is recommended)
- On/off power switch with removable safety key
The knife inserts are made from high speed steel (HSS).
We asked Jet about the rectangular blade shape, and why two bolts are used to fasten each insert to the cutter head, and were told that the shape reduces the number of inserts that woodworkers need to work with during maintenance tasks, and two bolts are used to ensure maximum hold-down to the cutter head.
I would imagine that the shape and fastener configuration also ensure that the cutter inserts self-position themselves into perfect alignment.
Jet Intro Video
There are other helical-style benchtop planers to consider:
There are also of course many planers with traditional double-edge knife cutters.
So why buy this Jet?
Well, looking at say the Rikon planer, that model also has 26 cutter inserts in 6 rows. However, they use square inserts. From the looks of the Rikon’s cutter head, the cutter head makes one pass per rotation. With this Jet, and its rectangular inserts, it makes two cutting passes per rotation of the cutter head.
The other 13″ helical-style planers I’ve looked at also have 26 1/2″ inserts.
10,000 RPM seems to be a common cutter head speed. This Jet has two feed settings, which is a feature other models might not share.
In theory, cutting two passes instead of one could result in a finer finish. Also, being able to reduce the speed feed could potentially also result in a finer finish. Lower speeds can sometimes produce better results in certain types of wood.
Frankly, I can’t tell you definitively that THIS is the planer to buy if you’re looking for a), b), and c). But, it does bring some different features to the table.
I’d be a little concerned about the availability of replacement HSS inserts. There are plenty of sources of double-edged 1/2″ cutter inserts, in both HSS and carbide styles. You could always rotate inserts if worn or damaged, and can move inserts around if need-be. If I were buying this planer, I’d simply plan on buying a couple of spare inserts at the same time, for peace of mind.
The price is a little higher than I would have expected, but Jet’s semi-annual promos might help with that.
It’s good to see new competition in this space. A lot of 13″ planers are different in name only, which makes Jet’s distinctions (most notably the rectangular inserts and 2 speed settings) stand out even more.
Jet emailed us emphasizing the importance of the cast iron table, which they say is not available on any other similar benchtop planer. Most other 13″ benchtop planers have cast aluminum or sheet metal tables. Jet says that their 4-post design and cast iron table makes their new planer extremely rigid, which reduces vibration and holds the precision of the cutterhead.