December 18, 2012

Arbortech TURBOPlane - Review

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We were impressed with Arbortech way, way back when we first saw their AS160 AllSaw at a tradeshow in May of 07. Then we got a chance to test some of their woodworking tools out and loved those too. The Mini Grinder and Power Chisel, still now, are tools that we feel we've only scratched the surface of their potential. Recently we were contacted by the company again, this time to take a look at their new TURBOPlane. What is the TURBOPlane you ask? Read on...

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The TURBOPlane is a grinder disc that is designed to plane the wood off rather than aggressively sand it off (which is all a traditional grinder pad does). This planing action allows for a tremendous rate of material removal, a smoother finished surface, and less dust. The accessory is also shaped so that it can be easily used a create a concave surface, like a sculpted bowl or something. Maybe a wooden hat, if you're into that sort of thing.

Because of our long-standing love affair with the angle grinder (we think it's the most versatile tool on the market), we were predisposed to love this item. And no surprise, we did. Anything that adds a dimension to the angle grinder is a big positive for us, but this is a serious item. Even if we didn't have a grinder fetish, we'd be into it.

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The above image is what the TURBOPlane can do to a piece of Mahogany in about 2.5 seconds. Yeah, no kidding. Then once we moved on to a 2x8, all bets were off (see below image). The grinder was the teacher and the wood was the student. Total domination.

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The planing blades make the disc move and jerk in a manner that's different from a standard grinding disc, so it takes a little getting used to, but once that happened, we felt we had total control over the tool and could either take off just a skim or dig into a chunk depending on what we wanted.

This thing would be good for obviously the wood sculptor, but the carpenter as well. Because it creates less dust than a grinder, it would be good for all of those 'skimming' and 'flattening' tasks that people do on crooked and twisted studs. Also ideal for any kind of curved work or rough rounding.

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The blades can be sharpened when they get dull, which is a good thing seeing as the cost of the TURBOPlane is $139. Sounds like a big number, but this thing is quality and if you're serious about your grinders and their capabilities, it's probably worth it.

UPDATE REGARDING SAFETY

Ok, so like I said, we have a grinder thing around here and because of that we have a lot of grinders. Because grinders are so versatile, each one has taken on a particular task. The Fein is for our heavy metal working, the Bosch is the one we use for masonry, and the Makita is our designated wood grinder. Our other ones just fill in wherever. Each one is outfitted the way we like for the particular task...the guard is at a certain position, the side handle is either on or off, and the tool case is loaded with the accessories for the job at hand.

We tested the TURBOPlane out on a few of the grinders and at the end of the day, we put it on the Makita. Because it's our wood grinder, it doesn't have a guard and it doesn't have a side handle. That just happened to be the tool the item was on when we photographed it. This is a pretty savage accessory, spinning planer blades and all, so we don't recommend using it without the standard grinder safety equipment.

Arbortech saw the review and (rightly so) was like, "whoa, dude! Seriously, you gotta put a guard on that mutha! (we're paraphrasing here). They also passed on some additional safety information as follows:

For safety reasons we recommend a metal guide is fitted; a side handle fitted (for control) and a guard that can be rotated 45ยบ. We recommend setting the blade up so that it is proud of the guard i.e. so that I can lay it completely flat and plane the wood. This can be achieved by using spacers (which can be an extra spindle nut) under the blade. Most grinders are fine for this though we have found a couple with spindles too long or too short. We have in some instances found it easier to simply grind the guard back a little to expose the cutting face of the blade.

At Amazon

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Posted by Doug Mahoney at December 18, 2012 7:49 AM

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Recent Comments

This turbo planer is an amazing tool but it's ready for sharpening. I purchased a EZE-LAP Diamond hone & stone file that is 3/4" wide and 2" long but I don't know which side of the blade I should sharpen. The top edge is rounded so I don't think it's that. On the flat side the 3/4" part of the file won't fit in the open space to sharpen the edge. Please give me some advice. I have a deadline on work for an exhibit plus I don't want to ruin it because of the cost.
Thanks,
Ron


Posted by: Ron at June 21, 2014 2:43 PM

Dude, put a side handle and a guard on that thing.

Other than that, it looks like a pretty cool accessory. I could use it for chairs - sculpting the seats isn't the easiest even with a sharp scorp / travisher.


Posted by: Joe "the Pro" Sainz at December 18, 2012 1:18 PM
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