If you’re planning to work on rough-sawn lumber and transform it into a remarkable workpiece with smooth sides and uniform thickness, then a thickness planer is must-have for your workshop. A thickness or surface planer (or simply, a planer) is a machine used by woodworkers to trim the surface of a rough-sawn board. After a couple of passes or more in the planer, the result is a smoother, more workable workpiece with uniform thickness.
Now that you have a benchtop jointer, it’s only natural to want to purchase a thickness planer too to complete your collection of essential tools. You’ve searched high and low for the best thickness planer in the market, but the process is a bit complicated for you. There are many aspects of the tool to consider, and most of them look the same that it’s difficult to distinguish a good one from a machine that you wouldn’t want inside your workshop.
To make shopping a bit easier for you, we’ve reviewed some of the best benchtop thickness planers you can purchase online. You can also check out our guide on some of the factors you have to consider when buying a wood planer below.
It offers dual-speed settings; one is for dimensioning, while the other is for finishing.
The scales for blade height and the depth of cut are accurate, large, and easy-to-read.
It has a very large depth stop at the side.
The handwheel is larger than those on other thickness planers.
The infeed and outfeed tables are detachable.
It is heavier and louder than your average thickness planers.
This is one of the priciest benchtop thickness planers on the market.
The DEWALT DW735X Thickness Planer was designed for professionals and hobbyists who demand more from their planer and are willing to pay a premium for it. This is the priciest surface planer on the list, and with good reason.
First, this DeWalt planer is beefier and heavier than its rivals. Everything — from the motor housing to the maximum width of the board it can accommodate — is larger. For example, it can accommodate boards with width up to 13″, and it has longer infeed and outfeed tables to ensure that even the longest boards are supported and that the base remains stable under the board’s weight. The handwheel, repeat cut knob, and scales are also beefier than other thickness planers.
The base is made of solid cast aluminum, and it comes with removable and folding infeed-outfeed tables. To minimize snipe and maintain a uniform and flawless surface, DeWalt has fitted it with a carriage lock.
This tool is fitted with a three-knife cutter head for maximum efficiency. Moreover, it has a fan-assisted chip ejection system to prevent sawdust from clogging the dust exhaust port. Attach a shop vac to this planer while using it as this can spray sawdust everywhere.
This machine is covered by Ridgid’s lifetime service agreement if you register your tool within 90 days of purchase.
Snipe is reduced thanks to its Sure-Cut carriage lock.
The Repeat-A-Cut™ Depth Stops allow you to easily cut multiple boards to a uniform thickness.
It is equipped with three ultra-sharp and sturdy blades.
It is quite heavy.
Making sure that the boards you’re working on have an even surface and uniform thickness can be easy when you have the right planer. If you’re in the market for one, then you might consider the Ridgid 27263 Planer. This power tool features durable all-metal construction and equipped with a robust 15-amp motor that produces a maximum of 9000 RPM. The large infeed and outfeed tables are solid, so it can handle even the heaviest boards.
This machine is equipped with a 3-blade cutter-head with dual edges. Simply turn a fresh edge when the other edge dulls, and you’re good to go once again. Changing the blades is pretty straightforward, and they are designed to self-align to minimize any resulting flaws in your workpiece.
Adjusting the blade’s height is easy thanks to the handwheel that is located on top of the unit, as well as the knob located at the side. Its Ind-I-Cut™ Depth Gauge feature makes it easy to measure the cutting depth.
This is one of the most expensive benchtop planers on the list, but its good performance and sturdiness are worth the hefty price tag.
The price is pretty reasonable for such an impressive machine.
It has a handle on each side for easy transport.
The scales are highly visible and very precise.
Its ultra-sharp blades leave a very smooth and uniform surface.
The blade can be locked in place to minimize snipe.
It has a very loud motor.
The knives become dull pretty quickly, and the replacement blades are very expensive.
The DEWALT DW734 Benchtop Planer is one of the pricier planer options we have on the list, and with good reason. This heavy-duty tool is equipped with a 15-amp motor that delivers an impressive 10000 RPM. It allows you to cut even the toughest workpieces without bogging down the motor while producing some of the smoothest surfaces.
The build is pretty solid, albeit a bit on the heavy side. Like the Ridgid thickness planer, this DeWalt unit also has a three-blade cutter head that makes cutting more efficient and leaves a more uniform surface. The knives are reversible, so you don’t have to order a new one each time one edge dulls.
It has an 18-amp circuit breaker that automatically stops the machine from operating in case it becomes overloaded. Simply let it rest for a couple of minutes before pressing the reset button and you’re good to go again.
This is one of the most affordable thickness planers in the market.
Assembly is pretty easy and straightforward.
It’s a little less loud than other planers on the list.
This wood planer leaves a smooth surface and uniform thickness.
