A New Tool For The Project
On my rustic office project I had to create a hand hewn effect. I was faced with the choice of purchasing some hand tools like an adze and draw knife or the Festool HL850 planer. It is obvious by now that I chose the planer.
The HL850 comes with a single knife that is mounted at an angle on the cutter head. It would not be my first guess that a single knife cutter head could do such a nice job, but this skewed knife makes an amazing cut. I was able to plow a clean cut 90° across the grain of the doug fir desk top. I couldn't believe that it cut just as clean as if I was cutting with the grain.
However impressive as that was, I did not make the purchase of this planer for the straight knife. I had other plans for this planer to be used to create a hand hewn effect in my rustic office project. The HL 850 accepts a variety of cutter heads and one of them does just that, it creates a hand hewn effect.
The HK82RW cutter head is sold separately. It is a machined aluminum cutter head, as all of them are, and has a considerable amount of weight to it. As with the straight knife cutter, this one mounts at a skewed angle which produces an impressively clean cut.
The removal of the cutter heads is quite simple. There is a single button arbor lock to keep the head from moving while it is unscrewed. The cutter head guard pivots easily out of the way exposing the allen head screw which keeps things secure. The screw removes proper as one would expect and the cutter head slides off the machine to be replaced with an optional one.
The HK82RW cutter head has a bow in it which produces a bellied cut. When this is run randomly over a surface it produces a rustic hand hewn appearance, this is just what I needed.
Hey - That's Cheating!
Hand tool purists may cry foul and charge me with cheating, but I am getting paid to create the look, not actually perform the act of hand hewing. I am a big fan of Tom Fidgen's work, but as a contractor I grew up on power tools and so I lean more towards using them. Don't get me wrong, I use hand tools when needed as well, but I see more potential use in my business from this tool than I do an adze or draw knife. (It is at this point I beg Tom's forgiveness and ask that I am not barred from visiting The Unplugged Workshop.)
One of the great features of the HL850 is the dust collection that Festool is so famous for, and if you recall, I also purchased a Dust Deputy recently. This is a match made in heaven because the planer produces copious amounts of cuttings and it is all captured in the Dust Deputy. The Festool hose even connects right to the inlet on the DD. The chip ejection is controlled with a baffle to direct it out either side of the tool.
Although the dust collection works well, my one complaint so far is with the hose connecting to the planer. It does not seem to make a firm connection as it does with the circular saw or Domino tools that I own. A conscious effort has to be made to insure the hose stays well connected to the planer while in use. It is not a big deal, but the fit is just a bit sloppy and this is a surprise considering it is a Festool product.
Using the Festool HL850 planer to create a hand hewn look is as easy. The planer is just run over the surface as normal. I like to stop and start it randomly on the surface instead of starting at one end and running it a clean shot to the other. A straight run down the lumber with the HK82RW knife just produces a curved trough. The random starts and stops will produce an authentic hand worked look.
As I have heard from the local shop talk, most contractors building rustic and log homes around here (Billings, Montana) are using the HL850 with the same cutter head to produce a hand hewn look quickly. So you can beat me up for creating fraudulent "hand work" with this machine, but I like the results. Take a look at the desk leg that I produced and see what you think.
The HL850 has plenty of power. It's single knife, skewed cutter head produces a super clean cut at 10,000 rpm (no load.) I should mention that the knives are all carbide so they are sharp and tough. The chip extraction works well but the hose needs a bit of assistance to stay in place. The depth setting is very accurate and the cord is a nice long, workable length.
The cost is typical of Festool, it is higher than for most other brands but the quality and features are commensurate with the price. The HL850 planer cost me $490 alone. The undulating cutter head HK82RW costs $144 and the carbide replacement knives are $33.50.
I have to admit that I have only run a few test cuts with the straight knife. I have only been using the planer for creating the hand hewn look to date. I will have to cover it as a regular planer at a later date since this is how most shops and woodworkers will be using it. I also did not cover all of the features and characteristics in this entry. That's just one more reason to visit this tool again in the future.
That is all for now.
Your friend in the shop, Todd A. Clippinger
Peace, Love, & Woodworking