For anyone working with wood, whether as a professional, a DIY enthusiast, or a hobbyist, a power planer is a useful multipurpose tool to have in your arsenal. These tools are defined by the three rotating blades on the base, with a knob on top to adjust the depth of the cuts. Most, if not all, power planers will also have a detachable edge guide to assist with smoothing wood or lumber since smoothing the surface of a piece of wood to prep it for woodworking is the main function of a power planer. Whether the wood is chipped, splintered, or misshaped, a power planer can be the perfect solution to your problems. This isn’t the only way to use one of these tools, however. A power planer may also be used to smooth down the rough-grained end of a piece of wood that has recently been cut or to taper down a piece of wood to the desired depth gauge. Whether you’re working on a deck, a piece of furniture, or another home addition, a power planer is a worthwhile investment for carpentry enthusiasts of all levels.
Choosing a Power Planer
Here are a few things to consider before investing in a power planer:
- Handheld vs. Bench: Power planers come in both handheld options and larger, more permanent bench-style forms. Both types have their advantages and drawbacks. Handheld power planers are more portable and work better for small projects, while bench power planers save time on larger products but are less convenient to transport and generally more expensive. Handheld options may also come in cordless varieties, which adds the expense of batteries but increases the tool’s portability and convenience to use. Consider which type better fits your project before making your choice.
- Power: As a general rule, power planers with more powerful motors are going to be more accurate and efficient. The average power planer has a motor of 5 or 6 amps, which will suit most common woodworking needs. If you’re working on a bigger project or home addition, however, you’ll want to spring for a tool with higher motor power.
- Features: Like many power tools, power planers can vary quite a bit in the features, accessories, and add-ons available with different brands, makes, and models. Some features to consider in power planers include the cord length (or cordless options), cutting depth, blade adjustability, fence length, and the dust bag or hose location. Keep in mind which features are most important to you while you’re shopping for your power planer.
Top Choice: PORTER-CABLE Hand Planer
This handheld power planer comes with plenty of extra features for all your woodworking and smoothing needs. The 6-amp motor is strong enough to power the planer for most projects, while the overmold depth knobs have ten positive steps to allow for more adjustment options. There is a dust extraction on both sides of the tool, so you can choose which side the dust exits the planer during use. The 11.5-inch cast aluminum shoe adds durability, as well as superior finish quality and control. This power planer also has three chamfering grooves to give you several options for edge chamfering, while the precisely angled depth of the cuts not only gets rid of excess material faster but removes more material on each pass. The planer comes with two top-notch carbide cutting blades, a wrench, a dust bag, an edge guide, and a kit bag for increased value.
PORTER-CABLE Hand Planer, 6-Amp, 5/64-Inch (PC60THP)
A handheld power planer that provides added durability, cut depth, and faster removal of extra material.
Best Features: WEN 6534 8-Amp Electric Hand Planer
Power tools can run on the pricey side with bonus features and accessories often costing extra. This handheld power planer, however, does not fall into that category. Besides the planer itself, you will also receive a parallel fence, rabbeting guide, two reversible HSS blades, two chamfer grooves, a dust adapter to help manage the sawdust and shavings, 16 positive depth stops, and a retractable kickstand, all for one reasonable price. The 8-amp motor means this planer runs with above-average power, able to make up to 32,000 cuts per minute. The dual-sided dust port can expel excess shavings either to the left or right, depending on your preferences or needs. The two included chamfer grooves allow you to easily flatten out sharp corners, while the kickstand props the planer up when not being used, protecting both the blade and your workspace at once. The planer also comes equipped with a 6-foot power cord and safety switch for your convenience and safety. The near 5-inch cutting width and up to 1/8-inch cutting depth capacity is especially handy for planing two-by-fours and four-by-fours, though it’s not limited to such. An identical model with a smaller cutting capacity and an option that comes with extra router bits are also available.
WEN 6534 8-Amp Electric Hand Planer, 4-3/8-Inch
A powerful 8-amp planer with ample bonus features like a kickstand, dual-sided dust port, safety switch, and more.
Best Bang for Your Buck: TACKLIFE Power Hand Planer
Here’s a versatile and adjustable handheld power planer that works equally well on hard and soft woods and allows for maximum cut depth modification. The planer weighs only 6 pounds, allowing you to work longer without tiring. It can be used horizontally or vertically as needed. The 7.5-amp motor can cut at as high a rate as 29,000 cuts per minute, while the two double-edged carbide blades increase performance for faster material removal and a smoother finish. The HSS blades are reversible for double-sided and recurring use and even faster planing. The ratcheting depth knob has 15 positive stops for maximum adjustability and depth increments from 0 inches to 1/8 inches in one rotation so you won’t have to re-zero the depth. The planer comes equipped with three machined grooves for chamfering, an adjustable rabbeting guide, and a rubber drive belt for better durability. The tool’s front and back shoes are made of aluminum to avoid breakdown and rusting. The lock-on button helps to keep you safe by preventing accidental starts, and the dual-sided exhaust ports allow you to pick which side the wood chips and sawdust exit the planer. It also comes equipped with a dual-mount guide fence and no-mar plastic overshoe mounts that guarantee consistent planing throughout use.
Best Cordless: DEWALT DCP580B Brushless Planer
For anyone in the market for a handheld and cordless power planer, this easily transportable option is well worth a look. Without the hassle of a cord, you can bring this planer anywhere at any time and even use it out of doors without needing to worry about finding or reaching an outlet. It weighs less than 7 pounds and requires only one lithium-ion battery (not included) to run. An equipped kickstand also allows you to rest the planer on your work surface or in storage without damaging either the blade or the material. The brushless motor provides a maximum of 32,000 cuts per minute and allows the planer to maintain its speed no matter the load. The depth adjustment knob is calibrated around two millimeters with a no-load speed of 15,000 rotations per minute. The front and rear shoes are made from strong, light aluminum that also ensures a perfectly parallel cut. The Poly-V belt provides further belt durability. This planer is designed for portability, efficiency, and sturdiness in one tool.
DEWALT 20V MAX Planer, 30,000 Cuts Per Minute, 2 mm Cut Depth, Brushless Motor, Bare Tool Only (DCP580B)
A cordless, battery-powered power planer that is lightweight and portable for your convenience.