Best Planer Reviews and Buying Guide 2017

thickness planner buyer guide

For any woodworker, squaring and straightening boards is essential and you’ll need to think about investing in the best planer if you don’t want to perform this tedious task by hand.

Before anything else at all, we need to clear up some terminology because things can get rather confusing…

In the UK and Australia, a planer is what we in the US would term a jointer. That’s to say, it’s a tool for ensuring that boards have straight edges and flat surfaces.

Here in the US, a planer or thickness planer is a machine to make boards of uniform thicknesses.

To further muddy the waters, often you find the functions of both of these machines rolled into one unit known as a planer/thicknesser. This is a particularly handy machine.

So for the purposes of today’s best planer reviews, we’ll be looking at a variety of different options to ensure that there’s something for everyone.

What Is a Planer?

A planer, also called a thickness planer will help you to shave down various sizes of different materials so that you get a uniform thickness while both faces remain parallel.

Since they differ slightly in the way you use them, we’ll address that right now by breaking down 3 of the main categories of planer. We are disregarding hand planers since they are incredibly time-consuming and something of an anachronism today.

  • Portable and Handheld
  • Benchtop
  • Thicknesser

Although we are not reviewing any planer/thicknessers, we’re including them here to further clear up any lingering confusion…

The first couple of models we review below are termed thickness planers and this is not the same thing as a planer/thicknesser. These 2-in-1 units perform the role of a thicknesser but also allow you to joint wood as well. This is because what we call a jointer in the US is often labelled a plane elsewhere in the world. We don’t want to club you to death with this message but it’s crucial to get these differences clear in your mind. If not, you risk buying the wrong tool and facing bitter disappointment.

With the planer element of a planer/thicknesser, you can plane one of the faces and an edge straight ensuring that they are square with each other. The thicknesser makes sure the faces are parallel while also allowing you to get the stock to the thickness you require.

Depending on your personal taste, a planer/thicknesser is an innovative solution to 2 separate tasks rolled into a single unit.

The Best Planer Reviews 2017 – Comparison Chart By Mitersawjudge.com

​If you’re on the trail of the best planer for your workshop, you really are spoiled for choice. We’re here to make that less overwhelming and to point you in the direction of the best models to add to your toolkit.

Check out 5 of the very best planers on the market today before we offer up some detailed reviews…

Detailed Planner Reviews

1. DeWalt DW735X Thickness Planer

First up in our best planer reviews is a top-notch tool from the industry heavyweight DeWalt.

Off the bat, do not confuse this thickness planer with a planer/thicknesser. This is a hard-hitting benchtop unit that acts purely to thickness your boards rather than serving double duty.

If you want to cut any rough or finished boards to the right thickness, the DeWalt is a very smart choice.

Great! Planes like a Drum Samder. The board is very smooth . Ready to us and easy to work with! Does a nice job planing wood. Runs a bit loud but not overly loud.

By Terry B,

Main Features

    • 15-amp motor
    • 20,000RPM with 10,000RPM for cutter-head
    • Cutter-head has 3 knives
    • 2 speed gear box
    • Fan-assisted ejection of wood chips
    • Solid cast aluminum base
    • Carriage lock
    • In-feed and out-feed table

The DeWalt DW735X is first and foremost a tool for the shop. It tips the scales at over 100 pounds so, while you could take it on the jobsite, you’ll probably need some assistance to hump it around.

The trade-off for this lack of portability is a first-class, heavy-duty planer that’s built to last. You’ll be able to take care of pretty much any project from furniture and doors right through to customized millwork.

The 15-amp motor is a powerhouse. It maxes out at 20,000RPM which is capable of turning the blades at an impressive 10,000RPM. The result of this raw power is a planer perfectly placed to deliver substantial cuts in wide and hard material.

With a 3-knife cutter system, you’ll get a little more more mileage from your knives and you even get a free set provided so you can’t ask for much more than that. This goes some way to mitigating the fact the knives have a propensity to dull relatively quickly.

When it comes to changing the blades, DeWalt make life easy for you. Just remove the top section of the planer so the blades and exhaust shroud are fully exposed. Each blade has a handful of screws and when you want to move to the next blade, simply depress a lever so it locks into place.

