A planer is an essential piece of equipment for anyone who is into woodworking or do-it-yourself projects. Whether you’re a beginning woodworker or an old pro, a planer is an essential power tool in your workshop to shave down pieces of wood to a desired thickness.
There are many styles of wood planers including hand planers, both manual and electric, and large commercial models but benchtop planers are an excellent decision for small workshops, garages, or remote worksites where portability is highly desired. This list of 15 Best Benchtop Planers will help you select one that will fit your needs and space.
DeWalt DW734 15 Amp Single Speed Benchtop Planer
- Three knife cutter head with 10,000 RPM provides an incredibly fine 96 cuts per inch
- Knives are reversible, disposable, and deliver 30% more life than other planers
- Extra long infeed and outfeed tables provide 33-1/2-inches of material support
- Infeed and outfeed tables may be out of level
- Height control screw is too short
- Great finish on boards but it takes more passes to get thickness down than other planers
The DeWalt DW734 15 Amp Single Speed Benchtop Planer features a powerful 15 Amp motor that delivers 10,000 RPM with a three-knife cutter head. This benchtop planer offers quick, accurate depth adjustment, extra-long feed tables for material support, and the convenience of knives that are reversible and disposable.
This planer delivers 96 cuts per inch for an incredibly fine finish on your boards. The cutting knives will last 30 percent longer than traditional knives that take time and money to resharpen. Cut depth is 1/8-inch maximum and a six-inch depth capacity for stock up to 12-1/2-inches.
The DeWalt DW734 Benchtop Planer offers fast, easy, one-tool knife changes when needed. A set of pins machined on the cutter head goes through holes machined on the knife. This helps locate the fresh knife and refasten the knife clamp.
This planer’s infeed and outfeed tables provide 33-1/2 inches of material support. The turret depth stop saves you time when setting the machine at depths that you typically use. A material-removal gauge and extra-large thickness scale makes sure that every pass you send through is accurate. Finally, the four-column carriage lock drastically reduces the movement that may cause damage near the end of a run.
Oddly enough, the DeWalt DW734 Benchtop Planer doesn’t include the necessary knives for operation however it does come with a dust hood that attaches to a shop vacuum or standing dust collector (sold separately) and a three-knife cutter head. DeWalt also offers up a three-year limited warranty and a 90-day money-back guarantee.
Find more DeWalt DW734 15 Amp Single Speed Benchtop Planer information and reviews here.
Craftsman 15 Amp Benchtop Planer
- Great price for a quality benchtop planer
- Four column design provides excellent stability
- Nice dust collection feature; chute can face either way
- Setup can be a little touchy
- Height adjustment has some play in it
- Depth gauge is measured by tenths of an inch instead of Imperial units
I love me the Craftsman products and the Craftsman 15 Amp Benchtop Planer doesn’t disappoint. Setup is simple; make sure you put the planer on a level workbench to straighten out the infeed and outfeed tables. This will save you from scallops and snipe damage down the road!
Cutting boards up to 12 inches in width with the Craftsman is a breeze. The 8,000 RPM cutting head with two reversible knives removes material from your stock with no problem. 16,000 cuts per minute will generate a load of wood chips and dust; the collection feature has a chute that can face either way so you can hook up to a shop vac or dust collection system and it works well.
This planer results in a very nice, smooth surface on your rough stock. For a planer of this size, and especially this price, you can’t do much better than the Craftsman 15 Amp Benchtop Planer.
Note: Knives for this planer can be found here.
Find more Craftsman 15 Amp Benchtop Planer information and reviews here.
Makita 2012NB 12-Inch Planer with Interna-Lok Automated Head Clamp
- Four-post design and diagonal brace stableize cutter head
- Low noise (83dB) compared with other planers
- Adjustable depth stop for repeat cuts
- Dust hood is a separate purchase
- Dust hood is a weird size for most any shop vac
This is probably the best benchtop planer of this size and category that you could get for your workshop. The Makita 2012NB 12-Inch Planer with Interna-Lok Automated Head Clamp is definitely not the least expensive however we’ll walk you through why this premium power tool might be worth the cost.
