10 Best Benchtop Thickness Planers For Planing Rough Lumber

benchtop planer or thickness planer

Last updated on January 10th, 2021 at 05:25 am

​If you want to plane or dimension rough lumber in your woodworking shop, you need a thickness planer machine, also known as wood thicknesser in the UK and Australia.

It’s also called a surface planer because it helps remove the rough or old surface of wood, exposing a smooth and new surface good for fine woodworking projects.

With it, you can turn rough, rugged, old and worn out ​wood to smooth ones ready to use for your projects. That’s why it is undoubtedly one of the most important woodworking machine tools you need in your workshop.

​Generally, they come in the form of massive heavy duty floor machinery, which are quite expensive especially for the average hobbyist and DIYer.

Hence the need ​for portable ones commonly known as benchtop planers.

A benchtop planer ​works just like the bigger floor model thickness planers, only at a lower capacity. With a ​floor model planer, you can plane lumber as wide as 20 inches and above, whereas the highest or widest you can get today in terms of width capacity for benchtop planers is 13 inches.

Hence, the portability comes at a price which can be forgiven because having a heavy duty planing machine might prove to be too expensive and not ideal especially for a simple hobbyist or DIYer who uses it sparingly.

On the other hand, the portability means you don’t have to own a big workshop to get one. Your home garage is even big enough.

Also, it can be used on jobsites by contractors, because it’s portable and can be moved easily by one person, unlike big floor models which are meant to stay in the workshop.

There are many brands and manufacturers of thickness planers today, each with its own unique set of features. Thus, choosing one can easily turn out to be a heard scratcher if you don’t know what you’re doing.

That is why we’ve reviewed and picked out the 10 best portable thickness planers you can get your hands on today, and also provided a buyer’s guide to show you what you should look for when getting one for yourself.

If you’re not looking for a portable or benchtop model, you can check out this guide here for heavy duty floor models.

Our Top Picks

Dewalt DW735X

Editor’s Pick

  • 3 knives cutterhead
  • 10,0000 RPM Speed
  • 13 inch width capacity

Makita 2012NB

Value Pick

  • 2 knives cutterhead
  • 8500 RPM Speed
  • 12 inch width capacity

Wen 6552T

Budget Pick

  • 3 knives cutterhead
  • 25,500 Cuts Per Min
  • 13 inch width capacity

Here Are The 10 Best Benchtop Thickness Planer Reviews Of 2021

1. Dewalt DW735X – Editor’s Pick

Dewalt DW735X benchtop planer

The DW735X has a 13 inch width capacity which is the widest you’re going to get with portable planers.

Features a maximum depth capacity of 6 inches

A 3 knife cutterhead produces very smooth surfaces on boards that go through the unit.

One of the only portable thickness planers that come equipped with a 2 speed gearbox which allows user to change the feed speed from 96 cuts per inch to 179 cuts per inch.

This allows users to optimize cuts per inch for both dimensioning and finishing of the lumber surface.

Features an automatic carriage lock that helps lock the cutterhead in place to prevent sniping at the ends of the boards.

A fan assisted dust ejection helps vacuum chips and sawdust off the cutter-head and out of the machine, to keep the cutterhead free from any hindrance that may bog down the machine. It comes equipped with in-feed and out-feed tables, an extra set of blades and a dust hose adapter.

Related: Which Dewalt Planer Is The Best – DW735X vs DW735 vs DW734

​What we like about it

  • Produces really smooth surfaces on the stock
  • Wide 13 inch width capacity
  • 2 speed gearbox for dimensioning and finishing lumber
  • Fan assisted dust ejection
  • Efficient height adjustment crank
  • Sturdy build and design

Where it can be improved

  • Awkward location of dust ejection port

Related: Should You Get A Jointer Planer Combo Machine?

​2. Wen 6552T Portable Thickness Planer – Budget Pick

The WEN 6552T also has a 13 inch with capacity and a 6 inch depth capacity so you can plane wider boards with it.

To minimize snipe, it comes equipped with a 3 roller lumber feeding system that ensures the board is always in contact with a roller as it feeds out of the machine, instead of the end getting sucked into the cutterhead blades.

