10 Best Benchtop Planers of 2021 – Reviews & Top Picks
Planers are invaluable tools that allow you to turn old, worn, weathered, and beaten-up boards into usable, straight, flat pieces of lumber. Set the cutting depth and send your board through to have a planer take a small amount off the face of your board, giving it a new surface.
The problem with most standard planers is their sheer size and cost-prohibitive pricing. But if you’re not working with woods that are larger than 12.5 inches wide or 6 inches thick, then you’ll do just as well with a more affordable and portable benchtop planer.
These tools provide the utility of a planer in a smaller package that’s much less expensive, which is why you’ll find them in the workshops of many woodworking and carpentry hobbyists and professionals alike. When it was time to upgrade our antiquated planer recently, we decided to test as many as we could and determine which benchtop planer is best, which we’ll share with you in the following 10 reviews.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
|Best Overall||DEWALT DW734 Benchtop Planer||
|Best Value||WEN 6550T Benchtop Thickness Planer||
|Premium Choice||Makita 2012NB 12-Inch Planer||
|Porter-Cable PC305TP Benchtop Planer||
|CRAFTSMAN CMEW320 Benchtop Planer||
The 10 Best Benchtop Planers – Reviews 2021
1. DEWALT DW734 Benchtop Planer – Best Overall
DeWalt consistently produces high-quality tools that are built to withstand some serious workloads. They’re never the cheapest tools available, but they’re still usually priced reasonably, so we’re rarely surprised to see a DeWalt tool leading the pack. This DW734 Benchtop Planer is no exception.
While most benchtop planers have just 2 blades, this one features a 3-knife cutter head that’s capable of making 96 cuts per inch with a cutter speed of 10,000 RPM. The stout 15-amp motor keeps everything spinning with ease, even when you’re sending through hardwoods. Snipe is greatly reduced with a 4-column carriage lock and 33.5 inches of material support.
To extend the life of your knives, the knives in this machine are reversible and disposable. However, they do have a tendency to get knicks in them when they hit knots. You can usually sand these out, or just flip the knife around and keep working. Overall, we think this unit represents the best combination of usability and affordability, which is why it tops our list.
2. WEN 6550T Benchtop Thickness Planer – Best Value
We’ve had a lot of luck with WEN tools in the past. They’re generally more affordable than other brands, though they’re rarely lacking in quality. This tool offers a lot of bang for your buck, and we think it’s one of the best benchtop planers for the money.
The granite work tables are non-marring and allow your lumber to slide smoothly over. Meanwhile, the fan-assisted dust port is working to remove all the excess sawdust as this machine completes 18,000 cuts per minute. At this speed, you can feed up to 26 linear feet of lumber through this machine each minute.
This device features a tri-roller feed system that greatly reduces sniping. It’s excellent with any softwood and works with hardwoods, though you have to go much slower with them. Still, for the price, we have very few complaints since this device greatly exceeded our expectations.
3. Makita 2012NB 12-Inch Planer – Premium Choice
Makita is another great power tool brand that rarely makes disappointing products. Their 2012NB planer is another great tool from this brand, and it’s much quieter than most similar devices with an operating volume of just 83 decibels.
This is a very stable machine with 4-posts and diagonal cross supports as well. Despite this, it’s one of the lighter, more portable options at just 62 pounds. Oversized infeed and outfeed tables extend to either end and help reduce sniping even more.
If you check out this device’s price, you’ll notice that it’s quite a bit pricier than the closest competing models. We think it’s worth it if you’re going to be using it several times a week or more. The reduced noise and increased stability are worth the extra cost to us. But you should be aware that this machine tops out at 8,500 RPM, even though it does manage an impressive feed rate of 28 feet per minute.
4. Porter-Cable PC305TP Benchtop Planer
This Porter-Cable Benchtop Planer is more affordable than most, though you’ll have to make a few compromises. It creates 16,000 cuts per minute for a feed rate of 26 feet each minute. The Poly V belt cutter head drive allows for peak efficiency, enabling this machine to work with softwoods and hardwoods equally well. It weighs just under 65 pounds, so it’s also one of the more portable models we tested.
However, there were some notable drawbacks. To begin, the knives dull very quickly since they’re extremely thin. They also tend to get nicked very easily, which leaves indents in your wood. We also had some minor issues with sniping, though it wasn’t as pronounced as with many of the other models we tested. Still, it’s enough to keep this planer out of our top three.
5. CRAFTSMAN CMEW320 Benchtop Planer
The CRAFTSMAN CMEW320 Benchtop Planer is a decent unit with a few flaws that prevent it from climbing higher up this list. It manages 16,000 cuts per minute with a powerful 15-amp motor that powers through softwoods and hardwoods without issue. The knives are easy to change and offer an extended lifespan since they’re made from high-carbon steel and they’re reversible.
