Modified Wen planer?

I get Email news letters from Shapers Supply. In their resent mailing they had a new planer. A modified Wen. For $200. The video of it in action looked good. I’m not sure what the Shipping would be . Shapers Supply is an Australian outfit.
Has any of our Swaylock people from Australia tried the new Wen? If shipping isn’t to outrageous might be a good inexpensive Strarter tool for someone to get a few boards built without a Hugh investment.

Shapers Supply is out of Costa Mesa California not Australia. Their website mentions that our very own PeteC partnered with them on the mods. Perhaps he can give us some insights. The video looks impressive…especially if the bearings and housing hold up to the demands shaping boards.

Wen is a harbor freight type brand.

Not sure I’d pluck down 200 bucks for a 30 dollar planer.

Thats like putting a Burberry interior into a 96 Honda Civic.

I’ll withhold judgement. Guess what, if I were just starting out and didn’t have a planer I’d consider buying one. If the bearings, motor and housing hold up it could be a winner. I’d love to hear PeteC’s take on it.

I totally get the idea behind it. And I’m sure they will sell, probably a lot of them.

And I’m a huge fan of Pete’s stuff.

It’s still a 30 dollar planer though. - my motto with things like this, if they last for the 1 job you need it for you got your money’s worth. Anything else is icing on the cake.

When Shapers Supply approached me with this idea, I thought $40 planer??? However, once I got one I was pretty surprised at both the performance and construction. First the blades are same as the Bosch and Makita (narrow reversible blades) which can be upgraded to the solid carbide type for $15. Second the blade system is copied from the Skil 100 Type 4A / 5 and with slight modification it can be retrofitted into the Skil. Hell, I’d buy the planer just to use the blade setup on Skil’s since finding good original ones is impossible. Third, the way Wen designed the the shoe is unique to other planers that go up/down. Instead of just a center guide (the main bolt like Hitachi and others), they used the center bolt + two guide pins which keeps the shoe aligned in the same plane as the base. All bearings are sealed type and overall design is pretty much what you get in the big-name planers. 6 amp, 16K rpm.

So while I was waiting on parts deliveries for my Makita Kit (coming Sept) I decided to modify 3 of these Wen’s and test the crap out of them. I put in a precision depth control mechanism (same as used in Bosch kits) which goes zero to 1/8" in 90 degree turn, and reworked most of the existing parts. It cut very well (as the video shows) and the vacuum system performed well. The vac system is similar to my Skil vac ports and has the same adapter for slinky/shop vac/Festool hoses. I ran the initial 3 for a number of 15 min power cycles without any issues on the motors. Next thing I did was build another 10 (from different sources) and they all were consistent with the first ones.

The main idea for doing this was to provide a decent planer under $200 to home shapers so that they won’t have to make their own or just use a stock one. With that in mind both Shaper Supply and myself limited our margins on the product to make it available to everyone. No more excuses not planing rail bands and doing 90% of your shape with the planer. This is about developing real shaping as an art and skill, not some way to just get a cheap surfboard. With the Wen, the same shaping techniques done with a Skil can be applied due to the precision of the solid, positive depth control (no slop or wobble). I personally manufacture all the parts and do all the modifications. Unfortunately, this isn’t available in 230 volt versions and according to Wen “for US market only”.

Now having said all this good stuff about the Wen, it’s obviously not a Skil (nothing is) but it’s not $1100 either. I can only approach similarity to a Skil, but in my experience with these modified planers the closer I get the more expensive it becomes. It isn’t right to assume that access to shaping technique and methods is only reserved for those who can afford a Skil. My mentors would confirm that, but would also expect me (as an engineer) to figure a suitable way to bridge the gap. They would also add that I do this better than shaping anyhow then kick me out of the bay.


All the best

Hey Pete. What does it do to the warranty on these? How easy is it to swap parts?

We bought one of those to do some jobs around the shop that we didn’t want to use, surfboard planers for. We didn’t go particularly hard on it and burned it up in a day. Amazon swapped it… the second one didn’t last much longer. Granted foam is not wood… But jic?

