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Best Thickness Planer: Top Picks and Reviews for 2017

Looking for the best thickness planer? Read our in-depth thickness planer reviews, comparison charts and top picks for 2017 to help you make the right buying decision.

If you own a woodworking shop and you are going to buy a lot of stock wood to make that wood usable you need tools like router tables, planers etc. in your shop.

So which is the best planer you can get? We tested the best out there, feed rough & uneven wood and evaluated their performance and convenience. Here are the best you can find –

Best Thickness Planers for Serious Woodworkers

Dewalt DW735 Two Speed Thickness Planer – The Muhammad Ali of thickness planers, this bad boy is designed to handle anything you throw at it. With a rock solid constructions, it is the hands down the best choice for roughing up old wood.

Makita 2012NB – If you are running low on space and noise is an issue, then this with its powerful performance is recommended.

Best Planer at a Budget

Wen 6550 12.5-inch Planer– If you are just starting out, this is our top pick. It’s one of the most durable products on the list and while it may lack the cutting quality and accuracy of the top end models, for beginners, at such a low cost it’s simply an ideal investment.

Best Handheld Planer for Convenience

Bosch PL2632K Planer – This one is an absolute beast. With an intelligent design, it gives the best results when it comes to door trimming and framing tasks.

 A list of the best Planer for 2017

Thickness PlanerSuited ForTypeBudgetRating
Dewalt DW735Professional UseThickness PlanerPremium4.8/5
Makita 2012NBProfessional UseBenchtop PlanerPremium4.5/5
Bosch PL2632KHobbyists Handheld PlanerBudget4.2/5
Wen 6550HobbyistsBenchtop PlanerPremium3.7/5

#1 Pick: Dewalt DW735 Thickness Planer

The DW735 is a badass piece of machinery built to perform all day, chipping off all kinds of wood. This is the only planer that provided smooth consistent performance and continues to do so all day long.

Dewalt DW735

A true Power Performer

The Dewalt DW735 relies on a 15 AMP motor which gives cutter head the speed of 10,000 RPM).

Now, this is not the only planer that comes with the 15 AMP motor, and some cheaper planers offer a higher cutter head speed. But from the get-go, we could see the difference.

The rate at which the wood is fed in the table is in sync with the cutter head. This ensures a smooth consistent cut throughout the wood. (Some cheaper planers tend to scrape off more wood than required.)

It also features two-speed settings (Cuts per inch). The higher 179 CPI can be used when you need to reduce the thickness of the wood while the lower 96 CPI can be used for smoothening.

Overall, the machine is built to handle everything you throw at it and even if you stretch it for long hours it will continue the give the same performance.

Adjustment and Snipe

You can make micro adjustments on the Dewalt DW735. First up, it can support a maximum of 15 inches (in width) of wood but it gives the same performance on narrower wood.

For adjusting the depth, you can use the wheel on the right where one full rotation equals 1/16th of an inch. And to ensure you don’t turn the wheel to the wrong depth, you can use the depth stop on the left, which basically locks the rotation wheel so that it can’t go below a certain depth.

Maximum Depth Capacity is 1/8th of an inch.

Woodworking tools are known to produce loads of dust and with a planer, you will get crazy amounts of wood shavings. The DW735 uses a ‘Chip Ejection System’ which channels the chips to a small tunnel that can be connected to a vacuum. (Long story short, you won’t spend hour cleaning the mess, once the job is done).

Talking about snipe, the infeed and outfeed table help a lot in minimizing it, and if we had to rate thickness planers on snipe (or the lack of it) the Dewalt DW735 will be the clear #1.

Cons

With any planer, knives require frequent replacement. They wear out with time. The story remains the same with the DW735. However, knives of Makita 2012NB lasted longer. Overall, we rate the knives as above average.

And yes, this machine is pretty loud. So you will need a headphone for ear protection.

Overall Value – (With the bundle Dewalt DW735X)

The only difference between the DW745 and DW735X is that the latter comes with a pair of replacement knives and a mobile table. You can get the bundle if you will be moving the planer around.

Overall, we will recommend the Dewalt DW735 for a woodworking shop which requires daily hours of operation.

A cheaper Option for Hobbyists (Dewalt DW735 vs Dewalt 734)

If you are on a budget or woodworking is more of a hobby, then you can still get a powerful planer in the form of Dewalt 734. The major difference is in the blade size. The 734 has a smaller 12.5-inch knife while the 735 have bigger 13-inch knives. This has an impact on the cut quality.

Secondly, the Dewalt 735 has an automatic carriage lock which helps in reducing snipe.

Overall if you have light woodworking needs you can go for the Dewalt 734.

Pros

  • The powerful 15 AMP motor has enough firepower to cut through the toughest of wood. (Similar performance was seen on Oak, Walnut, and hickory).
  • Comes with 2 different speeds, one can be used for cutting more wood while the other can be used for finishing.
  • Comes with micro adjustment settings, so accurate cuts can be made with ease.
  • With the extended infeed and outfeed table, snipe is negligible.