This planer is compact and weighs less than most other portable players. The cutting head may be accessed for faster, easier blade changes than pretty much anything else out there. That same cutting head features three disposable double-edged blades spinning at 8,500 RPM by way of a 15 Amp electric motor. The Makita 2012NB is the quietest planer in its class at only 83dB.
The four-post design and diagonal cross supports provide stability during operation along with the large table extensions that support the stock running through the planer. This benchtop planer can support boards of up to twelve inches thick, cutting up to a 1/8-inch at a time. The Makita 2012NB features an “Interna-Lok” automated head clamp that engages when needed to eliminate snipe from the ends of the stock.
This thing just works for you need it to. High-quality, well-engineered, and tops in its class, there’s a reason Makita charges more for this benchtop planer: it’s plain (ha) awesome.
One thing to note: Makita doesn’t include the dust hood in order to hook up a shop vac or dust collection system. It’s sold separately which seems a little short-sighted on Makita’s part and even then, you’ll need to customize it a bit as it won’t fit most shop vacs out there.
Find more Makita 2012NB 12-Inch Planer with Interna-Lok Clamp information and reviews here.
Porter-Cable PC305TP 12-Inch Thickness Planer
- Poly-V belt cutter head drive with rugged gearbox and sprocket feed roller drive
- Knives are double-edged and reversible for twice the cutting life
- Blade replacement is beyond easy with this model
- Snipe can be aggressive
- No cutter head lock feature
- No dust collection outlet
The Porter-Cable PC305TP 12-Inch Thickness Planer is perfect for your home woodshop. It will prove to be a top-quality benchtop planer for weekend projects. Take care to set the machine up properly, make adjustments appropriate for your working situation, and wipe the blades clean from protective grease. Be very, very careful when doing this as the knives are, rightfully so, incredibly sharp.
The powerful 15 Amp motor allows for impressive stock removal with the 8,000 RPM cutter head making up to 16,000 cuts per minute. The two-knife, quick-change, solid steel cutter head provides smooth operation and should give you years of solid performance with proper care. The Porter-Cable PC305TP is ideal for transforming lumber up to 12 inches wide to your desired thickness; it can handle glued-up boards with no challenges whatsoever.
That means you’re going to generate a significant amount of chips and dust. This planer is almost identical to the Craftsman 15 Amp Benchtop Planer except the Porter-Cable doesn’t include a dust shroud to attach a collector or shop vac. A suitable component is the Delta 50-359 12-Inch Planer Connect and can be found here.
This benchtop planer utilizes two double-edged blades which are reversible meaning a longer cutting life. Thankfully knives are included with this model to get you started however replacements are readily available.
Once bolted down to a workbench to prevent movement during use, the Porter-Cable PC305TP 12-Inch Thickness Planer is a really, really good addition to your home woodshop.
Find more Porter-Cable PC305TP 12-Inch Thickness Planer information and reviews here.
DeWalt DW735 15 Amp Two-Speed Benchtop Planer
- Fan-assisted chip ejection vacuums chips off the cutter head and exhausts them out of the machine
- 30-percent longer blade life with fast, easy knife change
- Can handle 13-inch wide stock
- Slower cutting speed may cause chip exhaust to become clogged
- Requires dust collector; shop vac will creates a back pressure situation
- Noisier than similar planers
The DeWalt DW735 features a three-knife cutter head and a powerful 15 Amp motor can handle deep cuts in tough hardwoods. It offers quick, accurate depth adjustment and uses knives that are both reversible and disposable. If you’re looking to get clean, custom stock with a minimum of headache, this benchtop planer is the one for you.
The planer features a two-speed gearbox that delivers 96 or 179 cuts per inch. Use the slower speed when getting your rough material sized correctly then transition to the faster speed to achieve a finer finish. The DeWalt DW735 uses razor-sharp knives that are reversible and disposable and will last 30 percent longer than traditional disposable knives.
