If you need to smooth rough stock, ensure the faces of boards are parallel or reduce boards to a specific and uniform thickness, you need a planer. There are many types, including hand planers and larger commercial planers, but perhaps the most convenient type is benchtop planers.
There are many benchtop thickness planers on the market, selling for a range of prices, and sometimes choosing can be a challenge. If you want to add the best wood planer to your workshop but you’re unsure which to opt for, here are our top picks.
This benchtop thickness planer from Powertec is powered by a 15amp motor that allows it to produce up to 9,400RPM, giving it the capability of making over 18,800 cuts per minute.
It is designed to handle stock with maximum dimensions of 12.5” wide by 6” thick, and the two-blade cutting system gives you the ability to make deeper cuts, even when working with hardwood like oak or walnut.
We like the sturdy, heavy-duty anti-wobble base – this gives the whole unit more stability for greater accuracy as you work. The stainless-steel precision cutter head is designed to deliver optimum results for all your woodworking projects.
With this machine, you also get a one-year warranty in case anything goes wrong.
One negative is that there is no built-in dust port. It is possible to buy one separately – or you can even DIY your won – but without one, it is quite a messy machine. With this in mind, it would have made sense to include one since it is something that you will need.
Also, anyone considering this machine should understand that at this price point, it is not a top-end planer. It is designed to be an affordable option that will get the job but won’t cost you a fortune.
Overall, a good choice for anyone looking for a budget-friendly planer with plenty of power and capacity. A recommended option.
Two-blade cutting system – for deep cuts, even with hardwoods
Smooth cuts – can make up to 18,800 cuts per minute
Heavy-duty base – designed to keep it immobile
Large cutting capacity – maximum 12.5” wide and 6” thick
1-year warranty – for extra peace of mind
No built-in dust port – but one can be bought separately
Not a high-quality machine – although reasonable at this price
If you like to buy equipment from well-established, trusted brands, this planer from all-American company DeWalt should be of interest.
It boasts a three-knife cutting system capable of 10,000 cuts per minute, allowing it to deliver highly accurate and consistent cuts.
The knives are reversible, extending their life by up to 30%, and they are also disposable, making them easy to remove and replace when the time comes.
One aspect we like with this machine is the four-column carriage lock. This is designed to significantly reduce snipe, a big problem with many planers.
The extra-long infeed and outfeed tables are another welcome feature, helping improve accuracy and ease of use. In total, they give you 33½” of material support.
Finally, this unit includes a dust hood and extraction outlet that can be hooked up to a shop vac, allowing you to take care of any sawdust the machine produces.
One possible downside is the weight of this unit since it isn’t light. If you are looking for high mobility, this could be a problem – although, if you don’t need to move it around too often, the extra weight is an advantage as it helps to reduce vibration.
Also, this machine is one of the louder benchtop planers in its category. You need to expect a certain amount of volume from a planer, but if this is important to you, you might prefer to find something quieter.
If you are looking for a reliable machine from a name you can trust and you are willing to pay a little extra for something slightly above entry-level, this DeWalt planer could be just what you’re looking for.
3-knife system with 10,000 RPM – allows it to deal with a wide range of woods
Disposable, reversible knives – extends life and easy to replace
For those who are interested in the DeWalt machine above but who feel they need a little more cutting power and capacity, this slightly larger 13” model could be the answer.
It has a maximum capacity of 1/8” x 6” x 13”, and with its three-knife cutting system and 20,000RPM motor, it can deal with almost any type of wood you need to work with.
A useful addition is the two-speed gearbox that allows you to optimize the planer for the work you are carrying out, either 96CPI or 179CPI. With the addition of the infeed and outfeed tables, this is a machine that will allow you to achieve the accuracy you require.
It includes a fan-assisted chip ejection system to help keep your work area free of any unwanted debris, and it also features a rugged cast-iron base that is both built to last and designed to help minimize vibration.
One issue is that the knives supplied with it seem to dull quite quickly, although it comes with a spare set to replace them. However, if you invest in a higher-quality aftermarket set of knives, you will see performance levels improve.
Also, as with the smaller version, this is a very loud machine, so if you don’t want to annoy your neighbors or just prefer something quieter, this might not be the best option.
All in all, an excellent mid-range benchtop planer that offers you a bit of extra cutting power and capacity than the less expensive model. If this is important to you and you are willing to spend the extra money, this is a planer that should be on your list of possibilities.
