Best Planers for Delicate Woodworking Jobs & Home Carpentry in 2018

Expand your woodworking tool set with the best planer for the type of projects you tackle. There are some great planers available priced well within the range of even the most budget-conscious woodworker. Read our review of some of the best planers for the money to find out more.

Best Planers

Do I Need a Planer? 

Many people think of planers as heavy industrial tools found only in professional cabinet shops and other large-scale woodworking operations. In fact, any DIY woodworker or home renovator can get a lot of use and benefit out of a planer. When you need to produce a finely-finished product, using either a thickness planer or a simple handheld model can save you a lot of sanding time.

You can also use a thickness planer to create pieces of custom-dimension stock. But the biggest benefit of having a planer is the ability to turn rough, aged, or beat-up wood into smooth, new lumber. Use a planer to surface cheap rough-cut lumber or recycle old pieces of hardwood, and the tool will quickly pay for itself. 

Best Planers - Comparisons 

Types of Planers

There are three main types of planers: Stationary, Benchtop, and Handheld. Stationary planers are large shop tools that are intended to remain in one place. They also have the most power and can handle the largest sizes of lumber while making the deepest one-pass cuts. Benchtop planers, on the other hand, are portable, even thoughthey may weigh 50 pounds or more.

Most benchtop planers can handle stock up to 13 inches in width and cut 1/16 inch deep in one pass. And lastly, handheld planers are small plug-in or battery-operated power tools similar in size and weight to a drill or circular saw. Handheld planers have the advantage of mobility, and they can be used to do detailed finish work.

In this review, we will take a look at some of the best planers for the money in each category.

3 Best Stationary Planers - reviews

1. Grizzly G1033X 20-Inch Planer

Grizzly G1033X 20-Inch Planer

The Grizzly 20-inch planer is a real beast of a machine that is set up for high-volume heavy work withthe roughest of lumber.

A 5 HP 220-volt 30-ampmotor will drive the spiral cutter head through the densest hardwood at 20 FPM, or slow down to 16 FPM for a finished product that will need only minimum sanding. The infeed and outfeed tables extend the bed to almost 5 feet, and are precision-ground to a near-mirror finish so that material slides through like it is on ice. The adjustable bed rollers let you fine-tune the wood movement to allow for extremely crooked or rugged material, and the 2-speed automatic feed gives full control for handling rough and finish work with maximum efficiency.

This planer impressed us as a full-on industrial machine that is accessible to the home woodworker for what is actually a very reasonable price—every detail, from the solid cast-iron base, to the steel-housed magnetic switch panel, to the powder-coat finish works together to make the Grizzly look right at home in a professional cabinet shop. The construction of the machine is brawny, with lifetime lubricated ball bearings in the motor and cutter head, return rollers that are heavier than the feed rollers on many other planers, and over 900 pounds of weight to keep things stable and accurate. 

Working with the Grizzly is a pleasure, with material up to 8-5/8 thick sliding through like it is on rails and coming out smooth as silk. This is not a small-job machine, but if you want to turn large stacks of rough planks into finish-grade wood without a hiccup, the Grizzly G1033X is worth considering.

What we liked

  • The heaviest build short of an industrial planer
  • Lots of power
  • Can take large-dimension material
  • Very rigid and stable

What we didn't like

  • Extremely heavy
  • High power consumption
  • High price point

2. Powermatic 15HH 15-Inch Planer

Powermatic 15HH 15-Inch Planer

The Powermatic 15HH 15-inch planer is ideal for woodworkers who are looking for a top-of-the-line tool that is capable of accurate high-volume production work.

This oneis a solid steel and castiron professional-grade power tool that features a 74-blade helical cutter headdriven by a powerful 3 HP single-phase 230-volt motor. This planer can handle rough lumber at full width while cutting 1/8 inch deep at 20 FPM. A simple push/pull knob shifts the planer to a 16 FPM feed rate for smooth finishing work. The infeed roller is serrated steel and the outfeed is smooth, allowing material to maintain consistent and steady movement through the plane. 

The smooth, accurate feed characteristics work together with the efficiency of the helical cutter headto produce fine cuts with virtually no scalloping. The planer table is precision-ground cast iron, and the machine comes with cast-iron extension tables that expand the workspace to 48 inches in length.

