Please note: Since this review was
published, Global Machinery Company (GMC) has gone into receivership and
is no longer operating. As such, spare parts or technical support cannot
be obtained directly through them. Their website at www.gmcompany.com
appears to still be available online and offers some product information
and manuals but contacting them will receive no reply. Note that
OnlineToolReviews.com does not work for GMC, nor do we offer any support
or spare parts for their products.
If you are a power tool junkie, like me, it's always great
to get your hands on a practical and useful power tool to make those
common woodworking tasks a more simpler affair.
This is not to say a good hand tool is worthless. In fact,
hand planes are very handy to have around the shop and on construction
sites for fine-tuning of lumber or joints, in their many forms. While the
hand plane is often associated with fine woodworking, the hand power
planer is more often found on construction or building sites, but it too
can be used for fine woodworking tasks.
Today we are looking at a power planer, but one with a
little twist. The GMC Magnesium Palm Planer is smaller than your average
power planer, fits in the palm of your hand allowing one handed operation
and offers something unique in the world of power tools.
The GMC Magnesium Palm Power Planer
The Palm Planer ships in a small-sized black plastic molded case.
Naturally, this affords it good protection during transit, and
consequently, it arrived damage free and ready to go. This same case will
offer good protection for the end user if they also transport it around
from site to site, so it is well worth retaining and using it. Inside you will
find the planer itself, a full-color product manual, plus several
- Blade spanner
- Chip extraction tube
- Spare drive belt
- Spare set of blades
This is a fairly stock-standard set of accessories for a
power planer, except for the spare set of blades. This is the first planer
I have acquired that offers a full set of spare blades in the case. A nice
addition and a good little money saver as quality replacement blades can
consume a bit of petty cash in the stores. Be aware however that these
blades are not the standard 82mm size, only 60mm, so grab a set of spares
with your purchase, or when you find them in your retail outlet. They may
be hard to find in a few years time.
The Palm Planer (Product Code: PPM) features a 420W motor.
This is about half the power of a solid regular sized power planer, but given
that this tool does not take as much material off in a pass, due to its
smaller blade and max depth cutting capacity, a larger motor doesn't seem
warranted. Plus, to have a small power tool such as this, you can't go too
big in the power department, otherwise it is no longer a "small" tool.
420W of power proved to be more than ample for all cutting tasks I engaged
the tool in. Even on full width planing passes at close to maximum depth
in dense hardwoods, the PPM did the job with little trouble, although
consideration to feed rate on harder woods needs to be taken into account.
The PPM features a no-load speed of 14,000 RPM and combined with a
two-blade cutterhead delivers smooth planing results with sharp cutters.
The TCT cutting blades themselves are reversible so you get double the
life out of them over a normal single-edged blade set.
The power controls are located in easy reach of the thumb
and forefinger. The switch lock release button is located up top (with the
chevron markings). The power on/off button is located below and lateral to
this. To power up the tool the top lock switch must be push down/forward
and held there while the lateral on/off button is pressed to power up the
tool. To turn off the tool you simply release the on/off button. The lock
switch does not have to be held down/forward once the tool has been turned
on. Both switches have a rubber mold grip for better grip/control.
The PPM's body features a mix of light weight magnesium
(belt drive cover, front control area) hardened plastic, and rubber overmolds for grip and comfort
throughout. Despite the light magnesium and plastic
casing, the tool doesn't feel like a toy. It still weighs in at 1.9kgs,
which does seem to be a comfortable weight in the hand. Not too light to
feel flimsy and vibrate excessively in use, and not too heavy as to make
it unmanageable (and dangerous) with single hand control. The whole tool
features a smooth, slimline design. The motor housing, which is also where
you grip the tool in the palm has a rounded barrel shape that easily
contours to the curve of your hand as you grasp the tool. In fact, the
tool is very comfortable to hold and use.
A fully cast metal base is machined flat and was verified
to indeed be flat by my shop straight edge. The fixed rear base is solid
and flat while the adjustable front base features numerous (3) V-grooves
to allow edge chamfering to be achieved. Each V-groove is milled at a
different depth too for versatility, to mill a specific depth chamfer, or
to use a different groove each time to even out blade wear by not using
the same part of the blade with each pass. In terms of depth capacity, the
PPM can remove up to 1.5mm of material with each pass. The adjustable
front base and depth control knob allows changes in 0.25mm increments with
click stops for each 0.25mm setting. Maximum cutting width is 60mm, about
22mm less than a conventional full sized power planer, but still more than
enough for the majority of planing tasks, and certainly plenty for door
edge planing and edge chamfering.
At the rear edge of the tool is a dust extraction port
where the supplied shaving adaptor tube fits. You can use this to either
guide shavings and debris away from the user, or to hook up a shop vacuum
hose for more efficient extraction. In use the dust extraction port works
reasonably well. I won't say very well as it can sometimes get clogged
easily, particularly when taking full width passes on softer materials
like pine. The curly shavings this softwood sometimes produces can block
the port, particularly if you make a planing pass too quickly, not giving
the tool enough time to efficiently remove the mass volume of shavings and
debris it creates. The problem seems less evident on hardwoods, and almost non
existent when chamfering or making smaller width passes. In these
instances the dust port works a treat.
A nice feature of this tool is the blade protection foot
mounted on the back end of the rear base. It is a little pivoting foot
that lowers under gravity to provide clearance for the blade and
cutterhead when the tool is put down on a work surface. This ensures the
blade does not gouge your workbench, table or concrete floor (!!!) when the tool is
placed down and the cutterhead is still spinning. It readily pivots up and
out of the way itself as you make a planing pass and the edge of the
timber pushes against the protection foot. This was a feature I first
noted on some of Ryobi's power planers, and it has proved very useful and
handy, both protecting your work surfaces and your blades from damage.
Thumbs up for that inclusion on the PPM!
a full sized planer, except for that fact that is a one-handed-use tool.
Planing technique is similar to a full sized unit; there are very few
differences in this regard. While a planer like this can be used for a
variety of different purposes, it tends to see most use in planing down
door edges to fit a door opening, or to fix "stuck" doors or doors that
have expanded over time and no longer close properly. It is used for
general width or dimension reduction on building or construction sites (in
the woodworker's shop, this task is often done by a dedicated thicknessing
machine). The quick and easy chamfering a power planer offers is often
preferred over a hand plane or block plane by many, especially if your
hand tools haven't received the sharpening attention they deserve in
recent times! While the PPM can also cut rabbets on the edge of timber, it
is not specifically designed for it (no rabbeting fence included) and
these must be done somewhat free-hand to start off with, then there is a
limited cut capacity for rebates because of the tools body design and
already own a power planer, there may not be a lot to offer you in this
smaller unit, unless you have a specific need or desire for a smaller
portable power planer, or for one-handed use. If you do not yet own a
power planer however, and are looking for a starter or smaller unit for
all those odd jobs around the home, or for quick chamfering of edges, then
the PPM would indeed fit the task nicely.
Priced at around AUD$89 (street price as at February '07) it offers good value for money and basic
features all packaged in a uniquely sized portable planer with magnesium
casing. It will probably not satisfy a trade user, but is ideal for the
DIY enthusiast, home owner or occasional carpenter.
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written permission prohibited
The PPM Palm Planer
Depth adjustment knob up front
Lock switch release and power
Dust extraction port and blade protection foot at rear of tool
Light and durable magnesium covers, here shown protecting the belt drive.
Grooved front plate for chamfering and edge work, flat rear plate for
PPM shown planing a door edge
Knocking off the sharp corners
using the chamfering grooves