A woodworking tool that any manufacturer should have in their garage or work area is the benchtop planer. This convenient machine allows you to adjust the thickness of a flat piece of wood without guesswork. Because of the consistent thickness, it is mainly used for creating tables, nightstands, and anything that requires a flat and level surface.
In this article, I’ve reviewed nine of the best benchtop planers to fit your needs. Check them out below as I list down its pros and cons to help you decide which machine suits you best.
My top choice is the Makita 2012NB 12-Inch Planer, which has a unique mechanism called the Interna-Lok Automated Head Clamp. This special mechanism reduces, and even prevents, snipe. With a cutting width capacity of 12 inches and a 1/8-inch cutting depth, it can handle thicknesses up to 6-3/2 inches.
Its adjustable depth stop assists you in creating easy and accurate repetitive cuts, to improve productivity and save time. To keep the planer stable and maintain its accuracy, it has a 4-post design and diagonal brace. This setup also decreases the chances of snipe on your material.
With a table size of 13 x 30 inches and a no-load speed of 8,500 RPM, this benchtop planer can handle most jobs. A great safety feature included is the integrated LED light, which indicates if the device is on. It also has a design that allows quick blade changes.
Because of the large paddle switch, operation becomes effortless. It also has a powerful 15-amp motor with two planer blades. To keep your work area organized, it has a detachable toolbox to store your equipment. Aside from that, it has good Shop-Vac compatibility due to the optional dust hood.
For more information, read my detailed review of the 2012NB planer.
Things I Like About This Product: The benchtop planer has the Interna-Lok automated head clamp to reduce and prevent snipe. It has a good thickness capacity of 6-3/32 inches.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: Unfortunately, it has only one speed.
If you want a higher-speed machine then you will like the DeWalt DW735 Two-Speed 13-Inch Thickness Planer. This unit has a cutter head speed of up to 10,000 RPM but you have two choices for speed depending on your needs: 96 CPI and 179 CPI. This allows you to choose the appropriate speed for your material, speeding up the process without damaging it.
As for durability, it has a three-knife cutter head system that not only has a 30% longer lifespan, but also has a quick-change mechanism for hassle-free operation. The knives also have a longer design to maintain sharpness better than traditional and disposable knives.
Additionally, this planer has chip removal vacuums that are fan-assisted, to keep your material and work area clean of debris. With a 13-inch width capacity, it has a 6-inch depth capacity and a 1/8-inch maximum cut. Weighing 80 pounds and sporting a powerful 15-amp motor, this planer is strong and sturdy. It is backed by a 3-year limited warranty with 1-year of free service, as well as a 90-day money-back guarantee.
Things I Like About This Product: It has a decent width capacity of 13 inches and an easy mechanism for knife changing and refastening to speed up work. It also has two speeds to choose from.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: The base casting could use a bit more protection, especially during shipping, to avoid stability issues.
Made with a speed of 8,000 RPM, the Craftsman CMEW320 15-Amp Benchtop Planer also has a dual knife system that is easy to change and saves you time. It has a 15-amp motor that is okay to use for both hardwood and softwood, while the solid steel cutter head has a durable design.
To ensure a smooth operation, it has ball bearings with head mounting. Due to the reversible knives, you’ll save time, money, and effort when it comes to sharpening or buying replacements. The knives are made of high carbon steel and are double-edged for efficiency and better cutting power. The benchtop planer can take up to 12 inches of width for materials.
Moreover, it has a 4-column design to ensure accuracy and to keep the machine as stable as possible. The benchtop planer weighs 61.2 pounds and has efficient stock removal due to the Poly-V design of the cutter head drive. It also has a vacuum port for high compatibility with a variety of dust collection systems.
For more information, read my detailed review of the CMEW320 planer.
Things I Like About This Product: The reversible knives save effort, time, and money. It has dust collection compatibility as well.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: Be patient with the gauge because it takes a bit of a learning curve to adjust the material with it.
For professional use, I recommend the JET JWP-13BT 13-Inch Helical-Style Benchtop Planer with its 2-HP 15-amp motor that has up to 10,000 RPM of cutter head speed. It has a quick-change mechanism and reversible knives (helical style) for speedy cuts and added durability.
Since it is a helical style, it has 24 quick-change inserts in six rows to keep operations running smoothly. This benchtop planer has a 4-post design that stabilizes the cutter head and the cast table altogether. You also have two speeds: 18FPM and 26FPM, to be selected depending on the type of wood you’re working on.
