Best Wood Planers of May 2017: Reviews & Buyers Guide
A planer is a woodworking tool used to smooth bumpy or rough wood into even planks. If you want to make a table top, desk, or cabinet doors, you’ll need a planer to transform your natural-hewn wood into something that won’t snag clothing and give splinters.
If you are new to the world of woodworking, you should research and invest in a good planer. This sounds easy enough, but before you run off and read all the planer reviews you can find or head to the hardware store and ask to see a wood planer for sale, consider which type of planer will best meet your needs.
Types of Planers
A hand planer is an old-school way to work wood. Hand planers are first generation carpentry tools.They come in both electric and non-electric varieties. Hand planers have serrated edges.
To use one, start at the thinner end of the board and scrape toward the thicker end. The planer will shave wood from the surface, eventually leveling the board. A handheld planer is one of the most mobile options, especially the non-electric type. Most are meant for finish work, however, and are not made for reducing thickness beyond 1 or 2 inches.
The term “portable planer” refers to any planer smaller than industrial size. If you want to start a sawmill, look for something bigger. If you want to create the occasional desk or patio furniture, this type of planer may be perfect for you.
It will plane many boards in a row to the same thickness. It is small enough to be carried and moved around in your garage or shop. These planers usually give a smother finish than larger slow-feed planers. They are also less expensive and can replace several tools in your woodshop.
A benchtop planer is larger and requires a semi-permanent home on a flat surface. Because of its large motor, a benchtop planer can create deep cuts and can plane thicker boards than smaller planers. If you work a lot of wood, this may be your best option.
This type of planer is also the way to go if you work in hard wood, as it is capable of handling hard woods while smaller planers may not be. Choose a bench top planer if you are starting a professional woodshop. If you are considering this planer for home use, be aware that its powerful motor requires a lot of electricity, which adds to the cost of using it.
A thickness planer is designed to reduce a board to your desired thickness. The idea is to plane all your pieces of wood to the same width, giving your finished piece a uniform look and feel. Having this planer on hand will allow you to buy unfinished wood. If you buy this wood in bulk, you can save a substantial amount of money.
These planers are low-maintenance and easy to use. They can shave off more than an inch, and can handle boards 4-6 inches thick.
The jointer-planer is two machines in one. It both smooths boards and prepares their narrow edges for use as butt joints or for gluing into panels. Buying a jointer-planer will save you money over buying both a jointer and a planer separately. However, it is large and expensive, and may be more machine than you really need.
This machine is useful for large projects and the above-average woodworking enthusiast. Consider carefully your hobbyist level before investing in this machine.
Top 4 Wood Planer Reviews
As you consider which is the best planer for you, check out these five top-selling planers.
WEN 6530: The budget friendly option
The cutting depth is adjustable anywhere between 0 and 1/8 inches. The WEN is very accurate, adjustable in increments of 1/128 inch with 16 positive stops.
This planer has a 5/16 inch rabbeting guide capable of making rabbets up to 1 inch in size.
It weighs only 6 pounds, and comes with a dust bag, kickstand, and a parallel fence bracket. The dust bag will keep your workspace sawdust-free, and the fence bracket ensures that your cuts are directly parallel to the edge of the wood.
WEN stands behind their product, offering it with a 2-year warranty.
DeWalt DW734: The long lasting Option
The 15-amp motor puts out 10,000 RPM, delivering 96 cuts per inch. This planer is capable of cutting at a maximum of 1/8 inch depth. It can handle boards up to 6 inches thick and 12 ½ inches wide. It can also cut hardwood.
The infeed of this planer provides support for a board up to 33 ½ inches long. The planer includes a turret depth stop, which you can set at commonly-used depths.
To reduce sniping, the movement that causes damage when planning near the end of a board, DeWalt has included a four-column carriage lock.
This planer comes with a 3-year warranty and a one-year free service contract.
DeWalt DW735X: Editor’s Top Pick Option
The 15-amp motor runs at 20,000 RMPs. It features a 2-speed gear box, letting you set the feed speed at either 96 or 179 CPI. This allows for greater exactness in your woodworking.
This model also includes a fan-assisted chip ejection vacuum. Chips and sawdust are vacuumed off the cutter-head and ejected from the machine.
This planer has a very wide base: 19 ¾ inches, nearly twice the width of the standard 10 inch base on most planers. This provides a more rigid base, which helps reduce snipe, as does the automatic carriage lock.
The DW735X also includes a material removal gauge, an extra-large thickness scale and an extra-large turret depth. This set comes with infeed and outfeed tables and an extra set of knives for the cutter-head.
Makita 2012NB: The minimal snipe option
This planer was designed to be light and easy to transport, weighing forty pounds less than similar products. It has several features that make it easy to use, including a large on-off switch and LED indicator light that tells when it is plugged in.
Makita’s Interna-Lock automated head clamp eliminates snipe. There is also a depth stop for repeat cuts and a detachable tool box for convenient storage.
What to Look for When Buying a Wood Planer
When choosing a planer, there are several things to consider.
Woodworking Volume and Types of Jobs
The type of planer that will be best for you is dependent on how much wood you plan to work. If you are running a professional or industrial shop, you will need something more heavy-duty than the average hobbyist.
Also of import is what type of wood you plan to use. If you plan to use hardwood, you’ll need a planer than can handle it. If you’re planning a physically large project, a larger planer is probably best.
Consider the amount of power you need. You’ll almost certainly want an electric planer rather than a hand wood planer, but how many amps do you need?
A universal motor is light and cheap and portable but not strong enough for hard wood. An induction motor is heavier and more expensive but will last longer and give more precise cuts.
Consider also the noise. Typically, the more powerful the motor, the louder it will be.
The size of your workshop affects how large a planer you can safely operate. You’ll need space for the base, loading and unloading tables, and for the length of a board.
A typical small planer needs around 7 feet of space for proper operation. If you want to buy one of the larger planers, you’ll need to find a bigger space.
How thick a board do you want to be able to plane? How thin do you want your planer to be able to go? If you are looking to plane thick boards, you will likely need to invest in a larger machine.
Planers are precision instruments that shave wood off millimeters at a time. Make sure that the planer you buy can handle the wood you want to work.
If you want to make a large table top, you may need to get a jointer planer and join the pieces together after they are planed.
Stroke count is determined by the speed of the knives. Having more blades can also increase the stroke count. Some planers have variable speeds, which would allow you to diversify your work.
Different woods work best with different stroke counts. Depending on whether you use soft or hard woods, you may need higher or lower stroke counts.