Best Benchtop Thickness Planers That Pack Power: Complete 2020 Guide and Six Top Products

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man scouring a wooden

For many woodworkers, the ability to plan their own wood feels very satisfying. Of course, if you want to plan your own wood, you need to use the best benchtop planers. But it can be difficult to find a model that can deliver everything the manufacturer claims it can. If you’re looking for a new planer, then you’ve come to the right place.

I’ve created a buyer’s guide that will walk you through all the features these tools have to offer, what type of features you should look for that will indicate quality, and which models are currently crushing the market. I’ve reviewed many of the leading models on the market, narrowing it down to the top six planers that woodworkers of all skill levels will love.

Benchtop Thickness Planers Comparison Chart

ProductCutterhead
Knives
MotorCuts
Per Inch
Rating
DEWALT Benchtop Planer
315 Amps96
Makita 2012NB Planer
215 Amps80
WEN 6552T Benchtop Planer
315 Amps25500
PORTER-CABLE Thickness Planer
215 Amps1600
Mophorn Thickness Planer
215 Amps2000
POWERTEC PL1252 Planer
215 Amps18800

DEWALT DW734 Benchtop Planer


Our Rating: (5/5)

This model comes with a three-knife cutterhead design and offers ten thousand RPMs that provide ninety-six cuts per inch, which is pretty impressive for a portable planer. The knives are disposable and designed to provide thirty percent more knife life compared to competing models. Changing out the knives is fast and easy. The carriage is a four-column style that locks in order to reduce the type of movement that can cause snipe. The outfeed and infeed tables offer an extra-long design that allows you to handle longer and heavier lumber, thanks to this type of extra, top of the line support that the pros and experienced woodworkers look for. The motor comes in at fifteen amps and twenty thousand RPMs, which means it can easily handle deeper and larger cuts in hardwoods.

Pros

  • Powerful motor
  • Disposable knives
  • Extra-long outfeed and infeed tables
  • Three-knife design

Cons

  • Not beginner-friendly

Conclusion

This leading model by Dewalt comes loaded with some great features including the longer than average outfeed and infeed tables, the fifteen amp motor, and the three-knife cutterhead design. This model provides accurate, quick depth adjustment, not to mention a portable design that will allow you to easily transport this machine from job site to job site. This planer is perfect for both home and commercial jobs, so you know it’s designed to handle heavy-duty use.

Makita 2012NB Planer


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This highly portable benchtop planer is easy to transport from job site to job site, thanks to its lightweight design. This model is designed with beginners in mind and features easier and faster blade changes and intuitive controls. The four-post design, combined with the diagonal cross supports improves stability. The long table extensions will allow you to handle longer lumber, easily. This machine also comes with LED light indicators that will display whether it’s plugged into a power source and a design that’s fully adjustable. The machine also features depth stops that can save you plenty of time if you have to make repeat cuts.

Pros

  • Long extensions allow you to handle longer lumber
  • Includes diagonal cross supports for improved stability
  • Powerful
  • Lightweight design

Cons

  • Feed rollers must be replaced often

Conclusion

A powerful model that’s equipped with a fifteen amp motor with a no-load speed of eight thousand, five hundred RPMs, and a decibel rating of eighty-three, this is one of the quietest models in its class. The depth of cut is fully adjustable, and the machine itself is equipped with intuitive controls that make it very beginner-friendly. The lightweight design allows you to easily transport  the planer for work and store it when not in use.

WEN 6552T Benchtop Planer


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

WEN is a popular manufacturer with a reputation for producing some of the best and most affordable power tools and machines on the market. Its latest product comes with onboard material removal gauges that will tell you the exact cut depth per pass. This machine can handle boards that are up to six inches in height and thirteen inches wide. The fifteen amp motor offers twenty-five thousand, five hundred cuts per minute, with a twenty-six foot per minute feed rate. The cutterhead features the classic three-blade design that will allow the machine to easily slice through even the toughest lumber. For improved safety and a clean workspace, this machine comes with a dust port that’s fan-assisted.

Pros

  • Fan-assisted dust port
  • Three-knife cutterhead design
  • Fifteen amp motor
  • Low price
  • Pro-quality

Cons

  • Not beginner-friendly

Conclusion

If you’re looking for a model that can handle heavy-duty daily use, then your search is over. This high-powered model offers an impressive cut rate, is highly adjustable, and comes loaded with all the features the pro woodworker will appreciate. Unfortunately, this isn’t the most beginner-friendly model, but for the professional in need of a model that’s built tough, affordable, and reliable, this planer is definitely a steal for the price.