2-speed gearbox – allows you to optimize the planer for your cuts
3-knife cutting system – for clean, precise work
Good cutting capacity – cuts 1/8” x 6” x 13”
Fan-assisted chip ejection system – helps keep work area clear of debris
Cast-aluminum base – sturdy and rugged for reliable operation
Stock knives dull quickly – better if you purchase quality aftermarket knives
Very loud unit – this is not ideal if you prefer quiet machinery
This benchtop thickness planer from Wen has a maximum cutting capacity of 13”. It is powered by a 15amp motor that delivers plenty of power to the three-blade cutting system, allowing you to deal with boards of even the hardest wood.
It can make up to 25,500 cuts per minute and can cut up to 26ft of wood per minute.
We like the fan-assisted dust port that helps keep your work area clean and the planer free of sawdust. Another useful feature is the rubber grip adjuster that allows you to fine-tune from between 0” and 3/32”.
There is also a height-adjustable infeed and outfeed table that supports the stock as you feed it in.
One slight negative with this planer is that it can have some issues with snipe. However, most planers have similar problems, and it can be largely rectified simply by being careful to feed the board in level and straight.
Another minor gripe we have is that it is slightly more complicated to adjust the knives on this planer than on some other models, although this is not a huge issue and is hardly a deal-breaker.
All in all, this is an excellent entry-level machine that gives you great bang for your buck. If you are looking for an inexpensive planer that performs above what you would expect at this price point, this model is well worth a look.
3-blade cutting – makes smooth surfaces even when cutting the hardest wood
Onboard material removal gauge – for adjusting the cutting depth
Can be fine-tuned – from 0” to 3/32”
Fan-assisted dust port – helps keep it clean and free of sawdust
Great value – a very reasonably-priced entry-level machine
Can have issues with snipe – although nothing too serious
A little tricky to adjust knives – other models are easier
If you like the sound of the Wen planer above but you would rather something a little less expensive, this smaller model could be worth a look. It has many of the features that make the larger version a good option but comes in a slightly smaller package.
It features a smooth, heavy-duty granite table that allows you to slide boards in effortlessly. The weight of the granite also helps ensure that the machine stays stable and vibration-free as you work.
It makes 17,000 cuts per minute. This is slightly less than the larger version but is still enough for most work – and like the larger version, it can cut through up to 26ft per minute.
It also includes the same fan-assisted dust port as the bigger version – this is an important feature as it helps keep your work area clean and free of sawdust.
As a smaller machine, this version only has two blades instead of three. It doesn’t quite pack the punch of its bigger brother – it can deal with most types of wood, but if you regularly need to cut hardwoods, you might prefer something with a bit more power.
One downside is that the blades included are slightly inferior quality – you might find they chip a little easily with use, although it should be easy enough to replace them with something better if you choose.
To summarize, this would be an ideal option for anyone looking for an affordable planer and who doesn’t need extremes of power or quality. While it might not be suitable for professionals, for home users, it could be worth checking out.
Granite table – heavy-duty flat surface to support boards
Makes up to 17,000 cuts per minute – can plane 26ft per minute
Infeed and outfeed tables – to support stock as you work
Fan-assisted dust port – helps keep your work area clean
2-year warranty – for extra peace of mind
Doesn’t have the power of the larger version – struggles with hardwood
Supplied blades slightly inferior quality – may chip with use
This thickness planer from Porter-Cable allows you to work with boards of up to 12”. It is powered by a 15amp motor that provides the cutter head with 8,000RPM and allows 16,000 cuts per minute.
It features a two-knife cutter system – the knives are reversible and are designed to be especially easy to remove and replace. This means when they begin to dull, you can simply switch them round to extend their life and then replace them entirely when the time comes.
One useful feature is the patented cutter elevation system, with four precision-ground columns, giving you a superior level of cut stability.
Although any planer in this class will give you some issues with snipe, this model performs well in this area. It is also a relatively quiet machine when compared with other planers in the same category, making this a good choice if volume is important.
There are one or two minor drawbacks, however. First, there is no cutterhead lock, meaning it is easy to bump the adjuster and throw out your settings by mistake.
Second, there is no fine-tuning capability – this is something that would have been a welcome addition to this planer.
If you are looking for a smaller planer that sells at a very reasonable price point and that performs very well for a machine of its class, this is another option that should be on your shortlist.
