During the prep work for a new wood floor I discover a sharp ridge in the subfloor of one area of my house. About 1//4" of material had to be removed over a large area to flatten the subfloor. The prefect, and probably only, tool for this job is a power plane. After doing some research I decided to get the Bosch PL1682, a powerful and affordable power plane. Let's take a look at how well it performed.
The PL1682 arrived at my house in perfect working order. I tested the sole of the tool with a straightedge and a feeler gauge. As far as I can tell, the tool comes with a perfectly flat sole.
The sole is made of metal, the body of plastic. The tool feels solid in your hands. It can certainly withstand being transported in a full toolbox.
The PL1682 is sturdy performer. Its motor did not bog down cutting plywood at the plane's maximum cutting depth. The blades spin perfectly parallel to the sole. When set to zero-depth, the plane does produce flat surfaces. There are not ridges or valleys.
When set to remove stock aggressively, it's harder to control the plane. The tool will create ridges and valleys, if you are not careful. With some practice these issues are easily avoidable.
I ran the plane for about 20 minutes without setting it down. The motor did not overheat or slow down. I am confident that the PL1682 would run all day, if it had to. In practice, however, blade changes will create down time long before even a single hour is up.
Unfortunately it is not possible to run the plane all the way up against wall. On one side the belt housing keeps the blade about 1.5" away from the wall. Going the other direction the dust chute does the same thing. On my floor leveling project I had to use my belt sander to remove a 1.5" wide strip near the wall the plane left behind.
Rabet depth is limited to about 1/2", after which the belt housing and dust chute get in the way. If you plan on cutting rabets, take a look at the Bosch 1594K.
The dust collection on the PL1682 is excellent when cutting with the grain. The plane produces chip rather than dust, all of which make into the dust chute.
On cross-grain cuts the story changes. The plane produces long stringy chips, which clog the dust chute. Since there is no chip breaker, the dust chute clogs and dust collection efficiency drops to zero.
Wood razor blades
The PL1682 uses a single Wood razor blade. Fresh blades are a pleasure to use. The single blade mounted in the PL1682 is perfectly capable of performing its task; even at maximum cutting depth.
As the blade dulls, the plane's cutting depth reduces gradually. If you want the best possible surface the PL1682 can produce, you must plan on performing the last pass with a new blade. Cross grain cuts with dull blades produces tear out.
Despite being marketed as resisting nail strikes, the blades shatter pretty fast when they do hit a nail or screw. The wood razor blades don't allow you ignore nails. It still very much necessary to remove all nails from the work area.
Each wood razor blade has two cutting edges. When the first one gets dull, the blade can be reversed and used a second time. Replacement blades are sold at what I consider a fair price.
Blade changes are fast and error free. Loosen two screws with the Allen wrench stored in the rears of the tool. Pry lose the old blade, insert the new blade, and tighten the screws down. The locking mechanism will automatically position the blade. No adjustments are necessary.
A normal blade change takes about a minute or two. Sometimes burnt dust can get the old blade suck. When that happens blade changes take considerably longer, but are still manageable.
The fence on the PL1682 is basic. It is perfectly capable of supporting the plane on the edge of a door. Making rabbet cuts, which require a perfectly aligned fence, is probably beyond what the fence was designed for. The fence can be installed and removed in under a minute.
The Bosch PL1682's big brother is the 1594K. The 1594K has a slightly bigger motor, an additional blade (two total), and a higher quality fence. Unlike the fence of the PL1682, the fence of the 1594K supports angled cuts.
The fence is the most decisive argument for the 1594K. I you plan on using the fence, the 1594K is your tool. Otherwise the PL1682 produces the same results for much less money.
If you are looking for a power plane to use as a replacement for a bench plane, you are looking at the wrong tool. Bench planes are tools of incredible accuracy and versatility. The rigid cast-iron/bronze body of plane achieves a degree of flatness that is beyond that of tool that has a sole that moves up and down. The bench plane will maintain it's accuracy for decades and sometimes centuries. The power plane can't hope to get anywhere close to that.
I consider power planes to be construction level tools. A power plane gets the job done fast and with reasonable accuracy. It'll shave a few inches of a door frame, but it won't produce perfectly flat panels as easily as a bench plane does.
I am not saying that a bench plane is the superior tool. Flattening that ridge in my subfloor would have taken a day with a bench plane. The Bosch Pl1682 did it in 20 minutes. What I am saying is that you should not expect accuracy at the level of fine-woodworking from the PL1682. Power planes are construction tools.
The Bosch PL1682 power plane is a well engineered tool for the job site. It has a motor large enough to power its single blade through just about any material you want to plane. The PL1682 can be used for hours without overheating. Blade changes are fast and easy, and replacement blades won't break the bank. Overall the Bosch PL1682 is a decent tool that gets the job done.
- powerful motor
- well built and durable
- accurate cutting height adjustment
- produces a flat surface
- can remove a lot of material in a single pass
- blade changes are quick, but still involved
- onboard tool storage
- can cut up to a wall on one side
- each blade has two cutting edges that can be swapped
- ejects dust to left or right
- blades shatter on first nail strike
- chip chute can clog on cross grain cuts
- mediocre fence on the PL1682 version
- dust bag is too small