Planing your own lumber can be a very satisfying task when you have the right tool. Unfortunately, shopping online for that tool can be anything but satisfying.
Product descriptions written by sales executives can make it hard to tell if you’re looking at a great tool or one that will leave you regretting your purchase. Plus, it’s sometimes hard to compare tools, especially when there’s a wide range of prices.
If you’re looking to get a planer that you’ll love, but you don’t want to go through the hassle of figuring out what’s the truth and what’s overinflated sales-speak, these reviews are for you.
We cover the best and worst parts of each model so you can decide which one is right for you. We’ve also included a buyer’s guide, so you can learn everything you need to know to evaluate these tools.
|DEWALT DW735X Portable|
|Thickness planer||105 lbs||4.9/5|
|DEWALT DW734 Portable||Thickness planer||80 lbs||4.7/5|
(Best for the Money)
|Thickness planer||66 lbs||4.6/5|
|Makita 2012NB||Thickness planer||62 lbs||4.4/5|
|PORTER-CABLE PC60THP||Hand planer||8 lbs||4.3/5|
The DEWALT DW735X is our favorite wood planer. It comes with two speeds, so you can provide a dimensioning or finishing cut. That makes it the best thickness planer on our list. It also has a three-knife cutter head, which lessens the stress on each knife, and allows for a finer finish. This model’s wide base allows you to work with wider and longer pieces than most planers can handle. Relative to most planers, it runs quietly, and while it’s not an objectively quiet tool, it is less noisy than most competing planers.
These great features make this model a great portable planer, but that’s a designation with an asterisk. This tool weighs more than 100 pounds, so while there’s no mounting required, it’s not something most people will want to move frequently. On the other hand, if you need really high quality and you need something portable, you’d be hard-pressed to find a machine that weighed significantly less but did just as good a job. Overall, this is the best all-around planer, but there are other, lighter options.
The biggest differences between the DEWALT DW734 and the previous model are that this one is just one speed, and it “only” weighs 80 pounds. However, the big upside is that you can save a lot of money with this planer versus the previous one if you don’t need the second speed. This model provides 96 cuts per inch for a smooth, even finish. It also makes use of the three-knife cutter head, which takes less wear over time than similar kinds of cutter heads. This model has an extendable, wide base that gives you the ability to work larger pieces than most planers can handle easily.
It’s also relatively quiet. While you should still take hearing precautions, you won’t be as overwhelmed by this tool as you would be by some other wood planers. This model weighs 80 pounds, which makes it more than 20 percent lighter than the previous planer. That makes it more portable, and if you value portability, it may be a good idea to get this one. However, if you want the absolute best planing, you’ll still want our top choice.
The WEN 6552T planer has a fast feed rate. In fact, this monster of a machine can handle 26 feet per minute, which makes it one of the fastest planers, period. If you need to work your way through a lot of raw stock, this is probably the machine you want to get. It has a three-blade cutter, which lasts a long time and can also be reversed to double its lifespan. This model also comes with excellent fine-tunable depth adjustments. You can change the cut by as little as 1/64th of an inch for extreme precision.
However, what really sets this model apart is its great price. It costs far less than either of the two models above it, which makes it the best planer for the money on our list. It misses out on the top two due to its poor dust collection system, which tends to make a mess instead of collecting the dust. With a better dust collection system, this planer could easily rise to the top. Still, if you’re looking for a great deal, this could be the tool for you.
There’s a lot to like about the Makita 2012NB Planer. It has one of the more compact frames among any of the models on our list. That makes it decently portable, and since it weighs just over 60 pounds, it’s not the heaviest tool on our list, either. It produces only 83 decibels of noise, which isn’t quiet but is quieter than other planers. This machine also comes with large table extensions, which allow you to plane larger lumber safely.
It’s also one of the fastest planers out there. It’s capable of planing up to 28 feet per minute, which is a blistering pace. However, those great upsides come at significant cost. This model is nearly 20 percent more expensive than the next one on our list. That’s a steep premium for features that aren’t all that special. If this model performed significantly better than others on our list, we’d cut it some slack, but the gains are all-around marginal. Overall, this is a great planer, but the good news is that you can get performance just as good for far less.
If you’re looking for a handheld planer that you can transport easily, the PORTER-CABLE PC60THP may be for you. This planer comes with a ton of features that make it our favorite, and the most convenient tool in its class. It has dust extraction ports on both sides, so you can always set up your equipment in the most comfortable position. It weighs just a fraction of what the models above it on our list weigh, as it clocks in at only 8.5 pounds. This is due in large part to its great aluminum shoe, which is lightweight relative to steel but provides similar strength.
It also comes with a depth-adjustment knob that allows quick changes to the depth. This planer doesn’t have as good a range of depth as some of the others, and you won’t be able to get as fine a finish with this tool, but it’ll still be good enough for most projects. What we don’t like is that it suffers from a wide range of quality control problems. Still, if you’re looking for a lightweight tool that works great, this is one you’ll love.