A set of pins machined on the cutter-head goes through holes machined on the knife for fast, easy, one-tool knife changes. This helps you quickly locate the fresh knife and refasten the knife clamp. This planer’s extra-long infeed and outfeed tables provide 33-1/2 inches of material support. The turret depth stop saves you time when setting the machine at commonly used depths.
The DW735 features a fan system that ejects chips and dust out with a fury, unlike most benchtop planers. The motorized fan breaks down debris as it leaves the cutter head and blows it into one of two included dust shrouds available to use; one shroud throws the chips down into a pile on the shop floor and the other provides a connection for a dust collector hose. DeWalt cautions against the use of a shop vac for this because of back pressure issues.
This planer comes with the dust shrouds but nothing else; knives and support tables, which are mandatory in order to use the DW735, must be purchased separately. DeWalt offers a combo pack which may save you some cash however, inventory was low as this review was written.
That aside, the DeWalt DW735 offers additional power, cutting speed, and finishing amenities above most benchtop planers.
Find more DeWalt DW735 15 Amp Two-Speed Benchtop Planer information and reviews here.
Ridgid R4331 13-Inch Three-Blade Benchtop Planer
- Included infeed and outfeed table extensions
- Chip impeller dust removal system
- Instant cutting depth measurement
- Noisy even for a benchtop planer
- Threaded cutter head support posts will loosen from planer use and will need to be monitored
- Limited availability online
The Ridgid R4331 13-Inch Three-Blade Benchtop Planer features a 15 Amp motor that delivers 9,000 RPM for maximum power and continuous operation. The three-blade cutter head hosts quick-changing, dual-edge, reversible blades that are self-aligning to provide a wicked smooth surface on your stock. Multiple-depth features allow for consistent desired planing for up to 13-inch boards.
This benchtop planer also has a chip impeller dust removal system to pull wood chips from your work area for improved cuts and a cleaner work area. A “Sure-Cut” carriage lock helps to minimize snipe at the end of your boards and to help further, this planer comes with large infeed and outfeed table extensions. Nice!
The depth adjustment handle is within easy reach to provide a precise 1/16-inch change per revolution; the “Ind-I-Cut” depth gauge instantly measures the cutting depth before each pass. The planer features eight adjustable repeat cut depth stops to precisely plane multiple workpieces to a consistent thickness for repetitive tasks.
The Ridgid R4331 13-Inch Three-Blade Benchtop Planer comes with a magnetic blade wrench, depth adjustment handle, switch key, dust port, and an operator’s manual. Knives can be found here. Something unique about this planer is the lifetime service agreement that Ridgid offers with purchase. If your planer needs replacement parts or service, it’s apparently free for life.
Find more Ridgid R4331 13-Inch Three-Blade Benchtop Planer information and reviews here.
Powertec PL1252 15 Amp Two-Blade Benchtop Planer
- Heavy-duty planer with an anti-wobble base
- Weights less than 64 pounds; truly portable
- Delivers some incredible smooth cuts
- You’ll need some sort of adapter to hook up a shop vac to it
- Feed tray color comes off with prolonged use
- Requires significant adjustments to avoid scallops and snipe
Looking for a truly portable benchtop planer that delivers some incredible cuts to your stock and won’t cut too much out of your wallet? Then the Powertec PL1252 15 Amp Two-Blade Benchtop Planer is here to catch your eye. Specifically designed to repurpose your worn-out and roughsawn wood to life.
The tough 15 Amp motor can handle a wide range of big and small woodworking projects. A two-blade cutting system with a lockable, precision steel cutter head generates 18,800 cuts per minute. It weighs less than 64 pounds and, with the side-mounted handles, makes this a planer that is a solid performer and extremely portable.
The Powertec PL1252 has all the bells and whistles, too, including an anti-wobble base, incremental depth adjustment, and easy to read depth gauge. It has an easy blade replacement feature with an index pin set up; you won’t need a blade gauge with this planer. There is some adjustment you’ll need to do with the feed tables and supports but once you’re dialed in, this benchtop planer is truly impressive, especially for the price.
Unfortunately, this thickness planer does not include knives or a dust port; they must be purchased separately.
