How to Know Which is the Best Planer Available

If you’re doing any sort of detail work with wood or other semi-soft materials, there’s a chance you may need a planer to help you get some of your thickness cuts right. I want to help you learn how to choose the best planer and then show you a few great choices for under 500.

Planers are used to adjust the thickness of a piece of wood by cutting it from the top down. You can get precise cuts and easily make smooth thickness adjustments to any type of wood board, as well as some other types of materials such as hard foam.​

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How to Choose the Best Planer on the Market

Here are the characteristics of planers that will help you determine which tool you should get to help you with your intended projects and your specific needs:

Power Source

There are three basic types of planers: manual, corded electric, and cordless. Manual planers have no outside power source and rely on you pushing the blade against the wood to work and make cuts. Corded electric planers are bound to areas with outlet access, but are generally the most effective and strongest. Cordless planers are portable and very useful, but are tethered to a battery charge and not a good choice for long projects or infrequent use as you may forget to keep the tool charged.

If you plan to do smaller jobs or very precise work, or if you want the freedom to use your tool anytime and anywhere, a manual planer is a good choice. However, these are limited by your strength and stamina, and cannot do the same work as larger electric planers.

Corded electric planers are very useful for large projects and a lot of work, as they only require basic access to electricity. There is no charging or fueling involved, so they’re ideal for a lot of workshops and job sites. However, they are bound to stay in the area of the cord, and cannot be used to move around and do various tasks in separate locations unless there is also an access outlet there.

Cordless electric planers are great for short projects or jobs that require a lot of moving around, because you don’t have to worry about dealing with a cord. This is a luxury a lot of people like, although it’s inconvenient because you have to keep track of making sure your battery is charged properly.

Size of the Tool

Planers come in all shapes and sizes for different types of work. Small shops might not need the large tabletop planers that are available, whereas large job sites can make use of bigger tools on a regular basis. If you want to work with wider, thicker, or longer pieces of material than you have to ensure that you get a planer which can handle the job.

Type of Materials to Cut

Most people use planers to cut either wood or hard foam for surfboard shaping. However, they are able to cut many similar materials, as long as it is soft enough to be cut by a metal blade. Planers used for harder materials should have stronger engine power, because it will make the task easier and won’t strain the tool as much.

Blades Used

The quality of the blade can affect how well it cuts certain materials as well as how nice the cuts ends up being. Higher quality blades won’t wear out as fast and will have better cuts on most materials. Planers can sometimes come with different styles of blades, so make sure you know what you’re getting when you go to make a purchase.

Price and Budget

Manual planers are of course the cheapest available, but there are many reasonably priced planers for smaller projects that are very affordable. Large planers are mostly unnecessary for the average person, unless you have a lot of bigger projects to complete, meaning you probably won’t need to spend an enormous amount of money to get what you want.

Quality of the Cut

When it comes down to it, the quality of a cut that a planer makes is the most important thing about the tool. Even if you get an ideal planer in every other sense, if it makes a poor-quality cut than it won’t be as useful to you. Make sure that the tool you get can make a proper, high-quality cut with a good finish for what you want.

Top Wood Planer Reviews

Here are some of my recommendations if you want to get yourself a good planer.​

Via Amazon.com

This tabletop planer is designed for ease of use and comfort. It runs a bit more quietly than some similar products, doesn’t weight too much, and is easily adjustable for repeat cuts and precise work. For those working in all sorts of environments, there are a lot of stability features included, such as the large table extensions, 4-post design and diagonal cross, and the interna-lok automated head clamp for reduced snipe and better cuts.

It’s quick and easy to change blades in this planer as well, making it a great tool for convenience and for larger products. This device is meant for finish woodworking like cabinets, staircases, furniture, and other refined pieces of work not for rough work.

One issue with this planer is that it can sometimes have bad tearout and noticeable snipe, depending on the type of material you are working with. It does make good cuts overall, but if you’re doing a more refined finishing project and need absolute perfection on every type of hardwood or foam, you may not find this planer to be satisfactory.

What we like:

  • Ready to use quickly upon purchase
  • Long-lasting and very durable planer that keeps going for years without issues
  • Little maintenance is needed to keep your cuts high quality
  • Comfortable use for anyone

    What we don't like:

    • Some visible tearout and snipe, depending on the materials being cut
    • Customer service can be unsatisfactory

    Via Amazon.com

    This tabletop planer is designed for ease of use and comfort. It runs a bit more quietly than some similar products, doesn’t weight too much, and is easily adjustable for repeat cuts and precise work. For those working in all sorts of environments, there are a lot of stability features included, such as the large table extensions, 4-post design and diagonal cross, and the interna-lok automated head clamp for reduced snipe and better cuts.

