If you're a beginner woodworker, then this is the article for you. We'll take a deep dive into what planers are and how they can help make your woodworking more efficient. As well as list some of the best options on the market to get started with. In order to be successful in any profession, knowledge is power! With so many different planers out there it's hard to know which one will work best for you! In this post we'll review everything from benchtop planers to handheld models so that by the time you've finished reading, not only will you have a better understanding on what product work best for your needs.
Let take a look the best planer for beginners comparison table. It can be helpful in determining which one might suit you best.
Table of Contents
- Top 6 Best Benchtop Thickness Planer Review
- Top 7 Best Handheld Planer Review
- Types of Planers and Their Benefits
- Buying Guide
Top 6 Best Benchtop Thickness Planer Review
Without further ado, here are the best benchtop thickness planers we've arranged according to budget.
DEWALT DW735X 13-Inch Thickness Planer
The electric thickness planer features specifications such as a two-speed gearbox that allow you to change the speed of the feed by specifying cuts per inch at either 179 or 96 CPI.
The 13-inch stationary planer also includes a dust hose adapter, extra blades, in/out feed tables, and a stand (sold separately). It also has a ⅛-inch maximum cutting depth, a 13-inch width capacity, and a tool weight of 92 pounds. Its automatic carriage lock reduces snipes and movement from the work piece you're planning to plane.
According to the customers who rated this device quite highly at 4.7 stars from 2,144 reviews, the DEWALT DW735X Thickness Planer is a dream to work with and even amateur hobbyists or first-time woodworkers can handle its two-speed controls. The optional stand might be a good purchase though to keep the device stable.
Those who weren't as in favor of the device claim that it's not for serious woodworkers, although according to the ratings they're the minority. In both positive and negative reviews, the vibrations and the need to glue waste wood at the end of the run for safety purposes are commonly mentioned.
Pros and Cons
According to those who love the device, it's easy to work with, has self-explanatory controls that even beginners can handle, and it works as advertised for the most part. It's not cheap but it definitely carries the DeWalt seal of quality.
The main complaints about the DEWALT DW735X Thickness Planer is that it's expensive, it shakes a lot, it's loud (some claim it can go as high as 126 dB when planing things like maple wood that's about 3-inches thick), and it keeps tripping so you need a wood wedge to keep the wheel from moving.
CRAFTSMAN Benchtop Planer, 15-Amp CMEW320
CRAFTSMAN or Craftsman Benchtop Planer CMEW320 is a quality planer that allows you to remove stock at 8,000 RPM on a 15-amp motor. It has similar specs to the similarly priced Porter-Cable planer.
Its main claim to fame is the fact that it can do softwood and hardwood removal as well as planing glued materials with ease. This is because it's capable of doing 16,000 cuts per minute, again like Porter-Cable.
The printer-shaped planer from Craftsman is a hit among customers.
Not as highly rated as the DeWalt example, but it got a decent 4.6 rating from 203 reviews. The reviews mainly echo how even though a DeWalt has nicer features, the CRAFTSMAN CMEW320 is overall a good pick.
It's nice to get a depth of cut indicator and 3 blades, but do you wish to pay an extra $300 for them when you can get a decent planer with a powerful motor from Craftsman or Porter-Cable at half the price? It's a cheap, affordable benchtop planer that can mill through rough-cut walnut from ⅘" to ⅗" for maximum stock removal. It's also quite straightforward to set up.
Pros and Cons
Like Porter-Cable, you get more bang for your buck. Unlike Porter-Cable, this is a lesser known name brand so you risk more by going with this one. Take the positive reviews with a grain of salt.
There's at least one review complaining about how their copy of the Craftsman Benchtop Planer CMEW320 broke down within 4 months after purchase. Specifically, it was the turn shaft that broke, leading to a 1-star rating.
13" JET Jwp-13Bt Helical Style Bench Top Planer
The JET Helical-Style Benchtop Planer is capable of making smooth cuts while reducing snipe due to its 15-amp, 2HP motor with a cutter head that turns at 10,000 RPM or much faster than what Porter-Cable or Craftsman could offer. Snipe is also reduced though its steel cover and cast iron bed.
It looks like a sewing machine because like a sewing machine it's built with stability and weight in mind. Other machines have issues with vibrations, as in the case of DeWalt. This one ensures maximum cut effficiency with dual-infeed speed control from 18 feet per minute to 26 Fpm.