Find more Powertec PL1252 15 Amp Two-Blade Benchtop Planer information and reviews here.
Grizzly Industrial G0889 13-Inch Benchtop Planer
- Convenient grab handles to move this bad boy around
- Features depth cut scale using Imperial and Metric units
- Cutting depth stop control
- You may have to modify the in and outfeed tables to level with bed
- Great built-in dust collection feature but chips still make it to the working surface
- This planer is heavier than others in its class
The Grizzly Industrial G0889 13-Inch Benchtop Planer comes equipped with a cut depth indicator, an adjustable cutter head depth stop for repeat planing operations, and a built-in chip blower with dust collection bag. The blower tube is a nice 2-1/2-inches in diameter making this one of the only benchtop planers out there to feature compatibility with a typical shop vac right out of the box. Finally!
This planer also features a fixed-height table design, meaning the cutter head itself raises and lowers for thickness adjustments as opposed to the table. This allows for permanent infeed and outfeed roller setups! The Grizzly G0889 is truly a portable planer because of the convenient grab handles on the sides of the machine.
Beyond all those perks, this planer’s cutter head offers three knives and a crazy big 27,000 cuts per minute to get that stock all nice and smooth. Stainless steel table and supports, dual return rollers and indexed knives make this a great little lunchbox planer for your shop. Precision and portability for your home woodshop or job site is what this planer for Grizzly Industrial is all about. The G0889 comes with a one-year warranty covering parts and assuring the unit is free from factory defects (knives not included).
Find more Grizzly Industrial G0889 13-Inch Benchtop Planer information and reviews here.
WEN 6550T 15 Amp 12.5-Inch Benchtop Thickness Planer
- Two-inch dust output tube
- Dry-roller feed system to help avoid snipe
- Foldable infeed and outfeed tables
- No cutting head lock for easy blade changing
- Manual isn’t clear at all
- No cutting depth gauge
The WEN company provides decent power tools at a fraction of the price of the larger brands. With that, you’ve got to expect some deficiency of quality but while the WEN 6550T 15 Amp 12.5-Inch Benchtop Thickness Planer does indeed cut some corners, the performance to price ratio is way high.
First off, this is the only benchtop planer that features a granite feed table that offers a non-stick surface that won’t mar the wood. Second, the infeed and outfeed tables fold up for transport and are included with the planer. And while the WEN 6550T features two knives instead of three, the cuts are smooth, fast, and efficient.
The depth adjustment handle is comfortable and swings around to take off 1/16-inch with each revolution. The table itself, due to the granite feed table and quality construction, is heavy and won’t move easily even when not clamped to the workbench and planing hardwood.
This isn’t a DeWalt and it isn’t a Grizzly but it leaves a very nice finish, the blades are easy to change, and you simply can’t beat the price. If you’re a hobbyist woodworker and not a professional carpenter, this little benchtop planer will be a great fit in your workshop.
Find more WEN 6550T 15 Amp 12.5-Inch Benchtop Thickness Planer information and reviews here.
Jet JWP-13BT Helical-Style Benchtop Planer
- Six rows of 24 individual quick-change inserts
- Cast iron bed and steel cover assists in keeping boards flat
- Blades already installed in cutter head out of the box
- Blades can be expensive to replace
- Blades are made of soft steel and will dull quickly
The Jet JWP-13BT Helical-Style Benchtop Planer is a good planer for a small workshop or for a remote job site. When planing boards, and given suitable adjustments, your stock won’t need much in the way of sanding afterward. The Jet JWP-13BT features a helical-style cutter head; instead of two or three long blades doing all the work, the head contains six rows of 24 smaller blades that create that nice, smooth finish.
This benchtop planer features a positive stop system, that is you can set the stop for a certain depth then work your boards down to that thickness. This is the only small “lunchbox” planer that I’ve seen that has this amenity typically reserved for larger commercial models. With all that removal of material, it’s got to go somewhere and in this case, it’s ejected out of the four-inch dust coupler on the back of the unit. Hook up your dust collector or a shop vac with this adapter (sold separately).
