cheap planer to start with..

I am looking to buy my first planer and talked to a couple of shapers I know for advice. They all said to first buy a decent off the shelf planer for $70-$100. The reasoning was this - I will have enough to worry about just getting the feel of the planer with my first few boards. The ability to modify my depth cut on the fly with the Clark planer is just asking for trouble at this stage. The Clark planer can do major damage in a hurry if you aren’t experienced so it is better to take it slow with an off the shelf planer. Plus, if down the road I buy an expensive modified planer I will have a decent back-up planer for doing the grunt work that you would rather not use your expensive planer for. Makes sense to me.

Can someone clarify how adjusting on the fly to create curves is viable? It seems as if it would be very difficult to adjust the same amount at exactly the same place on the board as you make passes(tail to nose…) across the width. Would it not(as already suggested…) be easier to pick a point and take foam off to create the curve desired and then blend in the rest? Some of you guys must be wicked with a planer…can someone clarify?? Thanks…

Adjusting your cut on the fly would definitely qualify as an advanced technique. From what I have seen, its mostly on rail bands, where your cut is rather shallow at the nose and as you progress toward the thicker wide point, your cut becomes deeper, resulting in a wider deeper cut. I’ve used this method, and basically its all by feel. Maybe someone else can describe it better.