 

Cons

  • With regular use, the knives wear out and you will have to replace them. (You get an additional pair with the bundle)
  • The machine is quite loud so you will need headphones (for ear protection) while working.

#2 Pick: Makita 2012NB Benchtop Planer

If you have a somewhat smaller shop, but still need something that can handle heavy jobs then Makita 2012NB might just be what you need.

Makita 2012NB

Performance

The 15 AMP motor provides solid performance. It was able to handle most woodworking needs and the slower cutter head speed provided a smoother finish.

You can also make micro adjustments easily and the maximum depth is 1/8th of an inch.

We really loved the low noise level and woodworkers who work for long hours, will understand the advantage of a low noise.

With the Makita 2012NB you get a 4 post design that balance the weight. This helps when you are working with heavier woods and there is no impact on performance. There are also lesser vibrations all around.

Durability

The Makita 2012NB is hands down the most durable thickness planer available in the market today. You can attach double-edged blades in the cutter head which again extends the need for replacements. Compared to the Dewalt Blades, Makita blades last longer.

Cons

It relies on Interna-Lok to reduce snipe but it has little impact. You have to use the technique we have share in the guide section to reduce snipe. But for best results we recommend using an extension table.

Also buying the dust collector hood (along with the planer) is almost necessary otherwise you will have to deal with a big mess.

Overall

Overall if you need something with a smaller footprint then this can be a good option. You get top-notch performance and lack of noise is also an impressive feature.

Pros

  • With a stable build, it is able to handle heavier wood.
  • The performance was comparable to the Dewalt Planer and overall it will be able to cut through anything you throw at it.
  • The blades are double edged and last longer than most planer knives.
  • With a noise lever of 83 dB it produced the least noise among all thickness planers.

 

Cons

  • The biggest issue is with the snipe and using an extension table is recommended.

Budget Pick: Bosch PL2632K Handheld Planer

Hand planers offer a lot of utility and can be used for roughing up doors or smoothing joists. Getting an electric hand planer helps you complete your job quickly and gives a much better finish. Here is why the Bosch PL2632K is our #1 recommendation –

Bosch PL2632K

Power and Accuracy

Getting an electric hand planer will only make sense if you are able to chip off more wood in a shorter time. This is exactly what you get with the PL2632K. We were able to plane through rough wood and doors with relative ease, and compared to a normal hand planer, we saw better finish too.

You get this power with a 6.5 AMP motor which has a speed of 16,500 RPM. This makes easy work of the rougher woods you have to encounter at the job site and helps you reach the desired thickness in no time.

Also, we found the depth knob to be pretty accurate and this helps when you working with doors or furniture where being accurate to the millimeter is key.

Design and Durability

Door trimming is perhaps one of the most common applications of a hand planer, and this is where the design of the Bosch PL2632K shines.

First up, we love the dual mount fence. It balances the planer while you are working on edges and we were able to make the cleanest cuts using this. Secondly, the ejection dual can be directed, in both directions (i.e. left or right), which makes operations from both sides easier. If you are doing an activity like framing a house, then attaching the ejection port with a vacuum is recommended. Also, safety features like Lock-On and Lock-Off switches make the PL2632K, convenient to use.

In a hand planer, the part which requires frequent replacement are the blades. In the PL2632K we get tungsten carbide blades. Not only do they perform better on rough woods (even hardwood), they last longer and are able to handle day to day abuse. The blades performed better, compared to the ones used in Makita KP0810.

Cons

The only gripe we had with this planer was the weight. It weighs close to 15 pounds when the fence is attached, and this can prove to be a bit tiring, especially if you have to work for long hours.

Having said that, this is an issue you can live with, and taking a break of 5-10 minutes eases the discomfort.

Overall Value

Consider the price, you get a lot out of the Bosch PL2632K. We got a smooth and consistent performance all around. If you are looking for something that you can take to the job site or if you are looking for something that can help in certain woodworking projects, this is something we will recommend.

Pros

  • With a 6.5 AMP motor, you get enough power to chip off wood and it was able to handle most tasks in a breeze.
  • The Dual-Mount fence helps to plane edges with complete ease.
  • The depth knob ensures accuracy which is key when you are dealing with complex tasks like trimming doors.
  • The blades are designed to handle continues operation and last longer than any hand planers we tested.

 

Cons

  • Weighing close to 15 pounds, holding this can prove to be tiring after extended use.

#4 Pick: Wen 6550 Benchtop Planer

If you’ve taken up woodworking as a hobby and need a machine that can help you repurpose old wood, then the Wen 6550 is the best entry level planer in the market today. It does a lot of things right, and we discuss all that in our review –

Wen 6550

Performance

Right off the bat, we were impressed by the build. Now everything isn’t made of metal like the Makita Planer, but the cast iron base provides stability and overall the 6550 is a balanced machine. While feeding wood stock, there was no vibration and wood passes through smoothly.