PORTER-CABLE Thickness Planer


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This model by Porter-Cable features a fifteen amp motor and a two-knife cutterhead design that allows for faster, and efficient processing. The solid steel cutter, complete with head-mounted ball bearings works to improve cutting efficiency while ensuring a smooth operation. This model is very beginner-friendly and comes loaded with some great features including reversible knives for two times the cutting life. The double-edged knives are easy to change and can provide the type of smooth cutting action needed for soft and hardwood processing. This machine also comes with a poly-V belt cutterhead drive, complete with a rugged chain/gearbox, in addition to a sprocket feed roller drive, all of which offers max power transfer.

Pros

  • Fifteen amp motor
  • Reversible knives
  • Patented cutter elevation
  • Durable
  • Poly-V belt cutterhead drive

Cons

  • Issues with blade alignment

Conclusion

This model is very beginner-friendly, although it doesn’t offer the type of durable, powerful design that the pros are looking for. This is not a commercial quality model. However, it does do an excellent job of planing soft and hardwoods and would be a great addition to any home workshop. Additionally, the low price and the reversible knives that last twice as long as traditional knives give woodworkers on a budget every reason to buy.

Mophorn Thickness Planer


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This is a high-powered planer that offers eighteen hundred watts of power, complete with two-piece cutter blades, a steel floor stand, and an all-metal workbench. It features a max cutting width of thirteen inches, so it’s definitely a pro-quality model that can work for both home and commercial use. The machine can handle wood thickness that ranges from 0.2 inches up to six inches. It also features a blade speed of nine thousand RPMs. For easy and simple adjustments, this model comes with a crank handle that allows you to precisely lower or raise the cutterhead. The included scale ruler also improves cutting efficiency. The dust exhaust port allows you to connect the machine to a dust collection system for faster and easier cleanup, allowing your workspace to remain clean. The durable stand is detachable and provides a sturdy base for this heavy-duty machine.

Pros

  • Wide cutting capacity
  • Eighteen hundred watts of power
  • Two-piece cutterhead design
  • Commercial quality

Cons

  • Not portable

Conclusion

This model is designed for planing all types of wood, providing a smooth, beautiful finish. It comes loaded with many important features that allow you to use this model for a heavy workload. The powerful motor can handle a higher volume of lumber, without overheating, while the wider cutting capacity will allow you to work with lumber of all sizes. The heavy-duty stand provides the type of support you need when you’re working with longer lumber and it’s an important feature that’s designed to make your work safer and easier. This model may be overkill for a small workshop, but if you find yourself planing on a daily basis, and you deal with a high volume of lumber, then this is the machine you need to get the job done.

POWERTEC PL1252 Benchtop Thickness Planer


Our Rating: (4/5)

If you don’t know how to use a thickness planer, then this beginner-friendly model is the perfect option. While the price is steep, this is a great model for the beginner, pro, and the serious woodworker in search of a model they can rely on. This is a great buy if you’re looking for a machine that’s designed to specifically repurpose old wood and bring it back to life. It comes equipped with a fifteen amp motor that allows you to handle a variety of lumber sizes. It also includes a two-blade cutterhead design that produces eighteen thousand, eight hundred cuts per minute, which is nothing short of impressive.

The cutterhead provides an efficient and fast cutting process. With the index pin set up you can expect an easy blade replacement process. This machine also comes with a spindle lock, which provides a safer blade change. The pro-quality workpiece roller design ensures the roller system lasts longer than competing models in this price range. The machine’s four-column design provides improved stability and precision, working to significantly reduce the chances of snipe. This machine is covered by a one-year product warranty, which will give buyers confidence in this type of important purchase.

Pros

  • Four-column design
  • Pro-quality roller system
  • One year warranty
  • Beginner-friendly

Cons

  • Price

Conclusion

This pro-quality planer is perfect for home and commercial use and comes with all the bells and whistles you want in a model that’s designed to handle a higher volume of lumber. The lightweight design makes this model highly portable, so you can easily transport it from job site to job site or store it in your workshop when it’s not in use. This versatile machine can handle a variety of lumber widths and lengths and is a great investment for the serious woodworker.

Benchtop Thickness Planers Buyer’s Guide

A planer can be a machine that you find yourself relying on often regardless of your skill level, or whether you dabble in woodworking and like to take on basic DIY wood projects, or you’re considered a pro. While not all models are exactly beginner-friendly, you can find a machine that comes loaded with intuitive controls that will allow you to get the job done easily, saving you plenty of time in the workshop. Once you try out a benchtop planer, you’ll never go back to using a hand planer again.

If you’re new to woodworking, then you may already feel overwhelmed when you’re shopping for all the basic tools you need. The modern planer is electric, while traditional models come equipped with a stationary blade. But with a hand planer, it can be difficult to ensure you get a finish that’s perfectly level. This is because the top can be uneven, so you may end up doing an uneven job if you use a hand planer. The benchtop thickness planer works by setting a blade at a specific height, then shaving off all of the wood that’s above the set height as the board passes through the machine. The result is a surface that’s uniformly level. As you can see, using a benchtop model can save you both time and energy.