As for durability, it has a cast iron bed and steel cover. To keep your work area nice and clean, it has shop vacuum compatibility with its 4-inch port for your preferred dust collection system setup. It also has leveling screws at the bottom to balance your planer on any surface or work table.
There is a removable safety key and a toggle switch for easy operation and fewer risks of accidents. An adjustable depth stop is also present to maintain accuracy. From the six settings of the depth stop, your choices range from 1/8 to 1 inch.
Things I Like About This Product: Its helical blade style reduces wear and tear, and it sports a fast cutter head speed.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: The height adjustment requires a bit of a learning curve.
A machine made for wide materials, the DeWalt DW735X 13-Inch Thickness Planer, which has a three-knife system, unlike the other models that I’ve reviewed above. It has two speeds to choose from (96 or 179 CPI) that allows you to customize the planer depending on the material you’re working on.
With a max depth cut of 1/8 inch and a depth capacity of 6 inches, this benchtop planer has an automatic carriage lock that reduces snipe, to keep your work stable and clean. Moreover, it has a large depth stop to make repetitive cuts without guesswork and with greater accuracy.
In terms of durability, it has a 19/34-inch cast aluminum base to keep your work material stable. To ensure efficient dust extraction, it has a fan-assisted chip ejection system on the cutter head to drive debris out of the machine.
Aside from the depth stop, this unit also has a material removal gauge and thickness scale, so each pass will be just the right size for your needs. Along with the 92-pound planer comes infeed and outfeed tables, a dust hose adapter for your shop vacuum, and extra blades.
To learn more, read my full review of the DW735X thickness planer.
Things I Like About This Product: The depth stop and gauge save time and effort during repetitive cuts. It also has three knives instead of just two, speeding up productivity.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: The machine runs a little louder than most standard benchtop planers.
For those who want a hassle-free blade system, the WEN PL1326 15-Amp 13-Inch Spiral Benchtop Thickness Planer is for you. This machine has up to 10,000 RPM of speed from its 15-amp motor that runs at 26 FPM. In addition, it will take materials up to 13 inches in width and 6 inches thick.
Because there is an onboard material removal gauge, you’ll know how much cutting depth the planer will remove in a single pass. When it comes to durability, it has 26 rotatable HSS blades that are formed in a spiral design. The spiral set makes it less costly to maintain the planer since they are reversible.
Like many benchtop planers, it has an adjustment knob up to 1/8 inch thickness per pass. To manage your dust in the workspace, it has an adjustable dust port. Moreover, the infeed and outfeed tables have an adjustable height to help decrease snipe on your work material.
If you have the WEN MSA658 Planer Stand or similar stands, it is easily mountable thanks to the convenient pre-drilled holes. This benchtop planer is also backed by a 2-year warranty.
Things I Like About This Product: The spiral cutter head blades make it cheaper to maintain because they are reversible and durable. It also has a good width capacity.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: The depth stop and gauge could be better in terms of their durability and usability.
Made with reversible, dual-edge knives made out of high carbon steel, the Porter-Cable PC305TP 12-Inch Benchtop Planer is ideal for most woodworking jobs. It delivers 8,000 RPM for its cutter head speed, as well as a 26.2 FPM self-feeding rate. The motor has 15 amps at 120V, and delivers 16,000 CPM.
As a dual-knife system, it has a quick-change mechanism that saves time while the solid steel construction enhances its durability. It provides smooth operation when feeding the material due to the head mounting on the ball bearings. In addition to that, it has a Poly-V belt cutter head drive to improve power transfer.
Backed by four ground columns, it has sufficient stability and elevation, which will in turn cause fewer mistakes or snipes on the material. If you are a casual woodworker, you will find this planer right for the job due to its sufficient speed, feeding rate, and reversible knives that require very little maintenance.
Things I Like About This Product: The benchtop planer doesn’t make a lot of noise and creates a smooth finish on the material. It also has great dust collection compatibility with most shop vacuums on the market.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: It doesn’t have a cutter head lock so you have to hold it tightly when you are setting the gauge for your desired thickness. This is a problem that may arise when you’re doing repetitive jobs.
If you are looking for a three-knife cutter head system, the DeWalt DW734 Single-Speed Benchtop Planer is a great choice for you. With a 12-1/2-inch width capacity, this model has a very long infeed and outfeed table set, which allows up to 33-1/2 inches of material.
