Wood may have natural beauty, but to bring it out in furniture and other fine carpentry projects, woodworkers must operate within tight tolerances, attempting to achieve machine shop-type fitment from their joinery. A bench planer is a highly useful tool for attaining this level of craftsmanship.
Benchtop planers, also known as thickness planers, are box-shaped power tools with rotating blades inside that allow you to adjust the thickness of a piece of wood. By passing the wood through the planer, two or three high-speed blades inside the machine cut off tiny layers from the surface of the workpiece. By adjusting the cutting height, you can remove a layer at a time until the wood meets your specifications.
What if I tell you that getting the best stationary planers could be the solution to delivering your projects effectively.
Stationary planers are industrial/heavy-duty machines that allow you to plane large lumber pieces quickly.
What is a Bench Planer?
A bench Planer can be a phenomenal tool to use if you’re working on large-scale projects or if you’re responsible for refurbishing large pieces of wood. The entire premise behind the machine is to make it substantially easier to work through bulks of wood in half of the time that it would take to use a hand Planer.
However, bench planers aren’t recommended for every woodworking project, as they don’t give you the customizable versatility as a tool that you can hold in your hand.
Bench planers, much like their name suggests, are designed to be placed on a flat surface or bench. They are bulky machines that you certainly cannot hold in your hand and are great for designated workspaces as they’re not the most portable tools to have at your disposal.
Advantageous Features of a Bench Planer:
- Easy to Resurface Wood: If you’ve ever had the opportunity to use a bench Planer in the past, you undoubtedly know how easy they make resurfacing wood. This is particularly important if you’re more interested in salvaging reclaimed planks rather than purchasing surfaced wood from the lumberyard.
- Dust Collection: Another huge advantage that a bench Planer has over a hand planer is its ability to collect dust after each cut. Cleaning up after a long project can be quite overwhelming and keeping debris off the wood you’re working on can be a task. However, with a bench Planer, you’ll have the ability to collect dust after every swipe.
What is a Stationary Planer?
A stationary planer may be a manual tool, but it certainly isn’t an outdated one. In fact, there are plenty of woodworkers who prefer to use hand planers for a variety of projects. Most people will have several different types of Planer in their toolkit and in many instances, there aren’t any tools that work as well as a Planer.
Planers are specifically designed to help you trim slivers off the surface of the material you’re working on. However, they’re not the ideal tools to use for every type of material as using them on rubber, plastic or metal can cause the blades to dull and break, they are ideally created to be used on wood.
When choosing between a manual and an electric hand Planer, remember that both are designed for the same purpose, but an electric model is more difficult to control without enough experience.
Benefits of A Stationary Planer:
- Versatile Uses: Since they’re available in both electric and manual varieties, planers are incredibly versatile tools that are phenomenal for industrial projects as well as more intricate projects. No matter whether you’re simply trimming wood down to a specific size or are interested in improving the exterior finish to your materials, a Planer can be quite useful.
- Essential for Fine Woodworking: Fine woodworking is a skill that requires lots of different manual tools and years of experience. Using an electric hand Planer wouldn’t be the best option for fine woodworking, though a manual one would be perfect. This is something that a bench Planer simply cannot do, as it’s designed to work with the product in bulk, whereas a hand Planer is perfect for intricate carving and cutting.
- Affordable: Saving money on tools is an advantage to choosing a manual hand Planer as there are plenty of models that are available for as little as . This can be quite useful, especially for beginner woodworkers who don’t want to invest hundreds of dollars into an electric bench Planer.
Best Benchtop Planers: Our Top Picks
Now that you know how these machines work and what to look out for when choosing the best benchtop planer for your woodshop, check out the following products. These planers are considered among the best in their respective categories.
If you’re in the market for a high-capacity planer with plenty of features, consider this 13-inch thickness planer from DEWALT. The DEWALT can handle materials up to 13 inches wide and 6 inches tall. The 15-amp motor spins the straight three-blade cutterhead at 10,000 RPMs. It can shave off up to 1/8-inch of material per pass and features an easy-to-read material removal gauge. You can also choose between two speeds: 96 cuts per inch and 179 cuts per inch.