It comes equipped with adjustable infeed and outfeed tables, so you can feed boards smoothly into the machine and also minimize snipe.

The WEN 6552T also features a fan assisted dust ejection system that helps vacuum chips and sawdust off the machine during operation to minimize cleanup.

Features a height or depth adjustment lever and a clear and readable depth scale for easy depth adjustments. The cutterhead can be raised and lowered with increments of 1/64th of an inch to maximize precision of the cuts.

Related: Jointer Or Planer – Which Tool Should You Get First?

What we like about it

  • Has fan assisted dust ejection
  • Wide 13 inch width capacity
  • Produces smooth cuts
  • Setup is quick and easy
  • Budget friendly
  • Quality build and design from a reputable brand

Where it can be improved

  • No turret depth stop

Related: Reviews Of The Best Benchtop Jointers

3. Jet JWP-13BT Helical Cutterhead Thickness Planer

Of all the benchtop thickness planers listed here, the Jet JWP-13BT is the only one that comes factory fitted with a helical style cutterhead.

It comes equipped with 15 amp 2 horsepower motor that spins the helical cutterhead at a speed of 10,000 RPM.

The helical cutter head consist of 6 rows of 24 quick-change carbide inserts which are very easy to replace compared to straight knife cutter head knives.

It has a width capacity of 13 inches, a depth capacity of 6 inches and a maximum cut depth of 1/8 inches.

The Jet JJP-13BT features precision machined cast iron bed, adjustable infeed and outfeed tables for workpiece support and snipe prevention.

It features an adjustable depth stop for repetitive cuts and to prevent mistakes. Infeed speed can be changed from 18 feet per minute to 16 feet per minute to maximize cut quality.

What we like about it

  • Helical style cutter head runs quieter and produces better cut quality.
  • The planer is well-built and sturdy.
  • Feed rate can be adjusted for a better finish or to remove more material from the workpiece.
  • Cutterhead inserts are cheaper and easier to change.
  • Increased width capacity of 13 inches.
  • Good dust collection

Where it can be improved

  • It’s quite pricey compared to the competition.

​4. ​Dewalt DW734 Benchtop Thickness Planer

It features a 3 knife cutter head just like the Dewalt DW735X.

The 3 knifes are double edged knives, which means you can reverse them after one edge gets dull or blunt.

It comes equipped with a powerful 15 amp motor which produces a maximum speed of 20,000 RPM, so the user can work on any stock whether it’s hardwood like oak or softwood like pine wood.

The motor spins the cutter head at a speed of 10,000 rpm, producing 96 cuts per inch to ensure the finest finish on the stock.

Features a depth adjustment knob at the top for easy depth control.

It has a turret depth stop feature so the user can make repeat cuts and avoid mistakes.

Dewalt DW734 benchtop planer

Large infeed and outfeed tables provide enough space to support the stock and reduce sniping at the ends of the boards.

It features a material removal gauge and an easy to read thickness scale so the user can know the amount of material to be removed on every pass through the machine.

A large and easily accessible paddle switch ensures you can easily turn off the machine whenever you need to.

What we like about it

  • 3 blade cutterhead produces really smooth finishes
  • Cutter head lock reduces snipe-causing movement
  • Large visible scale and adjustment guide
  • Sturdy build and design
  • Easy setup

Where it can be improved

  • A bit noisy
  • Outfield table no longer folds once dust hatch is attached

​5. Wen 6550T Portable Thickness Planer

wen 6550t

Bring old, rough and worn-out lumber back to life with this WEN 6550T thickness planer.

With the 6550T, you get a maximum width capacity of 12-1/2 inches and a depth capacity of 6 inches.

It comes equipped with a 15 amp rated motor and a cutterhead that produces up to 17,000 cuts per minute on the stock to ensure a flawless surface finish.

You can feed boards into the machine at a feed rate of 26 feet per minute with a maximum cutting depth of 3/32 inches.

It comes equipped with large infeed and outfeed tables, and a heavy duty granite table provides a non-marring surface for the stock to slide through.