Types of Benchtop Thickness Planers

These machines come in a couple of options. A pro-grade model will come equipped with a stand and are considered stationary models considering they can weigh hundreds of pounds.

The next option is the benchtop thickness planer. These models weighs around fifty to one hundred pounds, so they’re considered portable, although you can set one up on your workbench permanently.

The old hand planer only weighs a few pounds and is powered by the user. Benchtop planers and hand planers often get grouped together in the category of portable planers, although these tools work very differently.

Cut Depth

The user will control how deep a hand planer will cut per stroke, although this tool can be very limiting depending on tool quality. With the benchtop planer, the user will be able to set how far they want the planer to cut per pass. However, if you want to remove a lot of material from the surface of the wood, then you may need to pass it through the machine two to three times because many models are only able to remove fractions of an inch with each pass.

Many models come with a couple of maximum depths. Most models are only able to remove around 1/16th of an inch per pass. Higher priced models may be able to remove as much as 3/32 of an inch. Keep in mind that when you use a great cutting depth it can result in a tear-out, which can ruin and splinter your workpiece. If you’re working with hardwoods or very soft woods, then you’ll want to use a lower depth of cut for each pass, then do multiple passes. This process may take longer, yet it will also significantly minimize the risk of tear-out.

Snipe Safety

This type of woodworking machine will utilize a couple of rollers before and after the blades in order to minimize the chances of snipe. Snipe is a serious problem that can occur when the workpiece that’s going through the machine is pulled into the blade before its able to reach the second roller, this can cause the board to have more material removed from the front of the board and not enough removed from the end. This results in an awful looking board and basically ruins your workpiece. This happens because of the friction between the fast-spinning blades and the wood, which is then pulled into the blade. Long lumber can make the problem even worse, especially if it’s not supported beyond the machine’s end, leaving the heavier end of the lumber hanging off, which will force the front end of the lumber directly into the blades.

When the board reaches the second roller the risk of snipe is significantly reduced because the board will be held in a level position by both of the rollers. Yet the chances of snipe occurring can also vary from model to model. Some models will come with highly adjustable tables that can be moved up and down in order to offset snipe. The user is also able to minimize the size of their cuts as they approach the final thickness. Remember, smaller cuts will have less of a chance of snipe compared to larger cuts.

Dust Collection System

A dust collection system is another feature that’s quality tends to vary from model to model. When you plan wood, it tends to create a lot of dust, which can cause a huge mess in your garage or workshop. Unfortunately, not all models will come equipped with a dust collection feature. Most lower-priced models will not come with one, so you can plan on devoting plenty of time to clean up at the end of the day. Higher priced models will usually have a dust collection system. When you’re shopping for a new model, make sure you check out the type of dust ports it has, which will allow you to connect the machine to a dust collection system. Most models will come with a four-inch port, which is compatible with most types of dust collection systems. If you currently own a dust collection system, then you should consider getting a new benchtop planer that has a compatible port. However, it’s also possible to purchase a converter that will allow you to connect a different size dust port to a dust collection system.

Capacity

Many models will only allow you to use boards that are twelve to thirteen inches, which can be limiting for some people. Larger machines will allow you to plan boards that are fifteen inches wide or more. If you don’t need to plan wider boards, then a standard model will work for you.

Power

Larger models will come equipped with more powerful motors, offering three HPs. A low-priced, smaller model will come with a low-powered motor. If you’re going to be planning smaller boards and you don’t need to send more than one board through the planer at the same time, then a low-priced planer can be a great option.

Support

Some models will come with a tough cast iron outfeed and infeed tables, which are needed for planning larger and heavier pieces of lumber. A longer bed can also provide better support for lumber of different weights and lengths. You may run into models that come with outfeed and infeed tables that are very flimsy, which means they’re not suitable to handle heavy pieces of lumber. As I mentioned earlier, this can lead to planer snipe.

Other Must-Have Features

In addition to the other features I’ve covered, there are other major features that you’ll want to keep an eye out for.

Spiral Cutterhead

Most models will not come with a spiral cutterhead, however, there are some planers that will allow you to add one. In order to keep the price of the machine low, most models will use a three-knife style cutterhead. Not having a spiral cutterhead can be a major drawback for some woodworkers and can run an extra two to three hundred dollars in order to upgrade to this type of cutterhead.

