This Q comes up all the time. Between the big 3, Delta, DeWalt and Ridgid most folx give the edge to the Ridgid but they're all very close. The early model Delta's had a design problem with a screw backing out, but that's been solved. There is not sufficent quality difference between them to make one a really clear cut winner. Shop for the best deal. I have the Ridgid.
Ditto. Get the Rigid. Just last night I ran a piece of Oak through mine that was 4" thick, about 7' long, and 11 1/2 inches wide. Had to be about 150 lbs. and the Rigid sucked it through like it was a 1 foot 2X4.
I have a Hitachi 12" model F-1000(?) that I've had for over fifteen years. It is built like a small tank and is correspondingly heavy--not a bench top. It has the capabillity of adding a long bed 6" jointer and does an excellet job.
The drawbacks are; 1)it has a universal motor so it is noisy--even without running stock through it. 2)the feed rate is not variable. 3)it is heavy--it needs to be put on heavy duty casters for any kind of mobility.
It's good points are: 1) its simple to change and align knives. 2)the dust extraction system is great--all you really need is a receptacle--not a big blower/fan. 3)It has the capability of adding the 6" jointer later. I'm not sure that this model is still available, but there is a similar model (P12R) that you can find on http://www.hitachi.com/products/indu...ner/hp117.html.
They are used to clean up rough cut lumber and that will save some money, but with rough cut there is waste so I don't know how much you really save. The real reason is to make your stock true and square on all six sides. It is very hard to do that without a planer. Its possible but harder.
Planer saves you typically $1/bf by being able to use roughcut instead of finished. Since all thicknesses under 4/4 are priced as 4/4 if you need ¾" finished thickness you can plane your own and save. I figure my Ridgid has paid for itself over the past year in material savings.
Unlike Lou, I feel that it's NOT hard to get a piece of clean, flat, parallel and perpendicular lumber from rough cut using just a TS and planer.
You must remember tho that the planer is not a "bulk material removal" tool. It is a "surface finishing" tool. You don't just plane away ¼"-½" of thickness. You *resaw* on the TS or bandsaw *first* to get close and then plane the last 1/16" or so to get the final dimension.
Now I don't buy lumber that is corkscrewed or bent like a dogleg, but any reasonably straight piece of roughcut can be cleaned up and turned into F4S in a matter of minutes. I'm assuming that the piece we're working with is 6' or less as there are some issues in processing longer pieces.
Others will also state how planers cannot remove cupping as they will "press flat" the cup and it'll "spring back" as it comes out. While this might possible be true on some giant steel roller beheamouth, your average $400 benchtop planer does just fine removing cup. Here is a picture illustrating the terms:
To make a board from lumber using just the TS and planer I start with the planer and run a pass on each side to knock off the highspots. Of the two faces I pick the flatter and then feed with that side down until the top face is fully planed. This is the reference face.
Moving to the TS I trim the two edges keeping the reference face down. If the piece is badly doglegged I'll use a known straight edge for the first pass. I rotate the board 180° and run the other edge with the reference face down. Sometimes I'll recut the first edge if it had serious bending. At this point the two edges are parallel to each other and perpendicular to the reference face.
If I'm within 1/8" of the target thickness, back to the planer, if not, then I'll resaw. While you can only raise the blade on a 10" TS a little over 3", by working from both edges you can resaw up to 6" wide lumber. If your lumber is wider than that you can go as far as the TS will allow and then use a handsaw to slice the center. I generally set my fence to 1/16" over (you should start at 1/8" over until you get the hang of it.) Then with the reference face against the fence and the clean edge down, I rip the piece, initially only taking about a ¾" cut. Flipping the board I cut in from the other edge, again keeping the reference face to the fence. Raise the blade and repeat the two cuts until you've cut the excess stock away.
Now that your board is to within 1/8" of the final desired dimension it's back to the planer. Keeping the reference face down plane to your desired thickness. You now have a piece of F4S ready for you to cut to length and use in your project.