The best benchtop planer offers a big advantage to people who need precision in the thickness of their wooden work pieces, and finesse in their joinery.
It was long considered a tool limited to millwork shops. But today, the line between a hobbyist and a professional woodworker has blurred. Most hobbyists seek the same precision in their projects, as their professional counterparts.
In a Hurry? Here are the Best Benchtop Planers
Also, there’s been a huge increase in the use of salvaged lumber among hobbyists as well as pros, which makes a planer a must-have. For that matter, it’s a common misconception that commercially-bought lumber is milled to exactly the same thickness. It rarely is.
The 10 Best Benchtop Planers
The best benchtop planer allows you to achieve consistent thickness and a smooth finish.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Planers are commonly used for a variety of other tasks including veneering, molding and grain reveal, to name a few.
All said and done, if you are out shopping for your maiden benchtop planer, you’ll encounter a mind-boggling variety of brands and models.
Most of these look like replicas of one another and have identical features, making it very difficult to narrow down on the ideal planer for your intended task.
That’s where we step in. We have handpicked the 10 best benchtop planers for you.
1. DeWalt DW734 – Best Benchtop Planer
When you look around for recommendations on the best benchtop planer, you are likely to encounter the DeWalt DW734 more than once. This is one of DeWalt’s lunchbox planers. For the uninitiated, that’s woodworking lingo for portable planers.
But don’t let that description make you doubt its capabilities for a second. This is a brute of a machine that cuts through hard, nasty wood like oak and purple heart, like a knife through butter.
This is one of the sturdiest lunchbox planers that we’ve seen. The construction is tough molded plastic and machined cast aluminum.
It weighs a sizeable 80 pounds. So moving it around the workshop is going to be akin to a farmer’s walk for sure. But we don’t really mind that.
One of the positives of the extra bulk is that it stays as steady as a rock while operational. It does not move around and vibration is bare minimum as well.
2. Porter-Cable PC305TP Benchtop Planer – Best Budget
The Porter-Cable PC305TP is a smaller machine than the DeWalt. It has a smaller form factor, is lighter and is a little easier on the wallet. Hobbyists who are shopping on a shoestring budget might find these factors appealing.
Having said that, the result this planer produces is not inferior to the DeWalt in anyway. You might encounter snipe especially in the early runs. But as you get used to the planer, those instances become less frequent.
12” Light duty planer
The PC305TP is a compact and sturdy little unit. The construction is cast aluminum and PE. It weighs a robust 64 lb. and will be much easier to move around the workshop than the DeWalt. It features foldable infeed/outfeed tables and a flip handle, which makes it easier to store.
This is a self-feeding model with a feeding speed of 26.2 Ft/Min. This translates into fast output for dimensioning lumber.
3. DeWalt DW735 – Top Rated Benchtop Planer
The DeWalt DW735 is the DW734’s meatier & beefier sibling. It’s the top model in DeWalt’s range of lunchbox planers. But it rivals much higher-priced stationary models.
It weighs a whopping 92 lb. Good luck moving this around the workshop before and after use. Pro tip – Build a rolling base.
The DW735 features DeWalt’s signature construction that is a blend of cast aluminum and molded plastic. Everything is finished to perfection. The edges and surfaces are machined and handles are ribbed.
The 15-amp motor powering the DW735 doesn’t seem like a step-up from the previous models. That’s until you power it on and run some boards through it.
The 10000 RPM speed cutter head runs through tough hardwood with no problems at all.
The cutter head sits on four threaded posts which means movement if any, is minimized. This translates into very little snipe.
The cutting depth and the blades are identical to the DW734. But with a much wider 19 ¾” cast iron base, it provides more stability.
4. WEN 6552T Benchtop Planer – Best Hobby Grade
The WEN 6552T is the top of the line model among Wen’s range of lunchbox planers. While it is very similar to the DeWalt 734 in terms of features, the construction differs.
Most hobby-grade benchtop planers are made of molded plastic with a cast aluminum base. This one is made entirely from cast iron.
This may or may not affect its durability. But some people just prefer tools made of metal. If that sums you up, then you might want to check this out.
13” planer with 6” height
The Wen 6552T is a 13” planer that can cut lumber that is up to 6” tall. With height-adjustable in-feed and out-feed tables with rollers, it allows you to run stock that is up to 22 ½” long with very little snipe.
Instances of snipe if any, are within a 3-mm range, which we believe is acceptable for a hobby-grade unit.
This is designed for ease of use. Right from feeding stock to making micro-adjustments to the cutting depth, everything is self-explanatory.
There’s a thickness adjustment gauge as well as a material removal gauge. Just like the DeWalt 735, a quarter turn of the handle allows you to adjust the thickness to 1/64”. In just a few turns, you can go from zero to 3 3/2”. It’s as precise as it can get.