The 2-speed gearbox is perfectly designed so you can easily boost or reduce the cutting speed. Jack it up to over 100 cuts per minute with any harder wood or dial it back if you’re working with softer material for maximum flexibility with the minimum of fuss. All you need to do is flick a simple switch and you can adjust the speed accordingly.

The DeWalt will accept workpieces up to 13 inches wide and you’ll be able to make cuts up to 6 inches in depth. This affords you the freedom to undertake pretty ambitious projects with substantial pieces of material.

Whether you want to remove fine layers or bigger chunks, you can do so without breaking your stride. The removal gauge and thickness scale help you to thickness any boards to a completely uniform size. The handy automatic carriage lock eliminates any snipe that would mar your project.

Safety is paramount with any power tool and the DW735X won’t let you down in this regard. Thanks to the fan-assisted chip ejection, you won’t get any stray debris on the cutterhead as it’s blown well clear of the machine leaving you to work in a clean, dust-free environment. You can also easily hook up your DeWalt to your favorite dust collection system so you’ve got all bases covered.

DeWalt are famous not just for top-notch power tools but also for their superb guarantees. You’ll get a 3-year limited warranty, a full year of free servicing and you’ll even enjoy a 90-day cooling-off period so if you’re not fully satisfied, you’ll get your money back.

Pros

    • Extremely capable motor kicks out 20,000RPM with a cutterhead speed of 10,000RPM so you can make big cuts in wide workpieces fuss-free
    • Work in complete safety with a fan-blown chip ejection system to blow any debris off the cutterhead and safely away from the machine
    • Rock-solid 19 ¾-inch base made from cast aluminum offers plenty of space with complete rigidity
    • Kiss goodbye to snipe with automatic carriage lock
    • Depth stop helps you set the most commonly used thicknesses to speed up your planing
    • Depth capacity of 6 inches, width capacity 13 inches so a very flexible performer
    • Alter feed speed easily from 96CPI to 179CPI thanks to dual-speed gearbox
    • As well as infeed and outfeed tables, you’ll get a spare set of knives thrown in
    • Thickness scale and material removal gauge combine to deliver precision cutting every time
    • Outstanding 3-year limited warranty for real peace of mind

Cons

    • Weighs 100 pounds so a heavy piece of kit needing 2 people to move it comfortably
    • Blades tend to dull easily despite claims to the contrary
    • Not the cheapest planer at your disposal but the performance justifies the price tag

Conclusion

If you’re in the market for an all-purpose planer to set up and leave in your workshop with perhaps occasional use on a job site, the DeWalt punches above its weight.

You’ll enjoy a great deal of flexibility and the ability to work with very large pieces of all kinds of material with excellent results.

The warranty and money-back guarantee come together to remove any reason not to pop this planer on your shortlist.

Check it out and you will not be disappointed.

2. Delta Power Tools 22-555 Thickness Planer

Next up in our best planer reviews is a more affordable option from Delta Power Tools. If you’re operating on a stricter budget, this thickness planer offers more than serviceable performance even with substantial workpieces at a highly attractive pricepoint.

As with the DeWalt, the 22-555 is not a combined planer/thicknesser but another benchtop unit that will thickness your boards rather than also jointing them.

Read on to see if this inexpensive but effective planer justifies making its way into your workshop…

I'm going to be a long-time wood-worker, so I'm not really interested in 'okay' tools. And this one really is okay. It's fine if you have just one job to do or even a few jobs.

By Woodrif B.

Main Feat​​​​ures

    • 15–amp motor
    • Quick-change disposable knives
    • Infeed and outfeed tables both adjustable
    • Dust port fully reversible
    • Scale for precision planing
    • On-board tool storage 
    • Superb stock capacity
    • Innovative column design

Delta Power Tools have been in business for approaching a century and they’ve gained a hard-won reputation for producing quality goods that are remarkably easy on the pocket.

This meaty thickness planer has a potent 15-amp motor which is capable of a fairly impressive 18,880RPM topped with a cutterhead speed of 9400RPM. The simplicity of the planer means it’s ideal even if you don’t have much experience and you need to deal with bulkier boards.

The 22-555 can accommodate stock 13 inches wide and 6 inches tall so you are in safe hands even with pretty ambitious projects. It’s built to run all day so perfect if you need to deal with large volumes of material without your planer letting you down.