Easy-change reversible knives – last longer and simple to replace
Solid steel cutter – deals with almost any type of wood
If you are looking for planer from a well-known company and are interested in options other than DeWalt, Delta is another brand you can trust.
This planer features a four-column design that gives you extra stability while it is in operation at the same time as extending the tool’s working life.
It has adjustable infeed and outfeed tables, giving extra support to the boards you are working on. However, they are slightly awkward to adjust, and a bit more flexibility would have been welcome.
We like the reversible dust port that allows you to collect chips and sawdust on either the left or the right. This allows you to adapt the planer to your particular needs.
Another plus is the polyurethane non-slip base that helps keep the unit stable and in place, ensuring you avoid any errors while planing.
One final positive to note is the five-year warranty that gives you complete peace of mind that you are covered if anything goes wrong.
However, this planer is not perfect, and one minor issue has to do with snipe – as with many similar planers, this can be a problem, although by setting the machine up correctly and working carefully, this can be reduced to acceptable levels.
In sum, there’s a lot to like about this planer. It is a reliable tool that will deliver good results. It is ideal for the hobbyist or part-time woodworker who needs a planer that won’t break the bank.
4-column design – gives extra stability and durability
Adjustable infeed and outfeed tables – helps support boards as you work
Reversible dust port – extracts chips and sawdust from the left or the right
Non-slip base – made of polyurethane
5-year warranty – know you are covered if something goes wrong
Infeed and outfeed tables a little awkward to adjust – but still useful
Some issues with snipe – although can be minimized with proper use
If you are looking for the best benchtop thickness planer, you are probably wondering about some of the important points you should be looking at to help you pick the right one. Here are some of the points you should be thinking about.
Cuts Per Inch (CPI) and Revolutions Per Minute
This important number tells you how many cuts the blades make on the wood per inch. This is important because the blades on a planer cut in a circular motion, and the CPI rating tells you how smooth the cut will be. The higher the number, the smoother the cut.
Another important number related to this is the Revolutions Per Minute. The tells you how fast the blades spin, and again here, the higher the number, the smoother the cut.
If the face you are planing is going to be visible when the work is complete, you will need higher values to make a smoother face – but if you are only doing rough planing, lower ratings will be ok.
The number of knives is also an important consideration. Many planers have two knives, but some have an extra one. Having three knives is better because it produces a smoother cut, it can deal with harder wood and the blades also tend to dull less quickly.
Some planers also use reversible knives. This means when they become blunt, you can switch them round and use them in the other direction, extending their lives before they need to be replaced.
Finally, since blades will all eventually dull, you should also check how easy it is to remove and replace them.
Another vital factor to consider is the cutting capacity of the tool – and this depends on the size of wood you need to plane.
Most benchtop planers have a maximum capacity of between around 12” and 13½”. It always better to have slightly more capacity than you need, but at the same, larger machines are often more expensive.
This means you should try to find the right balance between size and what you are willing to spend – there’s no point buying a larger planer if you will never need the maximum capacity.
Size and weight
If you are looking at benchtop planers, one of the reasons is because you require a certain amount of mobility. If you need to move your planer around a lot – for example, if you need to take it to the jobsite to work – you will prefer something lighter.
However, weight can also be a good thing since heavier machines tend to vibrate less. For this reason, if you only plan to use the planer in one location, buying a heavier model could be an advantage.
Snipe refers to the tendency many planers have to cut boards unevenly, taking off more wood from the ends than from in the middle.
While almost all benchtop planers suffer from this problem to a certain degree, with some it is more of an issue than with others.
For this reason, you should make sure any planer you are looking at will be able to cut boards consistently and uniformly to the degree of accuracy you require.
Dust collection system
Wood planers all produce sawdust and woodchips, and these need to be dealt with. If you allow sawdust to build up, it will prevent you from working properly, and it will also get into the air, affecting your breathing.
For these reasons, you should make sure that any model you are interested in has a proper dust collection system – and you also make sure that it is effective.
A range of excellent options
As you can see, there is a number of excellent options to choose from. Benchtop planers are very useful machines – in fact, for many people they are an essential tool. For this reason, it’s important to pick the right one.
To make the right decision, you need to think about at the applications you need it for and then to choose accordingly – and if you are still having a hard time deciding, any of the wood planers in our review would be a great place to start looking.