WEN 6550 Thickness Planer Review

  • August 16, 2018

A review of the WEN 6550

Editor Rating: 4.7/5

Build Quality
Power
Features
Price

Review Summary

The thickness planer is the successor to the manual method of using hand planes to flatten boards and reduce their overall thickness. Let’s admit it, most DIYers, homeowners, and lots of contractors are spoiled by the widespread availability of dimensioned lumber, square on four sides and of uniform thickness. Many companies also sell a wide range of exotic woods in this form. But, let’s say you stumble across an old trove of rough cut lumber in a barn or basement, or want to craft a beautiful live edge table. How do you accomplish the task of smoothing and reducing the thickness, so each piece fits together like a glove?

The WEN 6550 Thickness Planer is just the ticket for such jobs. However, this is not a tool for casual woodworkers or those with constrained woodshops. A thickness planer is, or needs to be, a heavy beast and requires a lot of room in the shop on both the infeed and outfeed side. If you have the room and the need, there is nothing like a thickness planer to get the job done. If you have an occasional need for thickness planing, seek out local millwork shops that can do it for you.

WEN has a reputation for building quality tools at a price that won’t sink the budget. The 6550 planer fits that mold to a “T” and offers an excellent set of features for a reasonable price. The rest of this review lays out the good, and the bad, of this offering from WEN.

The 6550 – A Quick Look

Pros
  • Granite table for weight and dimensional stability
  • Powerful 15A motor spins cutterhead at 8,500 RPM
  • Excellent stock capacity
Cons
  • Not the tool for cramped shops
  • Requires bolting to a stable, level surface

Specifications

Brand name: WEN, Inc.

Model: 6550 Thickness Planer with Granite Table

Motor (VAC, A): 120, 15.0

No load RPM: 8500

Cuts per minute (CPM): 17,000

Maximum stock width: 12.5”

Maximum stock thickness: 6”

Feed rate in feet per minute (FPM): 26

Weight: 73 pounds

The WEN thickness planer in the workshop

Granite table

Companies use granite where they need a dimensionally stable surface, weight, and reduced friction. The table in the 6550 serves all these purposes, providing you with a better result. As the wood moves into the planer, the smooth granite surface reduces friction and helps you get the smoothest results.

Solid build

You have a tool spinning at 8500 RPM, making 17,000 CPM, pulling rough stock through the cutterhead at 26 FPM. You want a solid, rugged, and heavy tool properly secured to prevent tool damage and user injury. The 6550 delivers.

Easy adjustment of planing thickness

The planer makes depth-of-cut (planing depth) adjustments easy. The crank handle provides positive control, and a depth-of-cut indicator allows you to dial in just what you need.

FAQ

How much assembly is required?

When you open the box of your new 6550, you will be pleasantly surprised with how little assembly is required. You attach the dust chute and depth adjustment handle, and remove packing from the planing area. Bolt it to a sturdy surface, and you are ready to go.

Is the 6550 suitable for beginners?

Any experienced woodworker who has been around power tools for a long time can handle the 6550. There are unique risks associated with the use of this type of tool. The user manual does an excellent job spelling out how to use the 6550 for optimal results and no accidents.

I have heard adjusting blades is difficult on planers. How hard is it on the 6550?

WEN has designed the 6550 with blade locating pins that simplify blade changes. If you see that the locating holes are worn for some reason, discard that blade and buy new ones. Otherwise, your planing results will suffer.

Sawdust

What the Users Say

We like giving you the unvarnished impressions of people out there who have purchased a tool and put it to work in the shop or on the job site. What do people who purchase the 6550 have to say about their experiences using it?

Think of these good points as “stream of consciousness” and not in order of frequency. They are all important to the user’s experience, and we think you’ll find them informative. First out of the chute is satisfaction with the packaging and its condition when it hits the shop door. Yes, packaging. We see a lot of complaints about tools arriving in battered boxes with damaged contents. Not for the 6550. Most are reported arriving in pristine condition. You will experience less angst while opening the box and less hassle due to replacing damaged parts.

Of course, no one buys a product to get a nice box. What do folks think about performance? We have to say it is glowing. Setup of any tool precedes being able to judge performance, and the 6550 has very little in the way of assembly and getting ready for operation. Users emphasize the importance of securely fastening the planer to a flat, stable surface. The consensus is that the 6550 is a great tool that produces a fine finish and eliminates the majority of sanding.

What is it that people report not liking about the 6550?

Blade nicking and rapid wear is a frequent complaint, even among highly satisfied users. Always inspect stock for rocks, nails, staples, and any metal before running it through the planer. Even after doing this, folks report poor blade performance which results in poor finishes.

There are some issues with the quality of parts being used, particularly with the depth-of-cut adjustment gear. It is plastic, and users report it losing teeth. Another issue users bring up is the depth-of-cut handle moving up while the tool is running. This results in irregular results, not the uniform thickness desired.

A handful of other issues include the feed tables not being level with the granite, arrival with parts damaged and bogging down when feeding stock. On the bright side of issues, WEN customer service receives generally high praise, but not always.

Conclusion

Drumroll sounds…if you want a reliable, extremely affordable thickness planer that can provide results comparable to those of machines costing far more, the WEN 6550 is an excellent choice. If you have a fine cabinetry business, you may want to look at a more capable machine for the finest of finishes, but even you are likely to find a role for the 6550 in your shop.

About the Author Adam Harris

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!