My old Sears 5 1/8" jointer motor is dead. I can't find a replacement. Trying to haul a new one to my shop in Mexico seems impractical. I'm contemplating buying a jointer plane or a hand held electric jointer. Any recommendations?
I'm contemplating buying a jointer plane or a hand held electric jointer. Any recommendations?
It depends on a few things, in my opinion: how accurate you want to be, how hard to you want to work, and how much do you want to spend.
Jointer planes can be amazingly accurate in the right hands. They have the ability to finesse an edge by thousandths of an inch per pass of the plane. However, there is a bit of a learning curve to using one. If you do it all the time, though, it will become second nature.
I should add that using a jointer plane alone in lieu of a power jointer is not an entire solution. To dimension rough boards, you will want to have at least a jack plane or a fore plane to do the rough dimensioning, then come back with the jointer plane for the final flattening passes. Jointer planes are usually set up to take very fine shavings, whereas jack/fore planes are set to hog out material.
A handheld electric jointer can be accurate if used correctly. They have two plates that you can adjust to a pretty fine shaving (< 1/16" in most models). You can finesse an edge just as well with an electric jointer as with the manual one mentioned above. However, just due to the powered nature of the tool, it is a bit less controlled than a hand jointer plane.
Mostly, I've seen electric handheld jointers at construction sites where a carpenter needs to hog off the edge of a board to fit it in a space. I don't know that I've ever seen one in a "fine" woodworking shop. This may be because the "fine" woodworkers use a tabletop jointer like what you just broke.
Hand planes take sweat equity to use, there's no doubt about it. In the time it takes you to flatten a board with a combination of a jack/fore plane and a jointer plane, you could have done two or three with a tabletop jointer and planer. If you're not averse to that, hand planes work well, like they did in the hundreds of years they were used before electricity.
Electric handheld planers take minimal effort to use, as is expected from an electric tool.
You can probably find a used electric handheld planer for under $100 USD. Heck, find some retiree who used to do carpentry as a hobby and he will probably give his to you.
When you enter the world of hand planes, you enter a big rabbit hole. You can definitely find hand planes for cheap if they're in poor condition or if the owner doesn't know what he has. They will often require some work to get into usable shape. Otherwise, you can do the Lee Valley or Lie-Nielsen route (among others) and buy new, but those babies are expensive.