Best Woodworking Planer For The Money & For Your Next Project!
In this article, we’ve hand-selected our favorite woodworking power planers in both portable and bench top varieties. We focused on four key areas: price, reputation, durability, and overall performance. In short, we are here to help you determine the best woodworking planer for the money.
Depending on what type of planer you buy (portable, bench top, or full-size), a woodworking planer can be a big-time investment. They’re phenomenally valuable tools for the serious woodworker. Yet, you definitely want to make sure that you get the right one for your specific needs and workspace.
Most importantly, we don’t want you to end up with a several hundred dollar paperweight.
(Also, keep in mind that when squaring raw lumber, a planer is typically used in conjunction with a jointer. For a detailed overview on the differences between the two, be sure and check out our full-length article here on planers vs. jointers).
Last update on 2017-11-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Quick Look: Top Picks
The Best Woodworking Planers for the Money
Best All Around Bench Planer
The 12.5” DeWalt DW734 gets our pick for the best all-around bench planer.
This is as good of intermediate as you’ll find between a small hand planer and a large, very expensive industrial shop planer – excellent quality, and delivers great performance for the DIY woodworker.
The DeWalt is easily the best woodworking planer for the money.
Best Budget Bench Planer
If you’re dead set on adding a planer to your garage but aren’t able and/or willing to drop a few hundred dollars on the DeWalt, the WEN 6550 is a very popular, well-reviewed option that gets our pick for the best inexpensive planer.
Just like the DeWalt, it’s a 15 amp, 12.5” planer — a step down in quality, but still a fine option for those wanting to add an important tool to their collection at a minimal price.
Best Performance Bench Planer
On the other hand, if money is not really an issue, the Makita 2012NB is a fantastic tool that gets our pick for the best-in-class, best performance planer.
This is an excellently-designed tool, and is a huge step up in class and performance from the DeWalt; both are good planers, but the Makita has an extra edge in precision, efficiency, and finish.
Best Performance Hand Planer
As far as portable hand planers, the 3 ¼” Makita KP0810 gets our nod as the best performer.
Hand planers can be really fun tools to use, and you won’t find a better quality or better performing one than this one.
Best Budget Hand Planer
On the contrary if you’re trying to get something just a little cheaper, the 3 ¼” Bosch PL2632K is another good option. It’s up there in terms of quality and performance with the Makita, it just lacks in a few minor details. Definitely a great tool for the price, though.
Reviews: Let’s Take A Closer Look
Last update on 2017-11-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Best Bench Top Planer
Like we mentioned in the intro, the DeWalt gets our nod for the best overall 12.5” bench top planer. There are planers out there that perform better, but they’re much more expensive.
On the flip side, there are certainly planers out there that are cheaper, but they’re not going to perform nearly as well. In our book this is (and has been for years) the best option in terms of overall value.
The 15-amp, 20,000 RPM motor is powerful enough to handle rough hardwoods, and the three-knife cutterhead produces 96 individual cuts per inch – an impressive feat for a bench planer in this price range.
However, what people like most about the DW734 is the extra long infeed and outfeed tables, which give up to 33 ½” of material support with virtually no snipe.
A lot of folks also were impressed by how long the knife blades lasted before wearing out and needing to be replaced. Many, in fact, reported going through several hundred linear feet of hardwoods with the tool still producing perfect cuts.
(If you’re interested, here’s a quick video of the DW734 in action).
Good dust-collection potential (just needs to be hooked up to your own vac system)
It’s rated to be able to plane up to 3/32” at a time, but 1/64” is more realistic if you’re looking for quality results
Best Performance Planer
Super quiet for a planer
Best Portable Power Hand Planer
Pretty pricey for a hand planer – for 50 bucks or so more you can get the WEN 12.5” benchtopsss
The Bosch 2632K is another really popular, well-reviewed power planer among DIY woodworkers that’s a bit cheaper than the Makita.
It boasts pretty much the same specs, with a 16,500 RPM motor (except it draws 6.5 amps as opposed to 7.5 on the Makita) and a max width of 3 ¼”.
One noticeable difference is that it’s a good deal heavier than the Makita – beginner users who’ve never used a planer before might find it a bit intimidating and/or cumbersome compared to the lighter, more user-friendly Makita.
One thing that people really do comment on though is the quality of the finish – the dual micro grain blades are very clean and efficient, even on raw hardwoods with lots of knots and bows.
Things We Liked
Cheaper than the Makita — a good value buy for a Bosch tool
Dual razor micro grain blades will last over a thousand linear feet of cutting
Spring-loaded stand props the planer up and protects blades from wear when not in use
Has an ambidextrous lock on/off feature that protects against unwanted starts, as well as helps with extended operation
Can be converted for use with large high-speed steel blades
Things We Didn’t Like
Some people weren’t too impressed with the machined aluminum shoe – several said it is too soft and prone to marring/scratching after continued use, while others complain it’s prone to misalignment
No bevel adjustment
Heavier than the Makita
Jointer vs. Planer
Like we were talking about earlier, planers are most often used in conjunction with a jointer to get a perfectly square, flat, and parallel board from a raw, unmilled piece of lumber.
However, you can certainly get by with using just the planer. That is, if you only buy one tool or the other, a planer can accomplish a heck of a lot more by itself than a jointer can.
A jointer is used to give an unmilled board one perfectly flat face and one perfectly square edge. When both machines are available, the jointer is used first to flatten one side, and then the planer is used to make the other side perfectly flat, square, and parallel to the first.
You can use a jointer to flatten both sides of the board, but there’s no guarantee the two sides will be parallel to each other – you’ll likely end up with a board that’s thicker at one end than it is at the other (a wedge).
Planers are also great for woodworkers because they allow you to thickness a board down to the exact size you need it. For instance, you could take an entirely rough, unmilled piece of stock lumber that’s about 6” thick, and plane it down into a perfectly square 3” board.
What kind of space do you have available?
While bench planers aren’t massive tools like a drill press or full size bandsaw, a 12” or 13” one will take up some decent space in your garage or workshop, and they can be cumbersome to move around. If space is an issue, go with the 3 ¼” portable planer instead.
What are you going to be using it for?
This might seem like an overly-obvious statement, but really think about your needs and what you’ll be doing with the tool before investing your hard-earned money.
Bear in mind that portable hand planers are a lot less precise than bench planers, and they have a tendency to gouge material — they’re known for being finicky and not producing perfect results. If you plan on making fine furniture or cabinetry, you really will need to invest in a bench planer.
On the other hand if pinpoint accuracy isn’t really an issue, and you need to just rip off a lot of material at a time (for instance if you’re framing for a deck), then a portable hand plane should be sufficient.
Also, keep in mind that a portable planer will only work on stock 3 ¼” wide, while a bench planer accepts much wider boards (12”, 12.5” or 13”, depending on the particular planer).
Planers are only needed for rough, unmilled lumber
One final thing to remember is that planers are woodworkers tools – they’re really only needed for unmilled boards. (i.e. if you’re going to be buying pre-milled 2×4’s at Home Depot for a decking project, a planer would be unnecessary).
The Best Woodworking Planer for the Money Goes To…
As you might’ve guessed, the DeWalt DW734 gets our pick for the best woodworking planer for the money.
While it’s not cheap by any means, it’s really not a bad value for such a quality tool, and you can be sure that you’ll be pleased with it’s performance, ease of use, and durability over the long term.
The bottom line is, if you’re even halfway serious about your woodworking, a bench planer really is an amazing tool that once you buy one, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without.