Last updated on August 25th, 2020 at 06:55 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.
The fact is, working with lumber would be almost impossible without a thickness planer to plane the surface and reduce its thickness.
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, thickness planers 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, 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 thickness 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 thickness planers 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 thickness planer, you can check out this guide here for heavy duty floor models.
Our Top Picks
Here Are The 10 Best Benchtop Thickness Planer Reviews Of 2020
1. Dewalt DW735X Benchtop Thickness Planer – Editor’s Choice
The first thing you should know about the Dewalt DW735X thickness planer is that it has two variants, which are the Dewalt DW735 and the Dewalt DW735X. Confused?
What is the difference between the DW735 and the DW735X? You might ask. Well, there’s no or significant difference between the two planer units. The major difference is actually in the accessories that come with them.
The DW735X consist of the planer unit, outfeed/infeed tables, and an extra set of the planer knives in case the ones that come with it gets dull or nicked. While the DW735 consist of the planer unit and nothing else.
When talking about benchtop planers, we believe the Dewalt DW735X sets the standard in terms of overall design and performance.
A good planer has to be able to generate enough power to cut cleanly through both hard and soft wood without experiencing any strain in the motor, and without damaging the wood in any way in the form of snipe or tearout. The Dewalt DW735X performs so well in these aspects.
In terms of power, the DW735 leaves nothing in its path. It features a powerful 15 amps motor which turns at a speed of 20,000 rpm while also spinning the cutterhead at a speed of 10,000 rpm, enabling it to plane any kind of wood efficiently without strain on the motor.
The cutterhead itself consists of three knives which have a decent lifespan and they can easily be replaced with the extra set of knives included in the package, in case they get dull.
The Dewalt DW735X features a 2 speed gear box system which is probably one of the most useful features of the planer. One is used for finishing cuts which is 179 CPI (cuts per inch) and the other speed is used for dimensioning and it’s at 96 CPI. Either of these speeds either raises or lowers the speed of the rollers.
If you want to take out a lot of material, i.e remove a lot of thickness from your board. Then you have to use the dimensioning speed (96 CPI). On the other hand, if you just want to create a smooth surface on the board, then you can use the finishing cut which is 179 CPI.
The planer features a peculiar height adjustment crank that helps to raise and lower the cutterhead and rollers assembly. The height adjustment is peculiar because it does not require a lockdown after cranking it upwards or downwards.
Most benchtop planers require that lockdown to prevent the wood from pushing the cutterhead and roller assembly back up. The DW735X is not like that. It just stays in the same position, until you raise it or lower it again, which is really cool.
Another important feature is the turret depth stop. The Dewalt DW735X features a depth stop that allows you to set a depth or height which you don’t want to go beneath. It’s possible that sometimes, you can just get carried away and you might actually plane your board thinner than you want it to be. The depth stop helps to prevent that from happening.
All you have to do is set the depth stop to that thickness, and you will not be able to crank the planer height adjustment below that depth. So, even if you forget or get carried away, the depth stop will prevent you from planing your board below the thickness you want, and from damaging your board.
There’s also a material removal guage which shows you visibly, the amount of material that will be removed depending on how much you lower the cutterhead and roller assembly on the wood or board you want to plane.
Planers generate a lot of dust and wood chips. If you care about the neatness of your workshop, then it’s good you get a planer with a good chip/dust ejection system. The DW735X has a pretty impressive fan assisted dust ejection system that blows out all the chips produced during planing.
It blows out dusts with so much speed that you don’t even need to switch on your dust collection system.
All you have to do is hook up the hose to the chip ejection port, and the planer will shoot or the wood chips/dust into whatever you have collecting your dusts.
Watch this video to learn how to use the the Dewalt DW735X benchtop planer.
What we like about it
Overall, the Dewalt DW735X is the benchtop planer which every woodworker deserves.
We like many of the features that came with it.