There’s also a dual-speed control between 18 feet per minute and 26 feet per minute depending on what kind of finish you want or type of wood you’re working with. It’s somewhat quiet, compact, and folds up for storage when not in use. The Jet JWP-13BT is a great option for shops and garages that will work hard for you without breaking a sweat.
Find more Jet JWP-13BT Helical-Style Benchtop Planer information and reviews here.
WEN 6552T 13-Inch Three-Blade Benchtop Planer
- Fan-assisted dust port features two sizes of attachment
- Material removal gauge
- Tri-roller feeding system
- You’ll have to fine tune this machine a bit to make perfect
- Plastic gears, plastic handles, plastic, plastic, plastic
- No granite table like the 6550T
The WEN 6552T 13-Inch Three-Blade Benchtop Planer is powered by a strong 15 Amp motor that provides over 25,500 cuts per minute at a 26 feet per minute feed rate. Stock up to 13 inches wide and 6 inches thick can pass through the two-blade cutting head with ease. This planer has an onboard planning gauge that shows the amount of material being removed during each pass; nice feature.
Combine that with the heavy-duty cast iron base for a truly stout little planer that doesn’t walk or wobble during operation (although I’d recommend you clamp it down anyway). The handy depth adjustment knob varies each pass to take off anything up to 3/32-inch. The (included!) fan-assisted dust port blasts chips and sawdust out of your way. The port can also be hooked up to a 2-inch, 2-1/2-inch or 4-inch collection tube.
This benchtop planer includes height-adjustable infeed and outfeed tables to limit snipe while providing extra support to your workpiece during planing. It also has predrilled base holes so you can mount to a workbench if you’d like. Customer service is a plus and for the price, the WEN 6552T is an outstanding addition to your shop.
Note: You’re going to need blades and you can find them here.
Find more WEN 6552T 13-Inch Three-Blade Benchtop Planer information and reviews here.
Grizzly Industrial G0505 Benchtop Planer
- Long-lasting blades
- Decent quality for the price
- It’s a no-frills workhorse
- Struggles with cutting off more than 1/32-inch at a time
- Too light to sit properly without being clamped down
- Power cord is too short to use without an extension cord
Grizzly Industrial is known for larger, commercial planers but they also make this small shop variety, the Grizzly Industrial G0505 Benchtop Planer. It’s light enough to be portable but doesn’t lack muscle or design quality. It features a 15 Amp motor that spins the two-knife cutter head at 10,000 RPM. Boards may be planed at a 32 feet per minute rate using top-mounted return rollers and extra-large table extensions.
Knives are 1/8-inch thick rather than the 1/16-inch knives found in some other benchtop planers. Depth adjustment is very accurate; you’ll learn to work with this planer to not take off more material at a time than is appropriate. Assembly is next to no work so you can be up and running in less than ten minutes. Because it’s light, you’ll want to mount or clamp the Grizzly G0505 down when working.
With a few adjustments, you’ll get next to no snipe when planing stock. Blades are tough and should last longer than most other small planer knives. If you don’t have the budget for a larger table planer from Grizzly Industrial, the G0505 Benchtop Planer might be what you need.
Find more Grizzly Industrial G0505 Benchtop Planer information and reviews here.
Delta Power Tools 22-555 Portable Thickness Planer
- No adjustment jigs necessary to change blades easily
- Infeed and outfeed tables are included
- Reversible dust port can be set on right or left side of planer
- Vibrates too much unless clamped down
- Feed tables difficult to adjust for snipe issues
You’ll get enough bang for your buck with the Delta Power Tools 22-555 Portable Thickness Planer. It’s tough, works hard, and is durable enough to be a major component of your small woodworking shop. Components are solid and the castings are tight enough that there is little movement in the cutterhead-feeder mechanisms. The build of the cutterhead assembly and support columns is truly stout.
The cutting head spins at 9,400 RPM to allow for 18,800 cuts per minute. Blades are reversible so you’ll have two very sharp replacements with the same set; when you do have to change them out, the process is simple. Change tools are provided and stored in the machine.
