Combing through endless reviews and product specifications to find just the right thickness planer is a daunting task.
Choosing the right one doesn’t have to mean scooping up a popular brand name with a high price tag to match.
The right thickness planer will be suited to individual needs and budget, which looks different for everyone.
Choosing the perfect planer for your needs is important for woodworkers – both new and experienced. It can mean the difference in project completion timeline and improvement of precision in the work.
Thickness Planer Comparison Table
We’ve reviewed some of the best affordable thickness planers, to help you find the right one. We go over each one in detail below, but for those in a hurry here is a quick feature comparison:
Types Of Thickness Planers
Handheld thickness planers are a completely portable planer. They are the electric version of an old fashioned wood planer, used for small, intricate jobs and to plane narrower surfaces.
If you need a thickness planer just for small jobs or occasional use then a handheld planer will be the best thickness planer for you. Also available in cordless models making them the ultimate portable thickness planer.
If you need to achieve uniform thickness over a larger area a handheld planer may not give you the consistent thickness and smooth surface you need so you will be better off upgrading to either a benchtop planer or a stationary planer. That is probably why you are here.
Benchtop thickness planers are mid-size thickness planers. The best benchtop planers strike a balance between portability and uniform thickness and the jobs they are capable of handling.
If you work on bigger jobs in various locations and will use it regularly while onsite then a benchtop plane is the best thickness planer for you. Portable benchtop thickness planers are ideal for professionals working on multiple sites.
Benchtop planers are also a great choice for a DIYer to use in your home workshop as it is a wood planer that will be able to handle most jobs without taking up too much space or breaking the bank.
If you are thinking of purchasing a benchtop planer, we’ve done a lot of the hard work for you and examined some of the best benchtop thickness planers available. Read our reviews below to help you choose the best benchtop thickness planer for you.
These are larger thickness planers that, due to their size and weight, remain in one place like in a workshop or factory. They don’t fit into the category of portable thickness planers but will be capable of handling larger jobs.
They are really a thickness planer for pros. When it comes to width they normally have a larger planer bed giving you a larger width capacity. As for thickness they have a greater maximum depth capacity, accepting wider and thicker wood.
They have a larger cutter head and produce a more uniform thickness, and leaving a smoother surface. Their size allows for more extras like infeed and outfeed tables.
Thickness Planer Features To Consider
Ideally, the research process will start with a goal in mind. Deciding which features of a thickness planer are absolutely necessary will help in finding the best woodworking planer for you from the multitude of various brands and types of wood planers on the market.
Some universal factors of a planer to have in mind when evaluating a potential buy include the motor, cutter head, quality of construction, and thickness allowance and width allowance.
Other factors include portability, especially for benchtop models. Since this is an investment, look at the warranty and find a company you are willing to work with again in the future, if needed.
- The Motor
- Cutter Head
- The Construction
- Thickness Allowance
- Width Capacity
The motor is going to play a huge role in determining the power of the planer. If the ideal thickness planer needs to cut through everything from soft pine to hard oak, look for higher rotations per minute in the motor speed.
A critical part of any thickness planer is the cutter head with its blades or knives that will actually cut through the wood to reduce its thickness and achieve smooth surfaces.
Whichever type is offered, most have a solid steel cutter head but the better blades are made of high carbon steel. There are 2 types of cutter heads:
The more traditional type of cutter is a straight knife cutter, normally consisting of around a three-blade cutter head using straight, parallel knives to shave the wood.
The main benefit of having a thickness planer with a straight knife cutter is cost.
Some thickness planers feature straight knives that are disposable so will need replacing when no longer sharp. Although reversible knives are available to prolong their life.
Other planers, normally the larger stationary thickness planers, feature reusable blades that can be sharpened rather than replaced which helps save costs further.
Helical Cutter Head
Thickness planers have evolved from the original straight knife. A helical cutter is the more modern and therefore superior version of the cutter head.
Rather than having 2-4 large straight blades, a helical cutter head consists of several rows of many smaller blades set in a spiral configuration.
A helical cutter head is similar looking to DNA if that helps you picture it.
A helical cutter is superior to a straight knife cutter in everything but initial cost. The best thickness planers have a helical cutter.
The smaller individual blades cut better, so produce better results. They are quieter and more energy-efficient. Dust collection is also more efficient.
They are easier to replace and each blade is generally cheaper. There are obviously more blades to replace but this too can be a benefit.
If a straight knife blade gets a flaw or chip, say from a piece of nail-embedded wood, then the whole blade will need replacing.
Whereas with a helical cutter the issue may only affect one small blade so only that needs replacing.
