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The Bosch 18V Planer Kit is complete and gets you to work with what is in the bag!
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Bosch #53518, 18V Cordless Planer

Planning on the high road

Text & Photos by Tom Hintz

   Cordless planers just make sense to me. Usually, when I need a hand-held planer, the job is relatively small as is the amount of material to be removed. Other times, the job may be a little bigger but always seems to be too far from an available electrical outlet. In either case, the cordless revolution in woodworking tools saves the day.

Initial Impressions

   The Bosch 18V cordless planer looks well made and feels good in the hand. As I have come to expect from Bosch, the individual parts are well made, fit together cleanly and the controls work as expected.

The 18V battery and 1-hour charger keep you working.
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   The heavy canvas carry bag, charger, extra blades and an effective fence add up to a kit that actually does get you ready to work.

Battery & Charger

   The Bosch 18V cordless planer comes with a 1 Hr. fast charger (BC004) capable of refreshing Bosch stalk-type batteries from 7.2 to 24V. An 18V, 2.4 Ah (amp hour) battery pack (BAT026) is included with this kit.

   While it is impossible to accurately predict battery life in the myriad of situations the Bosch 18V cordless planer will be used, after the first two charge/discharge cycles the 18V pack performed far longer than anticipated and easily outlasted typical planning tasks.

Grip and Trigger

The grip is comfortable, balances the tool well and the lockout button easy to get used to.
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   The top-strap handle is ergonomically designed to maximize comfort and control in a wide range of use positions. The handle locates the operators hand to help maintain even pressure on the sole plate yet gives a good feel of balance despite having the battery mounted at the rear of the tool.

   Accidental startups could be extremely dangerous so Bosch added a push-button trigger lockout to prevent those situations. The lockout can be depressed to enable the trigger-style on/off switch from either side of the handle. This insures ease of operation in all situations and by right or left-handed operators.

The Base of Accuracy and Control

   To maximize accuracy and control, the Bosch 18V cordless planer has a 10"-long by 3 3/16"-wide machined shoe plate. The vertically adjustable front portion of the shoe is 2 ¾"-long by 3 3/16"-wide, enhancing its ability to control the depth of cut while remaining true to the surface.

   A generous shoe makes freehand operations more

The blades are high-tech, very tough and do a good job. Bosch includes two spares as well.
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accurate, often reducing the number of passes necessary by eliminating some of the "correction" cuts needed should the planer tilt or skip during the initial cuts.

   The forward portion of the shoe has V-grooves machined into it that help guide the Bosch 18V cordless planer when cutting a bevel.

Cutter and Capacity

   Featuring what Bosch calls an Electronically Counterbalanced Single-Blade System and a cutter head speed (no load) of 13,000 RPM, the Bosch 18V cordless planer strikes a good balance between power and battery conversation. In fact, Bosch claims this system allows up to a whopping 56-percent longer run time than many similar machines. During evaluation, we noted nothing to disprove this claim.

   To make full use of the power and speed, Bosch installs one of their Woodrazor TM blades, (#PA1202) plus includes two spares in the kit. Woodrazor TM blades are made from micrograin tungsten carbide that gives them as much as a 30-percent longer life than normal carbide cutters. Using such high-quality carbide also provides better resistance to damage when

The cut-depth adjustment is very easy to use and realistic in the overall depth it can be set to.
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encountering unseen staples or other small bits of metal. The blades have two cutting edges, effectively doubling their useful life.

   Reversing or changing blades is easy and accomplished using the included Allen wrench, stored in the battery recess of the handle.

Depth Control

   While some hand-held planers have depth settings of up to 1/8", removing that much material is a fast way to get into trouble or even ruin a workpiece. The Bosch 18V cordless planer is more realistic in that it limits the maximum cut to 1/16".

   To control the depth of cut with precision, the Bosch 18V cordless planer uses a large adjuster knob that has 8 detents from 0 to 1/16". Because the entire depth range is managed in less than one revolution of the handle, there is no counting of turns to get back to zero.

Directional Dust Control

Switching the dust port from one side to the other is a matter of flipping a lever and putting the bag on the side the debris will ammanate from.
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   Probably the most spectacular feature of common hand-held planers has been their ability to launch large amounts of shavings over a surprisingly wide area.

The Bosch 18V cordless planer not only captures the dust in a large capacity bag, it allows the user to select from which side of the planer the debris is ejected.

   This is an important feature that allows using the Bosch 18V cordless planer comfortably in a wide range of confined spaces. It also makes use of the Bosch 18V cordless planer by left or right-handed operators much easier. Converting the exhaust from one side to the other is a simple matter of flipping the selector lever and plugging the bag in place.

Guide Fence

The included fence works very well and can be adapted to make it very helpful and planning edges of the wood.
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   One of the hardest things to do with a hand-held planer is cut a flat surface that is actually 90-degrees to the adjacent surface. To make square cuts nearly automatic, Bosch includes an effective, detachable parallel guide fence.

   The fence attaches to the side of the planer with finger-friendly thumbscrews. Though the guide face that contacts the side of the workpiece is only 1 1/8"-wide by 6 ¼"-long, it has a pair of holes that can be used to secure a piece of flat wood to the fence, substantially increasing stability.

   In addition to helping to keep the planer square to the surface, the fence can be adjusted in and out for making rabbet cuts up to 5/16"-deep.

In the Shop

   The comfortable grip and easy-to-use controls, make the Bosch 18V cordless planer is simple to use. Though outwardly simple in design, the engineering behind this tool make it both effective and accurate. The realistic depth setting range almost forces the user to remove smaller amounts of wood per pass, as we should anyway to produce a clean surface with minimum material loss and fewer mistakes.

In the shop the Bosch 18V planer performed great. Lots of power, efficient cutting head and the directional exhaust is really a nice idea!
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   Initially, I was wary of a single blade cutter but found the Bosch 18V cordless planer cuts everything from simple pine to hardwoods effectively. The optimum feed rate for this tool feels a bit slow but the results are first rate and seem to require fewer passes than anticipated. The net result is that jobs can actually be completed faster with this system.

   During the evaluation process, the Bosch 18V cordless planer was used at every opportunity. Even with higher than average use for most shops, the battery life seemed very good. Performance remains constant until just before the charge is expended.

   The chip exhaust system is a real winner. Just catching the chips in the on-board bag is itself a big improvement. Being able to direct the exhaust and mount the bag on either side of the tool is exceptionally useful because it allows the user to configure the Bosch 18V cordless planer as needed for confined work areas.

Conclusions

   The Bosch 18V cordless planer is a well-made tool with capabilities that are useful more often than I expected. Being able to reduce a piece of stock or clean up an edge without having to drag out a larger corded tool certainly saves time. Even more important is that the size and design of the Bosch 18V cordless planer make it easy to use in more situations around the shop, particularly on partially built projects.

   If you are considering a hand-held planer, take a look at the Bosch 18V cordless planer. With a street price of $249.99 (4-7-2005) you just might be able to add these capabilities without breaking the budget.

Visit the Bosch web site - www.boschtools.com

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