Depth gauge is easy to read and depth adjustments are easy to make with the depth adjustment handle located at the top of the machine.

Features a 2 inch dust port to which you can connect a shop vac for sawdust and chips removal.

It weighs just over 70 lbs. but if you want extra stability, you can always bolt it to your workbench with the mounting holes located in the base.

The infeed and outfeed tables are foldable and there’re side-mounted handles for easy transportation.

What we like about it

  • Smooth non-marring all-granite table
  • Equipped with installation magnets and index pins to make blade replacement easy
  • Also features a fan assisted dust port
  • Tri-roller system minimizes snipe
  • Sturdy build, heavy cast iron base
  • Leaves a very nice finish on the stock

Where it can be improved

  • Scale can be hard to read at times as it get dirty with sawdust really quick

Related: Grizzly Thickness Planer Reviews – Everything You Need To Know

​6. Makita 2012NB

Makita 2012NB benchtop thickness planer

The Makita 2012NB comes equipped with a 2 knife cutterhead with a no-load speed of 8500 RPM that produces very smooth cuts on any stock.

Cutter head blades are double edged, thus can be reversed when one edge gets dull.

It has a width capacity of 12 inches and a depth capacity of 6 -3/32 inches.

Features a fully adjustable depth stop to eliminate mistakes and for repeat cuts.

Cutting depth is fully adjustable with a maximum cutting depth of 1/8 inches.

It comes equipped with large infeed and outfeed tables to fully support the stock being planed and to prevent sniping.

Features Makita’s interna-lok automated head clamp that locks the cutterhead in place to limit the movement that causes snipe and improve the performance of the machine.

Design the Makita 2012NB is compact and lightweight for easy transport to the jobsite. The lighter weight is usually not a problem because it can be bolted to a workbench to prevent movement and vibration during use.

A powerful 15 amp motor keeps the cutter head running.

What we like about it

  • Internal-lok cutter head clamp prevents sniping
  • adjustable depth stop for planing several boards to same thickness
  • Leaves a very smooth finish on the wood
  • Tri-roller system minimizes snipe
  • Plane both hardwood and softwood with ease
  • Blades are reversible

Where it can be improved

  • Noisy during operation. Use ear protection.

Related: The 10 Best Electric Hand Planers Of 2020

​7. Porter Cable PC305TP Thickness Planer

Porter cable benchtop planer

With this Porter Cable PC305TP, you get a portable thickness planer powered with a 15 amp motor for maximum stock removal.

The motor spins the cutter head at a rate of 8000 rpm, and this amounts to 16,000 cuts per minute produced at the cutter head.

It features a 2 knife cutterhead, with knives made of high carbon steel for durability. The knives are also reversible for a longer cutting life.

Features infeed and outfeed tables for good material support.

It has a 12-1/2 inch width capacity and a 6 inch depth capacity.

Features a poly-V belt cutter head drive, a rugged gearbox and a sprocket feed roller which ensures maximum transfer of power from the motor to the cutterhead.

It weighs 64.8 lbs which is quite heavy but can be carried by one person.

What we like about it

  • Indexing holes makes blade replacement easy
  • Easy assembly and setup
  • Leaves a very smooth cut and surface on the wood
  • Relatively quiet
  • Smooth infield and outfielding of boards.

Where it can be improved

  • No cutter head lock, thus wood can easily snipe at the ends if not supported all through.

​8. Delta Power Tools 22-555

delta power tool

The 22-555 is not the most recent model of the Delta Power Tools thickness planer but it’s certainly the most popular and it seems to be the better model.

Its 4 column design provides rock-solid support and stability during use.

It features a precision machined 2 knife cutterhead for increased accuracy.

The knives are dual-edged, which means you can reverse them after some time for a longer knife life.

It features a quick change knife system which does not involve the use of knife alignment jigs which are quite difficult to use.

The Delta Power Tools 22-555 benchtop planer features adjustable infeed and outfeed tables for extra material support and to prevent sniping at the ends of the boards.

It comes equipped with a 15 amp motor so the user can plane both hard and softwood with it.

The cutterhead delivers up to 18,800 cuts per inch at a feed rate of 28 feet per minute, producing the smoothest of cuts even on very hard lumber pieces.

