i have a skil 100, which i got for free basically just bartered my time sanding and compounding and polishing a friends boards since he hates sanding, but ever since i got a Rockwell versa plane last x-mas from Tom Mahady i love it, 10 amp beast! just rips foam weighs about double the skil, just a great machine. The Skil is awesome to dont get me wrong, i just need to get some new blades and i think a powder coat on it soon. but once you dial in a planer it is almost to good to stop using it. i thank Tom everytime i talk to him for giving it to me. (Skill 100 5.5 amp wish it was the 7 amp) (rockwell) modified dust chute and grinded down front handle
Got my Skil 100 a while ago from someone who posts here. I adjusted the action, took out the clicker to make it super loose and had it cleaned up and powder coated. By far the best investment I've made when it comes to shaping.
I actually like the extra weight--no need to apply downward pressure on the blank, you just let the tool do the work. Easy depth adjustment on the fly, and clean, consistent cutting. I've used the Clark Mod Hitachi pretty extensively as well, and although it is no doubt a good tool, it's like driving a Toyota Supra vs a good old American muscle car. It's light, compact and a bit whiny compared to the solid all metal body and rumble of the Skil.
Bottom line: any planer will get the job done (I started on and still have a Bosch from HD), but if you plan on shaping a lot of boards, go with the Hitachi, or better yet, the Skil.
Tom Mahady's idea but too cool to ignore. Tom had an orange powder coated SKil100 he kindly donated to Terry Martin's fund auction. Heard it captured a pretty penny, some lucky shaper in Cali now owns it. I'm keepin mine for a while though!
It is impossible to shape a board with a Porter-Cable 126 due to the mounting of the motor, which is made to hang off the side when planing doors. I remember a guy posted on Sways so excited that he scored one on ebay only to realize it wouldn't work.
I have used/owned almost every planer you can shape with and must say that i am down to the Skil 100 & the clark foam. Rider i believe you have one of my old skil's haha! As to the discussion above buying a skil that is ready to go is a lot better than buying one that needs work. I have owned 4 skil planers both 5.5 & 7.5 amp and must say that although you can find some parts out there it is more of a headache than needed.
If you are doing mostly shortboards & such than go with a Clark Foam, they pop up on sways for around $250 to $300 used. It is a great little tool and I use it a lot when i make my smaller boards. The Skil is a great tool for doing longboards or boards where a lot of foam needs to be taken off. The weight of the skil helps to make nice even cuts down the length of the board. But if you are only doing a couple boards here an there a stock planer will work fine. Balsa Bill shapes all his boards with just a Black & Decker planer and it works fine for him!