5. Makita 2012NB – Another Great Thickness Planer
At #5, we have one of our personal favorites, the Makita 2012NB. Those who are familiar with Makita’s woodworking tools would know that these machines are built to last forever. The 2012NB is no different.
It’s built like a tank. But it weighs a pleasant 61 lb. Also, there are two sturdy handles on top which makes it easy to move this around the workshop if need be.
One of the most stable designs
The Makita 2012NB features a four-post design with diagonal cross supports for added stability while feeding stock. Add to that the large table extensions and you have one of the most stable benchtop planers that we’ve used.
It features an Interna-Lok automated head clamp, which according to Makita minimizes snipe.
To be fair, you might encounter snipe especially for longer boards. But it’s fairly minimal and nothing that you cannot work around. It has a feed-rate of 28 feet-per-minute and will make short work of large quantities of lumber.
Cutting depth can be adjusted easily and it’s accurate enough for professional-grade tasks.
6. Powermatic 15HH – Best Helical Cutter Head Benchtop Planer
The Powermatic 15HH is a brute of a machine that’s aimed at professional woodworkers. It’s a stationary planer that has a curb-weight of 517 pounds.
Caster wheels under the cabinet allow you to move it around the workshop without too much effort. A foot-operated lock will secure the wheels and lock it into place.
Authentic Tom Byrd Helical Cutter Head
The big draw of the Powermatic 15HH is the Byrd helical cutter head with 98 carbide cutter inserts in neat, spiral rows. Each row features four cutting edges along with a radius.
The result, is nothing short of incredible. The finish is incredibly smooth and noise is non-existent, or as close to it as it can get.
Woodworkers seeking a perfect shear cut will be thrilled at the output of the Powermatic. What’s amazing is that the impact on the stock is minimal.
This means that these blades retain their edge for years. In the rare (but not unheard of) event of the blades meeting metal in the wood, the damage will be limited to a few inserts.
Replacements are reasonably cheap and Powermatic throws in a 10-inserts along with the package.
7. Powertec PL1252 Benchtop Planer – Portable and Light
The PL1252 is a dainty benchtop planer for light duty hobbyist woodworking. It has a 12 ½” width capacity and a very minimalist design with a molded plastic casing, cast aluminum tables and a cast-iron base.
At 61 lb., it is reasonably easy to move around the job site, courtesy the large side-mounted handles.
Wobble free operation
The PL1252 features a four-column cast-iron base that minimizes operational wobble. This allows you to get away without bolting this to the work surface, unless it’s a lot of hardwood of course. You can run boards that are 12.5” wide and 6” thick, which should suffice for most hobbyist tasks.
There are infeed and outfeed tables with rollers which help mitigate snipe. But if you are running long boards, you might have to provide additional support at both ends to avoid it entirely.
The 2-blade stainless steel cutter head is able to tackle a variety of hardwoods with ease. That’s also because of the 15-amp motor that powers the unit.
The power delivered to the blades is consistent and more importantly, the motor doesn’t buckle under pressure.
8. Delta Power Tools 22-590X – Best Contractor Grade Benchtop Planer
The Delta 22-590x is a 13” planer with a laundry list of best-in-class features, including a patent-pending Infinite Micro-Adjust Depth Stop, which allows you to set and lock the cutter head at any depth dimension from ¼ inch to 1¼ inch.
To add to this, it comes with an upgraded three-knife cutter head that comes into contact with the stock at a slightly more aggressive angle. The result is a smoother finish and minimal sanding afterwards.
Delta has been working towards a no-snipe best benchtop planer for a long time. The 22-590X is the closest that they’ve come to achieving that.
This is a phenomenal planer that manages to completely prevent snipe for shorter stock and minimizes it to .003″ for longer boards. There’s a patented cutter head lock system clubbed with the best in-feed/out-feed tables.
The dust collector hood works great to throw the chips and shavings out the in-feed side. However, you cannot fold the outfeed table with the dust collector attached.
If you are looking to take this with you as you hop job-sites, you’ll have to detach and attach it every time. Minor quibble, but worth a mention.
9. Grizzly Industrial G0505 – Professional Benchtop Planer
The G0505 is Grizzly’s foray into the overcrowded world of entry-level benchtop planers. It’s one of the oldest planers in this list that has surprisingly, remained unchanged over the years. Just like the rest of the Grizzlies, this tool is built like a rock.
The casing is mostly sheet metal and there are two side handles, in case you are looking to carry this around the job site. It weighs 78 lb., though which is at the higher end of the spectrum considering that most benchtop planers weigh 60-70 lb.
Fastest feed rate
The G0505 is a 12 ½” planer that’s powered by a 15-amp motor with a cutter head that produces 10000 RPM. That might not seem earth shattering, especially when you compare it to the DeWalt planers. But Grizzly uses 1/8″-thick blades on the cutter head. Most benchtop planers feature 1/16″ thick ones.