As mentioned earlier, what is most important about any planer is for it to be able to cut cleanly through any kind of wood without experiencing any strain.
The cuts should also be smooth. That is one thing I like about the DW735X. After planing with it, you won’t notice any snipe or scalloping.
The surface is glass smooth. It’s impossible not to fall in love with the quality of the surface finishing of DW35X benchtop planer .
The finishing on the wood is excellent. Noteworthy also is the dust ejection system of the DW735X. It’s very efficient.
You don’t have to own a dust collection system to work this thing.
With a decent dust collection hose connected to the chip/dust ejection port of the planer, you can direct all the dust produced during planing to wherever you want the dust to be.
Even if you have a good dust collection system/shop vac attached to the dust ejection port of the planer, the planer fan blows the dust out with so much speed that you don’t need to switch on your shop vac.
The planer is very sturdy and the design is really cool.
We recommend the DW735X benchtop planer for anyone who is looking for the best there is, when it comes to benchtop thickness planers.
Where it can be improved
Like everything in this world, the Dewalt DW735X is not a perfect machine. I think it can be improved in certain areas.
For example, the location of the dust ejection port is certainly not the best place to have it. The port is located behind the machine where the outfield tables are.
After connecting your dust collection hose, the hose actually gets in the way of the wood coming out of the outfield table and it’s a little bit annoying, unless you find something to suspend the hose so that it does not catch the wood.
In the future, if Dewalt can find a way to take the chip ejection port to the side, it would definitely be a good improvement.
Apart from that, the DW735 is definitely one of the best when it comes to portable thickness planer.
It’s powerful, it’s efficient and it’s built to last.
2. Wen 6552T Thickness Planer – Budget Pick
The Wen 6552T benchtop thickness planer is another planer on this list that is similar to the Dewalt DW735X in many ways. However, it comes with its own set of distinguishing features that really makes it one of the best benchtop planers you will ever get your hands on.
One of those features is the height adjustable infeed and outfeed tables that comes with the Wen 6552T planer. This might not seem important right now, but trust me, you’re going to find it very useful when you can adjust the height of your infeed and outfeed tables.
Snipe results when either the infeed or outfeed tables is out of whack, and the board being planed hangs loose when coming out or even when going into the planer. However, being able to adjust them will help you a lot in dealing with snipe.
Although to really mitigate snipe, it is a good practice to always have two people around when planing boards. Especially long pieces. So that one person can support the board, holding it at the end upwards when it is being fed into the planer, and the other person can also do likewise when it’s coming out at the other end.
The Wen benchtop planer is also equipped with a 3 blade cutterhead which is definitely a plus for this planer. Like I’ve said earlier in this article, 3 blade cutterheads produce better finishes on your wood compared to the 2 blade types.
Spinning this cutterhead is a powerful 15 amp motor that turns the cutter so fast that it produces 25500 cuts per minute. If you ask me, I would say, that is very fast. That is also one of the main reasons why this planer produces one of the best finishes you can ever get from a thickness planer of this size.
Dust ejection is another thing that the Wen 6552T does so well. In fact, I think it’s one of the main reasons I really like this planer in the first place. It comes with a fan assisted dust ejection system that blows all the dust and chips produced out of the planer, just like the Dewalt DW735.
Wood chips and dust produced by benchtop thickness planers can really get in your way if not handled properly, but with this fan assisted ejection, you got nothing to worry about. And you can really focus your attention more on the wood that you are planing.
To round it off, I would like to mention that the Wen 6552T planer has a 13 inch width capacity just like the Dewalt DW735, allowing it to plane boards as wide as 12.5 inch or a little bit more.
So like I said earlier, the Wen 6552T is really similar to the Dewalt DW735X in a lot of ways. Both of them have a 13 inch width capacity, which means they plane wider boards when compared to the other thickness planers on this list; both of them have a fan assisted ejection system, and both of them are equipped with a 3 blade cutterhead that really produces nice finishes on boards.