This planer comes with two reversible and razor-sharp high-carbon steel knives.
Snipe is going to be a persistent issue unless you make adjustments.
As a hobbyist, it’s not often that you have projects that require a thickness planer. So you want a planer that is not only affordable but can also take on hardwoods that you frequently work on. If you want a good yet reasonably priced tool minus the hefty price tag, then take a look at the PORTER-CABLE PC305TP Thickness Planer.
It’s a little smaller than most thickness planers on the list as it can only accommodate a board with a maximum width of 12 inches. Still, it is not to be underestimated. It is equipped with a 15-amp motor that doesn’t bog down easily, plus razor-sharp two-knife cutter heads. It leaves a nice, smooth surface while keeping the workpiece’s thickness consistently uniform.
The blade height can be adjusted easily using the handwheel on top, but it can’t be locked in place just like other thickness planers. It doesn’t come with a dust hood, so it can get messy in your workshop. You can opt to buy the compatible Delta 50-359 to keep sawdust at a minimum in your work area.
It is lighter than other products we have reviewed, making it one of the most portable benchtop thickness planers
It has two built-in handles at the side for easy transport.
It has two durable and reversible high-speed steel knives in its cutter head.
This benchtop planer is easy to set up and operate.
The scale is not very accurate.
The planer’s motor is very loud.
If you want a portable planer that is reasonably priced and still performs well, then take a look at this Grizzly Industrial G0505 Benchtop Planer. This handy tool features a powerful 2 HP motor and dual-blade cutter head that can handle even the toughest workpieces. It can accommodate workpieces with up to 12 1/2″ width and a height of up to 6″.
Though the body is built solid, it is not as heavy as other benchtop planers on the list. Moreover, it has two built-in handles at the sides which makes transporting it from your workbench to storage (or from one jobsite to another) easier.
No tool is perfect, but the good news is this machine keeps sniping at a minimum when it is properly adjusted. The surfaces it produces are impressively smooth for such a compact machine. However, make sure to wear ear protection as this tool can be very loud.
The surfaces its dual solid-steel knives produce is smooth and uniform.
This is one of the most affordable benchtop thickness planers in the market.
This is a solidly built benchtop planer that will not topple easily.
It has a versatile dust collection port.
It leaves a noticeable snipe at the beginning and end of the workpiece.
As a hobbyist, you want a sturdy planer that can deliver the performance you want at an affordable price. There’s no sense in buying a pricey planer if you’re just going to use it once or twice a month (or maybe, even less). If so, then the CRAFTSMAN CMEW320 Benchtop Planer just might be the perfect tool for you.
This thickness planer is equipped with a powerful 15-amp motor that delivers as much as 8000 RPM. It has a dual-knife steel cutter head that leaves a nice smooth finish. It leaves a snipe at the first couple inches of the workpiece, but you only need to adjust the machine to prevent any flaws on your workpiece.
Planers are notorious for producing a lot of sawdust after each pass. The good news is Craftsman wood planer comes with an easy-to-assemble dust chute that comes with a vacuum adapter to keep your work area clean.
This is the most affordable benchtop thickness planer on the market.
It has built-in handles at the sides.
It has a cast-iron base which makes it very heavy yet stable.
The dust collection chute is reversible, and it is fan-assisted to better remove sawdust from the tool.
It has a non-marring granite table.
It leaves snipes even when you adjust the infeed and outfeed tables.
You have a couple of projects every month where you need to run a few boards through a thickness planer, so you reckon that there’s no need for you to buy a very expensive tool. All you need is something that is affordable and works well when you need it. Well, you might want to take a look at this WEN 6550T Benchtop Thickness Planer.
Its main draw is its affordability. At less than $300, you can own a good benchtop thickness planer without breaking the bank. It is equipped with a 15-amp motor and is solidly built to ensure stability and durability. For the most part, its dual-knife cutter head leaves a smooth surface and consistent thickness.
This planer stands out with its granite table and cast-iron base. But the problem is this powerful tool is something you’re either going to love or hate depending on the quality of the unit sent to you.
Thickness Planer Basics
There are three types of planers: handheld planers, stationary thickness planers, and benchtop thickness planers. Of the three, handheld planers are the most portable, lightweight, and least expensive.
Stationary thickness planers are larger than benchtop and handheld models. They come with their own stands, and they have more powerful motors and cutter heads that allow them to cut through thicker workpieces. The infeed and outfeed tables are also longer compared to benchtop models. Moreover, they can often be found in industrial settings due to their sheer size and power.
But we’re going to set aside handheld and stationary planers for now to discuss benchtop thickness planers. Benchtop planers combine the portability of handheld models with the power of stationary thickness planers. They are portable, relatively lightweight, and fairly inexpensive.
