You might consider a thickness planer a niche or specialty tool and, to a degree, it is one. It is going to be of the most use to people who routinely work with rough sawn wood that needs a finished surface, need to salvage as much material from warped stock as possible, or otherwise reduce the thickness of their stock. For the typical home-based shop and even many contractors, this tool generally has little appeal or practical application.
When you need its capabilities, though, it’s hard to replace it with hand planes or constant trips to the local millwork company. WEN has two thickness planers, the 6550 and the 6552. Both feature WEN’s quality and stout construction, along with sharing a few features. But, at the end of the day, if you need a thickness planer, purchase the 6552. For the higher price tag, you will get some indispensable capabilities you will appreciate on the first project. Let’s see why we cast our vote in favor of the 6552.
Repaint the lines on the tool field of play; we are about to pit the WEN 6550, with its 6” thick x 12.5” wide stock capacity, against the 6552 that just edges it out with a 13” wide maximum capacity. Toss the coin, choose your goals, and let the contest begin!
When you’re talking about being able to work on stock the size of a substantial fireplace mantel, how much difference, or value, is an extra 1/2 inch of width capacity worth? It’s hard to say off the cuff, but a single job hinging on that 1/2 inch may make it worth the extra cost of the tool.
Both planers have a 120VAC, 15A, 8500 no load RPM motor.
The 6552 features three blades in its cutter head, compared to one pair in the 6550. More blades spinning at the same RPM means more cuts per minute and a smoother finish. A smoother finish benefits you with less sanding to achieve a finished smoothness.
For tool folks, granite ranks up there with machined cast iron work surfaces. It speaks of quality, or at least extra attention where it counts. Granite won’t warp, and it reduces the friction of moving stock through the tool.
The 6550 generally shows up at a lower price than the 6552, though it isn’t a huge difference. That’s why it only earns a half point.
A pair of return rollers encased in the top of the tool’s housing (compared to a single exposed roller in the 6550), and better depth-of-cut indicators, throw the final point to the 6552. And that, tool sports fans, puts a “W” in the 6552’s column.
Now for the champ. The keys to the win are pretty obvious, looking at the competitor’s weak spots.
Now it’s time for a little postgame wrap-up on the game plan of the 6550.
What is the buzz about these two tools? What are people jumping up and down for, both in happiness and in anger? We put on our scouting gear and took to the digital field to find out and report back to you.
We’ll swiftly cover value, as these tools both represent a good value for the price. People are very happy indeed with the power of their planers, both the 6550 and 6552, which they illustrate by extolling the ability of each to handle any wood they throw at them. The finish these tools impart to the surface of the wood keeps the wave rolling around the stadium. Users with exposure to industrial and commercial alternatives comment that the output of the WENs is nearly indistinguishable. Finally, these tools arrive from the factory ready to work after minimal, and we emphasize minimal, assembly.
People casting negative comments across the ether frequently talk about issues with the use of plastic gears rather than metal. Gear failure in a couple of areas such as the feed rollers puts the tool out of action, leaving the owner without a usable tool until it is repaired. Snipe, or the variance in thickness that planers can give long pieces of stock at both the start and finish of the piece, pushes the wrong buttons for others. Some say they compensate for it with longer material, so they cut it out, while others solve the problem with stock supports on both sides of the tool. Blade life is an issue. The most prevalent issue is the development of nicks, which leaves little ridges in the stock and causes rapid dulling. The last bone of contention centers on the motor bogging down under load, regardless of the type or hardness of wood.
These tools receive far more praise than condemnation, always a good sign. The WEN 6552 is a better choice for you if you need a thickness planer, even if you pay a bit more money. The better finish produced for the same amount of work makes it no contest. These are both well-built tools and will produce a high level of surface finish, even when compared to brands costing a lot more. The 6552 is not an industrial or commercial grade tool, but for the rest of the woodworking world, it is hard to find a better value.
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!
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