    It’s quick and easy to change blades in this planer as well, making it a great tool for convenience and for larger products. This device is meant for finish woodworking like cabinets, staircases, furniture, and other refined pieces of work not for rough work.

    One issue with this planer is that it can sometimes have bad tearout and noticeable snipe, depending on the type of material you are working with. It does make good cuts overall, but if you’re doing a more refined finishing project and need absolute perfection on every type of hardwood or foam, you may not find this planer to be satisfactory.

    What we like:

    • Ready to use quickly upon purchase
    • Long-lasting and very durable planer that keeps going for years without issues
    • Little maintenance is needed to keep your cuts high quality
    • Comfortable use for anyone

      What we don't like:

      • Some visible tearout and snipe, depending on the materials being cut
      • Customer service can be unsatisfactory

      Via Amazon.com

      This strong 6.5 amp hand planer is a great choice for quick fixes and small jobs. It has a 2 blade system that makes it more efficient while yielding a smoother cut, so the finish can be very good with this planer. Blades are made of micrograin carbide, a very durable material that cuts well on wood and other work pieces.

      It weighs about 6 pounds, so this corded electric planer is easy to carry around your working area and use wherever you need it, as long as you have electrical access. The bevel fence is easy to adjust for different cuts, and it has a few features that add stability and ease, including the chip ejection switch and the ratcheting depth knob. Bosch’s included kit comes with a bevel guide fence, blade wrench, chip bag, and case along with the planer.

      A big damper for this tool is that it can clog up quickly when you’re using it, because of the closed-off design. You may need to keep a vacuum handy to suck up woodchips before they cause you too much trouble during your job.

      What we like:

      • Small 11 & 1/8 inch shoe length makes this a smaller, more compact tool
      • A good in-between tool for small to medium jobs that don’t need a large surface to be planed
      • Cord is very long, giving you more free area to walk around and use the tool as necessary
      • Good for long and skinny boards such as doors and molding

        What we don't like:

        • This tool can get clogged fairly easily with wood chips
        • Included fence is not particularly useful for many jobs

        Via Amazon.com

        This large Dewalt planer is a good tool if you are looking for powerful and precise cuts. A 15-Amp engine is powered by a corded electric system. Cutterhead speed is up to 10,000 RPMs at full speed and ability.

        To help you get the best use out of your planer, this Dewalt has a 3 knife cutting head system that makes great cuts and helps the blades to last up to 30% longer than the average blade. A fan-assisted wood chip evacuation system sucks up dust and chips from the cutting area and expels them out of the side of the machine to keep the cutting area completely clean and useful while you work.

        There is a major complaint about this planer that involves the knives. Although the knife design is supposed to extend the life of knives, they are too thin and poorly shaped for cutting anything other than soft woods or softer non-wood materials. Although the knives do work for hardwood, they will not last as long as they should and can break too easily.

        What we like:

        • Great results with superb finish
        • Easy to keep the cutting area clean and workable
        • Convenient features make this a very user-friendly tool
        • Dual-speed cutting feature helps you save time with you projects

          What we don't like:

          • Cutting knives are too thin and can break easily
          • Spare parts are difficult to buy if the machine breaks down

          Conclusion

          Via Amazon.com

          Out of all the planers I’ve talked about above, I would most highly recommend the WEN 6530 hand planer. I’ve rated it as the best planer because it is highly versatile in its uses, it’s lightweight, it’s durable, it has a lot of power, and it’s very easy to use. Plus, it’s a great choice for the money you’ll pay, which is a lot less than many tabletop planers!

          These are some of the best planers 2017 has to offer so far. Remember to focus on what you actually need, not on something that would be more useful for others. The kinds of jobs you do may need a different set of traits than what others would need, so just look for a great product that fits your unique needs!

          Amelia
           

          Amelia Robinson is a lover of plants and gardens, as well as an educator on this topic. It’s her goal to make sure that you get the chance to learn what you need to about gardening to succeed with your own home garden at the blog RobinsonLovePlants.com. You’re not going to find just a collection of basic articles about gardening here. Instead, she wants to answer the difficult questions for you. She tweets at @robinsonplants

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