The Grizzly G0505 wood planer has some great and some terrible features that make it very task-dependent in terms of how useful you’ll find it. The first thing in its favor is that it’s relatively light. Since it only weighs 80 pounds, it’s one of the lighter of the “full-size” planers. It can also plane up to 32 feet per minute, which is an absolutely blistering pace. When it works, this model produces a very fine finish that most people will be happy with.
However, this planer uses a two-blade cutter. That puts more strain on the machine, and it means that the cutter will wear out faster. It can also give the machine trouble when you’re trying to make deep cuts at the fast speed at which it runs. At most, you can remove up to 3/32” at once, which isn’t that great, but you may not want to go that deep, as even lesser depths run an outsized chance of tearouts. This isn’t the most affordable planer, so most people will be able to get a model they like far better for the same amount.
The Cutech 40200H-CT advertises itself as a planer for pros, but it may not have the features and quality needed to live up to that claim. The best thing it has going for it is its use of spiral cutterheads, as opposed to the multi-knife cutterheads on other planers. Spiral cutterheads tend to last longer and produce a finer finish, which is why they’re used on high-end models that cost thousands of dollars. This planer also weighs 88 pounds, so it’s not the lightest model on our list, but you could still move it around if you really wanted to. Plus, it has a built-in dust port, which is something you don’t find on all planers.
However, this model costs about 20 percent more than the next most expensive model on our list. That’s a steep price to pay, and the only new benefit is the spiral cutterhead. If you want one of those and don’t want to shell out thousands of dollars, you should get this model. However, the marginal performance gains won’t justify the increase in price for most people, and since this machine is noisy, there are better options.
Sometimes you run into a machine that works fine but loses a lot of value due to factors unrelated to its performance. The Delta Power Tools 22-590 planer is one of those machines. It has a three-knife cutterhead, which is smoother than a two-knife cutterhead, but worse than a spiral model. It also planes up to 26 feet per minute, which isn’t the fastest speed available, but it’s fast enough to not feel slow. This model does have a cutterhead lock. This allows you to keep the cutterhead locked in place to perform the same planes on different lumber.
The worst thing about this tool is that it suffers from motor misalignment problems that can cause the belt to burn out rapidly. This is a problem you can fix at home, but it should be taken care of at the factory. If you can’t fix it on your own, the cost of operation goes up because you have to replace belts frequently. The Delta blades also tend to wear out more quickly than other brands. Ultimately, this model planes wood well, but it’s going to cost more to operate than similar models.
The POWERTEC PL1251 will lure some people in with its low price, but its problems are significant enough to make it poor value. This model is one of the least expensive full-size planers on our list. If you need a large planing capacity at a low price, it may seem like the one you want to get. It also weighs just over 60 pounds, which is great for portability, since it’s 25 to 40 percent lighter than most planers of a similar size.
This model fails to perform in most areas, however. It has a maximum depth of 3/32”, and only with the smallest pieces. With anything wider, that drops to 1/32, which means significant planing could take a long time. It has a two-knife cutterhead, which won’t give results as fine as those found on three-knife or spiral cutterheads. This model also suffers from snipe, or the wood getting sucked into the blade at the start of the cut, leading to uneven finishes. Overall, this is an inexpensive machine, but it works poorly and is likely to leave most people frustrated.
Hopefully, our reviews have already given you some insights into wood planers. If you want to make sure you’re getting the right tool for the job ahead, look at this buyer’s guide. It’s designed to help beginners get the fundamentals they need to understand how they should shop for these tools, and it’s a good refresher course for long-time users returning to the market for the first time in a while. We’ve also included some tips on getting great value for your money, so if you’re looking to score a great deal, make sure you check out this guide.
Most modern hand planers are electric tools, though traditional models still use a stationary blade. You use hand planers to trim wood and create a level, smooth surface.
However, it can be hard to ensure that you’re getting a perfectly level finish with a hand planer, since the top of the lumber may be uneven, or you may do an uneven job with your hand planer.
Thickness planers work by setting a blade at a particular height, and then shaving off everything above that height while the board is passed through the machine. This creates a uniformly level, even surface and requires less work.
Thickness planers come in two varieties. Professional-grade planers come with their own stands and tend to be thought of as stationary, since they can weigh hundreds of pounds. We don’t have any of those on our list, since they exceed most users’ needs, and can cost thousands of dollars.
The second kind of thickness planer is the “benchtop” model. These weigh around a hundred pounds or less, so they’re technically portable, even though you may find a spot for the tool on your bench and leave it there forever.
Hand planers weigh just a few pounds, less if they’re traditional and not electric. Consequently, both hand planers and benchtop thickness planers get lumped together into the category of “portable” planers, even if they work very differently.
Ultimately, you control how deep a hand planer cuts per stroke, though there will be some physical limitations based on the tool’s parts.
With thickness planers, you set how far you want the planer to cut with each pass. However, if you need to remove lots of material from a surface, it could require multiple passes, since most thickness planers can only remove fractions of an inch per pass.
Most models default to one of two maximum depths. Many planers can only remove up to 1/16th of an inch at once. More expensive models sometimes raise that to 3/32nds of an inch. While that may not sound like much, it’s 50 percent more, and that means you can do large jobs in significantly fewer passes.
