Planers allow you to trim board to a consistent thickness, trim doors that are sticking, or make a piece of wood completely flat. This used to be a tedious manual process before the advent of power planers. The best power planer suits both your hands and the projects you have at hand. Here are some of the best power planers on the market today.
01. Craftsman Brand Model CMEW320 Benchtop Planer
We’re recommending just the 15 amp benchtop planer made by Craftsman. However, you can buy it in sets with a matching benchtop jointer or bush block and stick set. If you don’t have a sturdy workbench for it, get a dedicated rolling stand because it is heavy.
This is the best power planer for heavy-duty usage. It can remove a lot of material with the 8,000 RPM cutter heads. It has two knives, so it works twice as fast as some of its competitors. Everything is driven by a 15 amp motor that can cut through both hard and softwoods. The final result is a very smooth surface, though some sanding may be required. The system does a great job of collecting dust.
The knives are durable, but you can easily change them out as they wear out. You can also reverse them so that you get more life out of them. If anything breaks, it will be the turning shaft. One minor annoyance is that the manufacturer doesn’t give you the model number of the knives; that’s PC22562.
The blades are sometimes uneven, so you’ll get one side cutting a fraction of an inch deeper than the others. Getting everything level when it is out of alignment can be difficult. There is a thickness indicator but not a depth of cut indicator on this power planer, so you have to manually check it. The system works best when on a completely level benchtop. Adjusting the inner table bolts can be time-consuming.
A minor annoyance is that the front gauge has ruler markers in tenths of an inch instead of the conventional eighths and sixteenths of an inch. Either use metric or imperial but not a weird hybrid of the two systems.
- Can cut through a wide variety of woods
- Long-lasting blades
- Cutting blades may not be 100 percent even
02. Dewalt Brand Benchtop Planer, Model DW734
This Dewalt brand planer is driven by a 15 amp motor. It has a 12.5-inch width. This unit has a three-knife cutter head capable of making 96 cuts per inch. That results in an unusually fine finish for a portable planer.
This is the best power planer for those who don’t want to do much finishing before they can stain or paint the wood. However, this planer does best with softwoods, not hardwoods. Its motor may strain or even overload trying to smooth hardwoods unless you slow it down. But it can continue running for hours with a moderately heavy load.
It comes with the knives you need to use it as soon as it is set up. You can buy it in a bundle with extra knives with quite a few retailers. The knives are reversible, allowing you to extend their functional life. Unfortunately, they aren’t as sharp as you’d expect for something from Dewalt, so they’ll need to be replaced more often than other disposable knives. They don’t just wear quickly. They’re prone to corrosion if sitting in a damp garage.
The system doesn’t always blow out the chips. You may need to hit it with a vacuum cleaner on blow mode to clear out the debris, or you may want to add a supplemental dust collection system.
One frustration with this model is that the cutting heads are not necessarily level with the bed out of the box. It isn’t easy to get them aligned. The rollers sometimes cause the boards to snipe, and it can hit both ends of the board on the same run. You can reduce this problem by putting rolling tables on the infeed and outfeed.
- Extra fine finish when using sharp blades
- Can handle a large volume of work
- Knives wear out and can rust
- Difficult to align blades
03. Dewalt Thickness Planer, Model DW735
This Dewalt thickness planer has a 13 inch work surface. It has three knives on the cutter-head. This thickness planer has two speeds. You can set it to either run at 96 or 179 CPI. It is driven by a 15 amp, 20,000 RPM motor. Each cutter is moving at up to 10,000 RPM. For many hobbyists, the ease of use is a major selling point.
This unit has an excellent chip ejection system. However, it doesn’t have anything else in terms of dust collection. You may want to vacuum the area after every few boards to prevent dust from accumulating around the rollers, because this will prevent them from moving smoothly through the unit.
You can buy this Dewalt planer with or without a matching stand. Some retailers allow you to buy it with extra blades. The rollers aren’t very strong, so you may need to guide wood in or have roller in-feed and out-feed tables. That is sold separately.
The unit works well on softwoods but struggles with hardwoods. Don’t expect it to cut maple or something harder unless you want to risk burning out the motor. This unit is made for hobbyists, not furniture makers.
The height adjustment on this planer is hard to use. You have to manually turn it, and that requires brute strength. Once you get it set, it stays there.
One issue with this planer is that its blades wear out quickly. If you’re using it regularly, expect to change the blades out every few days. Furthermore, the finish is average. It can be hard to get the right replacement blades, so stock up.
- Adjustable feed speed as well as the blade height
- Easy to use
- Consumes blades much faster than average
- Height adjustment is difficult
Planers let you turn rough 2x4s and other pieces of wood into finished pieces suitable for furniture and handicrafts. Choose a planer that works with your favored wood and maintenance schedule.