What is the best wood planer for you?
It might be a fixed benchtop planer or stationary planer for a workshop or home, or maybe you need something more portable like a power handheld planer for site.
Some people even still use the old school manual jack hand planer these days.
Regardless, this article is designed for helping you determine what might be the best wood thickness planer for you and your needs.
We discuss or refer you to sources where you can read about some of the best wood planer brands like WEN, DeWalt, Makita, Bosch, PORTER-CABLE & JET, to help you choose who makes the best wood planer for you.
If you’re running a little short on time, you can check out the top rated wood thickness planer list immediately below.
Otherwise, you can read the guide in full.
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Top Rated Wood Thickness Planer List
Best Cheap Power Hand Planer – PORTER-CABLE PC60THP (on Amazon)
Best Power Hand Planer For The Money – Bosch PL1632 (on Amazon)
Best Cordless Power Planer and Best Portable Power Planer (Lithium Ion Battery) – Makita XPK01Z (on Amazon)
Best 6-3/4 Inch Hand Power Planer – Makita 1806B (on Amazon)
Best 12-1/4 Inch Electric Hand Planer – Makita KP312 (on Amazon)
Best Curved Base Hand Planer – Makita 1002BA (on Amazon)
Best Cheap Benchtop Planer – WEN 6552 3-Blade 15 Amp Benchtop Thickness Planer, 13″ (on Amazon)
Best Home, DIY & Small Workshop Benchtop Planer For The Money – Makita 2012NB 12-Inch Planer (on Amazon)
Best Production and Large Workshop Planer – Jet – JWP-208HH (on Amazon)
Best Wood Thickness Planer Reviews
You can find wood thickness planer reviews in the following articles:
Best Wood Planer: Buyer’s Guide & FAQ
Types of Wood Planers
When it comes to wood planers, there are 5 main types:
1) Manual Handheld Planers
Used to smooth, shape and straighten with your hand. There are different variations of the hand planer like jack planers, smooth planers, block planers.
2) Power Handheld Planers
Used to smooth, shape and straighten with either electric corded or battery cordless models.
3) Benchtop Planers
Are electric powered and used mainly to thickness – they are used ontop of benches as a base.
4) Stationary Planers
Are electric powered and used mainly to thickness – they are much heavier and bigger than benchtop planers, and are freestanding without the use of a bench.
5) Planer 2 in 1 Machines
Such as Jointer/Planers, and Planer/Molders. Although they are purchased as one machine, the planer functions separately from the other tool e.g. you joint a face and edge of a board first, and then thickness the other face with the planer.
What Is A Wood Thickness Planer?
Wood planers can be one of several planing tools listed above.
Planers are tools that are made for cutting the surface of a piece of wood to a pre-set cutting depth from above the piece of wood.
This is in comparison to say a jointer that cuts from the bottom and flattens or smoothens a face or edge of a piece of wood.
A benchtop planer has an infeed table on the bottom, with a cutter head and rollers that can be lowered or heightened for different depths of cut.. You usually need to insert a piece of board with one flat face as a reference point into a benchtop planer.
A handheld planer will simply require you to set the depth of cut, and begin cutting, shaping and smoothing.
Typical depths of cut for a benchtop planer or stationary planer are 1/16 of an inch, and 1/32 of an inch.
Typical depths of cut for a handheld planer are 0 to 1/8 of an inch.
What Is A Wood Planer Used For, and What Does A Wood Planer Do?
- Handheld Planers
Homeowners, and professionals like timber framers, carpenters, log home manufacturers, boat fabricators and more use them.
They can be used for cutting, shaping and levelling the surfaces of doors, frames, furniture, cabinets and more.
Curved base hand planers (as opposed to the standard straight based hand planers) can be used for archways and log shaping.
- Benchtop Planers & Stationary Planers
A benchtop or stationary planer is used for feeding lengths of both hard and soft wood through a cutterhead and rollers.
They will cut the wood along its face to a pre-set cut depth – making it the same thickness along the length of the wood from one end to the other.
Hence the name thickness planer, or thicknesser.
A benchtop planer usually needs a jointed piece of wood to do this i.e. a flat face and flat edge (created by a jointer tool) to reference from in order to thickness the wood.
If the wood is not jointed beforehand, it will usually be a slightly warped, twisted, or bowed piece of wood.
A benchtop or stationary planer is generally used by woodworkers who need to produce flat, square and parallel lumber for high quality timber finishes – furniture, fine wood items and joinery.
Wood Thickness Planer Bits & Accessories
Check the individual review articles listed in the reviews section above for the different bits and accessories available with each planer type.
How To Choose A Wood Thickness Planer
Consider the different types of planers in the following situations:
Manual Handheld Planer – good for fine timber surface cutting or for situation where power isn’t available and you dont have a cordless battery hand planer.