However, the Wen 6552T benchtop thickness planer comes at a relatively lower price when compared to the Dewalt DW735X. Thus, the Wen is more budget or hobbyist friendly for those who don’t want to invest too much on a thickness planer.
What we like about it
Like I mentioned earlier, the Wen 6552T is like the Dewalt 735X in many ways. So most of those features that I like about the Dewalt are what I also like about the Wen. For instance the fan assisted dust ejection is a really desirable feature of both planers.
However, if I have to say something, I would say that the affordability of the Wen is what really makes it stand out.
The Wen is more budget friendly. So, if you don’t want to spend too much, but you still need a quality and top notch planer, then the Wen 6552T is a very good choice.
Where it can be improved
Apart from the noise, I don’t really see where Wen went wrong with this planer. All the parts are good. Setup is easy and everything seems to work properly out of the box. So good job WEN.
Additionally, remember I said that the Wen 6552T is similar to the Dewalt DW735X in a many ways? Good. But it does not have all the features of the Dewalt.
One of those notable features that is not in the Wen is the turret depth stop that comes with the Dewalt DW735X. To me, the turret depth stop is very important and useful, because like I mentioned earlier in this article, it allows you to set a common thickness which you don’t want to go beyond or beneath.
You may want to plane all your boards to a certain thickness one at a time. So, all you need to do is set the turret depth stop to that thickness and leave it there. Then you can start planing your boards. Even if you make other depth adjustments on the planer, the depth stop will ensure that you don’t make adjustments that go beneath that depth. Thus, you don’t plane your boards below that depth and damage them.
This feature however, is not available in the Wen 6552T. This is not to say that the Wen 6552T is not a good thickness planer. In fact it is one of the best.
Without that feature, you’re still left with a very awesome planer in the Wen 6552T.
However, if you’re into the turret depth feature, you’ll have to upgrade to the Dewalt DW735X. Upgrade means you’ll have to spend more money, because like I said earlier, the Dewalt is more expensive than the Wen.
It all comes to your preferences and the size of your wallet, obviously.
3. Dewalt DW734 Benchtop Thickness Planer
The Dewalt DW734 is another top notch benchtop planer that makes this pretty impressive list of the best benchtop thickness planers out there today.
Just like the DW735, the Dewalt DW734 benchtop planer comes with a very powerful motor with a no load speed of 20,000 rpm, while also spinning the cutterhead at a speed of 10,000 rpm.
The cutterhead consist of 3 laminated steel knives which are reversible. This means both sides of the knives are sharp. So, when one side of the knives get dull, you just have to remove the knives and flip them to the other side, and they will cut like brand new knives once again.
Just like the Dewalt DW735, the DW734 also features a turret depth stop which comes in the form of a round dial located on the right side of the planer. This dial can be used to set the planer to cut to three commonly used thicknesses, which are ¼ inch, ½ inch and ¾ inch.
This is particular useful when you want to plane all your boards to a particular thickness. Setting the planer to any of those thicknesses will prevent you from planing your wood thinner than that thickness.
Snipe is a common problem which is found in almost every planer, caused by the vertical motion of the wood being planed. Dewalt tried to eliminate it in the DW734 by implementing a four column carriage lock system which realistically locks the cutterhead and roller assembly in place as the wood is passing through during planing, thereby preventing the vertical motion that produces snipe on the wood.
The four column carriage lock can be engaged by pulling down a black bar resting just above the cutterhead and roller assembly. Once it is pulled down, the cutterhead is locked in place, and it will not be able to move either up or down. This helps to eliminate snipe to the barest minimum.
Also featured are extra-long steel infeed and outfeed tables attached to both sides of the planer to help support your material, which also helps to a great extent to prevent snipe.
Though you can adjust the tables yourself, but they come already factory-set at the same level with the planer bed.