The unique design with a quartet of columns makes sure that the planer sits stable and steady. It also helps to dampen down any vibration and translates into accuracy and precision without much noise… well, not much noise for a planer anyway!

Losing track of tools is something that blights any woodworker. Delta Power Tools has included on-board storage so you can stash your blade-changing tools and retrieve them without breaking your flow and scratching your head, a real bonus if you’re absent minded and often misplace things.

Height adjustment is a total cakewalk. You can manipulate the rudimentary roller with one hand and tailor the height accordingly. The scale is very clearly marked. If you need to engage in repetitive planing, just lock it into place to save time and effort while guaranteeing complete accuracy.

There are a couple of noteworthy safety features thoughtfully served up by Delta. Although this model is an exposed open space planer, the knives are tucked away so you can’t come into contact with them when the planer is running. The power button is located front and center. If anything goes awry, simply turn it off and the knives will lock and immediately stop rotating.

If you’ve used planers with metal rollers, you’ll be well aware of the tiresome noise they generate. You won’t be plagued by that with the 22-555. Both infeed and outfeed rollers are coated with nitrile synthetic rubber. This tamps down the noise, a useful feature if your workshop is close to the house or liable to disturb the neighbors.

There are a couple of minor downsides with the 22-555 but they are certainly not deal-breakers… They are things to be aware of so you don’t end up buying in ignorance then being disappointed.

You won’t be lavished with extras but then consider the ultra-competitive price tag before moaning too much about this. You have all you need which is all that counts.

3 cutting knives would be better than the pair in place but you don’t really notice a lack of efficiency and the planing results are more than fit for purpose.

Pros

    • Exceptional value for money without sacrificing planing performance
    • 4 column design makes this planer tough and stable delivering accuracy, smoothness and minimal vibration
    • Delivers 18,800RPM with the head maxing out at 9400RPM
    • Fine-tune the height using a simple roller with one hand for a superbly user-friendly experience
    • Work with stock 13 inches wide and 6 inches high so more than adequate for even larger projects
    • Maximum depth of cut 3/32 inches
    • On-board tool storage keeps everything you need within reach
    • Coated rollers limit the noise kicked out while gliding exceptionally smoothly
    • Dust port can be set to right or left to suck up woodchips and keep your workshop free of debris
    • Dual-edged knives are disposable and extremely to swap out
    • 5-year limited warranty proves how much the manufacturer stands behind this planer

Cons

    • No accessories or extra knives included but you have all you need to get going right out the box
    • Only 2 cutting knives but that’s acceptable in this price range
    • Some reported sniping issues

Conclusion

For a solid and dependable planer for your home workshop, the Delta Power Tools 22-555 is a strong contender for the best planer in its price range. Sure, other more expensive tools outflank it in many areas but then you are paying for that privilege.

If you want a cost-effective and extremely powerful planer that will thickness even large boards effortlessly, think seriously about road-testing the 22-555. If you run into any problems, a stellar 5-year limited warranty means you’re covered without straining your finances.

Check out this planer today and start enjoying some thicknessing tomorrow!

3. DeWalt DW680K Portable Planer

As we continue our best planer reviews, we’ll step things down in size to a nifty little portable planer from the highly reputable DeWalt. This brand produces high-grade tools at a very reasonable price point. The DW680K is no exception.

Not everyone wants a bulky and weighty unit that’s impractical to move around. So, whether you’re a home DIY enthusiast or a woodworker, this portable planer could be just what you were looking for.

What a great tool. I used it to clean up salvaged/reclaimed wood. I did not need a bench planer or joiner to make a nice coffee table. However, it helped that I had a belt sander and and a table saw.. I was easy to learn to use and easy to adjust the depth of cut.

By Andrew G.

Main Features

  • 7-amp motor
  • 16-inch throat size
  • Maximum depth of cut 3/23 inches
  • Takes steel or carbide blades
  • Kick stand
  • Calibrated depth adjustment
  • 2 blades included.

We’re always unfailingly honest with our product reviews and we’ll say from the get-go that the DeWalt is not perfect but then few things in life are. If you are aware of the limitations of this planer and also take the price tag into account, you can choose to buy fully apprised of its shortcomings rather than potentially wasting your money.

For portability, the DW680K takes some beating. It weighs 12 pounds which might not be featherlight but it’s certainly easy enough to wield and also to carry around the home or jobsite single handed.