A solid thickness planer will also feature solid construction. A good planer will be able to withstand rigorous and continuous usage. It should be able to perform well even with high levels of shaking and vibration.
Generally speaking, the best wood planers are made from heavy-duty metals, like cast iron. The best benchtop thickness planers are built to withstand the rigors of being transported from job to job
Another universal feature to be aware of is the thickness allowance. This is the largest width of rough wood the planer can handle.
Ideally, six inches of allowance is good for a portable planer. Again, this is something that should be able to adjust to fit individual needs and projects.
Depth of Cut
You should also consider the depth of cut, which is the amount the cutter can reduce the thickness of the wood with each cut.
It is probably not as important as maximum thickness as you can’t overcome the wood being too thick to fit in the wood planer.
But if the depth of cut isn’t as much as you need you can always pass the wood through the wood plane more than once to reduce the thickness to the desired amount.
However, professionals and regular users will probably want to plane the wood to the desired thickness in just one pass so the best wood planer for them will have sufficient depth of cut for their needs.
Another important factor to consider when trying to find the best wood planer for you is its width capacity or width allowance, namely the maximum width of wood the thickness planer will accept.
For some it may be the most important thing to consider as it will always be a balance between the size of thickness planer and width of wood it can plane, and which is more important to you.
A handheld wood planer isn’t restricted by width capacity but you wouldn’t want to use it for planing large areas of wood unless a smooth, uniform surface isn’t crucial.
Or you are very, very good at using your handheld planer.
If you are considering a benchtop planer then width allowance could be important when choosing the best benchtop planer for you.
The more portable benchtop planers can be limited in the width of wood they will accept.
Typically benchtop thickness planers will accept wood up to around 13-inches.
So you will want to make sure the width of the wood that you are likely to be planing will fit in the benchtop planer that you will ultimately choose. And better to not underestimate.
It will be very frustrating in the future if you have a job or project you want to do and the wood doesn’t quite fit in the benchtop planer.
If you want a portable thickness planer then it will probably be a balance between portability and width allowance.
If you really must have a portable benchtop thickness planer then you will be limited in the jobs it can handle.
If you must have a thickness planer that will plane wider wood then you may have to look at other benchtop planers, a less portable benchtop thickness planer.
Or maybe a stationary thickness planer.
A stationary thickness planer will give you the maximum width capacity possible, typically up to around 25 inches.
So if you really need to plane wood over around the 13 inches wide a portable benchtop planer can accept then it may be a case of getting a stationary thickness planer and taking the wood to your thickness planer rather than taking your planer to the job.
You may not initially think this matters that much, but thickness planers are extremely noisy pieces of equipment; probably the noisiest of power tools.
So you need to think about your hearing and welfare. Also, the hearing and welfare of your colleagues, whether using the wood planer in a workshop or onsite.
If the planer will be running all day the difference of a few decibels between one planer and other planers could make a big difference.
If you will be using the wood planer at home, even just for occasional use you should be aware of your neighbors and family members as hopefully, you do not want to be upsetting them too much.
You don’t want your projects curtailed by angry partners.
In any case, ear protection is an essential addition to your safety equipment when you purchase a thickness planer.
Depending on which type of thickness planer you opt for, there are various extras you can look out for that can make life easier as well as produce better results.
Here are some features that may be important to you:
Having the ability to adjust the speed at which the wood is fed into the wood planers is a useful addition to have, especially if you will be working with various wood types and sizes.
The different feed speed adjusts the cuts per inch. Think of it as a screen resolution for a surface planer; the quality of the cut. And some woods need a slower speed for better results.
It all helps to give a smooth surface.
Infeed and Outfeed Tables
As the name suggests, infeed and outfeed tables are tables that attach to the respective sides of the wood planer to assist in feeding the wood into the planer and guiding the wood as it exits the planer.
The benefits of having infeed and outfeed tables on thickness planers should not be underestimated.
Correctly aligning the wood as it passes through the thickness planer improves the chances of achieving better results.
It also reduces your workload as it puts less demand on you to line up the wood correctly; important if you have a heavy workload so vital for busy professionals.
Planing wood is a messy business. The efficiency and type of system to collect dust and chips can be important, especially in confined or shared spaces.
Apart from the dust not being good for your health, you do not want to be ruining fellow tradesmen’s and tradeswomen’s hard work. They don’t make good colleagues.
And you don’t want to be getting out the shop vac every time you plane some wood. Perhaps more important is again the prospect of a disgruntled partner.
Also, a poorly cleared planing area will clog up the cutter heads and give you poorer results as well as wear the cutters more quickly. So investing more initially on a thickness planer with better dust extraction may save you money in the long term.