JET isn't a name brand like DeWalt, so the price tag might give you some pause. However, the planer that looks like a sewing machine was able to earn a respectable 4.5 star rating from 34 reviews because of its impressive specs that outdoes the "cheaper" DeWalt.
They were particularly impressed with how quiet it runs, how positively it compares with the $600 DeWalt, and how it's able to utilize its $150 extra price tag by having extra features like 24 individual quick change inserts for a cutter head with 6 rows. Its dust collection is also of note.
Pros and Cons: The pillar of why the JET Helical-Style Benchtop Planer belongs in this list has to be the fact that its blade is helical-style and it uses a four-post design to ensure you have ample support and maximum control when you're doing planing.
All other features follow through this particular key benefit, from its helical-style cutter head to its 2HP motor and precision-machined cast iron bed. It terms of drawbacks, the main quality control issue for the machine is that its knives don't last as long as you'd expect.
WEN 6552T 13 inch
The WEN 6552T and WEN 6550T share several features, namely them having 15-amp motors, adjustable depth to allow planing off anywhere, and a fan-assisted dust port that removes all the sawdust from your work piece once you're done working with it. Both have a feed rate of 26 feet per minute.
In terms of differences, the WEN 6552T has a 3-blade setup and can plane boards up to 13 inches wide while the WEN 6550T can only plane boards up to 12.5 inches wide. Furthermore, the WEN 6552T can do a whopping 25,500 cuts per minute at a feed rate of 26 feet per minute versus WEN 6550T and its 17,000 cuts per minute at the same feed rate.
The WEN 6550T is cheaper by $25 than the WEN 6552T because they're also rated different. Sure, both share the same rating of 4.4 stars, but the more cost-effective yet lesser specs-wise WEN 6550T is more popular (more review) due to its cheaper price.
This is why many a review on Amazon.com call attention to whether or not it's worth upgrading from a WEN 6550T to a WEN 6552T. Is a rate of 17,000 cuts per minute rall that different from a rate of 25,500 cuts per minute? Maybe, but not $25 extra different according to many a customer.
Pros and Cons
In terms of pros, it works as advertised. You can get a huge boost at cutting rate using the same 15-amp motor when going for the WEN 6552T and its 3-blade setup, but otherwise their differences are minimal.
These two WEN planers mostly fall apart in terms of quality control. Their 4.4 score went that low because they keep getting unusual (although still a minority of) complaints of the unit shooting boards across the room or rollers malfunctioning. It also gets complaints regarding its cheap plastic gear.
Makita 2012NB 12-Inch Planer
The Makita 12-inch Planer is worth it high price. Arguably even more so than the $750 JET Helical-Style Planer. Why? Makita is a more well-known hardware brand and this comes with an automated "Interna-Lok" head clamp. Additionally, it's engineered to allow for easier, faster blade changes and it's compact to boot.
It also helps that unlike the similarly rated DEWALT option for benchtop planers, this unit is quieter and can go as low as 83 dB while in operation for maximum comfort on the operator's part. It also has the same 4-post design found in the JET planer offering to boot.
The Makita is notable on this list as being nearly as expensive as the JET Helical-Style Benchtop Planer. It's only about $50 cheaper yet it only offers 12-inch planer action while JET can go 13-inches or an extra inch.
The DEWALT DW735X has the same 4.7 star rating as Makita, but fewer reviewers rated Makita as such. However, all-in-all, reviews agree it's a nonstop planing machine that can take, for example, twin 2 x 6 pine boards at the same time.
Pros and Cons
The device ensures stability with its Interna-Lok automated head clamp that keeps vibration and noise to a minimum. It's also notable for its adjustable depth stopper for repeat cuts and mobile compactness.
Despite its high ratings, the Makita is admittedly flawed in the price department. In certain aspects it's worth the money while in other aspects, it's outdone by the superior DeWalt offering. It also has quality control issues, with some units having the cutting bar loosened and displaced.
Porter-Cable 15 Amps 12 Inches Benchtop Planer PC305TP
The impressive Porter-Cable PC305TP Benchtop Planer is a pretty strong benchtop planer for its price. Its cutter head speed is 8,000 RPM, which allows it to do 16,000 cuts per minute with a fast 26.2 feet per minute self-feeding rate.