This kind of makes up for the 52-cuts per inch, which is much lower than what most portables are capable of producing.
The finish is smooth and even. It’s not enough to prevent sanding for sure. But if you club the finish with the 32 feet per minute feed rate, the Grizzly G0505 might be one of the best planers for running through a lot of stock fast, without cutting corners.
10. JET JWP-13BT – Best Electric Planer
The JET JWP-13BT is a budget-priced standalone planer that brings speed, efficiency and accuracy to your woodworking tasks. It’s a 13” planer that’s crafted from head to toe with cast iron.
As expected, it weighs 258 pounds. But it comes with four-lockable casters that allow you to move it around the workshop with ease.
The table and base give you the stability you seek for tasks that demand precision.
The JWP-13BT is powered by a 1 1/2 HP motor that’s designed for serious woodworkers. You can run this for hours at end, passing hardwood boards and lumber. It will chew it up and spit it out the other end without as much as a sputter.
The cutter head is absolutely gorgeous. It’s a three-headed one with full-width blades and also features wedge-shaped gibs that allow you to install a variety of molding blades, without fiddling with the planer blades.
The stock steel blades retain their edge for months. There are customers who have used this every day for a year without sharpening the blades. That’s testimony enough about the quality of this machine.
Benchtop Planer FAQ’s
Most beginner woodworkers and hobbyists are often skeptical about investing in the best benchtop planer.
We get where that skepticism arises from. If you are a hobbyist with limited room in your workshop, you’ve got to look at tools that have more than one trick up their sleeve.
Benchtop planers are often called one-trick ponies. However, that’s a misconception. Irrespective of whether you are looking to smooth edges, adjust thickness or reveal the hidden grain in salvaged wood, benchtop planers are the best tool for the job.
Here’s a brief FAQ that aims to clear some of the common doubts that people have about benchtop planers.
Hand planer vs benchtop planer – Which is a better choice?
That depends completely on the intended application. Both of these are portable tools. But hand planers are more compact and will occupy less storage space. They are lighter and easier to carry from one jobsite to the next one.
The caveat is that since you will manually move the planer over the wood, it can only be used for trimming or smoothing small work pieces. For instance, table legs.
If you are working on a table top instead, using a hand planer is impractical and time consuming.
A benchtop planer, depending on the size and the capacity, can handle much larger work pieces. Also, you will be moving the work piece through the planer instead of over it.
So, benchtop planers are a lot less labor intensive. The flip side is that even though they are called portable, they might weigh anywhere from 60-70 lb.
As you might have noted by now, some models stretch that to 90 lb. and beyond. Depending on your age and physical condition, you may or may not find these tools very comfortable to lug around.
Does a planer cut both sides?
If you mean both sides of the wood in one pass, it doesn’t. You will place the wood on the infeed table which is a flat surface.
The wood will then be fed into the planer. Depending on the cutting depth that you’ve selected, the planer will trim material off the upper surface of the board. The lower surface remains untouched.
After one pass, you flip the board over and make a second pass to get an identical cut and finish on both sides.
The cutting depth can be adjusted from 3/32- to 1/8-inches in most benchtop models, while the width can range from 12-13”.
It’s a rookie mistake to set a deep cutting depth for wider boards, hoping to reduce the number of passes and effort. This only ends up straining the motor.
Instead, make smaller cuts and increase the number of passes to ensure smooth functioning of the motor and get the desired results.
How deep can a planer cut?
That depends on whether you have the best benchtop planer or a stationary planer. As we mentioned earlier, most benchtop planers can cut from 3/32- to 1/8-inches.
However, some budget priced models can only cut up to 1/16 or 1/32”.
These planers might suffice for light finishing tasks. But if you are looking to dimension lumber, you need a planer that can cut deep and move stock fast.
Can you use a planer to remove paint?
We’ve all been there, haven’t we? You come across some perfect salvaged lumber, except that ungainly layer of paint on it. Hell, it’s so old that you don’t even know whether the paint is leaded, latex or oil based, or stain.
You start to wonder whether you want to strip that paint using a heat gun or scrape it off, or just run the board through a planer.
Here’s the deal. The best benchtop planer will strip the paint just fine. But there are a few caveats.
You have to cut at a sufficient depth to raise the wood under the paint. This might take multiple passes.
Depending on the type of paint, you might have lead dust in the air, or even worse, melted paint coating the planer blades.
Irrespective of whether it works or not, some amount of damage to the blades might be inevitable. If the blades are due for sharpening, sure go ahead and strip the paint. But if they are swanky new, we wouldn’t recommend this.
Our Final Thoughts
That sums up our recommendations for the best benchtop planer. We hope that you enjoyed this read and that this serves as a starting point for your research when you go shopping.
Do you have anything to add to this? Got an experience with one of these planers that you want to share with us maybe? Give us a holler in the comment box. We love to hear from our readers.
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