If you are firm enough to master the ancient art form of woodworking, it is essential to have the best planer for woodworking. It is an essential tool for smoothening out the rough area of a wooden surface by shaving off the thin layers through resurfacing or leveling. The tool also allows obtaining a new and unique wooden surface rather than purchasing a new product from the hardware store. Additionally, it is planer that you need for cutting boards up to the desired thickness, according to several wood planer reviews.
A high quality planer molds uncut, rough boards into even planks for forming the desired wooden product, which can otherwise be challenging for an amateur or a professional. This is why it is essential to have the right planer that is reliable and durable to cut several pieces with minimum efforts as well as time. A planer eases out your work with boards, as it gives you equal pieces without any issues of gaining uneven, thicker, or a bit longer piece. Further, planers facilitate precise measuring and secure fixation.
via Mark Hunter
With a planer, you are able to minimize wasting often costly and high quality planks. It helps in fixing and cutting the pieces for giving you the right-sized planks for development, efficiently. There is no need of a planer, if you do not want to mold a piece or if woodworking is not your profession or hobby.
- 1 Need a Jointer or a Planer?
- 2 Choosing the Best Planer for Woodworking
- 3 What to Look for ?
- 3.1 Factor 1: Type of Planers
- 3.2 Factor 2: Popular Brands
- 3.3 Factor 3: Workspace
- 3.4 Factor 4: Motor Type
- 3.5 Factor 5: Motor Horsepower (HP)
- 3.6 Factor 6: Thickness and Width
- 3.7 Factor 7: Stroke Count
- 3.8 Factor 8: Adjustability
- 3.9 Factor 9: Flexibility and Efficiency
- 3.10 Factor 9: Cutting Depth
- 3.11 Factor 10: Cord Length
- 3.12 Factor 11: Chip Direction
- 3.13 Factor 12: Safety
- 3.14 Factor 13: Accessories
- 4 5 Best Planers of 2015 Reviewed
- 5 Conclusion
Need a Jointer or a Planer?
Most woodworkers need both these tools for getting the most out of a rough board. Usually, a jointer flattens a facet as well as squares up one edge after which the planer flattens the second facet parallel to the first one. However, these tools demand much money due to which it is more affordable to have one of them at a time. Therefore, it makes sense to know which one should be used first.
Of the two, a planer is the first tool that you should use, as you can gain more with it than a jointer, which only ensures a single flat face as well as a flat or square edge. In case you use a jointer on the other rough face, flatness is certainly accomplished, but it will not be parallel to the first face. This makes one end of the piece thicker. Moreover, a jointer does not allow you to gain the desired thickness up to an accurate dimension.
On the other hand, a planer is ideal for accomplishing the desired thickness. If your rough boards are quite straight, a planer is ideal for alternating gentle passes on each side. This makes both faces flat and parallel, while the edges shall remain still rough. This is where you will need a jointer. In short, you will need both tools for having those 4-square pieces quickly.
Choosing the Best Planer for Woodworking
The market is thronged with a variety of planers, each differing in terms of features, type, brand, and physical or functional specifications. While this is commendable as you can choose your model as per your own set specifications or needs, it is confusing at the same time to choose from so many models. However, what you need to know is that each model is made to fulfill certain set of goals through a distinct set of features or functionality. Therefore, no two planers are same, although they might appear to be so.
You will find cheap and expensive, popular and least popular, and highly functional and least functional models. Well, it is not always right to choose a popular model, as what is best for one customer may not be the best for you. This is because your needs and budget certainly tend to vary, even though by some extent.
At times, you may even find a set of affordable and expensive planers or kits offering the same set of functions. This can further confuse you due to which making the first choice is often considered hard. However, you are recommended going through this guide and some genuine wood planer reviews for distinguishing such models.
What to Look for ?
Factor 1: Type of Planers
Described below are the major types of planers available in the market and are most sought after.
- Hand Planer: This is the model you need to look for, when you need to smooth the timber easily in a straightforward way. While you need to hone your skills for using a handheld planer, it is likely to do almost any expected work for you. However, there is no need of specialized skills in using such a model. It is truly an easy model to start with, especially for the amateurs for mastering the art of planning. Such a model is a portable and does not consume much storage space. However, it differs from the rest of portable planers, as it is not a stationary planer and that it is used typically as a side tool for finishing and detailing work. Due to the size, a hand planer is not for creating easy pieces having the same dimensions. Nevertheless, leveling giant planks using this tool is like finishing the home walls with a small paint brush.
- Portable Planer: This kind of planer is quickly movable and consumes less storage space. However, not all portable planers are handheld ones, even although all handheld models are portable. Unlike a hand planer, a portable model is a stationary planer made for your convenience. A portable model can be an electronic one but you cannot set it to run automatically. Consider this model for doing some quick home repairs on your own or creating a small workshop. With this tool, you can push a plank and gain a uniform thickness on a side. However, do not expect full precision or accuracy although a portable model is the most inexpensive and reliable one to find.