Depth adjustment is accurately made using the top handle with 1/16-inch for every revolution. While adjusting, there should be no planer marks nor snipe depending on the hardness of wood that is fed through the benchtop planer. With 13-inch blades, an extremely rapid cut, and a dust collector that can be mounted either left or right, there aren’t many machines out there that can beat this performance and price point.
While not meant for commercial applications, the Delta Power Tools 22-555 Portable Thickness Planer features a five-year warranty, the longest guarantee of any of the benchtop planers I looked at. The price point and the tough work this little planer puts out makes it all definitely worth it.
Find more Delta Power Tools 22-555 Portable Thickness Planer information and reviews here.
Delta Power Tools 22-590X Benchtop Planer
- Snipe reduction system with cutter head lock system
- Best-in-class infeed and outfeed tables
- Great performance
- Belts seem to break easily
The Delta Power Tools 22-590X Benchtop Planer features a performance level that competes with any of the planers on our list. It has a depth-of-cut gauge bar that spans the opening of the feed opening meaning you can count on accuracy no matter the width of the stock you’re working on. There are also six thickness stops that include 1/32-inch increments; nice for finish work.
The dust hood has a centered port and a wide expulsion opening that will spew chips out with the best of them. The cut quality is problem-free using incredibly sharp knives. The 26-feet-per-minute feed rate and powerful 15 Amp motor will cut through hardwood without slowing down.
You’ll experience snipe with the Delta 22-590X like any benchtop planer however the cutter head lock system should help to bring this down by a large margin. Delta claims that their infeed and outfeed tables are “best-in-class” but, also like any benchtop planers, they require significant adjustment to get them true and level.
Find more Delta Power Tools 22-590X Benchtop Planer information and reviews here.
Grizzly Industrial G0815 15-Inch Heavy-Duty Planer
- Heavy cast iron planer head elevation handwheel
- Magnetic power switch with emergency shut-off
- Gas spring head lift assist
- It’s too heavy (380 pounds) to be considered portable and really isn’t meant to be
- It’s wicked expensive
- Stand and feed tables are an additional expense
This benchtop is big and bad and will chew up rough stock like a beaver. The Grizzly Industries G0815 15-inch Heavy-Duty Planer has a huge 3 HP motor with 5,000 RPM cutterhead speed. It has four-column support made of cast-iron with a handwheel height adjustment and column locks, also made of cast-iron (see a trend yet?). It’s got the capability of taking on 15-inch wide stock up to 8-1/4-inches thick. Yikes.
The G0815 offers two feed-rate settings, either 16 feet per minute or 30 feet per minute for your finish preferences. It’s more functional than any of the other benchtop planers on the list however the footprint really isn’t any larger. That functionality comes at a price, however; the G0815 is more than double the cost of any of the other planers but I’d argue that this planer exists in a higher class than the rest.
You’ll need to find a permanent resting place for this planer as it weighs 380 pounds. It definitely needs a fixed table position. The planer doesn’t come with infeed or outfeed roller tables which is disappointing however the nature of this planer makes building a permanent table more enticing.
The Grizzly Industries G0815 15-inch Heavy-Duty Planer is a definite step up from the other lunchbox planers however you’re going to pay for it. If you’re looking to improve your woodworking ability and/or output, this might be something to take a look at.
Find more Grizzly Industrial G0815 15-Inch Heavy-Duty Planer information and reviews here.
What is a Benchtop Planer?
A planer is an essential piece of equipment for anyone into woodworking or do-it-yourself projects. In the simplest of terms, planers reduce the thickness of a wooden plank. They are designed to spin a cutting head extremely fast to shave down rough stock in increments using multiple passes through the machine to achieve the desired board thickness.
Planers come in various forms including hand tools, both manual and electric, large table models, and commercial-grade units. Benchtop planers are an excellent option for home or light professional use located in small workshops, garages, or remote worksites. Portability is the most highly desired attribute for a benchtop planer.
How Will a Benchtop Planer Help Me with Woodworking Projects?