Another helpful feature is the material removal gauge located at the front of the planer. As soon as the cutter head comes in contact with the wood which you’re about to plane, the material removal guage will rise up showing you the amount of material that will be removed. Though it’s not 100 percent accurate, but it’s very helpful to help you determine how much material you’re removing in every pass of the wood.
Above the whole setup is a crank at the top of the planer which helps to raise and lower the cutterhead and roller assembly on the wood. One full turn of the crank above the planer raises or lowers the cutterhead by 1/16 inch.
When planing, the maximum thickness you can remove in one pass is 1/8 inch of the material you’re planing. However, when you’re planing a wide hard board, you might want to reduce that to 1/16” or even 1/32 inch to make it easier to plane the wood and to create a better finish.
To make dust collection easy for you, there is a black attachment that can be fixed to the rear of the planer to redirect/control the flow of dust or wood chips from the planer. Without this attachment, the planer can just turn your whole workshop into a huge mess with dust and wood chips flying everywhere.
So, make sure you fix the attachment to the rear using the screws provided in the packaging. Attach a dust collector if you have one, and you have nothing to fear from dust and wood shavings.
The Dewalt DW734 benchtop planer is very compact, solid and sturdy, the finishing is breath taking and it’s clearly made to last. All the features that come with it helps to make planing a breeze, no matter the kind of wood. If you have the cash, then this will certainly be a great buy and a great addition to your workshop.
What we like about it
The major feature I like most about the DW734 benchtop planer is the finishing.
Just like the DW735, the 3 blade cutterhead in the DW734 really produce an amazing finish on any wood you’re planing. If you ever need to sand the finished wood, it will be very little.
I also like the fact that you don’t have to worry about snipe while using this machine, as long as you push down the black bar above the cutterhead assembly to lock it down, preventing any movement that will cause snipe.
There are also many adjustment guides and scales like the material removal gauge, the turret depth adjustment and linear scale at the front of the planer, all helping and making it easy to make any kind of adjustment and to make your cuts and final thickness as accurate as possible.
Overall, the Dewalt DW734 is one of the best benchtop planers you can get your hands on. It’s got the power, capacity and most importantly, the precision to shun out wood with perfect finishing just the way you want it to be.
Where it can be improved
The Dewalt DW734 is s bit noisy. Without ear protection on, it is not advisable that you operate it. So, for safety reasons, please always use ear protection when operating machinery like this.
If Dewalt can find a way to reduce the noise produced by this beast, then that would certainly be a huge improvement.
Another thing I notice is that once the black dust hatch is attached to the planer, the outfield table can no longer fold up, which actually makes it difficult to store the planer away when it’s not in use.
If your workshop is really small, you’d definitely not want your planer lying around, taking up space when it’s not in use.
You’d definitely want to fold up the infeed and outfeed tables to conveniently store the planer away. Doing this is impossible with the dust hatch attached, unless you unscrew it from the planer.
Though, this is not a major flaw that affects the operation of the machine in any way, it’s however something that can be looked into.
4. Wen 6550T Portable Thickness Planer
Just like the WEN 6552T, the WEN 6550T is another fantastic portable thickness planer with the WEN brand name.
With this benchtop planer you can easily re-purpose both old and new, rough, jagged and worn-out wood back to life while producing an exceptionally smooth finish on the wood.
It comprises a 15 amp motor combined with a two blade cutting system which for every pass over the work piece, takes off from 0 to 3/32 of an inch. Together it produces a whopping 18,000 cuts per minute at a 26 feet per minute feed rate.
To ensure correct and even alignment of blades during replacement, the WEN 6550T is equipped with installation magnets and index pins to keep the blades in place.
In terms of stock size, this WEN planer can be used to plane boards with maximum dimensions up to 12.5 inches wide and up to 6 inches thick.
One important addition to Wen 6550T benchtop planer is the smooth all-granite table which provides a non-marring and smooth surface for the wood to safely glide on.