The details on this planer are impressive, with every aspect designed and built to produce accurate work for a lifetime of use. The cast iron handwheel is oversized and makes adjusting the table a breeze. The ability to add an accessory remote digital readout is a big plus that will let you produce extremely precisecuts at high production rates. A full metal dust hood keeps debris away from the cutter head and funnels it to an angled 4-inch dust port that is designed to keep the collection hose away from the outfeed area.

This is a heavy, stable piece of equipment at over 500 pounds, and we really liked the fact that lockable machined iron casters are built into itsbase—the planer is fairly easy to move on the casters, and they certainly make installation much simpler. There is really nothing bad to say about the Powermatic 15HH. It does come at a high price, but it is a tool you will be proud to own.

What we liked

  • Top quality
  • Comes with table extensions and extra knife inserts
  • Extremely smooth andquiet operation
  • 5-year warranty

What we didn't like

  • High price point

3. Jet JWP-15HH 15-inch Planer 

Jet JWP-15HH 15-Inch Planer

The Jet JWP-15HH offers the power and performance the semi-professional or serious hobbyist woodworker needs to take on any project with ease.

Its heavy cast iron and steel construction gives this machine the strength and stability needed to handle rough-cut lumber and leave a smooth, scallop-free finish. Run wood up to 14.88 inches in width with a 2-speed feed rate that lets you choose between 16 and 20 FPM. The 3 HP induction motor and V-belt transmission applies steady power to the 68-blade helical cutter head.

This planer works at a near-professional level but comes at a decent price point. On the 16 FPM setting, it can run barn planks or any thick, rough wood without a hitch, no matter how tough or knotty the material is. The helical head leaves a far more refined finish than a standard 3-knife roller head and has the added advantage of very quiet operation. The precise cast iron table and wheel crank adjustment are just a couple of the touches that put this machine into the professional class. The magnetic control panel with its large buttons is another nice feature. The planer is ready to connect to your dust control system with a built-in 4-inch dust port.

Be aware that you will need a 240-volt 30-amp circuit to power the Jet planer. It also weighs 540 pounds, so it is advisable to buy the mobile base or build your own castor dolly. Except for the high price point, these are the only downsides to this machine, and if you are serious about setting up a high-capability wood shop, the Jet JWP-15HH is a good way to go.

What we liked

  • Heavy build for durability and stability
  • Professional quality
  • Long-lasting carbide cutting inserts

What we didn't like

  • Heavy and difficult to install
  • High price point

3 Best Benchtop Planers - Reviews

1. Makita 2012NB 12-Inch BenchtopPlaner

Makita 2012NB 12-Inch BenchtopPlaner

The Makita 2012NB is a highly portable machine at only 62 pounds. It has a 15-amp motor that runs at 8500 RPM with no load on. The 3-blade cutter head features disposable blades and is setup for quick and easy blade changes. Material up to 12 inches in width and 6-3/32-inch depth can run through the 2012NB at 28 FPM, with a maximum cut depth of 1/8 inch.

The Makita benchtop was not the most powerful of the benchtop planers we tested, but it was our favorite for several reasons—of course, the Makita quality and attention to detail earned points, and we liked the compact form factor that made the 2012NB really easy to transport.

This planer is a specialized machine made for finish work rather than chewing through a lot of rough lumber. It produces very fine cuts that all but eliminate the need for sanding. The Interna-Lok automated head clamp that is unique to Makita planers greatly reduces snipe as long as the material is put through the machine properly. It is also an exceptionally quiet planer at only 83dB.

The only thing that we could find lacking was a dust collection hood—ithas to be purchased separately, which is a surprise at this price point. Despite this, the Makita is the best choice for doing a lot of precision small piece or finish work.

What we liked

  • Highly portable and compact
  • Quiet running
  • Cuts extremely cleanly
  • Makita quality

What we didn't like

  • No dust cover

2. DEWALT DW735X 13-Inch Benchtop Planer

DEWALT DW735X 13-Inch Benchtop Planer

DEWALT tools have a superlative reputation, and the DEWALT 735 planer is almost a standard among DIY woodworkers.