One of this planer’s best features is its 19 3/4-inch cast aluminum base. Not only is it a smooth surface for running your materials along, it can be twice as rigid as some other models. This reduces snipe and creates far more consistent results.
In addition, the DEWALT planer comes with extra infeed and outfeed table wings. The tool uses a fan-assisted chip ejection to vacuum chips off of the surface of the material and shoot them out of the dust collection port, making it more efficient than some of the competition.
Just like the Dewalt DW735X reviewed above, the WEN 6552T portable thickness planer has a 13 inch width capacity and a 6 inch depth capacity so you can plane wider boards with it.
To minimize snipe, it comes equipped with a 3 roller lumber feeding system that ensures the board is always in contact with a roller as it feeds out of the machine, instead of the end getting sucked into the cutterhead blades.
It features adjustable infeed and outfeed tables, so you can feed boards smoothly into the machine and also minimize snipe.
The WEN 6552T also has a fan assisted dust ejection system that helps vacuum chips and sawdust off the machine during operation to minimize clean-up after.
Using the depth adjustment lever, you can raise and lower the cutterhead with increments of 1/64th of an inch to ensure cut precision and smoothness of the lumber surface.
Makita Corporation was founded in 195 and is Japan’s largest hand-tool manufacturer. The brand is associated with precision tools and innovative cordless power tool designs. This benchtop model represents Makita’s planer product line.
Makita products are known for quality build materials. They are also known for big price tags. Both features are found in the Makita 2012NB benchtop planer and may prove inhibitive for new woodworkers or those on a limited budget.
This unit can take up to 1/8-inch cuts with every pass. The depth stop used for adjustments is easy to set for smaller passes as well as repeated cuts. It offers no-play as you crank on the handle, something that will produce accurate settings.
A large paddle-switch provides a safety feature that prevents accidental power-up. The LED power indicator light lets you know that the planer is receiving power from the outlet.
As a reasonably priced planer that can handle up to 12-inch boards, the CRAFTSMAN is well worth a look. It has a 15-amp motor that produces cutterhead speeds up to 8,000 RPMs. Thanks to its two-blade design, this provides 16,000 cuts per minute, which is enough for most light-duty hobby work.
If you won’t be using your benchtop planer that often and are a bit short on space, you might appreciate the fold-up infeed and outfeed tables that make storage a bit easier. These tables do sacrifice a bit of rigidity over solid cast bases, however. The CRAFTSMAN can handle materials up to 12 inches wide and 6 inches thick. For boards up to 8 inches, there’s a maximum depth of cut of up to 3/32-inch. Beyond 8 inches, depth of cut will vary.
Porter-Cable was founded in 1906 in Syracuse, New York. This manufacturer is known for creating technologies used for portable belt sanders and band saws. It is now a subsidiary of Stanley Black & Decker that produces DIY-grade power tools.
That equates to savings for us as consumers, and it makes this model appealing to woodworkers with limited funds looking for a larger benchtop planer.
You can feed boards up to six-inches thick between the cutter head and table. It can also accept boards that are up to 12.5-inches wide. That is wider than the Makita 2012NB can take.
Each pass can cut up to 1/8-inch off of the wood’s surface. The 15 amp electric motor can generate 8,000 RPMs under no-load. That is slower than many of the models we have looked at previously.
Top 3 Best Stationary Planers
The device is essential for dimensioning rough wood, minimizing the thickness, and smoothening. Today, you will find at least one wood planer in any woodworking shop.
WEN 6552T exhibits value and quality philosophy. Working regularly with rough materials can be stressful and time-consuming.
It’s, therefore, important to work with the best table top planer in the market. WEN 6552T comes in handy in handling rough materials and producing flawless results. The device comes with distinguishing features that make it an admirable planer you’ll ever lay your hands on.
If you’re looking for the best wood planer for woodworking, then WEN 6552T is your ultimate choice. The gadget is designed to utilize a tri-roller feeding system, which helps in reducing snipe.
On the middle rollers, you will find the three dual-edged blades, which can be reversed to prolong their life cycle. These blades will also give you sharp and fine cuts for excellent results on your woodwork.