It doesn't have a two-speed mode, but its 15-amp motor gets the job done when it comes to straightforward stock removal. Additionally, this two-knife, quick-change planer machine assured smooth operation and durability due to its head being mounted on ball bearings and its cutter being made of solid high carbon steel.
According to customer reviews, the 4.6 rating out of the 531 reviews at the time of this writing all agree that it's a well-priced unit that outdoes even a DeWalt planer in certain aspects. For a $300 planer, it impressively planes off layers and layers of varnish from old wood.
There are some tips to using it better that many of the reviewers followed, such as getting extra blades for it in light of blade wear-down from an 8,000 RPM planer. You should also set the work piece on a straight board when planing cupped, warped, and bowed boards.
Pros and Cons
The device gets you the most bang out of your buck or the most quality out of your investment. We daresay that it even competes with the more expensive bench planers on this list in certain aspects, thus it's not only excellent in the $300 and above bracket of planers.
Its main detriments that lowered its ratings on Amazon.com all have to do with quality control. A minority of people ended up getting defective units or used units that can't cut, stopped working when had poor finish quality that's in direct contrast to the rave reviews loving its consistency and power.
Top 7 Best Handheld Planer Review
As for the best hand corded/electric planers, they include the following.
DEWALT DCP580B Brushless Planer
The DEWALT DCP580B is a hand planer known for having a brushless motor that gives you 32,000 cuts per minute and a no-load speed of 15,000 RPM. Additionally, its adjustment knob with calibrated depth can fit up to 2mm or 5/64".
The evenness or parallelism of the cut is assured with the unit's precision-machined back and front aluminum shoes that serve as its anchors to keep it from moving about. There's also its kickstand and durable poly-v belt. The charger and battery are not included in the package.
It figures that the DEWALT DCP580B, another DeWalt planer, is also the best hand corded or electric planer of its class as well. That's just the DeWalt quality in action. It scores a high 4.7 star rating on Amazon.com out of 782 reviews at the time of this writing.
Regardless, the DEWALT DCP580B 20V MAX Brushless Planer is an impressive yet affordable piece of woodworking hardware due to its compact size, lack of bulkiness, and a decent amount of oomph or power from its brushless motor for all your precision cutting needs.
Pros and Cons
Once you're able to get a handle of the inertia of the spinning blades and align the blades properly, you should be able to work with the DEWALT DCP580B just fine. As with any other piece of DeWalt equipment, it's built solidly, cuts evenly, and has a variable setting.
In terms of the negatives, the most common complaints about the DeWalt DCP580B is its supposed lack of power, the shortness of the blades, and the tendency to gauge the ends of your work pieces even though the device is supposedly designed to prevent gauging.
DEWALT DW680K Hand Planer
The budget-friendly DEWALT Hand Planer DW680K is a 7-amp hand planer that's also 3¼ inches in size. It's capable of doing 2.5mm or 3/32" maximum cuts in one pass. Its motor is decent enough to do planing work on hardwoods, in fact.
It also makes use of high-speed steel blades you can resharpen for the sake of framing or straight edging projects. Moreover, it shares a Calibrated Depth Adjustment Knob that's also found with the DCP580B. You can switch out to reversible carbide blades if you want to do intricate woodworking hand planers are known for.
So how does the DEWALT Hand Planer, 7-Amp, 3-1/4-Inch DW680K compare to the DEWALT DCP580B? Well, for one thing, the DEWALT DCP580B is tool only with no batteries or chargers included.
The DEWALT Hand Planer DW680K is a highly durable planer that's easy to use by both professionals and hobbyists alike. That's the sentiment of many of the 192 reviewers who rated this a little lower than DCP580B at 4.6. It has a lower score from fewer reviewers because of its quality control issues outlined below.
Pros and Cons
Despite its faults, the DEWALT Hand Planer DW680K is still worthy of the DeWalt name due to its high specs. It has many of the benefits found in the brushless motor planer DCP580B model like a precision-machined shoe bottom and features unique to it like its swappable blades.
However, the most common complaint that led to it getting either 1-star reviews or not a full 5-star review but instead 4.5 or 4.6 stars is its lack of a dust collector. You can use it fine to plane a door to a proper size but better have a shop vacuum handy. Also, some units have planing consistency issues.