Now coming to the heart of the planer – the motor. The Wen 6550 is powered by 15 AMP motor and this gives the cutter head the speed of 96 CPI. This helps when you are smoothening wood, but if you need to reduce thickness you will have to pass it through the planer several times.

The blades are reversible and overall for the price you get a decent pair. The one thing we like was the ease with which you can replace blades, so if there is an immediate need to sharpen the knives, removing blades won’t take a lot of time.

Finally, the Wen 6550 can support woods up to 12.5 inches in width (13-inch model also available) and 6 inches in thickness. Adjustment is also super easy and if you are using a planer for the first time, getting used to this is not that complicated.

Cons – What we don’t like?

Snipe is something that is common on all thickness planers, but out of all the thickness planers, it was the most glaring on the Wen 6550. It comes with infeed and outfeed tables, but they have little impact. We discuss how you can reduce snipe in the guide section, but still snipe isn’t completely eliminated.

Secondly, the motor is not designed to handle long hours of operation. After about 40 minutes of use, it starts to get warm and we had to shut it down. Also while working with rougher woods the performance was affected.

Overall

Considering all the factors, we won’t recommend the WEN 6550 for a woodworking shop. (Even as an additional planer). Dewalt DW734 does a much better job.

However, if woodworking is more of a hobby and you are going to use a planer, buying this makes perfect sense. Once you move on to complex projects, you can surely upgrade but to get things started this is the best bang for your buck.

Pros

  • Comes in a relatively sturdy build and remains stable during operation.
  • The performance is satisfactory and the 15 AMP motor does the job for the most part.
  • The granite table is an absolute delight and the bottom surface of the wood comes with no charring or tear.
  • Replacement of blades is easy, and overall a beginner will be able to quickly adapt to this.

 

Cons

  • Snipe is a big issue and you will have to use special techniques to minimize it.
  • The motor is not that efficient and needs to be shut down after 30-40 minutes of continuous operation.
  • It chips off lesser wood at a time, so multiple passes are necessary to get the desired thickness.

A Cheaper Alternative – WEN 6530

If you are not a heavy user and need something that can help you complete small tasks, then this planer by WEN is something you can consider. It can basically help you with trimming doors and repairing some furniture.

On the downside, it is not designed for rough woods and gets heated up quite easily.

Overall, for something that costs less than 50 bucks, you get a lot of value and this can be used whenever you need to fix things in your house.


Thickness Planers – The Ultimate Guide!

In this section, we cover the gripping questions you might have about planers. We also discuss the top features of a planer and which type you should ultimately go for.

Jointer vs Planer – Which one should I get first?

The is a question that almost every woodworker asks. This also gets heated discussions on woodworking forums. We, however, have tried to focus on the need of the consumer, and that is why we have come up with a slightly different approach. But before that lets’ talk in brief on what these machines do individually –

If you are going to buy wood from the local lumber shop, chances are that wood might be curved or bent. This is where the jointer comes in. You pass that piece of wood through a jointer, and the blades chip off excess wood. The end result will be that one of the surfaces would be completely flat.

Next, you can feed the opposite side through the planer to get the desired thickness. In order to feed wood through the planer, you need a flat surface.

So, if you own a woodworking shop, you are better off getting a jointer first and then going for a planer.

But if woodworking is more of a hobby and you are on a tight budget, then getting a planer will be a lot useful. Planer offers more utility as you can get the desired thickness and even smoothen out the surface.

And with this trick (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UONmuQt_98), you can use your planer for flattening wood too.

Top Features of a Planer –

If you are getting a planer there are certain features which you need to look for. These help you to assess the quality of the planer and also you can take a more informed buying decision –

The Build

Most power tools are built to last and solid construction is one of their hallmarks. Having said that, unlike industrial planers (which are built of iron), commercial planers are majorly built of aluminum. This is done to reduce cost and also to make these somewhat portable.

You also need to focus on the quality of the other components like the infeed & outfeed table, cutter head and knives.

With regular use, you will have to replace the knives and to make that possible (or at least easier) make sure that the cutter head is accessible to the user.

Cut Quality

The accepted metric to judge the cut quality is the CPI (Cuts per Inch). A higher value usually means a better quality of cut. Basically, a higher CPI ensures a more even cut throughout the surface of the wood.

A higher CPI is achieved by a powerful motor (which is responsible for the faster rotation of cutter) but it also needs to be proportional to the speed at which the wood is being fed.

Generally, we found no issues with Dewalt and Makita planers, but in cheaper Porter Cable planers, we found the cuts to be uneven especially near the edges.

The quality of the knife also has a direct effect on the cut, but all the planers we recommend rank high in cut quality.

Snipe

Snipe is an issue that you deal with almost all planers. The cutter tends to chip off more wood at the edges. So instead of getting a smooth even surface, you end up with a slightly curved surface.

The trick for reducing snipe is to raise the wood while feeding it in and do the same while it is coming out. Even after that, there are some planers that tend to chip off excess wood.

This covers our roundup on planers and if you have any doubts or questions, drop a comment below.


 

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