Power Hand Planer – great for homeowners and professionals. If you are cutting, shaping and levelling the surfaces of doors, frames, furniture, cabinets, logs or curved archways, consider a power hand planer. Saves alot of time and energy over manual hand planers.
Benchtop Planer – good for DIY and small workshops. If you are feed smaller lengths and less total feet of wood through a planer, a benchtop planer could be a smart option.
Stationary Planer – for wood of all types and feed many feet a day of wood through a planer. Consider for productiona nd large workshop enviornments.
2 in 1 Planer Tool – Consider if you want either a jointer/planer, or planer/molder 2 in 1 machine.
Best Wood Thickness Planer For…
- Best Power Handheld Planer
The Bosch PL1632 presents the best value for money
- Best Benchtop Planer
The Makita 2012NB 12-Inch Planer with Interna-Lok Automated Head Clamp presents the best value for money
- Best Stationary Planer
Although expensive, the Jet – JWP-208HH: 20-inch Helical Head Planer, 5 HP 1 Phase is the best overall stationary planer.
- Best Electric Planer
There are different types of electric planers – corded hand planers, benchtop planers and stationary planers.
Pick the one that is best for you.
- Best Jointer Planer Combo
- Best Cordless Planer
The Makita XPK01Z 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Cordless 3-1/4-Inch Planer is the best cordless and portable hand planer.
- Best Planer For Woodworking
All the above listed planers are for woodworking.
- Best Planer For Doors
Power hand planers are the best for door edges.
- Best Planer For Pallet Wood
Use a benchtop planer or stationary planer for pallet wood.
- Best Planer For DIY
Hand planers and benchtop planers are best for DIY.
- Best Planer For Small Shop & Home
Hand planers and benchtop planers are best for Small Shop and Home.
- Best Planer For Large WorkShop and Production
It depends what work you are performing, but the stationary planers make great production tools.
- Best Planer For Beginner
A cheap planer of any kind, or if you intend to have it for a while, get a value for money planer.
- Best Planer For Oak
Depends what finish you have in mind – for benchtop and stationary planers, check that the cutterhead is suitable (does it have carbide or high speed cutter blades?).
Most hand planers should be able to deal with oak.
- Best Planer For Making Furniture
Again, it depends on what sort of finish and production level you want.
- Best Planer For Surfboard Shaping
Use a power hand planer – but you may need to make a few modifications to the tool itself to make it more workable.
Features To Look For In A Wood Planer/Thickness Planer
We’ve extensively listed the features to look for in power hand planers, benchtop planers and stationary planers in the articles listed in the reviews section above.
Benchtop Planer vs. Benchtop Jointer – What’s The Difference?
Depending on what country you are from, some people get confused as to what these two tools do, or even what they are.
In general, here are the major difference between the two:
How It Works – cuts from the top of the wood
What It Does – ensures the board is parallel and the same thickness across the length of the faces of the board (when you look at it from the long edge side). This is known as thicknessing.
Usually needs a flat reference face on one side of the wood to get the board the same thickness.
A benchtop planer does not thickness the edge of a board.
A jointer will flatten the first edge of the board, and a router, circular saw or table saw will flatten the final edge.
How It Works – cuts from the bottom of the wood
What It Does – flattens and removes rough spots on the face, and squares edges – but, does not make the board consistently the same thickness or parallel. A jointer makes a warped, twisted, or bowed board flat.
Benchtop Wood Planer vs. Benchtop Wood Jointer – Which One Should You Get?
If you can only get one of the two because of financial or space reasons in your workshop, a planer is probably a better investment.
You can get pre-milled or pre flattened pieces of board and then use a planer.
Even so, with a benchtop planer, if you purchase the flattest wood you can find (the lumber that looks the least twisted and bowed) and pass the board through a benchtop planer a few times at a slower speed and with shallower cuts, it will do an OK job of flattening anyway.
It just won’t be perfect (it might still be slightly twisted).
Just know that it is best practice to use the planer once you have a flat face and square edge to reference from – and that is best achieved with a jointer, or pre-milled board.
If you can afford a jointer planer tool and you will be doing alot of high quality wood work like building furniture or superior wood finish projects, they are worth the money.
You may like to read more in Best Benchtop Jointer: Buyer’s Guide and Reviews.
Planing Snipe – What Is It?
Planing snipe is when the planer cuts deeper in some parts of the board than other – resulting in a slightly uneven or unparallel board.
It can be caused by a range of factors, and the truth is that all planers usually have a bit of snipe to them.
If for example the infeed and outfeed tables aren’t even, or the rollers don’t evenly space the board when passing through the cutterhead, there will be some snipe.
Best Wood Planer Resources
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