Look for thickness planers with things like fan-assisted dust extraction and/or fan-assisted chip ejection and a dust hose adapter for attaching a vacuum.
So, now that the expert details have been discussed, it is time to start the research.
Rather than scrolling through endless reviews and websites looking for the best wood planer, here are five of the best thickness planers for every budget and project.
We’ve focussed on benchtop planers as these are the most versatile and useful of the thickness planers available, both for professionals and home use. Some are more suited for portability and others better for stationary use.
Like with every purchase it is a balance between features, which ones are your individual priorities and of course the cost. We are confident one of these should be the right benchtop thickness planer for you.
Starting with this Dewalt benchtop planer introduces a highly rated and long-lasting thickness planer.
The three-knife cutter-head produces a very powerful result. It also sports a 20,000 RPM motor. With a two-speed gearbox, users are able to change feed speed in order to optimize the cut. The maximum depth for a cut is 1/8 inch with a full capacity of 6 inches in depth and 13 inches in width.
The downside to this Dewalt planer comes in two forms: price and weight. It is on the higher end of the price spectrum, making it a serious investment. This is why it is ideal for the professional or heavy user. It is also rather hefty, coming in at just over 100 pounds.
The weight makes it better for a stationary workshop function rather than a portable benchtop planer. The three knives also have a short life span with expensive replacement costs. Some reviewers opted to purchase different knives in order to have higher quality results, but that would be a separate purchase and based on individual needs.
On the reverse side, the DeWalt planer will also bring solid customer service and a three-year warranty. The thickness planer reviews attest to the customer service and equipment quality with 75% of reviewers granting five stars. Most reviews do indicate it is worth the price tag.
DEWALT DW735X Pros
- 20,000 RPM motor
- Three-knife cutter head
- Two-speed gear box
- Ideal for professionals
- 3-year warranty
DEWALT DW735X Cons
- Weight not suited for portability
- High price
- Replacement knives are expensive
- Purchase includes one stationary 13" Planer, in/out feed tables with fasteners (attached to the base of the Planer base), extra blades and dust hose adapter. Stand is not included.
- Three knife cutter head of the thickness planer delivers 30% longer knife life and makes knife change faster and easier
- Two-speed gear box of the wood planer allows users to change feed speed to optimizing cuts per inch at 96 or 179 CPI
- Fan-assisted chip ejection vacuums chip off of the cutter head and exhausts them out of the machine
- 19-3/4-inch cast aluminum base is 2 times more rigid than a standard 10-inch base and folding tables
In direct contrast to the weight of the DeWalt DW735X there is the Makita 2012 NB. This machine is a little over 60 pounds and has a compact design, thus strengthening its portability feature. If a project needs to include transport to different worksites, this is a solid option.
It also has low noise emittance, making it more comfortable and safe to operate. For safety, it has an LED light feature to indicate when it is plugged into a power source and ready to operate.
Don’t let the size fool you – this is still a powerful piece of equipment.
The Makita has an 8,500 RPM motor and the maximum input width is 12 inches. The cut depth is 1/8th of an inch. The planning depth is 1/16th of an inch.
Reviews indicate it is easy to use – making this a suitable choice for new woodworkers. It has a one-year warranty. This purchase does come with double edge planer blades, wrenches, and a toolbox.
Similar to the DeWalt DW735X, the downside is price, it’s an expensive benchtop planer. However, there are some financing options available from select retailers. The dust collection hood is also sold separately – creating another purchase. Some reviews also report blade change can be difficult.
Makita 2012NB Pros
- 8,500 RPM motor
- Compact design suited for transporting
- Low noise emission
- 1-year warranty
Makita 2012NB Cons
- Dust collection hood is sold separately
- Compact with less weight for easy transporting to the jobsite
- Engineered for faster, easier blade changes
- Low noise (83dB) for operator comfort
- 4-post design and diagonal cross supports for stability
- Large table extensions to support the workpiece
Say hello to the powerful DeWalt DW734. This benchtop planer has a 20,000 RPM motor and is able to handle large, deep cuts into hardwoods. It also has a 3-knife cutter head with disposable and reversible steel knives. The power of this thickness planer brings 96 cuts per inch – one of the best rates in portable planers.
In addition to its power, the price is also a good match for many budgets. It is a great alternative to the more expensive models on the market. It is durable and built to last through many projects. Most wood planer reviews indicate this is a solid investment for woodworkers. It also features a 3-year warranty.
There are some downsides of course. Similar to the DW 735, the Dewalt DW734 is best suited for a benchtop setting. It is heavy despite being considered portable. The standard blades will become worn over time and will require replacement. Some reviews indicated the dust collection system leaves something to be desired.