It has a width capacity of 13 inches, a 6 inch depth capacity and a maximum cut depth of 3/32 inches.

A reversible dust port makes dust collection a breeze as you can connect your shop vac to either sides of the planer machine.

What we like about it

  • Adjustable infield and outfield tables
  • Reversible dust port – collect dust from either side of the planer
  • Easy to setup and operate
  • Clear and easy to read scale
  • Budget friendly

Where it can be improved

  • Has a few parts made of plastic

Related: 10 Best Biscuit Joiners Of 2020 [ Reviews And Guide ]

​9. Powertec PL1252 Benchtop Planer

powertec pl1251 benchtop planer

You get one of the smoothest finishes on the lumber you plane with this Powertec PL1252 because the cutterhead produces as much as 18,800 cuts per minute on the stock.

It’s a 2 blade cutterhead rotating at a speed of 9,400 RPM.

The machine has a 12-1/2 inch width capacity and a 6 inch depth capacity.

A heavy duty anti-wobble base ensures the thickness planer remains rigid during operation, and also provides a non-marring surface for passage of stock through the machine.

Infeed and outfeed tables provides apple material support for the stock.

The cutter head comes equipped with index pins and a spindle lock for safe and easy blade replacement.

Just like the competition, the Powertec PL1252 features an easy to use depth adjustment knob at the top and an easy to read thickness scale for easy depth adjustment during use.

What we like about it

  • Setup is easy and takes little to no time.
  • Great precision and stability during operation
  • Leaves a very smooth surface on the stock
  • Depth settings stay accurate and scale is easy to read.

Where it can be improved

  • Does not include a dust port, but you can order one for it.

Related: 40 Modern Tools Every Woodworker Should Have In His Workshop

​10. Craftsman CMEW320

craftsman benchtop thickness planer

This Craftsman CMEW320 benchtop planer comes equipped with 15 amp motor for maximum power and speed production.

The motor spins the cutter head at 8,000 revolutions per minute and makes 16,000 cuts per minute on the stock, ensuring a very smooth surface is produced.

Features a 2 knife quick change solid steel cutter head. The cutter head is mounted on ball bearings for a very smooth operation.

Knifes are made of high carbon still and they’re double edged, which means you can reverse them after some time.

Includes an easy to read depth gauge and a big paddle switch for easy operation.

It comes equipped with large infeed and outfeed tables for good material support.

Features a depth adjustment knob right at the top for making precise depth settings.

A vacuum port at the back provides easy access to connect a shop vac to get rid of chips and sawdust produced during operation.

It features a Poly-V cutter head drive for maximum transmission of power from the motor to the cutter head.

What we like about it

  • Replace cutter head blades easily
  • Leaves a very smooth surface
  • Dust port can be positioned either way of the machine for convenience
  • Fairly priced
  • Setup is easy

Where it can be improved

  • You get some sniping at the end of your boards. Proper support can eliminate it though.

Features To Consider When Choosing A Benchtop Thickness Planer

The process of choosing a portable thickness planer for your project can be quite complicated, but with the right guidance, you can surely have the right one sitting in your workshop in no time.

Here are important features you should consider before making your choice.

Width Capacity

The width capacity of a thickness planer is the maximum size of boards in width it accommodate. A thickness planer with a width capacity of 13 inches can plane boards not more than 13 inches in width, and that with a width capacity of 12-1/2 inches can plane boards not more than 12-1/2 inches in width.

When choosing a thickness planer, the higher the width capacity the better it is for you, because you can plane wider boards with it without trying to downsize the boards.

Here are the width capacities of the 10 reviewed in this article.

PlanerWidth Capacity
Dewalt DW735X13 Inches
Wen 6552T 13 inches
Dewalt DW73412-1/3 Inches
Wen 6550T12. 5 Inches
Makita 2012NB12 inches
Porter Cable PC305TP12 Inches
Delta Power Tools 22-55513 Inches
Grizzly G050512-1/2 Inches
Powertec PL1251 12-1/2 Inches
Craftsman CMEW32012 Inches

Type of Cutter Head

straight knife cutter head

If you ask me to go buy a new thickness planer machine today, one of the first things I’ll check before making my choice is the type of cutter heads in the ones available.