It also prevent the sawdust that comes out during operation from sticking or clinging to the table’s face.
Granite, unlike other materials, does not warp or distort over time. It maintains its integrity for a very long time and provides a rock-solid support for the workpiece.
The weight of the heavy-duty benchtop frame in addition to the rugged and sturdy base ensures that the machine does not shake or wobble during operation.
If you need extra stability, the WEN 6550T also has mounting holes which can be used to mount it on any location of your choice around your workshop. Stability is definitely not an issue.
The Wen 6550T benchtop planer comprise two side-mounted handles and foldable infeed and outfeed tables which make it possible for the planer to be easily transported from one location to another.
To move it around, all you need to do is collapse the table and grab the handles and you are good to go.
5. Makita 2012NB Portable Thickness Planer
The Makita 2012NB benchtop planer finally eliminates one problem commonly found in several benchtop planers. That is snipe.
There’s very little or no snipe when you plane materials with the Makita 2012NB because it features Makita’s exclusive interna-lok automated head clamp.
Just as you begin to field your board into the planer, this automated lok systems automatically clamps your material.
This eliminates any chance of snipe on your material. If you hate snipe as much as I do, then this feature will be very appealing to you as well.
The Makita 2012NB is a compact planer. It is design in such a way that it is very easy to transport to a job site.
If you have a project in another place other than your workshop, you have no worry. You can easily carry your Makita along.
It has less weight compared to many other planers. It is very easy to use the Makita. It has disposable double-edged blades, and they’re very easy to change.
It has a 15A motor with a speed of 8500 rpm when it’s not moving any load. The less weight of this planer does not affect it’s stability in any way.
This is because it has a four-post design, and diagonal cross supports which helps to ensure total stability of the machine during operation.
6. Porter Cable Thickness Planer
7. Delta Power Tools 22-555
The Delta power tool is built similar to the Makita, but it weighs less than the Makita. The Makita is 4 pounds heavier than the Delta Power tool.
Just like the Makita, it also has a powerful 15 amp motor which can handle the demands of any small shop. Remember, a benchtop planer is not the planer you need when you want to rebuild the fallen wall of Jericho.
Don’t expect too much from these planers. If you have a very big shop and you handle a large volume of work each day, then you need a larger and more powerful heavy duty planer.
However, if that’s not the case with you, then a benchtop planer just like this Delta power tool will do just fine. It will get the job done. I has a four column design for stability and to ensure that your benchtop planer continues running smoothly through the years.
It features dual disposable knives which are very easy to change because it is equipped with a quick-change knife system. You won’t also have a problem working with long piece of wood. This is because of the adjustable infield and outfield tables that this planer is equipped with.
Sometimes, your dust collector is on one side of your workshop, and you just wish that you can reverse or change the direction through which dust comes out of your planer. The delta power tool 22-555 planer has a reversible dust port. Which means you can collect dust from either side of the planer (Right or Left).
If it is accuracy that you desire, the delta power tool comes with a very accurate precision scale. This means you can adjust the scale to make sure that your materials are planed to your desired thickness.
8. Grizzly G0505 Portable Thickness Planer
The grizzly G0505 is definitely one of the best benchtop planers for woodworking. This planer is also very special that we have reviewed it separately in another article. So checkout the full review of the Grizzly G0505 thickness planer here to learn more.
9. Powertec PL1251 Benchtop Planer
It won’t take you long to realize how powerful this Powertec thickness planer is once you unbox it and start running some rough lumber through it.
Housed in the machine is a 15 amp motor and a cutterhead revolving at a maximum speed of 9,400 rpm and delivering up to 18,800 cuts per minute on any stock.
The cutterhead is a 2-knife stainless steel precision cutterhead designed to operate fast and shave even the hardest of woods.
Changing the cutterhead blades is very easy as it features a spindle lock that locks the cutterhead in place, preventing it from rotating and allowing you to change the blades easily and safely.