Since it’s a small, compact unit, the 7-amp motor kicks out more than enough power for most reasonable planing needs. It maxes out at 15,000RPM.

This planer is expressly designed to reduce the number of passes you’ll need to make. You can shave off 3/32 inch of wood in a single pass meaning you churn through projects without painstakingly going back and forth. Speed alone is useless if the end result is rough and inaccurate. This planer will serve up an incredibly smooth finish on a range of hardwoods meaning it’s a winning combination of pace and performance. This is rare with cheaper power tools so we applaud DeWalt for achieving this.

Depth setting on planers can be a tricky business. If you need to recalibrate to zero with each project, you’ll lose time and becoming frustrated. With a handy knob houses on top of the planer, there’s none of the usual nonsense involved and the settings are pretty accurate.

With planers, the blades are self-evidently of the utmost importance. The DeWalt takes reversible carbide blades which you can also sharpen to get more bang for your buck. These blades will give you an impeccable finish on a range of woods so they are not just cost-savers but highly effective into the bargain.

The lack of a dust collection system is a serious omission. This renders using the planer indoors a messy and unpleasant experience. The exhaust tends to blow chips back rather too close to your face as you work away, another pretty inexcusable design flaw. To salt the wound, it’s designed for right-handed use only so factor this in if you’re a southpaw.

The power cord is also poorly positioned. Again, we’d expect more attention to crucial details like this from a company of DeWalt’s standing.

The other noteworthy downsides are reports from a number of users about difficulty in obtaining consistent planing results. This is at variance to claims of the manufacturer but it’s something we feel duty bound to point out.

Although this might seem like a negative review, we endorse this planer since it’s a flexible and capable tool at a highly attractive price point. The advantages outweigh any downsides and it’s well worth popping on your shortlist.

Pros

    • The potent 7-amp motor works wonderfully in this compact unit for slick and accurate finishing of even harder woods
    • Generates 15,000RPM to deliver smooth and accurate stock
    • Lightweight planer at 12 pounds so ideal for extended work periods
    • Highly versatile accommodating sharp enable, reversible carbide blades for accuracy, detail and longevity
    • Cuts 3/32 inches in a single pass so you can get more done in less time with minimal effort
    • Calibrated knob minimizes the fuss involved in precise depth setting
    • Shoe is machined to deliver smooth boards and it also helps with rabbeting
    • Case and rabbeting fence thrown in as nice bonuses
    • Poly-v drive belt to further extend lifespan of planer

Cons

    • Some complaints about shoe alignment
    • Reports issues with a general lack of consistency
    • Poor design of chip exhaust
    • No dust collector provided

Conclusion

When you buy a less expensive planer, you can’t expect the earth. Many complaints leveled at tools like the DeWalt DW680K, in our opinion, are borne out of unreasonable expectations.

If you want a cheap and highly functional portable planer at a pocket-friendly price, you really can’t go far wrong. If, on the other hand, you’re looking for something more heavy-duty and with a shower of extras and accessories, you’re far better off exploring some of the more costly and upscale planers on our list.

Ultimately, everyone has different needs when looking for the best planer. For anyone prizing portability and a smooth finish and prepared to overlook or deal with the handful of deficiencies, we strongly recommend the DeWalt.

Check it out for yourself and make your own mind up.

4. Makita KP0810 Portable Planer

Before we explore a much more substantial benchtop planer, another highly portable model is next up in our best planer reviews, this time the Makita KP0810.

Tipping the scales at a mere 7.3 pounds, you’ll be able to get busy with prolonged planing projects without feeling the strain. The padded rubber handle adds another layer of comfort and ensures you can focus on your work without any aches and pains.

More than enough power allows for fairly rapid removal of stock. Extremely fine and accurate depth adjustment makes this tool a pleasure to use. A spring loaded foot drops down to protect the blades from damage when you set it down after use. If you appreciate a really good power tool, look no further. This is the one to buy.

By Vitto L.

Main Features

    • 7-amp motor
    • No-load speed 16,000RPM
    • 2-blade cutter head
    • Spring-loaded stan
    • Clear scale
    • Depth adjustment knob
    • Accessories: wrench, gauge assembly, depth guide, guide rule, blade set

Makita specialize in all manner of industrial power tools and, while they are not the cheapest option, they are certainly very reasonably priced and offer first-rate functionality and design in return.