Warranty on the original tool is one year, two if bought from Amazon. Not sure how Shaper Supply is going to handle the warranties since it’s only been on the market for a couple of days. In all of the testing that we did, no problems were found with motors frying. However all of that testing was done on foam or no-load. At 15 min. continuous running I did notice the motor got hot, but no more than I’ve seen on other plastic planers run for that long. I checked all of negative Amazon reviews before I started on this project, and did find a couple where motors fried. In both cases the planer was used on wood, and probably was overloaded on the cuts. The factory blades are fine for foam, but on wood the passes must be very shallow or it will load the motor too much. Definitely if you want to do wood, carbide blades are needed and passes need to be shallow (less than 1/16). The quality of a motor is how much the current increases from no-load to full load. On a Skil cutting foam, the current increases only 15% and wood about 40-50%. This is about the same for other planers like Bosch and Makita. So the loading from foam is pretty insignificant compared to wood. Dull or crap blades will cause the loaded current to increase more. Random cuts on an normal width stringer shouldn’t be a problem on the Wen, and none were found during testing.

thanks for the response. We were doing wood as mentioned and honestly for 30 bucks werent giving a shit. The did get super hot. and then boom. So no experience on foam.

thanks for the response. We were doing wood as mentioned and honestly for 30 bucks werent giving a shit. The did get super hot. and then boom. So no experience on foam.

Any thoughts you’re willing to share on how this will compare to a Makita once your kit arrives in Sept? You said the blades are the same, and I assume your Makita kit will have the same depth control. Does it come down to just the motor quality, or are there other significant differences (bearings, etc.)? Thanks

Im thinking of pulling the trigger on the Modified Wen. If I do I will report back.

At the moment I have 4 planers, all cheap ones ranging from $50 to $140,

My favorirte is the Cheapest one, there is something about it that cuts so smooth and consistent and just has a great feel to it, 6 months constant work and its still running as perfect as the day i bought it. Only real problem is cutting depth, it cuts nowhere near as deep as its spec says it should.

The second cheapest one is a pure chinese type, short shoe, good cutting depth and feels good in the hands, but it always seems to want to cut deeper on one side or the other, which is fustrating. This planer I bought ‘on the quick’ as my other two planers had failed and I needed one quickly. Didn’t have any problems with it apart from the cutting instability.

Then there was the Black and Decker Planer- my first planer, Constant switch problems and bearing problems, that planer did a lot of work, but the switch hated foam, and I had to tap the switch strongly on many occasions with the handle of a screwdriver for it to fire up, had the switch replaced twice and the problem always returned. Bearings could have been fair wear and tear, but I feel that they failed early so probably were not sealed.

Finally I had a Baulker Brand planer which I bought when the black and decker was in for repair, worked great with no problems… for 5 days! then the motor seized, or it could have been the bearings? I took it in to get it repaired, but have not used it since, I am betting that it will just break again quickly. While it was working it had great cutting stability and great cutting depth, and minimal tearing of foam.

Buying all these Cheap planers is probably a good example of false economy, but even so I could be tempted into buying the Wen, If I do I will report back.


The Makita KP0810 is the most expensive 3-1/4" planer available in the US ($200), but in my opinion the best. The modification kit does not use the same depth control as the Wen since the Makita is a sliding shoe driven by a cam. The shoe moves up and forward at the same time like a Skil. Thus the opening at the blades is variable; it’s fixed on up/down shoes. Planers with this action produce much smoother tapering cuts. Also, this model of Makita is the only 2-bladed planer available in 230 volt versions internationally. It is made in Japan, not China. The blades for Bosch / Makita are the same (carbide), Wen is the same type but not carbide. In my opinion of power tools in general, the best quality motors are from Festool, then Bosch and Makita tied for second. The kit for the Makita makes it feel very close to a Skil since it uses a Skilsaw handle and Skil 100 front knob. Photo is the prototype, knob collar and lever are more refined on the kits.

Product positioning for the planers is: Wen $200 (lowest cost, entry level), Makita approx. $200 kit + $200 planer (high quality mid-range), Restored Skil $1000-1300+ (early models are lifetime tools if cared for).

I’m ready, Pete.
All the best

Dear Pete,
I got this planer here in Brazil, and I would like to know if you can sell the kit only, when available.
I think this way, sending parts only, we will not face custom problems here.
Thanks and super good news! Looks awesome!

It is sold only as a kit, no planer. I don’t do retail sales but Shaper Supply will be carrying these. Contact them via the link for the Wen planer in Sept.