With the PL1252, you can plane boards up to 12.5 inches wide and 6 inches thick at a maximum cut depth of 3/32 inches.
It features a 4 column design for maximum precision and stability that’s necessary for it to function well and prevent any planing defects like snipe on the board you’re working on.
That combined with a heavy duty, anti-wobble base makes it very strong and sturdy, showing it’s something really made to last.
The base also provides a non-marring surface for your boards to slide through when working with it.
Operating the planer is very easy. The off and on switch is clearly visible and easy to access, the depth adjustment scale is easy to read and making depth adjustments is easy using the crank at the top.
All in all, this Powertec PL1252 portable benchtop thickness planer is really solid and delivers great performance when planing both soft and hard boards.
10. Craftsman Benchtop Thickness Planer
With up to 16,000 cuts per minute happening at the cutterhead, every stock you plane with this Craftsman CME2320 benchtop thickness planer comes out ultra-smooth.
From the looks and features it comes with, it’s very easy to tell that Craftsman made this well.
It boasts a powerful 15 amp motor spinning the 2 knife cutterhead at a rate of 8000 revolutions per minute. Allowing you to plane even the hardest of lumbers.
With it, you can even plane and dimension glued-up materials quite easily.
Instead of a standard less-efficient V-belt drive, the Craftsman planer uses a Poly-V cutterhead drive which is more efficient, allowing more speed for maximum stock removal.
The cutterhead knives are made of high carbon steel, they’re double edge, hence you can reverse them once one side is dull for longer cutting action.
There’s a vacuum port onto which you can attach your shop vac to collect all the dust and shavings produced during planing.
The four column design of the planer ensures maximum stability during operation and an overall rigidity that ensures a longer life for tools like this.
Making depth adjustments is very easy with this Crafstman CMEW320, with the depth adjustment knob/wheel at the top, very easy to access and operate.
The depth scale is clearly visible at the front with easy to read markings allowing you to make accurate measurements and adjustments when thicknessing your stock. Overall, this Craftsman planer really cuts it as one of the best portable thickness planers you can get today for your woodworking projects.
How To Choose The Best Thickness Planer
We all know how important it is to have quality power tools in our workshop. If you go for low-quality, then you’ll quickly fall out of love with the tool, because it’s going to perform poorly to your dissatisfaction. Worst case scenario, it’s going to fall apart pretty sooner than you expect.
Therefore it’s very important to choose the best, even when it’s going to cost you a little bit more. There are factors you need to consider very carefully before deciding to purchase a particular benchtop planer. However, before we go about talking about these factors in details, you need to know how a thickness planer works.
A thickness planer consist of a motor connected to a cutter head and roller assembly. The rollers help feed the board or lumber through the cutterhead which consist of a single pole with knives attached at certain angles.
The motor spins the cutterhead very quickly, so that it chops-off part of the thickness of the flat wood or lumber that is fed into it, thereby reducing its thickness to the size you want, and creating a fine finish depending on the speed of the motor and cutterhead, and the sharpness of the knives. This can be illustrated from the diagram below.
As can be seen from the simple diagram above, there are several parts that work hand in hand to ensure that a planer works effectively (most crucial parts written with red).
The motor helps to spin the cutter head and rollers; the infeed rollers help to feed the board through the cutterhead; the cutterhead helps to chop off part of the wood thickness with the help of the knives attached; and the outfeed roller helps to feed the wood stock out of the planer.
Therefore, the parts that play a major role in the effective working of a planer are the motor, the type of cutterhead, the quality of the knives, and the flatness of the table.
Here are the factors you must consider in details:
Power is arguably one of the most important factor you need to consider when buying a benchtop planer. The importance of a quality and powerful motor cannot be over emphasized, since the whole planer setup is powered by a motor. Hence it is very important to check the quality of the motor in the benchtop planer you’re about to buy.