This ultra-light 7-pound portable planer is fashioned with ease of use and user-comfort uppermost. You’ll be able to work for lengthy spells without feeling in any way burdened. The die-cast aluminum housing accounts for this weight but it’s also rugged enough that the planer is not going to pack up on you after a month or two.

The cutter head features a pair of blades which is more than adequate for a portable planer. The poky 7.5-amp motor throws out a no-load speed of 16,000RPM ensuring you get a smooth and accurate finish

The twin blades on the cutter head are made from carbide steel so you’ll get that ideal mix-up of durability and precise, smooth results. You’ll be able to make a single pass cutting 3 ¼ inches wide and 5/32 inches deep so you can churn through projects with ease without leaving a rough finish in your wake. These stats are very impressive for a handheld planer and Makita should be commended.

If you are engaged in repetitive tasks that demand continuous operation, you’ll appreciate the lock-on button. You can activate this from both sides of the handle.

Depth adjustment is a cinch. The knob’s scale is clear and easy to read while click stops in increments of 0.1mm lead to precise work with minimal fanfare. There are 3 chamfering grooves on the front base giving you a nice degree of flexibility.

Although there’s no dust collector, the chip ejector is well designed and you can angle it on either side of the planer according to preference.

Makita offers a straightforward 1-year limited warranty combined with a 30-day money back guarantee. If you’re still on the fence concerning the purchase of this planer, there’s really nothing much to lose. If you find it falls short of the mark, return it for a no-quibbles refund.

Pros

    • 7.5-amp motor has no-load speed of 16,000RPM so you can work swiftly without sacrificing smoothness of finish
    • 2 blades on cutter head are double-edged carbide so work with hard materials fuss-free
    • Plane 3 ¼ inches (width) and 5/32 inches (depth) in a single pass
    • Rugged and built to last with aluminum housing also minimizing the weight of the tool
    • Neat lock-on button allows continuous planing without straining your fingers
    • Chip ejection can be directed to either side for your complete convenience
    • Spring-loaded stand helps to raise the base protecting both the wood and your planer blades for the double win
    • Depth adjustment knob with click stops for highly precise planning
    • 1-year limited warranty with 30-day money back guarantee so buy without a headache knowing Makita has your back

Cons

    • Some issues with drift and uneven cutting
    • No dust collector or hard case which is a disappointment
    • Makes a great deal of noise when hooked up to third party dust collector

Conclusion

Whether you’re a simple hobbyist woodworker just starting out or a more experienced finish carpenter, the Makita KP0810 is a strong contender for the best portable planer on the market.

Although Makita’s failure to provide either a carrying case or a dust collector is slightly annoying, most woodworkers intending to carry this planer around will have a suitable cover. Buying a dust collector is not the end of the world either and, when set against everything that the Makita does so well, these are relatively trifling niggles.

Overall, the KP0810 will guarantee a smooth and accurate finish on a range of materials while not costing the earth either. For something small, super-light and capable of speeding up your workflow without compromising on quality, Makita has a real winner on its hands with this fine portable planer. Road test the KP0810 today!

5. JET 708524 Benchtop Planer

We’ll round out our best planer reviews with an outstanding benchtop planer from JET.

The 708524 might be costlier than some of the smaller planers featured here but, for a benchtop unit, it represents superb value for money and is actually fairly cheap.

A quick snapshot of the features before we launch into a detailed breakdown and a look at the pros and cons of the 708524…

great piece of equipment. sets up quickly, all fittings were cast very well. everything was tuned perfectly right out of the box. Base and wheels move smoothly. Very fine adjustments on thickness. Dust port works great. Only thing I'd like to see change, if possible, is that changing speeds mean you have to reverse the gears manually which is easy, but greasy. I'd recommend wearing disposable gloves.

By Steven G.

Main Features

    • 1 ½ HP motor
    • 4500RPM
    • Single phase 110V or 230V
    • Infeed and outfeed tables
    • Cast iron table
    • Feed rate 20FPM (planing) and 10FPM (molding)

This freestanding cabinet-style benchtop planer from JET also serves as a molder so you get excellent value for the money even if you initially wince at the price tag. Bear in mind, too, that these planers are never cheap so the 708524 is actually at the lower end of the range. Considering this, you get a truly fantastic planer fit for most reasonable requirements.