That’s because the quality of the planer you choose is largely determined by the type of cutter head it comes with. The cutter head in it affects a few things about the planer that are very important.

It affects the smoothness or surface finished of the boards that goes through the planer.

It affects the noise level of the planer machine.

It determines how much you’re going to spend if you accidentally plane a nail-embedded wood with the machine.

Now, talking about the type of cutter head it comes with, there’re two main types of cutter head.

Which are:

Straight knife cutter head and

Helical or Spiral cutter head

The straight knife cutterhead is the main type of cutter head or the traditional cutterhead that comes with most planers, especially the benchtop models.

They feature 2 to 4 straight knifes slightly longer than the length of the planer’s width capacity, equally spaced around the cutterhead and running parallel with its axis.

Straight knife cutter heads are usually made with high speed steel, and thus they’re cheaper compared to helical cutter heads which are made with carbide steel.

They easily get blunt because they’re not as hard as carbide, but it’s cheaper to replace them, or you can just sharpen or reverse the direction of the knives if they’re reversible double edged knives.

Helical cutter heads on the other hand does not feature long straight knives that runs the length of the cutterhead. Instead, they feature multiple rows of small square-shaped cutters called inserts that are configured in a helical orientation around the cutter head.

helical cutter head

Although some woodworkers prefer the straight knife cutter head over the helical type, it has a few a few noteworthy advantages over the straight knife cutter head.

One of the main advantages is the ease of replacing the carbide inserts of the helical cutter head compared to that of replacing the knives of the straight knife cutter head.

When you mistakenly run a nail embedded wood through your planer, just 1 or 2 carbide inserts might get damaged if it’s a helical cutter head, and they’re very easy to replace.

In fact, you don’t have to replace the carbide inserts the first time they get nicked, you just have to loosen the nicked inserts and rotate them 90 degrees to reveal a new sharp edge, and you’re as good as new.

Each insert can be rotated 4 times before it’s finally replaced because all four edges can be used for planing.

On the other hand, replacing the straight knives of a straight knife cutter head can be a huge pain in the behind. First you have loosen and remove the damaged knife from the cutterhead, then you have to replace and align the new knife with the rest of the knives and this can sometimes take a whole day to replace.

Because the inserts of the helical cutterhead are made of carbide, they also last far longer than the straight knives of a straight knife cutter head.

Another important advantage of having a thickness planer with a helical cutter is that it reduces the noise produced by the planer.

Byrd produces a helical cutter head they call the Shelix. On the shelix, the carbide inserts on the cutter head are inclined at an angle to the feed direction so that the cutter head produces a shearing action as they slice through the wood, instead of a straight 90 degree cut on the wood which scoops the wood and produces a louder sound.

Helical cutter heads reduces the sound produce by attacking the wood at an angle instead of the straight 90 degree contact or cuts of straight knife cutter heads.

Dust collection is also better when the cutter head is a helical one. The small cutters of the helical cutter head produce little wood chips which can be easily sucked up by your dust collector.

On the other hand, a straight knife cutter head produce long chips which can tangle and block the dust port of the machine, preventing the dust collector from being able to suck it up.

Cut quality and lower cost of maintenance are two more advantages of a helical cutterhead over a straight knife cutterhead.

On the downside, machines that come equipped with helical cutter heads have more initial costs than ones with straight knife cutter heads.

Motor

The benchtop thickness planer you choose should have a good quality motor spinning the cutterhead and working the infield and outfield rollers.

Having a good quality and powerful motor will ensure you can plane any type of wood with it, whether it’s hardwood like oak or softwood like pine.

Most benchtop planers come with 15 amps motors turning the cutterhead at a minimum speed of 8000 rpm.

The faster the RPM the smoother the surface of the wood will be. That’s because a faster cutter head means there’re more cuts taking place per inch of the wood as it goes through the machine.

Feeding your wood stock into a less powerful planer also takes longer due to slower feed rates, and will take more time than necessary.