Benchtop planers can pay off in the long run by allowing the purchase of rough stock to finish it yourself. This lumber is less expensive than the finished stuff you find in the big box stores; given the price of wood these days, you may find that your planer will pay itself off in a hurry.
While these small planers will get things done, don’t overestimate their capabilities. Benchtop planers have motors that typically remove just 1/8-inch or less at a time so you’ll be taking more time than a larger commercial unit that can remove much more material. Don’t worry, though: these small planers are totally fine for home shops that aren’t on a production schedule.
Keep in mind that after milling, you may still need to sand or scrape your stock to remove scallop marks or snipe (gouges on the ends of a board created when gripped by a one feed roller during production). Coarse then lighter sandings will typically remove both of these imperfections.
The quality of the benchtop planer you choose will go a long way in dealing with this issue. Cutterheads (the part of the planer that holds the knives and quickly spins around to take off material from your board) that lock on their posts when boards engage the infeed rollers will cut down on this problem. Adjusting the infeed and outfeed tables working with your benchtop planer may also help.
What Features Should I Look For in a Benchtop Planer?
Besides how cool a benchtop planer will look in your workshop, there are some practical considerations to make when on the hunt for a benchtop planer. Interestingly enough, you won’t have to worry about comparing power rankings. Nearly all planers offer up a similar motor size with power enough to handle 1/8-inch-deep cuts in 12-inch-wide hardwoods.
As you might expect, planers make a severe mess with how many wood shavings they create when working. The ability to hook up a dust collector or vacuum is important. Some planers blow wood chips out a vent by employing a built-in fan that draws the chips away from the cutterhead. That’s nice if the planer rests away from the dust collector. Dust hoods that connect to a collection hose are included with some benchtop planers but some offer this only as an accessory.
Planers aren’t much good without some really, really (really!) sharp knives. Most straight-knife cutterhead models feature self-indexing, double-edged knives which is good since knives that don’t self-index are too much trouble to deal with. Also, look for an automatic cutterhead lock so the head doesn’t turn while you remove the bolts and knives when changing them out.
It would be good to know how much wood you’re taking away with each pass through the planer so many of them have a gauge that shows exactly this. These gauges help you avoid taking too much material which may make snipe worse than normal. Adjustable preset depth stops are nice, too, so you won’t make a board thinner than planned. This is a good thing if you have a bunch of boards that you’re looking to make the same thickness.
At the end of the day, you want a benchtop planer that will give you exceptional cut quality with an output requiring the least sanding necessary. You’ll want knives that wear for a long time and accurate gauges and scales that provide reliable measurements each and every time. The ability to attach to a shop vac or dust collector is a definite plus. And a planer that’s somewhat quiet would be some sweet icing on the cake.
What’s the difference between a benchtop planer and a jointer?
A jointer is a type of planer employed to trim down thin edges of wood stock. Like a table saw, a rotating blade spins just slightly above a metal surface and the lumber is pushed along the cutting space to smooth out inconsistencies in the wood. A benchtop planer, also known as a thickness planer, is used primarily for just that: cutting material away from wider surfaces in order to trim the thickness down to the measurement you want.
If you’re serious about woodworking at all, you’ll eventually need both a planer AND a jointer for the simple fact that you can get more out of a rough board with both tools. The challenge is that these power tools aren’t exactly cheap so you may find yourself waiting for a few months between buying one and waiting to buy another. If you have to choose one over the other, get the benchtop planer first.
Jointers are great squaring up thin edges and faces and they handle that very well. But they can only do it one face at a time meaning both sides won’t be parallel. Your board will be thinner on end than it is the other. Not good. In addition, they’re not meant to be set to a certain thickness like planers are.
Your benchtop planer can smooth out rough boards to make both faces clean, flat, and parallel. Yeah, the edges will be rough but you can use a router table, table saw or a circular saw with the right jigs to handle those. You could even trim them up with a hand plane. Take a look at this video to get one idea of how a planer can also step in for a jointer if need be. However you do it, you can get done a lot more with a planer than a jointer…but once you get that gleaming piece of power tool awesomeness in your shop as well, then you’ll be cooking with fire.
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