It’s a 92-pound machine with a 15-amp motor that turns the cutter head at 10,000 RPM. The 735X can handle 12.5-inch wide, 6-inch deep material and cut 1/8 inch deep with each pass. A two-speed gearbox lets you cut at 96 or 179 cuts per inch.

The 3-knife cutter head is a typical setup for a benchtop planer, and it uses disposable knives—its knives can be reversed once, then easily removed and replaced with a new set. A nice feature for a small planer like this is the option of changing out the dust shroud from one that ejects debris onto the floor to one that can connect to a dust collection system or even a shop vacuum hose. Both shrouds are included with the machine. To make things even better, the 735X has a fan that blows debris clear of the cutting area and out the shroud opening. If used in combination with a vacuum, you get one of the best dust control systems available on a benchtop planer.

The DEWALT felt surprisingly solid and sturdy for a small planer. The rigid aluminum base along with the 4-column carriage lock works together with the weight of the machine to keep things stable—this is important to help in avoiding snipe at the end of the board. The 735X produced good quality cuts, but to keep snipe to a minimum we had to add the infeed and outfeed extensions that come as accessories. The large crank handle made it easy to move the table, and we liked the depth stops that let you lock in frequently used cut settings. The large pint-depth gauge also got a thumbs up. As usual for DEWALT, this planer is a high-quality tool that will see you through a lot of work.

The only complaints we had were with the durability of the knives as they seemed to dull quickly, and with the weight of the unit, which is on the high side for a benchtop planer. However, the weight does a lot for stability, so there is a trade off, but it is something to consider for those in the market for high portability. 

What we liked

  • Very sturdy and stable
  • High-powered
  • Produced very clean cuts when set up correctly

What we didn't like

  • Not very portable
  • Disposable knives dull quickly

3. WEN 6552 13-Inch Benchtop Planer

WEN 6552 13-Inch Benchtop Planer

Coming in at a bargain price, the WEN 6552 was a surprisingly solid performer—it has many of the same features of planers that cost twice as much.

The 15-amp motor matches the power output of the DEWALT 13-inch, and it can run wood past the 3-blade cutting head at 26 FPM. The WEN has a very solid feel to it thanks to the cast iron base and granite table. This is a unique feature, and we liked it a lot—super slick to let wood run smoothly through the machine, and obviously damage-resistant. The 6553 has everything a home woodworker could ask for including an easy-to-read depth scale, quick-change blades, adjustable feed tables, and fan-assist dust removal. It is a highly portable unit at 66 pounds. Built-in grip handles on the ends are handy, and with the feed tables folded up, it makes a neat, compact package.

We were skeptical of this planer at first, given the ultra-low price, but ended up being pleasantly surprised. Once we had the infeed and outfeed tables properly adjusted, and dialed in the cut depth, the 6552 could handle tough hardwood and produce a nice, smooth finish. It runs best with the cut depth set shallow around 1/64 inch, but you can’t expect a benchtop unit to chew through wood like an industrial planer. When the cut was set to 1/8 inch, the machine left more visible blade marks.

Getting the best performance out of this machine is a matter of setting it up carefully, making sure it is level and the feed area is perfectly flat. The one issue we had with the WEN was with the folding feed tables. The gap where the hinge is causes a slight inaccuracy and may need a little tweaking during setup. But overall, this machine runs very well and is a great choice for the home woodworker on a budget.

What we liked

  • Heavy base makes it very stable for a bench-top machine
  • Granite table will not mark the wood

What we didn't like

  • In- and outfeed tables can be inaccurate
  • Leaves blade marks on deep cut settings

3 Best Handheld Planers - Reviews

1. Makita KP312 15-amp 12-1/4-Inch Handheld Planer

Makita KP312 15-Amp 12-14-Inch Handheld Planer

If you are looking for a handheld planer that has serious power and capability, the Makita KP312 is the professional way to go.

This machine is a real beast, putting out the power of a benchtop unit with a 15-amp, 12,500 RPM motor, and a belt-driven cutter head that makes 12-1/4 inch wide cuts with ease. Like all Makita tools, this planer is built to be an industrial workhorse, with ball-bearing construction and external access to the motor brushes for easy replacement. The ejection chute is oversized and really spits the debris clear, and a built-in spring-loaded stand keeps the blades up off the wood when you are not working. The guide rule and depth adjustment controls are easy to use, and everything about this planer shows that it can handle long, hard days of operation.