But the lack of a depth of cut indicator is a serious drawback with this machine. Instead, it has a thickness indicator, but we definitely prefer the depth of cut indicator found on machines like the DeWalt at the top of this list. We also had some issues with noticeable sniping at the end of our boards.
Despite these issues, this machine is quite a bit pricier than many competing models. It’s even more expensive than the DeWalt that earned our top recommendation, though we think this machine falls short of the DeWalt in many key areas.
6. POWERTEC PL1252 Benchtop Thickness Planer
Capable of making 18,800 cuts per minute, the POWERTEC PL1252 Benchtop Thickness Planer is an affordable tool with some great features, though it does fall short in a few ways.
We liked the side handles that make this machine easy to carry, especially since it weighs just 63 pounds. This makes it much easier to move than many of the other models we tested. It’s got a 2-blade cutting system that works well in softwoods and hardwoods alike, providing pretty decent performance for the price.
But there are a few things worth noting that we weren’t so thrilled about. To start, there’s no dust port on this machine. After using so many planers with dust ports and even fans to assist the removal of sawdust, this machine felt like it was just throwing sawdust every which way.
We also weren’t happy with the support tables. They’re too short to provide enough support for long boards, which causes considerable sniping. Though it is an affordable way to get started with a planer, there are other affordable options that we think offer better value and performance.
7. Mophorn Thickness Planer
There’s one very unique thing about the Mophorn Thickness Planer that sets it apart from all the other benchtop planers we tested for this list. This machine comes with a heavy-duty stand so you don’t need to take up any space on your workbench. Of course, it’s completely detachable, so you can remove it and place it on any benchtop if you prefer.
With this planer, you get a feed speed of 26 feet per minute; right about average. Luckily, this one does have a dust port built-in to help keep your work area clean.
Now, the flaws. This machine came with no instructions or user’s guide. You’re left to blindly stumble around the machine, hoping to figure out how it works. You should be able to do alright if you have previous experience with benchtop planers, but if this is your first, you might be lost.
There are support tables extending from the front and back of the machine, but they are too short for most lumber. As a result, there’s some noticeable snipe, though we did experience that with most of the affordably priced models like this one.
8. Grizzly Industrial G0505 Benchtop Planer
Grizzly Industrial is a premium manufacturer of power tools, known for making quality products built to last years. But, the G0505 benchtop planer didn’t do much to impress us. That said, there were a few standout features. It has a faster rate than most similar machines, capable of planing 32 feet per minute. It’s also equipped with 1/8-inch thick knives, instead of the 1/16-inch knives that come with most benchtop planers. They’re even reversible to double their lifespan.
But this machine is much pricier than similar models from other brands. Despite this, it only manages 52 cuts per inch. That means the surface is much rougher than with a machine like the DeWalt at the top of this list that delivers an impressive 96 cuts per inch; almost twice as many.
There are handles in the sides of this machine so it’s easier to move, but at 80 pounds, it’s still going to be a wrestling match for many. We like the stout 2-horsepower (HP) motor that’s turning the knives inside, but that’s just not going to make up for the numerous flaws of this machine.
9. JET 722130 Helical Style Bench Top Planer
The JET 722130 Helical Style Bench Top Planer is a pretty average planer with a ridiculously high price. It’s more than twice as expensive as other options on this list, though it doesn’t seem to offer much to warrant the high price tag.
We do like that it offers dual infeed speeds of 18 or 26 feet per minute so it can better work with hardwoods and softwoods. The cutter head spins at 10,000 RPM with special helical blades that are more difficult to find replacements for.
Despite the high price, we got an only mediocre performance from this machine. Hardwoods weren’t as easy to work with, regardless of which infeed speed we chose. When using hardwoods, the blades were dulling very thick. The snipe was also substantial, which is inexcusable for such an expensive piece of equipment.
10. Ridgid 27263 Planer
This planer from Ridgid was a pretty substantial disappointment. We had high hopes for it since it has a 3-blade cutter head similar to what our favorite DeWalt benchtop planer is equipped with. These blades are also dual-edge, reversible, and offer quick-change ease of use.
But that’s the end of our list of positive qualities regarding this planer. It’s way too expensive for what you get, out-pricing most of the models on this list. Yet somehow, a bunch of plastic parts made their way into this machine and they just don’t seem to hold up.
It’s not just the plastic parts that fail though. After just a few uses, the bearings began to squeal loudly. Shortly after, the motor died completely. At this price, these are unforgivable, which is why this machine is at the very bottom of our list.
