A planer is probably not the first big purchase a woodworker makes, but it’s one of the most important. Because of the substantial cost, it’s understandable to put off purchasing a planer until you feel like you absolutely have to. But if you’ve finally come around to buying one, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite picks below. But first, it’s worth exploring what you can — and can’t — accomplish with a planer.
Even people who have been woodworking for a while might not be totally sure what a planer is. Its functions are not as intuitive as, say, a circular saw or a chisel. But a planer is important for many woodworking functions, especially any setting where having an even surface is important. Planers often work in conjunction with jointers, and it can be kind of easy to conflate the two. A jointer is designed to smooth one side of a piece of wood and square an edge. A planer is used to make two sides of a piece of wood a uniform thickness. In fact, planers are often referred to as thickness planers. But without a jointer to remove bows and other imperfections, you may not get an ideal result from your planer.
Of course, this won’t be a consideration if you decide to buy pre-surfaced lumber. But once you get over the initial cost of a jointer and planer, you might find that there are a lot of benefits to surfacing your own lumber. For one thing, a jointer and planer will pay for themselves in savings. Pre-surfaced lumber is much less expensive. Plus, isn’t the whole point of being a DIYer, well, doing it yourself?
There are a few different kinds of planers. Most of the options on this list are benchtop planers, and they are intended for DIY woodworkers who may not have access to a full workshop. We’ve also included some of the best handheld planers. They don’t get the results of a thickness planer, but they’re affordable and portable.
For DIY experts and beginners alike, these are the best planers to get.
1. DEWALT Thickness Planer
For those just starting to get into woodworking who are looking for a dependable planer that isn’t outrageously expensive, it’s hard to beat this option from DeWalt. It has a powerful 15 AMP-motor that is capable of rotating at 20,000 RPMs (10,000 RPM cutter head speed). The intuitive switch makes it easy to toggle between two speed modes: 179 cuts per inch for finishing and 96 cuts per inch for dimensioning. There are three blades in the cutter head. And, with three backup blades included, you won’t have to worry about buying blades for a while.
Pros: Top brand-name planer that can suit smaller benchtops. Has three blades, two speed modes, and backup blades.
Cons: The motor is very loud.
2. Bosch 12V Max Planer
Bosch is the name of a popular fictional crime-solver, but it’s also a reputed power tool brand with a long history. This planer from Bosch is cordless, making it easy for mobile jobs where an outlet might not be convenient. The unit has a brushless motor, cutting down on friction — which makes for a more efficient machine with less wear and tear. The ergonomic design not only makes it more comfortable to hold, but it also helps ensure more even results.
Pros: Brushless motor for more reliability and efficiency. Ergonomic design helps ensure more even results. Long-lasting battery.
Cons: Tool only, so the battery is not included.
3. CRAFTSMAN Benchtop Planer, 15-Amp
This planer is from the legendary Craftsman brand, and it features the brand’s signature red and black design. The planer has a 15 amp motor with two blades, and it’s capable of cutting at 8,000 RPMs, allowing it to make 16,000 cuts per minute. The knives are also reversible, extending their lifespan and limiting how often you have to replace them. The blades are also quick-change, so when you eventually do have to change them, you won’t be doing so all afternoon.
Pros: High carbon steel blades with double edges for a longer blade lifespan. Easy dust collection.
Cons: Can have some snipe.
4. Makita Lithium-Ion Planer
Need a planer you can take anywhere? This option from Makita is cordless and powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, allowing you to use it anywhere and at any angle. Plus, it weighs less than 8 pounds, making it easier to use for longer periods. That said, it doesn’t compromise on power — the 14,000 RPM motor and the two-blade cutter head allow you to make quick work of any job.
Pros: Portable and lightweight. Rechargeable battery.
Cons: Tool only, meaning battery recharge pack is not included.
5. DEWALT 20V MAX Brushless Planer
A great companion to a DeWalt thickness planer would be this DeWalt hand planer. Its battery-powered motor has a maximum 20V output and can produce 32,000 cuts per minute. Best of all, the motor is brushless. That means that, with less friction in the motor, the unit can run for longer and at a cooler temperature. A Poly-V drive belt provides increased durability, and the depth settings are easy to adjust with the hand knob.
Pros: Powerful planer that offers truly portable power, since it is battery powered. Brushless motor ensures smooth operation.
Cons: Battery and charger sold separately.
6. PORTER-CABLE 6-Amp Hand Planer
If you’re looking for an affordable hand planer, it’s worth considering this option from Porter-Cable. The 6-amp motor is robust enough to tackle most handheld operations. There are dual-sided dust ports. That makes it easy to attach a bag to either side without the bag obstructing you. Plus, the dust bag is included. The depth settings are controlled using a positive stop dial. That means that, when rotating the dial, it will stop along set points. That makes it easier to make precise adjustments.
Pros: 6-amp motor hand planer at a reasonable price. Dual-side dust extraction makes it easier to collect wood without having the dust bag be in your way.
Cons: Blades don’t retain their sharpness for that long.
7. DEWALT Benchtop Planer
For a more basic benchtop planer, this option from DeWalt has a single speed setting, rather than a dual speed setting. That said, it still has several top features that come in handy. There are three blades, instead of two, so you can make quick cuts. The infeed and outfeed tables are longer for better support. The blades are reversible, extending their lifespan. The dust hood attaches to a shop vac for easy cleaning.
Pros: Three blades for quicker cutting. Reversible blades for more time between replacing them.
Cons: Only one speed setting, unlike other options from DeWalt.
8. TACKLIFE Electric Hand Planer
This handheld planer from Tacklife is a reasonably priced option that’s a good starter handheld planer. This planer isn’t cordless, so it’s best suited for woodshop jobs or other settings where you won’t need to be in hard-to-reach places. The dual exhaust ports make it easy to use at any angle. The convenient knob on top makes it easy to adjust the planer to your desired depth. Plus, the fence bracket makes it easier to stay straight and cut more evenly.
Pros: Easy and affordable option. The multi-directional dust chute makes it easy to use on either side of the unit. Ambidextrous handle.
Cons: Some options are more powerful.
9. WEN Benchtop Corded Thickness Planer
WEN may not have the recognition or prestige of a brand like DeWalt, but the brand produces affordable tools that can still keep up. Like some of the other benchtop options, this thickness planer has a 15-amp motor and a three-blade cutter head. The blades are reversible, extending their longevity, and the planer can cut boards up to 13 inches wide and 6 inches thick. The hose attachment makes it easier to attach a bag or hose to the unit, minimizing the time spent cleaning up.
Pros: Affordable price for a 15-amp, 13-inch benchtop planer. Easy to make adjustments with the turn handle.
Cons: Some snipe at the ends.
10. WEN 6530 6-Amp Electric Hand Planer
For simple, smaller jobs, a hand planer should be counted out as a tool to keep in one’s arsenal. While they’re not as powerful and can’t cover as much surface at once, they’re versatile, portable, and — best of all — a lot more affordable. A common application for a hand planer is getting a door the right thickness to fit in the frame. This planer from WEN has a 6-amp motor that can provide 34,000 cuts per minute. The 16 settings allow you to cut between 0″ to 1/8th” of an inch. A portable dust bag is included, making wood dust collection easier.
Pros: Dust chute is reversible, making it easier to work at different angles. Dust bag is included. Affordable hand planer with a variety of depth settings.
Cons: Depending on the project, the small dust bag may fill up very quickly.