- Thickness Planer: This type of planer is exclusive for smoothening huge planks up to uniform thickness. It does what a hand planer cannot, which is to minimize thickness by more than an inch as consistently as possible from piece after piece. In simple words, a thickness planer is used to cut off an exact amount of inches, consistently, for leveling the surface to a desired thickness. Such models are also small and portable but are not as stationary as a hand planer, as it needs much space and scope for working properly. If you need a thickness planer, do not go for a cheap one but for a value-added as well as cost-efficient one as per your budget.
- Jointer Planer/Planer Jointer Combo: This one is a perfect blend of jointer made for smoothening joints and a planer made for trimming, straightening, or smoothening rough surfaces. Rather than buying two tools, you can have both functions in one tool, jointer planer, to save money. With this tool, you can smooth out surfaces and form joints such that they fit perfectly. Consider this tool for medium- and large-sized woodworking projects, as it is highly versatile to perform a variety of tasks at once. Well, the downside is that it is bulkier and costlier planer of all the other planer types. In case you have only Do-It-Yourself (DIY) or small projects, the portable or handheld models are better options. As an added bonus, a planer jointer combo offers not only a heavy-duty planer but a wider jointer capacity than average, as the single cutter head also acts as a planer.
- Benchtop Planer: This kind of planer is reliable exclusively for their ability to give you ideal control over the amount of thickness your timber can gain. Also called a bench planer, this type of planer comes with satisfactory capacity, power, and speed. The best bench model is capable of handling any kind of heavy-duty task, including the ones of hardwoods. It is much similar to a jointer planer, but is much more portable. Similarly, it is analogous to a portable planer in terms of size, but needs a bit more operating space just as a thickness planer. Due to portable size, it is easier to move a benchtop planer from one site to another.
- Electric Planer: This is a power planer available, usually as cordless models, although you can even find corded ones. Unlike a hand planer designed for passionate woodworking projects at home, an electric planer is for tough performance in harsh conditions often faced in a professional workshop. Usually, an electric version is more powerful as well as durable enough to meet the toughest tasks that the handheld ones cannot, in case of big pieces. Go for an electric planer if you will be using the planer regularly in great bulk so that you are ensured of automatic work under your control. However, if you are going to work where there is no electricity, a reliable hand planer is ideal. Moreover, remember that the cheapest are not for heavy duty work. Cordless power planers, capable of beveling, scribing, and blending, are more preferable than corded models, as they are easier to use as well as are more adaptable although only for small-scale jobs. The downside is that a cordless model relies on rubber rollers due to which there is lack of traction on rougher wood surfaces. Further, there is no chip breaker. On the other hand, a corded power planer is designed for large-scale projects, as it is capable of dealing with larger wood bits due to the additional power than a cordless model.
According to the tasks, you can choose your type of planer. Planers are also classified as per the functionality. For example, a block planer as the smallest tool is ideal for shaping thin planks and corners. Then, there are jack planers ideal for general sizing, smoothing, and shaping of the pieces. These are 12 to 17 inches in size. You also have smoothing planers for polishing the surface before finishing it.
You need to choose one of the aforementioned types as per the type of your job. In case you need to handle small work pieces, a hand planer or a portable planer is ideal. If you are looking for a cheap planer that does not make you compromise utility, a benchtop planer may prove to be more affordable than a jointer planer but comes with enough motor power for industrial jobs. Such a planer wins both in terms of heavy-duty capability and compactness. In terms of versatility, a jointer planer wins the race because it can act as both a jointer and planer simultaneously.
A few planers are big, but reliable for getting the desired thickness precision. The rest are more portable as well as affordable, and can perform detail work or fine-tuning for pieces within 4-6 inches.
Factor 2: Popular Brands
When it comes to woodworking tools or heavy machinery, each one of us has a favorite brand. For the best planer for woodworking, there are really a few reliable brands to consider. DeWalt is known for its quality, durability, and performance; while Makita is famous amongst woodworkers with medium to high level skill set. The Makita planers are quieter, while a few come with disposable blades instead of reusable ones. Even the planers from Ridgid are famous because of smooth finishes.
If you prefer long lasting and powerful cutter blades, Powermatic models make the best appeal. However, if cost-effectiveness and overall reliability are your priorities, Craftsman planers are better options. Over the years, brands such as Makita, DeWalt, Bosch, Porter Cable, and Ryobi have sustained and evolved significantly. While Ryobi offers handy tools meant for home tasks, Makita and DeWalt already have diverse but loyal followings. Choosing one of these brands is purely a matter of personal choice, as none of them are infamous for any kind of cheap products.
