Hi folks my name is Jonathan and welcome to BestPlaners.com. This site is a culmination of my experiences, my thoughts and my pursuit towards finding the best planers and everything related with molding uncut wood pieces into perfectly shaped planks. Ever since my 9th grade pet project to build a tree house replete with a bedroom and dining area (my imagination continues to run wild!), I have been a DIY woodworking enthusiast. While time doesn’t always allow me to try out all my wild ideas, I do manage a few hours on weekends to satisfy my insatiable wood working desires. In the process I have come across plenty of planers and after recently advising a few fellow DIY enthusiasts on the best planers I thought it would be a novel idea to share my insight into this concentrated branch of wood power tools with others.
Feel free to take a look around, read up new planer models, find pointers and tips. I am at your service, regularly updating existing reviews, adding new ones and finding articles, how-to guides and pet projects for your benefit. Also if you have a question, comment or suggestion do drop it in my comment box and I’ll get back to you at the earliest.
Why Planers Matter So Much To Me
Woodworking is an ancient art form dating back to the early embers of civilization. What excites me most about this practice is the opportunity to create something new and unique, entirely out of one’s imagination. Quite often though I found that I ended up wasting good quality, perfectly leveled and finished wood in my attempts at raising a masterpiece. My solution therefore, is to buy rough unleveled wood and finish them to my chosen thickness with a planer. I don’t feel bad wasting wood in this manner to satisfy my need for perfection!
Types of Planers
As you shall see, I have arranged all planers in five categories. Each serves a distinct purpose, has some advantages and drawbacks. Read through them and decide which one serves you the best before reading the individual buying guides and review pages.
Handheld PlanersThickness PlanersJointer PlanersPortable PlanersBenchtop Planers
You can consider hand planers to be the first generation. They have a serrated edge parallel with the wood surface that you then move across the surface of wood starting from the lesser thickness end towards the higher thickness end. This shaves off wood from the surface, strip by strip until the entire surface is leveled.
- Best For – As a side tool for finishing purposes.
- Pros – Can always be used, needs no specialization or electricity.
- Cons – Takes a long time to level wood, leaves a lot of wood filings and chips, not meant for reducing thickness beyond 1 inch.
As the name suggests these planers are solely designed to shave of a few inches at once to level the wood plank for a particular thickness. They are usually small and portable but need a wide space to operate.
- Best For – DIY enthusiasts and folks wishing to save money by purchasing unfinished wood in bulk.
- Pros – Low maintenance, inexpensive and easy to use.
- Cons – Not always precise and tend to handle at most 4 inch to 6 inch thick boards.
A blend between Jointer and Planers, these planers actually let you do two things at a time or multitask. Today such equipment costs less than purchasing the two separately and hence are a good cost saving measure for enthusiasts and small workshops.
- Best For – Medium sized workshops, who need a jointer for large projects but don’t have a decent sized planer either.
- Pros – Loads of power, ability to do two tasks at once and reliable.
- Cons – Usually large and bulky, expensive, not useful for an average DIY enthusiast.
Hand planers too are portable but you can’t set it on automatic, push a log or wood plank and except an uniform thickness on the other side. A portable planer is basically a miniature version of stationary planers that can be carried around, placed on any flat surface and used to plane wood.
- Best For – Tiny workshops, enthusiasts and homeowners who love DIY home repairs.
- Pros – Inexpensive, dependable, loads of models and easy to use.
- Cons – Accuracy is a bit shoddy at best, can’t be used for precision wood working or high quality finishing.
Similar to portable planers but these are slightly larger in size and need a flat surface to operate. They are powerful, manage to produce deeper cuts and hence handle higher thickness and use induction motors with a high power output. Benchtop planers are capable of handling hard wood too and are moderately portable because of the weight and size.
- Best For – Hard woods, heavy duty use and professional woodworking shops.
- Pros – Excellent control over thickness, high power and superb reliability.
- Cons – Won’t be easy to move around, needs maintenance and a lot of power.
How To Go About Searching For The Perfect Planer
Initially, I got what I thought to be the cheapest and evidently reliable planer. A few hundred dollars lighter and a week later I realized, cheap is definitely not the way to go with planers. In fact, with any power tool, what you pay is what you get. So, after a few more wasted investments, I narrowed down on a few pointers that helped me find what I was looking for. I asked myself, how much am I really willing to spend. In turn, do I want perfect leveling, do I want it to operate as a jointer, what about portability? Naturally, the more questions I answered, the more issues cropped up. This is exactly what you will have to do before buying a planer. You have to be curious about your needs. Be subjective and find out exactly what purpose your planer must serve you and how much you will spend for it.
Here is a short but concise buying guide for your consideration. These are pointers that I personally adhere with each time I go out searching for a new planer, be it for my personal use or just to review it for, your sake, my dear readers!
Planer Type Motor Space Thickness and Width Stroke Count
The kind of planer, what it can do, its size and operation all make a difference. Some are large, expensive but precise in churning out millimeter thickness, shaving of thin wood sheets while others are small, portable and reliable but prefixed to particular thickness levels. As I said before, it is all about your budget and your needs.
All planers use two types of motors – Universal and Induction type motor. The former is lighter, cheaper and great for portability but aren’t good enough with hard wood. The latter is heavier, expensive and built for longevity and precision. Once again, the choice is based on budget and your needs.
How much space do you have in your working area? Planers of a portable nature too need at least 5 to 7 feet of space to operate properly. Remember, when calculating the space in your workshop, take into consideration the wood length that will protrude out from either side of the planer. After all, your plank is going to go in from one side and come out from the other.
Thickness is what a planer works on. It shaves of millimetre of wood at a time, bringing in a consistent thickness to your wood piece. Some planers come with depth stops for quick thickness change, others can accommodate more than an average 6 inch thickness. Similarly, width determines how large a board can be fit into the planer. Portable designs take in smaller board sizes but stationary planers can handle higher width boards. A unique solution though is to use a jointer planer, run individual boards through and join them together to increase the width later.
The blades have knives on them and they rotate at high speeds to chip wood off the surface of planks. Remember that more the knives higher is the stroke count and higher the blade speed more is the stroke count. However, speed has got nothing to do with quality. With some woods, slower is better, with others faster is better. So, choose something with a variable speed.