The 1 1/2HP motor is completely enclosed. It delivers 4500RPM and, while its default setting is 110V, a little cheeky rewiring enables it to run on 230V so it’ perfect whatever your needs. You can open a handy side door on the cabinet if you need to check the engine out or tension the belts. This is a nice touch with an fully encased unit.

One area in which the JET truly excels is the perfectly honed cutter head. This is 2 9/16 inches across packing a trio of full-size knives. They are held in place by the traditional wedge system. Although this can be awkward for the initiated, one advantage is the ability to install multiple molding knife profiles without taking out the planer blades. The JET takes more than 40 molding sets so you really are spoiled for choice.

You’ll be able to plane boards 13 inches in width, 6 1/8 inches deep and up to 14 inches long so JET has got you covered even if you need to engage in projects that are larger and more ambitious in scope.

Thinking of bigger projects, you can ramp up the feed rate to 20FPM if you need to remove large amounts of wood in a hurry. This can be dialed back to 10FPM when you want the smoothest possible finish. The slower feed rate is also ideal for any molding you’ll carry out.

The table is cast-iron and measures 19 ¼ inch long and 14 inches wide. There’s plenty of travel. The infeed and outfeed rollers come with a rubber coating so your stock will move seamlessly and consistently. The rubber will grip the wood without ruining the surface for a win-win.

There’s an integrated dust chute and you can connect the JET to a dust collector to guarantee your workshop is safe, clean and debris-free.

Pros

    • Poky, fully encased 1 1/2HP engine runs on 110V but can be rewired to work with 230V so completely versatile
    • 3 cutter head design is the optimum for a silky smooth finish capable of 13,500 cuts per minute
    • Serves double duty working as both planer and molder
    • Easy to install molding knives without needing to remove planer blades
    • Both infeed and outfeed rollers rubber-coated for easy gliding
    • Spacious, solid table allows you to work with larger materials hassle-free
    • Dust chute you can hook up to any dust collector with ease
    • 5-year limited warranty shows the confidence of the manufacturer that the 708524 won’t leave you in the lurch
    • Plane 13 inches wide, 6 1/8 inches deep and 14 inches long offering a first-class range of cuts
    • Scales in metric and imperial so no call for tasky mental calculations
    • Removal door on side of cabinet lets you tension the belt or examine the motor without inconveniencing yourself

Cons

    • Not especially cheap but fantastic overall value
    • Traditional wedge system for securing blades slows you down slightly and is an acquired taste

Conclusion

There’s really nothing much meaningful you can say against the JET 708524 benchtop planer. Even the price tag is reasonable when you think about the competition and the fact these planers can easily run into figures.

If you’re looking for a multi-purpose planer that would grace any workshop and copes with even large projects with consummate ease, you should give serious consideration to the JET. If you’ve got any doubts about it, bear in mind the class-leading 5-year warranty which will cover you for any unlikely mishaps.

Overall, this really is perhaps the best planer in its class and price range so what are you waiting for?

Go and test one out and see if it gels with your needs.

OK…

Now we’ve wrapped up our best planer reviews, it’s time to walk you through what you should think about when you’re looking for one of these tools along with some handy FAQs to address any remaining questions you might have.

First up, who needs a planer in the first place?

Who Needs Planners?

thickness planner usage

Woodworkers, home DIY enthusiasts and contractors alike would benefit from investing in the best planer.

A hand planer is too slow for most purposes. Also, unless you’re a highly skilled craftsman, you simply won’t get the accuracy you’re looking for either. A belt sander is not a replacement either when it comes to thicknessing your stock.

If you’re serious about woodworking in any guise, a thicknesser will give you fantastic control over otherwise irregular boards. You’ll be able to smooth out any rough stock, make certain that the faces are parallel as well, of course, as getting that uniform thickness.

Anyone with more than a passing interest in woodworking who wants to exercise control over the finish and thickness of their stock is well advised to lay in the best planer at the earliest opportunity. Combine this with a jointer and you can enjoy boards that are flat, smooth and straight as an arrow.

