Hafco PT-254S Planer/Thicknesser
Above: With a small footprint and considerable power the PT- 254S can be an asset for smaller workshops.
Review: Raf Nathan
This is quite a robust machine weighing in overall at a hefty 182kg. It comes assembled, bar attaching the fence and some knobs and levers. With its full metal box construction and heavily ribbed planing tables it runs vibration free and relatively quietly.
Best of all, it has a quality 44 tooth carbide-tipped spiral cutterhead. Combined with the 5 metre/minute thicknesser speed, this cutterhead gave a superb finish on cranky blackwood and myrtle, both of which are difficult timbers to plane smoothly.
Showing the quality 44 tooth spiral cutterhead.
At 1100mm long the planer tables are sufficient for a machine of this size. The cast iron thicknesser table is large and supported on a large centre column. Capacity is a full 250mm in planing width and 190mm in thicknessing height. The fence is aluminium and appeared flat and straight, it’s not a great fence assembly but does offer easy adjustment and set-up.
The robust construction on the raised the cast iron tables was apparent.
Certainly I was able to achieve straight and square surfaces on the test wood I machined. Depth of cut adjustment is positive with its large grip wheel, although the depth gauge is way too simple. Likewise the height gauge for thicknessing is just a metal pointer running over a ruler. An aftermarket digital height gauge would be a good investment to mount onto this machine.
Depth adjustment for the thicknesser is positive via the handle.
Changing from planing to thicknessing is where most combination machines fall a little, either being very slow or somewhat fiddly. This is no exception, firstly the guard is swung up and over and then the fence must be removed completely.
The cast iron thicknesser table is large with 190mm height capacity.
Once this is done however it’s straightforward, swing both tables up and lift the dust chute and you are ready to thickness. Overall it was a 40 second job to change machining modes. There are micro switches to prevent accidental start-up during changeover. There is ample power available from the 2.2kw (3hp) motor that sailed through the hardwoods I test planed.
The fence assembly offers easy adjustment and set-up.
As mentioned it gives a great finish on various grained hardwoods. There was snipe at both ends of the wood thicknessed so you can expect to have to tune this machine in by way of the adjusting bolts. To be honest any machine at any price may need fine tuning as part of the initial installation. I am not saying this is good but do allow some set-up time which can be very time consuming. Accuracy across the width of planing was pretty well perfect.
Dust extraction was very good connected up to an extractor with the 100mm outlet. There is a main on/off switch and a secondary stop button at the thicknesser feed side.
This is a price-driven machine to an extent and that is why I guess the fence and some fittings are light duty. It is not a refined machine but look at the price for a powerful machine with a quality spiral cutterhead! Thicknessing is definitely is this machine’s main strength. You would pay thousands more for a European-built machine of similar capacity.
Raf Nathan is a Queensland based tool designer and woodworker, see www.interwoodshop.com.au
Available from Hare & Forbes Machineryhouse, www.machineryhouse.com.au/W611