The Delta TP305 is a model that doesn’t possess any of the fancier features of the higher priced DeWalt and RIDGID. But, while it lacks a depth-of-cut indicator or depth stops, the TP305 is a solidly built machine and the only one in the group with an all-metal body (save the plastic motor housing). At about 12″ wide and 15″ high with its depth crank flipped down, the Delta is also the most compact planer of the five. This would be a real asset if you need to stow your planer in a space-challenged shop, or transport it in the back of an already stuffed pickup bed or truck box.
Operationally, the Delta wasn’t difficult to use. But although its lead screw gear train uses stout metal bevel gears, its depth adjusting crank turned with a hurky jerky action that became a bit annoying after a while. It did raise and lower the bed faster than the other planers, taking only 12-1⁄2 turns per inch of travel; the other planers required 16 turns. I also didn’t care for Delta’s depth-of-cut cursor, which is so fat that I found it hard to line up accurately with the lines on its depth scale.
When fired up and fed wood, the TP305 kept up with the other models, not bogging down significantly when taking full-depth passes even on 6″- to 10″-wide hardwood boards. The Delta’s short pressed-steel bed extensions make it a necessity to support longer stock ahead and behind the planer, to minimize sniping. The cut surface produced by the Delta had about the same degree of smoothness as the Craftsman — not too surprising, as the two-knife cutterheads on both of these models produce 60 cuts per inch.
Thanks to the TP305’s open-topped body design, it’s easy to access the knives when reversing them or changing them using the magnetic knife handling tool and Allen wrench that store onboard. But this Delta is the only planer in the group that lacks an automatic cutterhead lock, a feature I missed since it keeps the cutterhead steady and safe during knife changes. I also missed having a dust collection port — the TP305 only has a simple chip deflector that sprays shavings all over the place.