Unless, you only want to plane softwood like pine with your planer, you should always opt for a powerful motor that can plane hardwood like oak without any strain.
A planer can only plane the type of hard wood that the motor can withstand. If you plane wood that is harder than the motor can withstand, you can actually burn out your planer motor and end up regretting your choice of that planer in the first place.
The power of a planer can be measured with the speed in rpm. For a benchtop portable planer, the least speed you should go for is 8000 rpm (revolutions per minute). Anything less than that is not powerful enough.
The cutterhead is another important part you should check carefully before investing your money in any planer. This is because the quality of the cutterhead will tell on the type of finishing you get on the wood you plane. It also affects the level of the noise produced by the planer.
There are two main types of cutterhead that come with benchtop thickness planers. They are helical cutterhead and straight knives cutterhead.
The two types of cutterhead have their own advantages and disadvantages. Helical cutterhead produce better finishes and produce less noise. However, they require more power to feed lumber through them, and they’re more expensive.
Straight knives cutterhead are cheaper, it’s easier to feed board through them, and they’re easier to sharpen based on the fact that they’re made with high speed steel (HSS). Helical cutterheads are made with carbide, therefore, they’re harder and more difficult to sharpen when they get dull. However, because they’re harder, they retain their sharpness longer.
In summary, it’s up to you the kind of cutterhead you go for. It all depends on what you fancy. However, you must know that most benchtop planers come with straight knives cutterheads. Even the best benchtop planer we mentioned in this article, which is the Dewalt DW735X comes with a straight knive cutterhead.
Hence, the cutterhead alone does not determine the performance of a planer, however, it’s a major factor to consider when trying to purchase any wood planer. You must not ignore it.
Additionally, whatever cutterhead comes with your planer, you can always opt for a different type of cutterhead in the future if you wish to. If your planer came with a straight knife cutterhead, you can buy a spiral cutterhead and replace the straight knife cutterhead with it. However, note that changing the cutterhead of a wood planer to a different cutterhead not supported by the manufacturer can actually void the planer’s warranty.
You must also note that there are two types of straight knive cutterheads. We have the 3 knives cutterhead and the two knives cutterhead. Both of them are good, but I’d advice that you go with the 3 knives cutterhead as it produces a far better finish on wood than the 2 knive cutterhead. The Dewalt DW735X benchtop planer is a very good example of a planer with the 3 knive cutterhead.
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 and ordered online or at your local dealers shop.
The capacity is the size of the board or lumber that the planer can plane. Your planer should be able to plane boards not less than 11 inches in width and 6 inches in thickness. Anything less than that is not advisable.
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 a lot of shaking and vibration. You have to choose a planer that is sturdy and rigid enough to withstand vibrations produced during planing.
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 Making Depth Adjustment
Depth adjustment should be a breeze in any benchtop planer you choose. There should be precise gauges and linear scales, and clear directions on how you can use and adjust them, in order to plane or trim your board to the right dimension you want.
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 to a great extent the movement that results in snipe.
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 can handle snipe effectively by itself. 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 or eliminating snipe.
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, your benchtop planer can actually turn your whole workshop into a huge mess.
That is why you have to ensure that the planer you choose has a good dust/chip expulsion or ejection port to expel the dust produced out of the planer in a controlled manner. So that you can easily attach your dust collector to the planer, to collect all the dust produced and keep your workshop tidy.
Some benchtop wood planers like the Dewalt DW735X and the WEN 6552T come with a fan assisted dust ejection port that helps to blow out chips and dust out of the planer through a port. You can easily attach your dust collector or any hose to the dust ejection port, and the planer will blow all the chips produced into it without even switching on your dust collector.
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 not.
The planer you should buy should be able to produce a really smooth surface on the boards you’re planing. So that the end result will require little sanding if necessary, in order to allow you to spend time doing other important things rather than spending it trying to sand the rough surface produced by a poor performance planer.
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 may not.
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 something a planer will have, and there will be 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.