What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear about a thickness planer? Probably that it is a tool used in woodworking, right? Yes, you are absolutely right! A thickness planer is, in fact, a very important piece of equipment that helps you adjust the thickness and smooth the surface of a wooden plank. You can use it to trim boards for obtaining a consistent thickness across the complete length of the board. Whether you are into woodworking as a hobby or part of your profession; selecting the perfect thickness planer can be a difficult task due to the many types and models of equipment available in the marketplace. It is important to weigh the pros and cons of different options available, and matching them to your needs. Things to consider include power, noise level, thickness capability, etc. Below you will find some of the key features and functions to consider when picking a wood planer.
1. Thickness Capability
Every thickness planer has its own thickness capability, and the machine can only accept the wood sizes within that range. For instance, if a machine can accommodate wood widths between 4mm and 15cm then it is perfect because that is an average range to work with. You can also get a thickness planer that accepts a wider range, especially if you are in the furniture industry, a machine with more thickness capability will be of great use. However, it is pointless to go for a thickness planer that exceeds your requirements and takes up more space as well as investment. Make sure you are aware of the size and thickness of the wood that you will be working with.
The size of the machine should also be considered important, depending on the space you have to place it in. If your work area is spacious, you can opt for any size, but in case of smaller workshops, make sure you get a machine that fits in accordingly. Don’t forget that the wooden pieces, to be worked on, will be extended from both sides of the tool. So, get the dimensions of your workspace right in order to make sure that you get your hands on a suitably-sized thickness planer.
The power of a thickness planer determines the depth and width to which the machine can cut. The more powerful it is; the faster you will get through your woodworking tasks. If you are simply a hobbyist or plan to work with smaller pieces of wood, you can get a unit ranging from 1200W to 1700W. However, if you intend to use the planer for more challenging tasks, like surfacing large pieces of hardwood that are rough sawn, then buying a 2000W+ unit is highly recommended.
4. Noise level
It is obvious that woodworking involves machines and tools, which make it a noisy business. Most of the thickness planers require the user to wear ear protection while working. Nonetheless, there are some machines that are less noisy as well. This feature may not appear to be too important but can affect the buying decision of some people.
The cutter of a planner you choose has two to five blades on average. The greater the number of blades and the quicker the speed, the more great quality finish and smoothness you will get from the planer. Most of the blades that are used in the planer are made out of standard steel or cobalt steel that can output quality results in terms of fine cuts and smoother finishes.
Buying a wood planer that has a depth gauge can be quite beneficial. This will enable you to adjust the thickness of the intended cut more accurately. Furthermore, the ability to do some fine alterations to the cutting depth of the blades will minimize the chances of snipe that is an issue in most of the planers in which the cutter tends to chip off more wood at the edges.
7. Dust extraction
Everyone knows that cutting and shaping wood emits a lot of dust particles, so why not look for a machine that allows you to blow away the dust and wood chips from your workspace? Most planers come with a fixed fan, especially for the purpose of blowing dust and wood chips away from the cutting-head while you work skillfully. This, in turn, helps to enhance the overall performance of the machine. One term to be aware of when taking Planers is “Snipe”. Snipe is the effect of the planer cutting too deeply the first few inches on the board and sometimes also at the end of the board. This causes variation from the targeted thickness.
Top Recommendations to Consider
Here are some top recommendations for planers for you to consider.
WEN 6550 thickness planer has the ability to give a smooth finish to any wood effortlessly. It comes with a powerful 15-amp motor along with the two-blade cutting system. These blades can offer 18,000 cuts per minute, and that too at 26 feet/minute feed rate. Moreover, it can easily cut through plane boards, which are 6 inches thick and 12.5 inches wide. This machine features a heavy-duty cast iron base to ensure the stability of the planer that doesn’t wobble or move, throughout the operation. Pros
- Easy to use
- Comes with warranty
- Some concerns have been expressed about durability
DEWALT doesn’t need an introduction because it is a top brand for producing quality equipment; the same is the case with DEWALT DW735X. It features a powerful 15-amp more that works on 20,000 RPM and has the ability to cut large and wide materials with ease. This machine comes with 3-knife cutter-head that increases the lifespan of the knife up to 30%. DW735X entails two-speed gearbox, enabling the users to adjust feed speed as per their requirements, and optimize cuts at 96 as well as 179 CPI. Pros
- Efficient performance
- Includes out-feed and in-feed tables
- Ensures an increased knife life
- Its motor may not work as well as promised
If you want a thickness planer that is compact in size and can easily be used in a small area then Makita 2012NB is a great option to consider. The 15 AMP motor provides promising results and can also handle tough jobs easily. It has a slower cutter-head that is perfect for providing a smoother and quality finish. If you work for long hours and noise is an issue for you, then you don’t need to worry about it with this planer as it creates low noise (83dB) so you can work in a comfortable way without being distracted. Makita 2012NB also offers stability through its 4-post design and diagonal cross supports. You also get an optional dust hood so you can easily attach the dust collection system with the planer. The cutting width it supports is 12 inch with 17,000 cuts per minute. Pros:
- Durable quality
- You can attach double-edged blades to the cutter-head
- Stable design
- Low noise
- Solid performance motor
- Compact in size
- Doesn’t come with a dust collector hood
- Interna-Lok, the technique to reduce snipe doesn’t always work
Bosch PL1632 is a 6.5 Amp powerful hand planer that is portable and can complete the job quickly giving a much better finish to the project. A hand planer is great to use for roughing up doors or smoothing joists without investing too much time into the process. The advantage of a hand planer over other planers is that they can chip off more wood in less time. It has a speed of 16,500 RPM that can help you reach your desired thickness in no time. The dual-mount fence on this planer makes sure that whatever work you do, turns out to be the cleanest and finest. It is equipped with tungsten carbide blades that are much efficient than any other type of blade and able to provide better performance on rough or hardwood. The soft grip and optimally-angled handle make the work much more convenient and effortless. Pros:
- Dual-mount fence for more accuracy and fine output
- High-quality blades
- The ejection system can be directed in both left and right directions
- Heavy-weight for a hand planer
The 22-555 by Delta Power Tools is an inexpensive yet high-performance thickness planer that has a potent 15 AMP motor which is capable of providing 18,880RPM topped with a cutter-head speed of 9,400RPM. It is such a simple and easy-to-use machine that can even be operated by an inexperienced person. This planer can accommodate the stock up to 13 inches wide and 6 inches tall without any problem, so if you are looking to handle bigger projects that need to run all day long, then you can rely on Delta Power Tools 22-55 without having any second thoughts. If you think that you need to change the knives, you can easily change them with the dual-edge disposable knives. It also has a reversible dust port that allows you to collect the wood chips from both right and left sides of the planer. Pros:
- Affordable price for such a high-performance thickness planer
- Powerful motor that delivers 18,880RPM
- Adequate for working on large projects
- On-board tool storage
- Comes with a 5-year limited warranty
- Complaints about sniping
Keep all these features in mind while you scrutinize each option that appeals to you. However, if you are on a search to get a thickness planner that is both great in quality and capable of providing high performance then you can opt for DEWALT DW735X Two-Speed Thickness Planer Package, 13-Inch. if you are on a budget but do not want to compromise over quality and output then you can consider buying the WEN 6550 12.5-Inch 15A Benchtop Thickness Planer with Granite Table.