Wixey Digital Readout - Canadian Woodworking Magazine

Tool Test

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Wixey Digital Readout



 
If you use your thickness planer a lot for precision milling, then you might want to have a look at the Wixey Digital Readout. This is a simple device that works something like a micrometer in that it digitally measures the travel of the planer head in relation to the planer table top.

On some planers, the scale attaches with double sided tape; on others, like the DeWalt DW735 (on which I tested the scale), you have to drill screw holes into the existing scale. The mounting bracket attaches to the planer using the existing scale’s pointer screws. Attaching is straightforward, if a bit of a pain, as there isn’t much room between planer and scale to insert the bolt nuts, let alone fingers. Calibration of the scale is easy, though you want to ensure that the flat contact surface on the bottom of the scale is level with the planer table, or just a bit higher. Once this is done, pressing the CAL button sets the scale to "0". The display shows the distance from the planer bed to the tip of the knives, which is also the thickness of the board coming out the back of the planer.

So how does it work? Fine, by me. It's really helpful when you plane a board at a given thickness, change the setting to plane a different board, and then want to change back to the original setting. Very quick. You can also use the scale to remove a precise amount of material from a board. The scale displays imperial or metric units, a great feature. In the imperial mode it displays inches and fractions at the same time. Precision is rated at +/- .002", all the precision I need. There are both absolute (the default) and incremental measuring modes. Absolute mode displays the thickness of the wood coming out of your planer, while pressing the incremental button sets the display to zero. Pressing it again toggles back to the absolute mode.

Any problems? Not really. The LCD screen is a bit difficult to read unless you stoop down and look at it head on. There's no auto off switch – you have to remember to turn it off. I didn't, and the battery died out at the end of the week. With normal use, the battery is supposed to last 6 months. All in all, a nice accessory for those of us who are frequent planer users.
 
Model WR500
$59.99 US ($72.00 CDN)
wixey.com