DEWALT DW734 Pros
- 20,000 RPM motor
- Three-knife cutter head
- Price point
- 3-year warranty
DEWALT DW734 Cons
- Weight not suited for portability
- Dust collection system
- Replacement knives are expensive
- Powerful 15 amp, 20,000 rpm motor of the woodworking planer handles larger, deeper cuts in hardwoods.
- Three-knife cutter head with 10,000 rpm cutter-head speed of the thickness planer provides 96 cuts per inch, one of the finest finishes of any portable planer
- Disposable, reversible knives of the wood planer deliver 30% more knife life and make knife change fast and easy.
- Four-column carriage lock drastically reduces the movement that causes snipe
- Extra-long infeed and outfeed tables provide 33-1/2-inch of material support.
For smaller projects or the more casual user, there is the Delta thickness planer. This model has a small but powerful 15-amp motor, perfect for a small shop. The maximum cut depth is 3/32”; while the maximum in-feed width is 13”. It has an adjustable infeed and outfeed to reduce snipe and handle long pieces.
The knives are dual edge and disposable. It has a low price point, making it a great value. It is accurate and solidly built with easy blade change and little snipe production. It also has a five-year limited warranty from a well-established brand: Delta has been in business for nearly 90 years!
This piece is suited for the more casual user, as its lack of power isn’t suitable for professional or heavy users. It is not quite powerful enough to handle harder woods as well. Reviewers also indicated sniping problems and a desire for a more powerful motor. With the price, warranty, and intended use in consideration, this would be a safe purchase.
Delta Power Tools 22-555 Pros
- 15-amp motor
- Dual edged knives
- Low price point
- Five-year warranty
- Well suited to a casual user
Delta Power Tools 22-555 Cons
- Not powerful enough for a professional or heavy user
- Not suited for harder woods
- Powerful 15A motor capable of handling the most demanding jobs
- Four column design provides excellent stability for smooth, accurate planning
- Quick-change knife system with dual edge disposable knives lets you change knives without difficult to use alignment jigs
- Adjustable infeed and outfeed tables to better support long pieces and reduce snipe
- Reversible dust port allows you to collect chips from the right or left side of planer.Machine Dimensions: 21-5/8 x 23-5/8 x 20-1/8 inches
Another option for the occasional user or entry-level woodworker is the WEN 6552T model. This 15-amp motor can handle plane boards up to 6 inches in thickness and 13 inches in width.
An onboard material removal gauge informs users about the cutting depth of each pass. The motor is capable of producing 25,500 cuts per minute at a 26 ft. per minute feed rate. Its 3-blade design makes easy work out of even the hardest of woods. It also has a 2-year warranty and comes in at 66 pounds: on the lighter side for thickness planers. WEN products are also supported by a network of service technicians spread nationwide.
The purchase also comes with a cast iron base, height adjustable infeed/outfeed tables, fan-assisted dust port, and more. The fan-assist is great for removing chips and sawdust throughout the workplace.
The combination of cast iron base and onboard planning gage creates a sturdy planer – no need to worry about wobbly operation. This model is also at a great price point and reviewers indicate quality is not sacrificed with the price.
The size and power of this wood planer do not make it a good fit for the professional user. A home or occasional user will better benefit from this buy.
WEN 6552T Pros
- Powerful motor of 15 amps
- Capable of 25,500 cuts per minute
- Three-blade design
- Able to handle variety of wood types
- Price point
- 2-year warranty
WEN 6552T Cons
- Size and power not suited for professional use
- Onboard material removal gauge informs users about the cutting depth of each pass
- Plane boards up to 6 in. T and 13 in. W
- 15 Amp motor generates 25,500 cuts per minute at a 26 ft. per minute feed rate
- 3-blade design makes easy work out of even the hardest of woods
- Fan-assisted dust port removes sawdust from workpiece
Choosing The Right Thickness Planer
After conducting the research and weighing all the options, return to your base of operations. Think about upcoming projects and see what the needs are going to look like.
It will help in deciding what type of investment to make. Choose first based on demand and then on price and other factors.
If you are just entering the woodworking world, the right investment now could lead to a more intense interest later on. Think about a tool that will teach you to be a better woodworker.
If you are a professional or avid user, think about the tool that can handle creative projects or a variety of projects. Most importantly, don’t go off of surface-level impressions alone.
Buy this product with the confidence of knowing you are making the right choice for your woodworking plans.
Thickness Planer Video
If you have never used a thickness planer before, here is a good YouTube video giving some tricks to help you make the most from one:
- Belt grinder for knife making
- Drill press for woodworking
- Cordless leaf blower
- Angle grinder
- Shop vac