Related: Everything You Must Know Before Getting A Grizzly Jointer

Part Replacement

A benchtop planer is like any other machine. It will not stay the same forever. Some parts will need replacement after some time. So, you need to make sure the one you choose have parts that can easily be found in your local dealer’s shop or ordered online.

Talking about part replacement, it’s also good to check the warranty. Ensure you can return it if it falls apart before you start using it.

Material Design

Planing (milling) lumber is not child’s play. It involves movement of different powerful machine parts and cutting of lumber in these parts, which results in vibration. You have to choose a machine that is sturdy and rigid enough to withstand vibrations as you mill rough stocks with it.

So check that it has a firm and heavy cast iron base as found in the ones reviewed in this article like the Dewalt 735X, the WEN 6552T, Makita 2012NB and the rest, to help keep the planer stable and prevent wobbling during operation.

Ease Of Making Depth Adjustment

Depth adjustment should be a breeze in any benchtop planer you choose. There should be precise gauges and visible linear scales, and clear directions on how you can use and adjust them, in order to plane or trim your board to the particular dimension you want.

Snipe Handling

Snipe is one nasty defect that occurs when feeding boards in and out of a planer, as a result of the weight of the board pulling downwards at the free ends, thereby pushing the opposite end into the cutterhead, which creates a dip at the ends of the board.

Sadly, snipe is something that cannot really be totally eliminated without supporting the work piece. However, it can be reduced to a great extent with the right type of benchtop planer. So, you have to ask yourself how does the planer, you’re about to buy deal with snipe?

The Dewalt DW734 features a black bar at the top of the planer, which when pulled down engages an automatic carriage lock which locks down the cutterhead and roller assembly, thereby limiting any upward or downward movement that may cause sniping.

While the Dewalt DW735X’s means of mitigating snipe is automatic. You don’t need to pull down anything to lock down the cutterhead and roller assembly. It locks down by itself as soon as you finish adjusting the depth. This drastically reduces snipe and makes the planing process easier and more enjoyable.

The Makita 2012NB features an interna-lok head clamp which also helps to lock the cutterhead and roller assembly in place to eliminate snipe.

In summary, check out and make sure that the planer machine you choose have a few features that helps it handle snipe properly. However, to effectively reduce snipe totally, you also have to try to support your wood stock or lumber with your hand while feeding it into the planer, and also support it, while it’s feeding out on the other side.

Also ensure that any planer you choose, comes with infeed and outfeed tables, because they go a long way to support the wood, thereby reducing snipe.

Dust Collection

Many woodworking tools create a lot of dust and a benchtop wood planer is a very good example of a tool that really create lots of dust and wood chips. Without a proper way to direct, funnel and collect the dust created, it can turn your whole workshop into a huge mess.

That is why you have to ensure the one you choose has a good dust/chip collection port to expel the dust produced out of the planer in a controlled manner.

Some thickness planers like the Dewalt DW735X and the WEN 6552T come with a fan assisted dust collection port that helps to blow out chips and dust out of the machine. You can easily attach your dust collector or any hose to the dust collection port, and the planer will blow all the chips produced into it without even switching on your dust collector or shop vac.

Performance

How hard and how well can the planer you’re about to choose work continuously? What is the surface of the finished board like? Is it smooth or still needs a lot of work with a sander?

The one you should choose should be able to produce a really smooth surface on any type of wood, so that the resulting stock will require very little sanding if necessary.

Price

Price is another factor that may affect your decision. However, you must note that, like they say, “You can actually save money by spending money to get a better tool.” A better tool may cost you more, but it will afford, you more comfort, performance and durability which a cheaper tool most likely can’t.

Conclusion

In summary, like every other thing you’ve purchased before, it all depends on what you prefer. I cannot choose for you.

However, I do hope that you consider the factors I mentioned above when choosing your planer.

Like I said, it all depends on your choice. No planer will be 100 percent perfect. There’ll always be some features it has and others it lacks.

It all comes down to what you’re willing to sacrifice for another thing. I hope, you choose from this list whatever makes your job as a woodworker, diyer or hobbyist as easy and efficient as possible.

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