Bosch PL2632K Hand Planer
The Bosch 3-1/4 Inch Woodworking Hand Planer is cheaper by $10 than both DeWalt offerings yet it's rated about the same. It boasts of a 6.5 amp motor capable of 16,500 RPM or much more RPM than the DeWalt Brushless Motor Planer. It impressively weighs only 6.5 pounds to boot.
Furthermore, this lightweight electric tool has a unique lock-off release button to prevent you from accidentally starting it and causing an injury or wasting its power. Its spring-loaded stand also elevates the machine in such a way that its blade is protected. It also has a hand plane system with two high-speed steel blades (sold separately).
In accordance to ratings, the Bosch 3¼ inch Hand Planer PL2632K also has 4.6 stars like the DEWALT Hand Planer DW680K but it fares better because it was reviewed by 464 reviewers versus 192 reviewers. It's a user-friendly hand planer with a similar blade switching service as the DeWalt DW680K.
According to these verified purchasers, the Bosch Hand Planer with its own carrying case is versatile with its dual-mount guide fence and accuracy due to its front and rear aluminum shoes. It's robust in its construction and it's polished in sanding and chamfering due to its machined groove.
Pros and Cons
The Bosch Hand Planer PL2632K offers power, convenience, user protection, accuracy, and versatility. It matches many of the benefits of the higher-rated DeWalt machine on this list, the DCP580B model. It even does better in the RPM and unique lock-off release department.
However, many reviewers agree it's a pretty mediocre hand planer for a Bosch appliance. It's currently at 4.6 stars because it had quality control issues involving the non-drive side exhaust port not supporting the chip collector and dust collection issues with the rear plate.
Makita KP0810 3-1/4" Planer
The Makita KP0810 3¼" Planer, as its name suggests, can plane work pieces up to 3¼" wide and 5/32" deep in one pass. It also uses a two-blade cutter head that makes it capable of doing fast stock removal and creating smooth finishes through its 16,000 RPM rate or about 1,000 RPM faster than DEWALT Hand Planer DW680K.
It also has unique features such as chip ejection that's directed on either side of the device. It also has a knob that adjusts depth but that's practically a given for hand planers of this caliber. Its scale stops at increments of 0.1mm to ensure your depth adjustment precision when all is said and done.
The Makita hand planer is about several dollars more expensive than the DeWalt and Bosch hand planers so it better deliver something extra. With that said, it has quite the impressive 16,000 RPM rate, even if it's a no-load speed (there's slowdown when doing planing).
About 167 customers have rated this device a high 4.7. They particularly approve of the lock-on/off button that's located at a convenient and ergonomic location, which is on either side of the device's handle. It's also amazingly precise or more precise than even either of the DeWalt hand planers on this list.
Pros and Cons
The Makita KP0810 3¼" Planer makes that extra $30-$40 worthwhile. If you have limited space, then this mobile hand planer device is the planer for you. It's not only as small as it can get for a hand planer. It's also designed to be more mobile. Makita, true to its branding, is also made of durable materials.
As for cons, it's mostly limited to small-scale projects for cuts and adjustments on things like doors to make them fit better on a doorway. For something so highly rated it matches up with a DeWalt planers' rating, Makita has its share of quality control issues like a cutting blade that shattered on a mesquite knot.
Bosch PL1632 Planer
The second Bosch planer on this list also features a 6.5 amp rating and 16,500 RPM. This best the question though—what's the difference between the Bosch PL1632 (this planer) and the Bosch PL2632K (the other planer)? Several things. It's $40 cheaper than the PL2632K, for one thing.
It also has a spring-loaded stand, a plastic overshoe, separate metric and inch scales to make planing depth settings easier to control, and optimal handle placement that's quite clothing-iron-like but also ergonomic. It's even designed to protect the blade to prevent accidents like broken blades from the Makita KP0810.
The Bosch PL1632 6.5 Amp 3¼" Planer is on the cheaper side with it only costing $120. With that said, what do customers think of it compared to its more popular and expensive counterparts? Thankfully, the Bosch name serves as reassurance you'll still get your money's worth even at a discount.