At this point, you might be ready to make a purchase, or you might still be trying to decide between models. If you’re still on the fence, then this short buyer’s guide is for you. In it, we’re going to talk about some of the major considerations that should be at the front of your mind when choosing between benchtop planers.
Each planer has a maximum capacity, which is the largest piece of wood that will fit in the planer. For the benchtop planers on this list, the capacity is pretty much the same across the board. In general, benchtop planers can handle boards up to 12.5 inches wide and 6 inches thick. There are some minor discrepancies between units, but not large enough to really have an effect on the size of lumber you can pass through them.
As a board goes through the planer, the end that’s already passed through continues to get longer while the end that needs to be planed is getting shorter. Eventually, you get a bit of a seesaw effect, with the long end of the lumber starting to pull down, lifting the other end as it passes through the planer.
The result of this is that the planer removes more material from the end of the board, causing it to no longer be straight and flush. This is referred to as snipe.
We’ve experienced snipe with most of the benchtop planers we tested. However, it does seem to hold true that the cheaper tools had more significant sniping issues.
Many manufacturers have gone to lengths to reduce the sniping their machines experience. One way of doing this is with extended infeed and outfeed tables that offer more support as you push your piece through.
Another solution is a four-column carriage lock that keeps the machine from allowing the board to change angles.
Either solution will help reduce snipe considerably. Our favorite benchtop planers offered both.
Weight and Portability
One advantage of a benchtop planer over a traditional planer is the size, weight, and portability. Planers are large, heavy tools that are a giant pain to move. But benchtop planers are much smaller and more compact. They’re often as light as 65 pounds or even less, though sometimes they’re still much heavier.
Many of these machines offer handles on the sides to make them even easier to move. This will allow you to relocate the planer as needed so it’s not in the way. Likewise, the smaller footprint doesn’t take up as much space in your workshop, leaving you more room for the things that matter most.
Feed rate refers to how quickly you can pass lumber through the planer and it’s measured in feet per minute or FPM. On average, these benchtop planers offer a feed rate of 26 FPM. We have seen some that are capable of feed speeds over 30 FPM, though they don’t offer as many cuts per inch.
Speaking of cuts per inch, the finish is one place where these machines differ more than others. Higher cuts per inch counts mean a smoother finish that requires less sanding. Fewer cuts per inch means a rougher finish and more sanding if you want that nice smooth wood face.
Some of our favorite planers offered finishes as high as 96 cuts per inch. The boards coming through these planers are smooth and free of burrs. They need minimal sanding to feel like a brand-new piece of lumber fresh from the store.
Other machines offer much rougher finishes like 52 cuts per inch. The face is still completely usable, but if you want to use it for finished work, you’ll probably need to invest a good bit of time into sanding it down.
A quick search for benchtop planers will reveal that there are dozens to choose from. We tested as many as we could while writing these reviews, and after all was said and done, three models stood out to us as winners.
For most users, we recommend the DeWalt DW734 Benchtop Planer. It’s got a 3-knife cutter head that makes 96 cuts per inch at 10,000 RPM. The blades are reversible and disposable and snipe is greatly reduced with 33.5 inches of material support and a 4-column carriage lock.
Hobbyists looking for the best value might consider the WEN 6550T Benchtop Thickness Planer instead. It can handle a feed rate of 26 feet per minute, creating 18,000 cuts per minute. The non-marring granite worktables provide plenty of support and work with the tri-roller feed system to reduce sniping.
For professionals who ask a lot of their tools, we’d suggest checking out the Makita 2012NB Planer. It’s ultra-stable with four posts, diagonal cross supports, and oversized table extensions, while still being light and portable at a mere 62 pounds. Plus, it’s one of the quietest planers we’ve used with an operating volume of just 83 decibels.
More posts related to planers:
- Best Wood Planer Reviews 2020 (Benchtop, Thickness)
- Which planer should one choose on a budget?
- A review of the DeWalt DW735
- A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
- The 10 Best Benchtop Planers – Reviews 2021
- 1. DEWALT DW734 Benchtop Planer – Best Overall
- 2. WEN 6550T Benchtop Thickness Planer – Best Value
- 3. Makita 2012NB 12-Inch Planer – Premium Choice
- 4. Porter-Cable PC305TP Benchtop Planer
- 5. CRAFTSMAN CMEW320 Benchtop Planer
- 6. POWERTEC PL1252 Benchtop Thickness Planer
- 7. Mophorn Thickness Planer
- 8. Grizzly Industrial G0505 Benchtop Planer
- 9. JET 722130 Helical Style Bench Top Planer
- 10. Ridgid 27263 Planer
- Buyer’s Guide