This is one purchase that you’re extremely unlikely to regret so read on for more handy hints on getting the best tool for the job…

The Complete Planners Buying Guide

We’ll now take you through 8 of the most important things to consider when you’re looking for the best planer.

Hopefully by now, you’ll have all the terminology down-pat so you know exactly what you’re looking for in terms of functionality.

Once you’ve cleared this up in your mind, deciding on the type of planer should be fairly straightforward. By this stage, your options will already be narrowed considerably before you start in on research and testing.

Think about your budget and, again, your choices will be whittled down.

At this stage, it’s a wise move to read plenty of user reviews along with as much feedback as possible so you can double down on where your chosen models stand and fall.

Here is some general guidance to simplify your buying decision further and increase the chance you get the very best planer for your particular wants and needs…

    • Motor
      The motor on a planer is one of the principal differentiators. Electric motors come in 2 variants:

      - Induction Motors
      - Universal Motors


      As a rule, induction motors are more robust and durable. They also weigh much more than universal motors. This type of motor works best for planers that are permanently installed in a workshop or destined for industrial use.

      Universal motors, lighter and more compact, are better suited for portable planers.

      As well as considering whether or not the motor is powerful enough for your cutting needs, think also about the voltage and buy accordingly.
    • Size of Your Workspace
      It’s a good move to measure your workshop or the area where you’ll be using the planer first. You need to ensure you have adequate room to safely maneuver.

      You’ll need to think about more than the size of the machine, though…

      Pay attention to the amount of space you’ll need to move around and also factor in the length of the workpieces you’ll be dealing with.

      Time spent at this stage will not be wasted if you avoid getting a bulky planer that’s simply too big for the allotted space.

      Clearly, this does not apply if you’re looking to buy a portable planer. In that case, you’ll need to think about whether or not the planer you have in mind is light enough for you to use without straining yourself but heavy-duty enough to deliver the results you need.
    • Type of Planer
      Think carefully about whether you’ll need a thicknesser only or whether you also need the functionality of a jointer. If so, it’s well worth looking into a combined unit.

      If you only require a thicknesser, mull over whether you need something you can carry around or whether you would prefer the hard-hitting performance of a stand-alone unit.

      There’s categorically no right or wrong answer here so we can’t get much more specific. Only you know what you want from this piece of kit so simply roll with the type and style of planer that makes the best fit for your woodworking needs.
    • Thickness and Width
      The thickness capacity is the greatest thickness your planer will comfortably accommodate. In our planer reviews, we clearly show these figures so think about the stock you’ll work with and give due consideration to the thickness capacity to prevent selling yourself short.

      If you need to work with large volumes of extremely rough wood, there’s no sidestepping a planer cut out for use in an industrial setting. Go for something too lightweight and you’ll burn it out.

      For anyone working with smaller projects, portable planers should provide adequate thickness capacity. Look also for the depth stops on planers. These will allow you to set your machine to the width you need without constantly stopping to measure.
    • Stroke Count
      The blades of your planer come equipped with knives. These knives rotate at high velocity and chip off wood from the surface of your boards.

      More knives and a higher blade speed both translate to a greater stroke count.

      What’s important to note here is that speed is not the be-all. In fact, with some material, slower is better. To this end, look for a planer with variable speed so you’ve got all bases covered whatever type of wood you choose to work with.
    • Do You Need a Jointer?
      If you feel you’ll also need to make use of a jointer, our advice is to plump for a 2-in-1 planer/thicknesser.

      We have not reviewed these combined units because it would have complicated things to introduce a tool with a separate function.

      You can buy jointers separately, of course, but many committed woodworkers find the ease of a multipurpose tool repays the expenditure. Since they share many parts, buying a combined planer/thicknesser makes good economic sense.

      Again, there’s no clear-cut correct answer here. Be honest about what applications you have in mind and choose in line with this.
    • Knives
      The cutter on your planer will typically come with between 2 and 5 blades. The greater the number of blades and the quicker the speed, the higher the stroke count will be and the smoother the cut.

      As a rule, carbide steel knives are the best option.

      All the planers we review here have quality knives. These can make or break your planer so it’s well worth scoping out that they’re fit for purpose.

    • Dust Collection
      Keeping a dust-free workshop is critical if you want to enjoy top-tier results and remain safe at the same time.

      When you are planing, a large amount of chips will be generated. It’s essential to hook up some form of dust collector or shop vac.