It also gets the same 4.6 rating as the Bosch PL2632K but has more reviews under its belt. Sure, its shoes aren't aluminum and Bosch had to cut back on certain features here and there, but overall the highly rated Bosch PL1632 6.5 Amp 3¼" Planer is shaping up to be a cost-effective investment.
Pros and Cons
Although it looks like a heavy-duty clothing iron, its design actually helps it make the most out of your $120 investment versus the $160 you have to pay for the Bosch 3-1/4 Inch Woodworking Hand Planer. It's also a whole kit that comes with a guide fence and protective shield.
Obviously, its drawbacks include all the missing features compared to the PL2632K like the lack of a carrying case. Many reviewers recommend it for light duty planing, which is expected of hand planer. However, quality control issues such as misaligned screws and malfunctions dropped its score down to 4.6 stars.
PORTER-CABLE PC60THP Hand Planer
Porter-Cable Hand Planer PC60THP advertises itself as a device with a 6-amp motor capable of dealing with 5/64-inch wide work pieces for planing, edge chamfering, and so forth. It's actually more suited for chamfering than its larger counterparts due to its three chamfering grooves.
It also includes dual side dust extraction on either side of the tool reminiscent of the Makita KP0810. It even has a 10-positive-step overmold depth knob that's practically standard issue for hand planers worth their salt to boot.
Is $70 too cheap for a hand planer? It's a 5/64-Inch hand planer for really intricate planing, so the price drop is expected. The DeWalt DW680K has an extra amp over this device, but that doesn't necessarily mean it is "better". Just different.
Customers also took note of how much stuff you're getting for something that only costs $70 or less than half the price of the leading hand planer brands on this list. It comes complete with kit bag, edge guide, dust bag, wrench, carbide cutting blades, and the power tool itself.
Pros and Cons
If you want to buy a long-lasting planer from a name brand at a budget price, you won't go wrong with PORTER-CABLE Hand Planer PC60THP. It has a planer that works well with your most intricate projects.
In terms of drawbacks, despite its high score on Amazon.com, the most consistent complaint about the PORTER-CABLE Hand Planer PC60THP is the fact that it delves into false advertising. Its main page copy-pastes its specs twice to make it occupy more space. It also lacks the advertised kit bag.
WEN 6530 Hand Planer
The $50 WEN 6530 offers specs like a 6-amp motor capable of 34,000 CPM, a 16-positive-stop adjustable cutting depth that can go from 0 inches to ⅛ inches, and the ability to make up to 7/10-inch rabbets with the tool and a rabbeting guide.
It also claims to be lightweight like in the case of the Makita KP0810 3¼" Planer. It's a power planer that comes complete with a 2-year warranty, a parallel fence bracket, a kickstand, a dust bag, and the power tool itself that weighs only 6 pounds.
If you thought $70 is too affordable then how about $50? It's definitely a steal in light of the most expensive Is the WEN 6530 6-Amp 3¼-inch Electric Hand Planer a case of "You get what you pay for" or is it instead a case of "It gives you more for less"?
According to customer reviews numbering 2,901 or much more than all of the previous reviews combined, the WEN 6530 is a 4.5 star planer. That's the lowest user rating on this list but impressive for also the cheapest planer on this list. The reviewers also rave about how easy to use this device is.
Pros and Cons
The WEN 6530 shines the most when you're aware of its limits as a 6-Amp 3¼-inch Electric Hand Planer that's even cheaper than the smaller Porter-Cable 5/64-Inch hand planer. As long as you limits its use for light projects or intricate woodworking you're good to go.
As for drawbacks, it has to do with it pushing the limits of a $50 power tool. If you go beyond its small-scale project scope, it begins to unravel (literally, there are units that fly apart from planing beyond their abilities) and show why its more expensive DeWalt counterpart can do much more with a 6-amp motor. Its chip collection bag fills rather quickly too.
Types of Planers and Their Benefits
Here's a quick guide to the different types of planers available out there.
- Electric Handheld Planer: The best electric hand planeris best used to smoothen out finishes on a wooden work piece, make doors fit, or help build furniture. Both pro woodworkes and hobbyists make use of such a machine.
- Benchtop Planer: As for the benchtop or bench planer, it's a heavy-duty type of machine utilized for "bulk" projects such as making doors for your cabinet or building furniture. When looking for the best benchtop planer, go for a quick-feed unit that can set how thick the end result should be.
