How to Select the Best Wood Planer?
When it comes to selecting the best wood planer for the money, you’re definitely not short of options. Because it’s a craft that involves many different tools, you can take your pick of the best that suits your exact requirements.
In fact, those in the woodworking industry can choose from manual planers of various types, electric corded hand-held planers, electric cordless hand-held planers, benchtop planers, and industrial planers.
Because there are so many on the market, how do you know which is going to be the best for your needs? You may not know right away, but our buying guide aims to enlighten you with several reviews on various different wood planers.
This information can more than likely help you make an informed decision.
Whether you’re a seasoned woodworker, or you’re just starting out, establishing your work type is key to choosing the best wood planer for the money. Not only does each wood planer on the market have a different job to do, but they can either be manual or electric as well.
Are you a hobbyist who just has a quick job to do without making a big investment? Manual hand-held planers could be a good option. If you’re a professional who spends the majority of their time planing, an industrial electric-powered planer would suit you best.
For those casual woodworkers who have the space for multiple tools, either a benchtop planer or hand-held electric powered (corded or cordless) planer could tick all the boxes.
The safety requirements of thickness planers and all kinds of planers can vary depending on the power source. Manual hand-held wood planers are relatively safe to use, but require you to:
- Keep your hands away from the blade.
- Secure the wood before planing.
- Keep the planer blade sharp.
- Use sandpaper to break sharp machined edges on new planers.
- Plane at the right height for you. Keep your workbench surface at the same level as your fingertips.
As for electric-powered wood planers, they certainly require the operator to pay extreme attention due to them being high-powered industrial tools with sharp surfaces. Any woodworker – regardless of your experience level – should never get complacent. One slip of your hand can result in serious injury.
- Not wearing loose-fitting clothing or long-sleeved shirts that could catch on blades.
- Removing necklaces and bracelets that could get caught.
- Ensuring your chosen wood planer has an emergency switch.
- Ensuring your wood planer is grounded to reduce the risk of electric shocks.
- Keeping the workspace clear of obstacles.
- Wearing eye protection to avoid wood particles from hitting your eyes.
- Wearing hearing protection when operating the planer for long periods of time.
Wood planer manufacturers try their best to design their products to suit everyone. As a result, they may produce several different brands and models to appeal to a wider audience. Because each planer can vary so greatly in regards to their features, customers should ensure they know what they require, and what they don’t, before they go ahead and make a purchase.
- Dimensions - this is certainly important in the case of industrial wood planers. You will need to allow room for wood on either side of the machine or ensure you have a particular area for your hand-held, benchtop, or industrial planer to be located.
- Thickness capacity - ensure the planer you’re looking at can cater to the wood you need to plane down. The thicker the wood that needs to come off, the higher the chance you need an industrial wood planer rather than a standard version. Many come with depth stops to allow you to choose the maximum planing limit.
- Width limit - understand the dimensions of the wood you’re needing to plane, to ensure the wood planer you’ve got your eye on will be suitable. Standard electric-powered planers normally have a width capacity of approximately 10-20 inches.
- Knives - generally speaking, the more knives an electric-powered planer has, the faster and more effectively it can plane. Most have between two and five knives.
When it comes to choosing the best wood planer for the money, the power source is going to make a huge difference. The difference is not only in your choice but in how much you will need to spend as well.
The most important factor in your decision is just being aware of the types of wood planers for sale. Not all are powered, some run on battery, and some aren’t stationary. You can read the pros and cons of each option below.
Maintenance varies depending on whether your wood planer is manual or electric-powered. Manual hand planers require far less upkeep, and generally only need to be maintained when they aren’t performing at their best.
Maintenance for a manual hand-held wood planer can include:
- Adjusting the tension levels.
- Checking the planer blade for nicks. If there are any, remove them by sharpening the blade or replace it altogether.
- Check around the planer sole for dings. These can be removed with needle files. Needle files can also be used to remove burrs and roughness.
- Check the tool for sharp edges and file these down to ensure you don’t cut your hands.
- Unfasten all the screws and disassemble the plane to clean dust and rust with steel wool.
- Oil metallic parts to prevent rusting.
- Rub any wooden parts with a wet cotton rag.
- Clean rusty screws with steel wool and spirits.