      Many of the best planers have integrated fans that suck all the chips away from the cutter head. These will be blown out the dust port which is a useful touch if your planer is not in close proximity to the dust collector.

Usage and Maintenance Tips

 

Using a planer is relatively straightforward.

You should adhere to all the safety precautions you’d normally consider when using any power tool. Wear eye protection and ear protection. Consider a dust mask to supplement any additional dust control you have in place. Make sure the workspace is adequately illuminated.

Before using your planer, think about the following:

  • Are the knives correctly set for the depth and clearance you need?
  • If there is a fence, is it securely in place?
  • Can the guard move freely over the cutter head?
  • Is your equipment properly lubricated?

Once you’ve addressed these points, it’s time to get to work!

Make sure the knives are sharp and balanced. Make certain you have plenty of clearance for the stock you’ll be using.

Use sufficient downward force to avoid the cutter head from pulling the stock from your hands.

Work slowly and methodically with your planer. You’ve invested in a first-class time-saving tool so don’t risk your safety and well-being by rushing. Remember the old adage, “More haste, less speed.” Take pride in your work and the results will be worthwhile.

Planers require remarkably little maintenance aside from regular lubrication and keeping an eye on the sharpness of the knives.

Keep everything free of dust and properly cared for and your planer should serve you for many happy years of woodworking.

CLOSING WORD

​We very much hope you’ve enjoyed this detailed guide and best planer reviews. We’ve tried to include everything we could think of to walk you through the tricky process of finding the most appropriate tool.

Always feel free to get in touch if you have any questions or feedback. We’re delighted to hear from our readers and we are expanding this site in line with many messages we’ve received asking for guides and reviews to an assortment of different power tools.

And thinking of questions, we’ll wrap up these planer reviews with a shotgun look at the most frequently asked questions specific to planers…

FAQ:

1. IS A PLANER/THICKNESSER THE SAME AS A THICKNESS PLANER?
No! It’s tiresome that so much confusion is introduced by the awkward and conflicting terminology used. A planer/thicknesser is a dual-purpose piece of kit which rolls the function of a jointer – also known as a planer – with a thicknesser. The thickness planer, on the other hand, performs the single role of thicknessing your stock.

2. WHAT IS A JOINTER?

A jointer makes one face of twisted or bowed materials flat. It can also square the faces up. A jointer does not thickness your workpiece.

3. IS IT WORTH BUYING A COMBINED PLANER/THICKNESSER?
If you are a keen woodworker and require both a jointer/planer and a thicknesser, it makes good sense to invest in a unit that will serve double duty.

4. HOW ABOUT INVESTING IN A PLANER/MOLDER?
If you’re looking to create trim molding, picture frames or antique molding, a planer/molder can work well. If not, you’ll just be wasting your money.

5. DO I REALLY NEED A DUST COLLECTOR WITH MY PLANER?
Yes, yes and yes! Planers kick out large volumes of wood chips. Making sure these are safely sucked away is a fundamental part of workshop safety.

6. WHAT IS SNIPE?
Snipe is when your planer cuts too deeply. It usually happens at the infeed end when the cut is too deep before returning to the desired depth after a few inches. This occurs when the wood moves toward the cutter head. Control snipe by keeping the stock firmly on the bed of the planer, particularly at the beginning and end of proceedings

7. IS IT EASY TO REPLACE THE BLADES ON A PORTABLE PLANER?

Fortunately, yes it is. Open the screws and slip out the old blade. Clean the exposed area thoroughly. Replace the blade being extremely careful not to cut yourself. Check it’s secured tightly and replace the screws. Practice on some waste material until no snipe occurs.

8. WHY DO SOME PLANED WORKPIECES APPEAR WAVY?

This is usually indicative of one of the knives protruding further out of the head than the others. Measure the distance between the ridges and compare with the distance if the knives were working properly.

9. WHY DO RIPPLES OCCUR?

This occurs through feed speed being too high, the bed plate of the planer not being flat or when the knives are too dull.

10. WHAT IS RAISED GRAIN?
This happens with woods that have a sizeable difference in density within a growth ring. The knife of your planer pushes the latewood into the earlywood rather than simply cutting the fibers. The solution is to use sharper knives and to make smaller cuts.

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