Though a portable planer is a great tool and is able to do things that a full size planer just is not, like move from place to place easily. There is nothing like an actual surface planer. It is one of the cool tools – when you put one in your shop, you feel like you have arrived, or at least taken one more step on the way to being an honest to goodness craftsman.
That might be over playing it a bit, but in combination with a good jointer a thickness planer can accomplish things that are very difficult or time consuming to achieve any other way. There are very few options when it comes to smoothing out a rough sawn board, or changing the thickness of a piece of lumber to the specs dictated by a custom piece of furniture that you want to build.
I suppose that with a really good bandsaw set up to resaw you can thickness a board, at least that’s what I’ve seen on TV. But I don’t think that that is really an option for an average joe like most of us. Even then you would be left with a surface that is going to take hours to get smooth without the help of, you guessed it, a wood planer.
And I know for sure that a table saw set up perfectly and running the correct blade can make a cut smooth enough for a glue up. But again, it’s the “perfectly set up” and “correct”, read expensive, blade that make this operation a non starter for many of us.
Being able to run board or boards through a jointer and then get the thickness right on the money, glue up a wider board, and not have to spend hours and hours working through sandpaper grades to get a finished piece is worth the price of admission.
Get yourself a suite of tools from a reputable manufacturer, even one like Grizzley, and set yourself up a shop that will be the envy of all your friends. And their friends and all the other people that really don’t like you that much.