- Spray spirits onto the blade and sand with fine sandpaper to remove rust.
- Lubricate all metal components with paraffin oil.
When it comes to electric-powered wood planers, it’s a little more important to keep them well-maintained. Failure to do so can result in the machine breaking down before its time.
Good maintenance practices can include:
- Lubricating engine components.
- Checking cables and electrical systems.
- Sharpening blades/knives.
- Replacing cutting edges and moving parts as, and when, they’re due.
- Tightening loose bolts.
The price tag for a wood planer can vary, depending on its power source. For a manual hand-held wood planer, the price tag can be as little as $15, all the way through to $180.
For an electric-powered handheld wood planer, this might be stretched from between $40 and $400. A benchtop wood planer could be anywhere from $200 to $800, while an industrial wood planer might set you back between $700 to $5,000.
Of course, the price can often be determined by the manufacturer and the brand. The high-quality, more well-known brands can sometimes mean you’re opening your wallet a little wider!
3 Wood Planer Types on The Market
There are many types of wood planers on the market – each effective for different tasks. While you may have your heart set on a particular type, have you reviewed its features in comparison to another kind?
While it might look like the best, or it might have the most competitive price tag, that doesn’t make it the best wood planer for your task. Read through the pros and cons of each wood planer type to fully understand the variety on offer.
Hand-Held Wood Planer
Hand-held wood planers are often preferred by hobbyists and individuals who don’t intend on spending a lot of time planing. If you dabble in occasional home renovation, or you’re looking to fill your tool shed with tools you “might use”, then hand-held wood planers are a good option.
You can opt for either a manual hand-held wood planer, or an electric-powered wood planer that’s either corded or cordless.
Manual Hand-Held Wood Planer
There is an abundance of manual hand-held wood planers on the market – all catering to different tastes. Some people choose to collect old-style manual surface planers for display, while others prefer them for woodworking tasks.
You can choose from:
- Scrub planers for quick removal of wood.
- Bench planers (jack, fore, jointer, smoothing) for cutting to size, straightening, final straightening, and smoothing of wood. Long planers are suitable for straightening wood, while shorter planers are best for that final straightening and smoothing of edges.
- Block planes for small tasks that can be completed with one hand.
Pros & Cons
- They require minimal maintenance.
- They’re cost-effective to purchase.
- Old planers are collectible, therefore any you have lying around your home may be a potential treasure.
- They don’t plane as effectively as electric-powered planers.
- They take longer to plane surfaces than electric-powered planers do.
- They don’t plane a very large area.
The ways in which manual hand-held wood planers work are varied. Each planer is designed in such a way as to be used in a different manner. Some are for rough planing, to rid wood of its initial surface, while others are for edges and smooth final touches. It does take a fair bit of research in order to be 100% certain that the planer you’ve chosen is the right one for your particular task.
Even though manual hand-held wood planers have no moving parts and require less maintenance than an electric-powered planer, they still require upkeep from time to time.
In fact, you need to pull them apart and give every aspect a clean and check as soon as you notice that it’s not working at its best.
You can adjust tension levels, clean rust with sandpaper or steel wool, lubricate and oil metal components, and ensure they’re free of dust and dirt. The blade also needs to be sharpened, with any nicks or imperfections removed as well.
The best part about purchasing manual hand-held wood planers is how inexpensive they are. Generally, they can be purchased with the small amount of cash you keep in your wallet!
This, of course, isn’t the case for those older-style planers which are collectible. However, for a brand new manual wood planer, you can expect to pay between $15 and $80.
Electric-Powered Hand-Held Wood Planer
Electric-powered hand-held wood planers are the perfect addition to any woodworker’s workshop. Not only are they less labor-intensive than a manual planer, but they can complete far more planing in a shorter space of time. Although they cost a little more, this is often offset by the productivity increase.
Pros & Cons
- They work faster than a manual wood planer.
- They do a far more effective job than a manual wood planer.
- They’re relatively easy to maintain.
- In comparison to the features on offer, they are quite affordable.
- They aren’t as cheap as manual planers.
- They require more maintenance than manual planers.
- They require electricity.