Unlike stationary planers, however, they don’t come with a metal base. You can set it instead on your workbench or build a customized stationary or rolling stand for it. One benchtop planer costs anywhere between $300 and $700, making them more ideal for hobbyists and professionals who are on a tight budget.
If you own a benchtop jointer, then you probably already have an idea of how a planer works. Planers are basically similar to jointers but with one distinct difference: the cutter head of the planer is located inside the housing instead of at the base of the tool.
The general rule of thumb when it comes to buying a planer (or any tool for that matter) is the more popular the brand, the pricier it is. But not everyone can afford an expensive planer, and if you’re only going to use it occasionally, then there’s no sense in buying the priciest one you can find.
But choosing a planer just because it is the cheapest one you can find can also backfire in the long run. You might love it because you saved a lot of money in the process, or you’re going to loathe it because it leaves major snipes or it bogs down several weeks after you bought it. Find the right balance between durability and price when choosing the right wood planer. But if you really want a tool that you’re going to use for many years, then it’s better to save up for something pricey but sturdy.
A snipe is a very shallow cut made by the planer usually at the beginning and the end of the board. You might not notice it at first glance after you run a board through a planer, but look closely and you’ll see a subtle and noticeable cut on your workpiece.
Snipe happens when the cutter head tugs and lifts the front or end portion of board while the rest of its body is held down by the rollers. The blade removes more material at the beginning and the end of the workpiece, resulting in an uneven cut. Not using roller stands to support a longer, more cumbersome workpiece, or having a planer with uneven or too flexible infeed and outfeed tables, can also exacerbate the problem.
When buying a planer, always make sure that the infeed and outfeed tables are dead-flat with the planer bed. Visit the store if you can, and bring a bubble level with you to determine if the infeed and outfeed tables are level with the bed. To reduce snipe, you can also check if the unit has tables that you can adjust up or down.
There are certain models, however, that are built with features that can mitigate snipe. The Dewalt DW734, for example, reduces snipe with the help of a four-column carriage lock that holds the cutter head in place as the board passes through the planer.
To be clear, snipe is a completely normal occurrence, especially with smaller portable benchtop planers. Since snipe can’t be completely eliminated even if you use the most powerful and priciest planers out there, then it’s best to leave enough length on your workpiece and just cut the sniped portions later on to get a uniform surface. You can also add a sacrificial piece in the front and at the back of the board to save your workpiece.
Whether it can produce a smooth and even surface or not is the most important aspect you should consider when buying a thickness planer. The planer should also have a heavy-duty motor that won’t bog down when you feed a heavy or tough workpiece into it.
Most benchtop thickness planers can accommodate boards with a maximum height of 6″, and maximum width of 13″. The DEWALT DW735X and the Ridgid 27263 planers, for example, can accommodate boards that have a maximum width of 13″. The rest of the planers in this review, however, can only accommodate boards with a maximum width of 12 to 12 1/2″.
Planers are notorious for ejecting a lot of sawdust and generally making a mess in your workshop. It’s best to hook it up to a dust collector or a shop vac to minimize the amount of sawdust in your work area. Some planers, such as the WEN 6550T and the DEWALT DW735X, are equipped with a fan-assisted chip ejection system to prevent your dust exhaust port from clogging up.
So what’s the best benchtop thickness planer among the products we have reviewed? The answer is the DEWALT DW735X Thickness Planer. The DEWALT DW734 and the Ridgid 27263 are also fantastic power tools with their durable construction and impressive performance, but the DEWALT DW735X simply trumps them all. Here are some of the things that truly make this tool stand out.
First is its solid construction. Even at first glance, you’ll see that the DEWALT DW735X planer is bigger than the other thickness planers we have included. The housing is larger and sturdier, while the base is pretty heavy and solid. It’s not the most portable thicknesser on the list because of its weight, but it’s going to take a lot before it topples over from your workbench. You can confidently load a bigger, heavier board into it without worrying that it might tip over during operation.
Its cutter head is equipped with three razor-sharp and durable knives. This unit comes with extra blades, as well as a dust hose adapter to help keep your work area less messy. Attaching the infeed and outfeed tables are part of the assembly process. That’s one more thing to do before you can use the tool, but it’s not a big of a deal. Plus, this allows you to check if the tables are level with the bed, or if you need to make some adjustments.
Everything about this tool is supersized. The handles, for example, are larger than the ones attached to other planers. While the unit itself is heavier, transporting it should be easier thanks to its ergonomic handles.
Other features that stand out include the dual-speed setting. Just make sure to shift the speed while the machine is running; otherwise, it will not work.
Snipe is one of the major issues woodworkers frequently encounter when using a planer. While snipe sometimes cannot be avoided, it can be minimized with this planer’s handy carriage lock.
It’s a little bit more expensive than your usual thickness planer, but overall, this tool is worth splurging on.