Factor 3: Workspace
You also need to determine your available workspace. A few planers, such as benchtop, thickness, and combos need much working space, as the wood pieces with which they deal themselves are long and thick. Therefore, the workspace should be sufficient enough to accommodate these planers; it should be around 7 feet. You should also consider the projecting wood length from a planer’s side while determining the workspace.
In case you are about to buy a portable or a hand planer for handling smaller wood sizes, it makes sense to preserve more working space. Overall, the type of planer, its size, and the motor type determines the work area’s size. For example, for a tool with a universal motor, a smaller workspace is fine.
Factor 4: Motor Type
A planer can have one of the two types of motors: Universal and Induction Type. The latter is usually found bench jointers and planer jointer combos due to its guaranteed precision, excellent capability for heavy-duty tasks, and longevity. On the other hand, the universal motor is found in smaller planers such as portable or handheld ones that several DIY fans with minor projects for a home improvement favor. According to many planer reviews, this preference is due to affordability, size, and lightweightedness.
The universal type of motor is not for hardwood smoothening or industrial-size projects, both of which are best handled by an induction type motor. Nevertheless, it is seen in several woodworking shops for their ability to deliver minor detailing touches, especially on sculptures or small pieces.
Even here, choosing a motor should be as per your requirements as well as budget. In case you have tough or complicated tasks, you might need both types of motors.
Factor 5: Motor Horsepower (HP)
This is only applicable to electric planers. As a rule of thumb, the more HorsePower of the motor, the more efficient and accurate an electric planer is. For indoor users who need a power planer, a 5- or 6-amp unit is enough. However, for a big workspace or tasks, you may require more power.
A 2-3HP motor is ideal for running both the cutting head and feeders at the same time. A cutting head features high velocity blades, which ensure effectiveness, while feed in as well as feed out rollers ensure precision cuts. It is best to get a planer with variable speed motor (high and slow).
You should also consider volts. In the United States, an 110v alternating current is a standard choice. In other countries including Europe, 220v alternating current is desired. You are required to see the electrical specifications to make sure that the planer can run on the power from your wall socket.
Factor 6: Thickness and Width
Thickness refers to what the tool must control. A planer cuts off inches or millimeters to retain the desired level of thickness as well as width consistency to your piece. Many types and models of planers feature depth stops to facilitate quick modifications in the level of thickness. Some other planers are capable of handling over six-inch thickness, especially the ones with induction type motors.
The board’s width determines how much of the board a planer can tackle. The more compact and portable the planer is, the smaller is the size that it can tackle in an even or consistent manner. A stationary model can tackle boards of a higher width, but at the cost of more time taken to smoothen out.
Factor 7: Stroke Count
This factor is probably that the speed of rotating blades as well as the number of knives determine. Planer cutters usually have two to five blades. As a rule, the more the blades are; the faster is their speed and more refined as well as smoother is the cut. It also results in a higher stroke count. Similarly, the speedier the blades rotate, the more are the counts per second. However, the output quality has nothing to do with the speed. It is suggested separating the specified stroke count on the package from the level of smoothness delivered.
Usually, with a slower count rate, a few woods get better smoothness, as such a rate generates more shave off per inch. However, a few woods are such that they need faster cuts for being smoother. Well, it is fully dependent upon the type of board and other conditions. In case you have to choose a planer as per the stroke count, consider the one with the variable speed option.
Factor 8: Adjustability
If you are buying a power planer, it is essential to look out for its adjustability. This factor indicates that the blades should adjust easily for shaving the piece with a preferable level of thickness, effortlessly. Moreover, you should be able to mount or replace the blade easily, especially if you wish to plan your tool frequently. This is likely to save much time and money.
If you are looking for a thickness planer, ensure that it has an adjustable table, which is something that a portable thickness planer will not offer.
Factor 9: Flexibility and Efficiency
It is best to avoid a planer that has too many features or is complex in terms of specifications. Rather, it is ideal to choose an efficient model that is adaptable to different conditions. Here, efficiency refers to the ability of the planer to perform the desired activity in the expected time frame. Well, this still means that the output should be top-notch. Additionally, it also means that there is no need of extra add-ons or advanced guides, which your work or project does not require. This will certainly help you spend smartly.
It is due to flexibility and versatility that most woodcutters prefer an electric model over a hand planer. Before selecting a planer, do also consider the scope of work to be covered. Doing so can easily help you make the right choice. However, do not compromise with maximum efficiency and flexibility.
Factor 9: Cutting Depth
This factor refers to the amount of wood to be shaved off by the blade in a single go. Of all blades available, the carbide blades are ideal, as it is more durable than High Speed Steel or H-S-S blades, especially for heavy-duty use.
Along with the cutting depth, you also need to pay attention to bed width. This width refers to the maximum width of the timber that the tool can process. This measurement is a major indicator of smoothness.