- Planer Jointer Combo: As for the planer jointer combo, it's an exclusively professional-only tool. If you have a career in woodworking, it's handy to have the best planer jointer combo around that can both trim down boards with even thickness and produce flat edges.
- Block Planer: As for the block planer, it's one of the best hand planer types out there because it's a manual tool that you can use for precision work on small projects. It's particularly the best planer for the money because it allows you to make intricate finishes and detailing.
So what's the best thickness planer for the money? Which planer should you buy? It depends on your needs and your expertise. The electric planer is best used for smoothing, finishing work, door fitting, and furniture building by professionals, hobbyists, and DIY homeowners. The benchtop planer is for smoothing, finishing boards, making cabinets, and bulk projects by professionals and hobbyists.
The planer jointer combo is useful for finishing work, cabinetry, and all large bulk projects by professionals (it's not recommended for amateurs and hobbyists). Finally, the hand planer is a good manual or hand planer for door fitting and intricate detail on your woodworking for the pros, hobbyists, and DIY homeowners.
Hand planer vs. benchtop: which is best?
As outlined above, hand planers are more for intricate projects instead of bulk projects or professional work like cabinetry. It's used by hobbyists and pros alike for their ability to do detailing work without needing electricity.
When it comes to the best power planer units, they're more likely than not benchtop planers. Bench planers are used for huge projects requiring the best table top planer for heavy-duty work. The bench or table gives them a more stable base to smoothen out woodworking pieces in an assembly line sort of way.
What’s the difference between a jointer and a planer?
A planer is also known as a thickness planer. It smoothens out all surfaces of a work piece to even thickness. A jointer is also known as a surface planer.
It has its cutter head set onto the bed surface in order to produce flat edges and surfaces on a work piece on a single pass. Long story short, a jointer makes flat surfaces while a planer makes both flat surfaces and flat lengths at a consistent thickness all throughout.
Electric vs. block planer: which is best?
An electric planer, like anything else electric, has the advantage of making things streamlined and automatic. The machine will do the planer work for you. You just have to "supervise" it. It works well with large woodworking projects.
However, a block planer is a manual hand planer that gives you more control since you have to use it manually or work with it by hand. A block planer works best with smaller work pieces or bits of wood requiring intricacy.
What is best benchtop thickness planer for the money?
The best bench or benchtop planer for the money is Porter-Cable PC305TP Benchtop Planer. Its high ratings don't lie and its amazingly affordable price point makes it truly the thicknesser to watch out for.
Porter-Cable again proves that you don't necessarily need to pay an arm and a leg for a dependable 12-inch benchtop planer with few to no quality control complaints.
What is best hand planer for the money?
The best hand planer for the money is definitely something ergonomic and portable, like the DEWALT DW680K Electric Hand Planer. You can always count on the DeWalt name when it comes to cost-effective quality.
If you need more than just a flat surface while avoiding making a tapered board then this fully manual hand planer is the device you can depend on to get the best planer boards possible.
What is best benchtop thickness planer for woodworking?
If money or budget is not an issue, then the highly rated DEWALT 13-Inch Thickness Planer DW735X definitely gets our vote. Makita comes in second ratings-wise but not price-wise. What's not to like about this two-speed, three-knife planer machine?
It exudes DeWalt quality with its consistent planer action at a reasonable $590 price versus the $700 or so price for the JET Helical Style Bench Top Planer or the Makita 2012NB 12-Inch Planer. In fairness to Makita, it's a close second. Meanwhile, JET offers a surprisingly impressive bench planer for a less-known company.
What is best thickness planer under $500?
We believe that the best and most affordable budget thickness planer for under $500 between both the hand planers and bench planers sections is the DEWALT 13-Inch Thickness Planer DW735X.
It represents the best that a planer could be while still being perfectly cost-effective. It even gives more expensive planers a run for their money! We base this mostly on our experience with the product and its customer ratings. Its benchtop budget counterpart, Porter-Cable PC305TP, simply isn't as cost-effective.
Hand planers you can depend on for intricate projects while heavy-duty bench or benchtop planers work well with bigger projects. At any rate, the best budget planer is the DEWALT DW680K. As for the best bench planer, it's the DEWALT 13-Inch Thickness Planer DW735X. DeWalt's consistent quality across products cannot be denied.