The working details on this Makita planer are what identify it to us as a best-in-class professional tool. The 33 foot cord is great and will eliminate the need for extension cords on many jobs. The cord mount position is well-designed and stays out of the way, but we would have liked to see a steel spring cord support instead of the rubber sleeve as these do tend to crack over time. The overall ergonomics are perfect on the KP312, with a sturdy rubber-cushioned front handle, a big depth-setting knob placed in just the right spot, and a comfortable rear grip.

As with any handheld planer, the quality of the cut will depend on the skill and steady hand of the operator. This machine will take some getting used to, so we advise making some practice cuts on scrap wood before tackling a project. The price point is high on this Makita, but if you need a handheld, portable planer, this model is the best.

What we liked

  • Professional quality and durability
  • Very powerful
  • Comfortable during long work sessions

What we didn't like

  • Heavy for a hand tool
  • High price point

2. Makita KP0800K 3-1/4-Inch Handheld Planer

Makita KP0800K 3-14-Inch Handheld Planer

In the 3-1/4 inch class, Makita takes another top honor. This 6.5-amp machine is light at 5.7 pounds and very maneuverable. Even when it is turning at 17,000 RPM, it feels solid and vibration-free. This is due to Makita’s use of a full aluminum housing and ball-bearing motor, and these are also features that put this planer ahead of the others in terms of durability.

The two-blade cutter head will cut 3/32 deep on one pass, with depth-setting made simple by an easy-to-read click adjustment knob. A large, rubberized control handle and front grip knob provide a comfortable, secure hold on the planer and cut down on fatigue during long work sessions.

This is a very well-balanced planer, and we had fun playing with it. Once you get the feel of it, the precise aluminum base and smooth, belt-driven cutter head make it easy to get a fine cut. The motor is powerful enough to keep the chips blowing clear of the job, and the machine can be fitted with a dust bag. However, the dust bag requires an adapter nozzle that is extra. This planer can be fitted with a range of different fences, bevel guides, blade assemblies, and other accessories to handle a variety of jobs.

One thing we really liked about this Makita is that it comes in at the same price point as many similar handheld models, but you get the Makita industrial strength and quality. This is our top choice for a small handheld planer.

What we liked

  • Makita quality at a great price
  • Powerful but smooth and vibration-free
  • Easy blade maintenance

What we didn't like

  • Dust bag nozzle not included
  • Light-duty cord

3. Hitachi P20ST 3-1/4-Inch Handheld Planer

Hitachi P20ST 3-14-Inch Handheld Planer

The Hitachi P20ST is powerful little planer that gives great value for the money.

Hitachi is a well-respected tool brand, and this planer shows the same quality details seen on far more expensive machines. It accepts both resharpenable and double-edge disposable blades, has a built-in kickstand that protects the blades and the work surface, and comes with several accessary tools as well as the dust bag assembly and a steel carrying case. The 5.5-amp motor turns at 17,000 RPM with no load and provides plenty of power to make 1/16 inch cuts in almost any wood.

This is a highly portable planer at only 5.5 pounds, which explains why it is often chosen for finish work on doors and for shaping surfboards. We found that it was very easy to maneuver when making bevel cuts and tapering board ends. This planer is ideal for doing finish work on door jambs or window frames because it can be held above your shoulders without too much effort, and the shallow cutting depth lets it run along smoothly even in awkward positions.

This Hitachi planer is the best deal if you’re going for a low-priced handheld unit, it is very hard to beat.

What we liked

  • Good quality
  • Lightweight and easy to use

What we didn't like

  • Takes some skill to avoid scallops and blade marks
  • Depth adjustment knob is very tight and hard to use on the move

The Best Planers on the Market

We chose the best planers for the money in the three major categories so those who are thinking about purchasing their first planer can get an idea of what is out there. A really well-equipped shop will have one of each type of planer to handle any project that comes up—it is certainly reasonable to have both a benchtop and a handheld machine.

Choose any of the planers in this review with the confidence that you are getting a quality tool that will give years of good performance.

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