All shavings and sawdust can easily accumulate on the machine leading to hitches. But this hose ensures all the woodwork remains are placed in one place instead on the floor. Remember, if you need a planner to handle the hardest of woods, the WEN 6552T remains a top priority.
The Laguna brand may not be a household name in the woodworking industry. But their products usually have high performance and power.
Thanks to its innovative new design, the Laguna PX22 ShearTec II is one stationary planer that has proved its worth over time.
The PX22 also comes in 10HP, and it has a lot of superb features that make wood planing easy and safe.
The manufacturers of the Laguna PX22 paid a lot of attention to the low noise feature without reducing its running performance for hours.
Here are the features that make it our best stationary planer with precision:
Comes with a motor that powers 1-Phase 7.5HP.
It comes with different speed variations.
Sectioned infeed rollers that allow you to feed multiple boards without facing minor variations in thickness.
Outfeed and infeed rollers that assist with material loading to produce a compact footprint.
Comes with DRO (Digital Readout) for setting your precise wood thickness easily.
Enhanced 5-inch dust ejection system that allows you to move left or right to optimize dust collection.
6-row carbide cutterhead that produces superb and smooth finishes for all types of wood.
T-step fastener and knife design that maximizes a clamping force and prevents knife chatter and cracking.
The Jet JWP-15BHH is a unique planer that comes with a helical head. This feature helps to transform rough lumber into smoother workpieces.
With a 3HP motor, you can tell that the Jet JWP-15BB means business—as it combines a helical cutterhead with 48 carbide blades that are easy to change.
JET added an innovative design to the JWP-15BHH alongside a Precision Air Strut system that produces constant upward pressure for its cutterhead. This feature also helps to reduce the possibility of a wood snipe.
Here are other crucial features that makes this product stand out:
It has a two-speed gearbox that enables easy and fast feed rate adjustments while eliminating 1/8-Inch wood material per pass to get a smooth finish.
Comes with a large precision cast-iron table bed combined with a four-post system that supports and control each pass.
Double infeed speed control: 16FPM or 20FPM, which boosts the efficiency of your cuts and snaps.
48 staggered carbide knives inserted in its helical system—engineered to align without any adjustments from you.
4-inch dust dock that enhances your dust management system and keeps your shop tidy.
Green safety light with a magnetic switch that comes on automatically.
How to Choose the Best Benchtop Planers
Before deciding on the right tool for your needs, understanding the differences between a benchtop planer vs a hand planer is essential. A hand planer can be manually or electrically powered and is used for trimming the surface of wood.
Though able to cut other materials like metal, it is not recommended as this tends to dull the hand planer’s blades faster. A hand planer, especially an electric-powered one, takes a lot of practice to master but allows for more delicate cuts. The most common benchtop planers are electric and, due to their bulk, are most useful in a designated area where they won’t be moved often.
Since they are much larger than handheld planers, these tools can handle trimming substantial amounts of wood quickly. At the same time, industrial benchtop planers with more than two horsepower can efficiently work through even the toughest hardwoods without a problem.
Benchtop Planers FAQs
A benchtop planer can bring added value to a woodworking workshop, but you may still have some questions about this tool’s best use and operation. Ahead, answers to some of the most common questions about benchtop planers. If you still have questions about your benchtop planer, refer to your user’s manual or contact the manufacturer.
What is a bench planer used for?
Benchtop planers reduce the thickness of a board. You can use them to create consistent thicknesses on several boards for woodworking purposes or to uncover the beauty hidden underneath reclaimed wood.
What is the difference between a jointer and a planer?
Thickness planers adjust the thickness of a board, while jointers ensure that a board is flat across its width and length on one side. You can use a jointer to adjust the thickness of a board, though it will be less accurate and possibly take longer than with a benchtop planer. You cannot, however, use a benchtop planer to flatten a board across its length.
How do you use a benchtop planer?
With the benchtop planer turned off, lower the cutterhead onto the board to get a starting point. Remove the board, turn on the machine, and run the board through the planer. The planer will remove very little of the board’s thickness on its first pass, so you’ll likely need to remove the board from the outfeed table, lower the cutterhead a bit, and run the board back through. Continue to lower the cutterhead for each pass until you’ve shaved the board down to the desired height.