Hand-held electric wood planers offer all the convenience of a benchtop planer, all from the palm of your hand. They’re more versatile, can be far less restrictive than a benchtop planer, and can follow your renovation project indoors, rather than being confined to the workbench of your workshop.
Maintenance for an electric-powered wood planer is fairly straightforward. Even people who haven’t had much experience with this tool can care for it with relative ease.
You need to:
- Ensure you lubricate all engine components - especially when you’re storing it for long periods of time.
- Sharpen the knives.
- Replace the cutting edges once they’re at the end of their lifespan.
- Tighten any loose bolts.
- Check cables and electrical components for wear and tear.
Most people are aware of just how expensive power equipment can be. However, wood planers, while complex, aren’t very expensive. Because there are several different brands and models on the market, all are in a price war to gain the market share.
This benefits the consumer by driving prices down. Therefore, you can expect to pick up a top-quality electric-powered hand-held wood planer for between $40 and $400.
Benchtop Wood Planer
Benchtop wood planers are used by both professionals and homeowners with plenty of room to dedicate to renovation and hobby tools.
Benchtop wood planers can either sit on your bench, or can often be purchased alongside a specialty bench. They are solid, sturdy, reliable, and take efficient planing to a whole new level.
Pros & Cons
- They are very efficient at planing.
- They can complete planing tasks far quicker than most other planing tools.
- They take up a lot of space.
- They’re more expensive than their handheld counterparts.
- They require more maintenance.
Benchtop wood planers can be used to plane deck spindles, reclaim old wood, clean up board edges, and sand out ridges. They work more effectively and efficiently than sandpaper, and can allow a homeowner to revitalize home items in DIY projects, rather than opt for new ones.
Maintenance on a benchtop wood planer is fairly straightforward, but it still needs to be done in a timely manner. Failure to maintain it can result in wood that’s uneven, planed incorrectly, and is almost unusable.
You will need to clean and lubricate the planer’s bed and running gear, sharpen the knives, adjust the extension tables, and, most importantly, adjust the depth stop and thickness scale.
When you’re adjusting the depth stop, simply run a board along the planer and check the width of it against the measuring line. Adjust it accordingly.
After you’ve adjusted it, reset the planer’s cursor to set the depth. This stops it from planing the boards too thin, or too thick.
Benchtop wood planers are solid, versatile, and durable, therefore their price tag certainly matches the convenience on offer. For a top-rated benchtop planer, you can expect to pay between $200 and $800 when you buy online.
Industrial Wood Planer
If you’re a professional woodworker, there could be nothing more convenient than an industrial wood planer. While it’s large and takes up a fair amount of space, it can plane wood in a far more efficient manner than any other wood planer type on the market.
Pros & Cons
- They plane wood quickly.
- They can plane larger pieces of wood.
- They are more durable than other woodworking planers on the market.
- They have more features to undertake more planing tasks.
- They take up a lot of space.
- They aren’t mobile.
- They are heavy.
- They cost a lot of money.
Industrial planers are designed to plane more wood at a larger size. While anyone can buy an industrial stationary planer, they are certainly a helping hand for professionals who require a durable and solid machine that won’t overheat or break down. They are also best-suited for planing large wood pieces that need to be thinned down dramatically.
Even though stationary planers are larger, that doesn’t mean they require any more maintenance than their smaller counterparts. It just means that parts are bigger, and are sometimes more complex.
You can still carry out standard maintenance practices including:
- Lubricating all of the engine components.
- Checking the wires and cables to ensure they’re in good condition.
- Keeping the knives sharp and in good condition.
- Replacing easy-wear parts.
- Tightening any loose bolts.
- Keeping the machine clean and free of dust, dirt, and grime.
Aimed at the professional market, you do have to pay a professional’s price tag. For a high-quality stationary industrial planer that has a good reputation, you will need to pay between $700 and $5,000. The larger the planer, the more you will have to spend.
Where to Buy Wood Planers?
Many people who are in the market for a wood planer machine will head to their local hardware store, but did you know there are other options available too? Sometimes, when you buy online, you are more likely to get the best deal.
Manufacturers are competing for your purchase, therefore the prices are driven down to a more competitive rate. So, when the time comes to make that purchase, head to websites such as Amazon.com and get it delivered straight to your door!
Leading Wood Planer Brands and Manufacturers