FRETS.COM Tool Review

It's not new, but who cares?
Wagner Safe-T-Planer
© Frank Ford, 11/10/99; Photos by FF, 11/9/99

I first met Brian Burns in late 1968. He'd run a classified ad for a used Sears 6" jointer, which I bought from him despite his warning that it didn't cut entirely straight. I still have the jointer, and it still doesn't cut straight, but it's good enough for me.

Anyway, while I was at his shop he showed me a wondrous little tool. It took me a couple of years to get up the energy to track one down, and when I finally did find one, I bought a second as a spare, because I knew it was something I'd never want to be without.

Still in production after all these years, the Wagner Safe-T-Planer remains unchanged and unchallenged. This is a truly safe drill press planing cutter. And it works far better than any other I've seen. Before I got my Wagner, I tried another kind, which had the nasty habit of sucking up the work piece and chucking it across the room.

So, here it is:

Simplicity itself. Just three cutters mounted on an aluminum disc.

And here's the secret:

Each round cutter is mounted so that the cutting edge protrudes only around 0.005" below the central disc. That means the work piece can only rise that amount before encountering the smooth under surface of the tool, which stops any further rise.

The overhang of the upper part of the disc prevents hands from getting into the cutters, even if you make a slip. I suppose the width of the cutter (around 1/4") is its theoretical maximum cut, but I try to limit things to a little over 1/8" per pass.

Here, I'm thinning a piece of flamed mahogany:

You can't see it, but I'm working one-handed as I pull the wood under the cutter, and I'm shooting the picture with the other hand. Seriously, though, I really do use two hands and I find any kind of holding fixture unnecessary most of the time.

Now, ain't that a nice little cut?

I'm sure there are some builders out there who use the Wagner Safe-T-Planer for thicknessing tops, backs and sides. Personally, I see it as the ideal tool for occasional smaller jobs. I use it for roughing out material for peghead overlays and things like that.

This great tool is available from L.M.I.

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