Factor 10: Cord Length
Obviously, if you are not choosing a cordless model, the cord should be long enough to ensure you a better reach in and around your workspace. However, this has a caveat that you will have to wind up that long cord when you have store back the planer. When it comes to cords, Makita is considered a leader, but this is just what a few carpenters think.
Factor 11: Chip Direction
It is recommended to select a planer with left and right chip direction support, for maximum versatility as well as efficiency. This helps in determining the location of either dust hose or dust bag, as per the job. In case there is no need of a dust hose or bag, it is better to choose a planer having a chip chute leaning away from you. However, a few planers come with chips shooting only in one direction.
Factor 12: Safety
In case you go with a power planer, it is common to have a cutter operating at high speed, which is a risk in itself. While you have to ensure the cutter to run at a full speed prior to using it, just see to it that you hold the tool smoothly with both the hands. Similarly, always choose the right size for the cord, as a small one can hinder your work, while a big one can make collisions with sudden obstacles in the way. It is best to choose a planer with an attached dust-collector hose or bag.
Factor 13: Accessories
All planers for woodworking come with the basic tools for changing the fence, guide, or the blade, which you need to check before buying. Consider choosing a larger as well as longer fence for gaining better control, rabbeting, multiple angled guides, jointing adapter, and dust control add-on, if you really need to have accessories. However, the choices shall depend upon specific uses of yours.
5 Best Planers of 2015 Reviewed
This corded one is two-knife and three-speed planer featuring 12amp motor and 10,000 RPM cutter head for giving larger cuts easily in broader items. The cutterhead ensures 30% more durability for knife as well as a faster change of the knife. The two speed gear enables changing the speed for having 96 or 179 cuts per inch. Other features include a fan-guided chip ejection, rigid cast aluminum base, auto carriage lock for no snipe, material removal gauge, jumbo depth stop, and bumper thickness scale for precise cuts with every pass. The package also includes outfeed and infeed tables to act as a jointer along with an additional set of knives.
Chris H: This is a fantastic planer for a DIY / semi-professional workshop. I could not justify speeding $4k+ for a hobbyist workshop, but in hindsight, I should not have waited as long as I did to buy the DeWalt.
This lightweight model is ideal for smoothing the joists and shaving off edges, splinters, and chips. This planer is exclusively made for fitting or squaring wood, chamfering, last minute changes, and fixing obstinate doors, through its 6-amp motor, cutting width of 3.25 inches, and 34,000 cuts per minute to remove any irregularities for smoothness and alignment. You can even create 1-inch rabbets through its 5/16 inch rabbeting guide. Other features include 16 positive stops, v-shaped groove for flattening sharp corners, dust bag, a parallel fence bracket for straight accurate cuts, and a kickstand for defending both the piece and blade.
LexusXena: “Works like a charm, blade is sharp. I am using it on pallet wood and it creates a nice smooth layer. Makes very old looking wood like new. I am very happy.”
This portable, corded planer is efficient, lightweight, and compact model for finish woodworking and working with staircases, cabinets, and furniture. The model also encompasses the innovative technology of Interna-Lok automated head clamp for removing snipe and ensuring better performance. You are ensured of faster blade changes as well as quieter operation. Well, the blades here are disposable double edged ones. Other features include 4-post design for stability, 83dB noise level, 8,500 RPMs, 12-inch cutting width, adjustable depth stop, large table extensions, and LED lights.
A Customer: “The Makita 2012NB had everything I was looking for. Lower the cutting head down until the depth pin moves, set the dial indicator to zero, then lower the cutting head to the depth you want. Easy, fast, accurate and quiet.”
This planer delivers deeper, larger, and cleaner cuts for hardwoods, through its 15-amp motor having 20,000 RPMs as speed and a capacity of 96 cuts per inch via its cutterhead having three reversible knives. It features disposable, reversible knives that are easy to change, four-column carriage lock for no snipe, extra-long tables for additional material support, and standing dust collector.
Ed: “I’ve been using mine for about 3 years now, and have put 100’s of board feet through this, species including pine, maple, oak, walnut, cherry, cedar, etc. The knives last quite a while.”
This handheld planer is ideal for smoothening surfaces and fine-tuning finishes for those boards that are handled by industrial-strength thickness and benchtop planers. It comes with 6.5 amp motor operating two carbide blades at 16,500 RPMs, chip ejection with left and right direction, easy to adjust fence, lock button to prevent accidental startups, and a spring-controlled park rest for piece and blade protection. You can expect deep cuts in just a single pass.
Benjamin Soto: “I use this to shape handboards for body surfing and surfboards. It’s a great planer and works like champs. I love it.”
So, have you found the right planer for woodworking? Well, if not, you can go through some more planner reviews on our site. However, choose the one that best meets your needs and budget.