However, keep in mind that greater cutting depths may result in tearout, which can splinter and ruin your piece. If you’re working with especially soft or hardwoods, you may want to switch to a smaller depth of cut per pass and do more passes. While this takes longer, it will significantly reduce the chance of tearout.
Thickness planers use a pair of rollers before and after the spinning blades to reduce the chances of snipe. Snipe occurs when the board you’re passing through the machine is pulled up into the blade before it hits the second roller. This leads to the board having more material removed from the front than from the rest, which looks awful and can potentially ruin the piece.
This occurs because the friction between the rapidly spinning blade and the wood pulls the lumber into the blade. It can be made worse by long lumber that is unsupported beyond the planer’s end, so that the heavy end hanging off forces the front up into the cutterhead.
Once the board hits the second roller, the chance of snipe goes away, since the board will be held level by the two rollers. However, there are some things that vary from machine to machine that change how likely they are to cause snipe.
Some machines come with tables that can be adjusted up or down to offset the effects of snipe. You can also reduce the size of your cuts as you approach the final thickness, as smaller cuts have fewer chances for snipe than larger ones.
Dust collection is another area where the best models separate themselves from the rest. As you may imagine, planing wood creates a lot of dust, which can dirty everything in your shop, and lead to lower air quality.
Unfortunately, not all wood planers have dust collection features. This is more common in low-end benchtop planers, though sometimes handheld electric models lack this as well.
Most high-end models have a dust collection system. When shopping for a planer, check what kind of ports the machine has for connecting to a dust collection system. Most models will have either a 2-1/2” or 4” dust collection port, which are compatible with most kinds of dust collection systems.
If you already own such a system, consider getting a planer with the corresponding dust port. However, you can get a converter that allows you to connect differently sized dust ports to your dust collection system.
RELATED: we also have an article where we go over the best benchtop planers
On some machines, you’ll find a number called “Cuts Per Inch,” or CPI. The CPI represents how many times the machine’s blades cut the material every inch. Generally speaking, a higher CPI is better.
In order to understand this, think about what the planer is doing. It features a rotating knife, which means that if you were to zoom in on your freshly planed board, you’d see that it isn’t one smooth cut, but a series of very small hills and valleys left by each rotational cut.
More cuts in a single inch is better because it means each cut is smaller, and the resulting hills and valleys are smaller as well.
Not all manufacturers list the CPI in their advertising materials. However, you can calculate it using other numbers that are typically available.
The first number you need is the feed rate, or how many feet per minute the machine can plane. Then you need the RPM at which the cutterhead spins, and the number of knives or cutting surfaces on the cutterhead.
Multiply the number of knives by the cutterhead’s RPM. Then, multiply the feed rate, in inches, by the width of the accepted lumber, which is typically 12 inches. Then, divide the first number you got by the second you calculated. The resulting number is the CPI.
Ultimately, this is more important when the face you’re planing is going to be one that’s seen, and especially important if it’s going to be painted or stained since that can bring out small imperfections. However, for most people’s needs, 90 CPI or higher will be more than enough.
RELATED: we also have an article where we go over the best electric hand planers
The DEWALT DW735X Portable Thickness Wood Planer is a great planer that has two speeds, a three-knife cutterhead, a wide base, and relatively quiet operation. The DEWALT DW734 12-1/2-Inch Woodworking Planer is similar to the first model, but its fewer cuts per inch drop it out of the top spot. Third place belongs to the WEN 6552T 13 in. Thickness Wood Planer, which comes with a fast feed rate and three-blade cutter. Its best feature is its low price, which makes it the best overall value for the money on our list.
The Makita 2012NB 12-Inch Portable Planerearns fourth place with its compact frame, low noise, and very fast planing, but misses out on the top three because of its high price. The PORTER-CABLE PC60THP Portable has dual-side dust extraction and a lightweight, making it our favorite hand planer, and easily the most portable model. The Grizzly G0505 12-1/2-Inch Wood Planer is relatively light and very fast, but its poor depth of cut and two-blade cutter drop it to sixth place.
The Cutech 40200H-CT has big aspirations and a pro-grade spiral cutterhead, but its high price and excessive noise make it a poor choice for most users. The Delta Power Tools 22-590 Portable Planer takes eighth place with its three-knife cutterhead and cutterhead lock. However, its belt alignment issues and poor knife durability mean it can’t rise any higher on our list. The last place is taken by the POWERTEC PL1251, which is lightweight and inexpensive but has poor cutting depth and snipe issues that make it a poor overall choice.
There’s a lot to consider when it comes to buying a wood planer. We hope our reviews and buyer’s guide have helped you better understand these machines and find the model that’s right for you.
Related buying guides you should check out:
Hi there! My name is Adam and I write for HealthyHandyman. I have a great passion for writing about everything related to tools, home improvement, and DIY. In my spare time, I'm either fishing, playing the guitar, or spending quality time with my beloved wife. You'll also often find me in my workshop working on some new project!