Scalloping

Scalloping is a type of finishing. They’re scooping cuts that are created by the blades or knives. Instead of making a flat cut in the set direction, the blades will make several scooping cuts. The finishing that’s formed by the scalloping will depend on the number of blades used. More blades will mean each cut will be smaller. This will reduce the scalloping. A typical handheld model will only come with a single blade, while a benchtop model will have two to four blades. Scalloping can also depend on the cutting head speed. The higher the speed rotation the cutting head produces, the more cuts that will be made. Additionally, cutting head diameter can also have an impact. Cutting heads with a larger diameter will result in reduced scalloping in each cut, for a flat look.

Standard Vs. Commercial Planers

Many planers will use little to no plastic in their housing design and feature finer and easier adjustments. If you don’t plan on using any curly maple wood or you don’t need to run hundreds of feet of lumber through a planer, then a standard model designed for home use will be a perfect choice. Commercial-grade models are more powerful and designed to handle thousands of feet of lumber a day, but if you have a small workshop, then a standard model is a smarter option.

Benchtop Thickness Planer Tips

A top of the line model will deliver the type of results you need and expect, without devoting too much time to ongoing maintenance. Keeping your planer in top condition will be important in order to keep your machine running the way it should. While you may run into issues occasionally, including a cutterhead that’s out of alignment, or issues with the feed rollers, you can follow these tips to keep your machine working efficiently. Make sure you read the user’s manual for any procedures that are specific to your make and model.

  • Before you perform any type of maintenance or repairs, make sure you unplug the machine.
  • The cutterhead works by cutting parallel to the planer’s table as the lumber is fed across it, so it must be kept smooth, clean, and flat. The planer and any parts that make contact with the lumber should be kept free of lubricants, sap residue, dust, and chips. A little extra care will keep your planer in excellent running shape for several years to come.
  • Make sure you check the planer table to ensure a long straight edge and flatness. Check out the width and length of the table. If the table has any low spots or it’s warped then you should contact the manufacturer.
  • In order to reduce snipe, make sure that you set the outfeed and infeed extension tables and that the outer ends of the tables are at least 1/6th of an inch higher than the planer table.
  • Mineral oil can be used to clean the planer table. You can also apply a coat of paste wax to any lumber, which will allow it to easily glide across the rollers. Make sure you buff the wax using a soft cloth after the wood has passed through the planer.
  • Check the planer table for flatness with a long straightedge. Closely inspect the width and the length of the table and note any signs of warping or any low spots, which can indicate a serious issue with the planer’s performance.
  • If possible, always use a dust collection system, in addition to compressed air, so you can get rid of any debris from the table’s surface, rollers, and cutterhead. This should be done after each use. doing so will help to prevent the feed rollers from slipping.
  • When feed rollers begin to lose their grip, this can cause the lumber to stall inside the planer, which can burn or gouge the wood. If you notice any build-up of debris, make sure you wipe the feed rollers using mineral oil with a clean rag. This will ensure a good grip.
  • Take a look at the motor brushes after every hundred hours of use. Look for any signs of wear on the carbon faces. You can replace them once the carbon is less than a quarter of an inch long. There are many things that can increase wear on the motor brushes, such as taking deep cuts in wider stock.
  • You can clean the guide posts and the head elevation screws by blowing away the chips and dust using compressed air. You can also use a brass bristled brush for more efficient cleaning. Next, lubricate the threads and posts with a dry paraffin wax for smoother action.
  • Clean pitch and dust from the knives using a clean rag and mineral oil. You can also use a brass bristle brush. This should be done after planing wood that has a high oil content, tar, or a lot of sap, such as when you’re working with teak or pine. Make sure you’re careful when doing this and don’t cut your fingers on the edges of the knives.
  • When the knives become too dull, they can end up pulling chunks out of the surface of the wood, or they can tear the wood. This is why it’s so important to perform routine maintenance. Once you notice the knives have become dull, don’t even bother trying to sharpen them since most knives are disposable, which can make sharpening them complicated. You can order new knives directly from the manufacturer, just be sure that the knives you purchase at the correct ones for your make and model.
  • Only clean the sprockets and drive chain if they become covered in chips or dust. You can clean them using compressed air and a brass bristle brush. When cleaning, try to avoid removing lubricants or grease from any exposed gears.

Final Thoughts

The best benchtop thickness planers are highly adjustable, made out of durable materials, with minimal plastic, come equipped with a powerful motor and tough outfeed and infeed tables. Basically, a benchtop model should be durable, designed to handle regular use, and can allow you to handle even heavier, longer lumber safely. The planers that made it onto my top six list have what it takes to handle a variety of thicknesses, lengths, and board widths, so you’ll save plenty of time, energy, and money, especially if you normally used a hand planer for most of your projects. With the help of this guide, you should now know what features to look for, and what type of model will work for you, your woodworking needs and projects, and your budget.