Because it has 10,000-RPM cutter head speed and up to 96 CPI, it is a great machine to use for bigger materials. It is powered by a 15-amp motor with 20,000 RPM, making it suitable for handling tough materials such as hardwoods.
This planer weighs 80 pounds, has a depth capacity of 6 inches and a 1/8-inch max cutting depth. To ensure each pass is in the right thickness, it has a gauge and scale to accurately measure and cut with minimal room for error.
Aside from that, it has a turret depth stop that’s easy to control and saves valuable time. To reduce snipe, it has a 4-column carriage lock that keeps the material and the machine stable during operation. The machine has a simple blade change system that conserves time and effort so you can meet your deadlines (it only requires one tool).
To learn more, read my full review of the DW734 thickness planer.
Things I Like About This Product: It has a three-knife system that will remove significantly more material than those with only two.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: It doesn’t have dual-speed capability, unlike other benchtop planers out there.
Yet another machine with a triple knife system is the Delta Power Tools 22-590X Benchtop Planer. It has a depth stop that has an infinite mechanism for you to choose between 1-1/4 and 1/8-inch cutting depths. To decrease or even prevent snipe, the cutter head lock system of this benchtop planer goes hand in hand with the design of the infeed and outfeed tables.
There is a material removal gauge for accuracy with each pass while the oversized cutter head height adjustment has an indexing ring for added convenience. In addition to that, each of the double-sided knives has two times the durability, due to the reversible design. They are also relatively easy to change, and durable because they are made from HSS (high-speed steel).
To manage your work debris, it has a 4-inch dust port for keeping wood chips away, easily adaptable with nearly any dust collection system you may have. It has a 15-amp, 120V motor that will deliver up to 30,000 CPM and up to 26 FPM of feed rate. This 13-inch benchtop planer is also backed by a 5-year warranty.
Things I Like About This Product: It has a lock system that decreases snipe, plus it has easy depth stop adjustability and a material removal gauge. Because it has a three-knife system, it removes material significantly faster.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: It has only one speed.
The Methodology: What I Considered When Picking the Benchtop Planers Featured Above
So, do you want to know how I chose the benchtop planers mentioned above? Here are some criteria that I considered, which you should know about as well:
This is the maximum width that is supported by the machine. Benchtop planers typically have 12 to 13 inches of cutting allowance. For bigger projects, we suggest that you go for a 13-inch planer width capacity, to cover the big projects and which can easily adapt even to smaller workpieces.
This refers to how much material is removed by the benchtop planer in a single pass. Typically, a benchtop planer has about 1/8 inches of cutting depth.
If you want a heavy-duty benchtop planer, consider a machine that has a bigger material removal gauge. Keep in mind that benchtop planers are not band saws, so if you need to remove more material than 1/8 inch, you’ll need a different power tool for that.
This refers to the planer blade that is used. There are typically two kinds: straight and spiral.
Straight knives are budget-friendly and do the job well for simple cutting tasks. The only downside is that they are not made for heavy-duty purposes since they tend to produce choppy and rough results on the surface.
If you look at my picks above, you’ll rarely see straight knives, as many of the benchtop planers that are released nowadays have spiral or helical knives (mentioned below) due to their power, convenience, and reduced maintenance.
Spiral knives are seen in more expensive and professional planers because they have a reversible design. They also have a safety feature in case you accidentally run into a screw or nail in the material. A spiral knife will produce a smoother finish when compared to straight knives.
Many benchtop planers on the market today have a spiral or helical knife set because they are reversible and are, thus, more economical in the long run. You also don’t have to keep replacing them as often as straight knives.
Now that we know about the types of planer blades, let’s differentiate units that have a two-blade system versus a three-blade.
A dual-blade planer is ideal for general tasks and even for the bigger jobs. One advantage of such planers is that they usually have two speeds to choose from, allowing better work flexibility. If you aren’t working with too many stubborn materials then a two-blade system will be sufficient for you.
A three-blade or triple knife system doesn’t require as many passes to get a smooth finish. This type of knife system is best suited for hardwoods because of how brittle they are. However, they are also more expensive, and you’ll need to replace more blades in one unit.
A strong motor is important if you’re handling different types of wood, as not all materials have the same hardness.
Many of my previously-mentioned picks have a 15-amp motor and most of them have 1 to 1-1/2 HP. These are okay for casual woodworking, DIY construction, and basic home repairs.
However, if you come across a 2-HP unit, consider that for heavy-duty purposes because it will handle difficult wood types, such as maple, walnut, oak, and the like. Anything that is too gritty for a simple planer will need a much more powerful motor to handle it.
This refers to how thick your material can be that you put through the machine. Most benchtop planers will have a maximum thickness capacity of 6 inches or slightly more.
The snipe is the end portion of the material where the cut has gone overboard, making it look unbalanced. This is usually not preventable, but there are ways to minimize it with the right machinery and mechanisms.
Fortunately, many benchtop planers have mechanisms that decrease snipe, such as an automatic head clamp or a carriage lock.
Nonetheless, if you’re eyeing any benchtop planer, you should always manage your expectations and don’t solely depend on the mechanism to prevent snipe. Sometimes, it’s all in the execution and the material you have. For instance, leaving more length for the material in question during planning allows you to cut off the snipe without problems.
Depth Stop and Gauge
Having an adjustable depth stop and/or gauge is useful for repetitive cuts, especially if you’re working with many pieces. The depth stop or gauge allows you to set your preferred thickness to ensure that each pass you make is consistent.
By having such convenient gauges and depth stops, you’ll save time and finish the job faster, while still keeping the measurements accurate. Each pass will have an equal length, just make sure that the benchtop planer you choose has a secure depth stop and that you hold it properly to avoid creating snipe or any other inconveniences.
As with many woodworking tools, dust collection is often an issue. Consider getting a benchtop planer that has wide compatibility with a shop vacuum that will keep your work area allergen-free. After all, less dust settling in the air will help you see your workpiece clearly, ensuring accuracy.
Dust settling in the cutter head is just asking for trouble. To prevent this from happening, make sure that it has a good debris removal system to clear out both the machine and the work material. Too much dust settling in the machine will eventually cause wear and tear, as well as clogging.
In terms of speed, there are three types to measure when choosing the best benchtop planer for your needs:
Cutter Head Speed
The cutter head speed is determined by the motor, so if your unit has a powerful motor, it will spin faster. You will mostly find benchtop planers with speeds from 8,000 to 10,000 RPM, depending on their use and given specs. For casual use, any benchtop planer that is 8,000 RPM or above is going to be okay.
This is also referred to as the motor or main speed, which will vary between 8,000 and 16,000 CPM, depending on how many blades there are in the system. Usually, since many benchtop planers out there are two-blade systems, you will mostly find units around 16,000 CPM. In cases of three-blade systems, you’ll find higher speeds.
This is measured in FPM and the usual value is around 26 FPM. A higher speed means that it will process the material faster, but it will also create a rougher finish. If you want to maintain smoothness, you should use a lower value, in which most benchtop planers have adjustable speeds (typically two, although there are units with only one speed).
When it comes to durability, a benchtop planer with a 4-post design will be more stable for long-term use. There are even machines that have a levering screw-in case you are working on an area that isn’t flat or balanced.
Blade durability is also a key factor when deciding the best benchtop planer. High-speed steel (HSS) is one of the best choices as it doesn’t wear out fast compared to other materials.
Aside from the functions of the benchtop planer, you should also know about the warranty policy of the company or manufacturer.
Overall, my top choice is the Makita 2012NB 12-Inch Planer, which has an automated clamp that reduces snipe. If you want a machine with a bigger capacity, why not try the DeWalt DW735 Two-Speed 13-Inch Thickness Planer? This unit has two speeds to choose from depending on your material.
If you have a limited budget, the Craftsman CMEW320 15-Amp Benchtop Planer is a decent choice with its great dust collection compatibility and reversible knives. However, for professional users, you will like the JET JWP-13BT 13-Inch Helical-Style Benchtop Planer due to its fast cutter head speed and convenient blade system to minimize maintenance problems.
A good option you may also like is the DeWalt DW735X 13-Inch Thickness Planer, which has a three-knife system that speeds up work while allowing you to adjust the depth and material removal. Another winner on my list is the WEN PL1326 15-Amp 13-Inch Spiral Benchtop Thickness Planer if you’re looking for a hassle-free yet powerful blade system.
For those who prefer working with a quiet machine, the Porter-Cable PC305TP 12-Inch Benchtop Planer is for you. Yet another triple-knife system I’d like to suggest is the DeWalt DW734 Single-Speed Benchtop Planer, as well as the Delta Power Tools 22-590X Benchtop Planer that’s coupled with a lock system to decrease snipe.