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  • Writer's pictureCaleb T. Hayes

I Tested And Ranked The Best Thickness Planers In 2024

Whether you’re a professional woodworker or a hobbyist, thickness planers are a necessity when it comes to reducing the thickness of a piece of wood. Each of these options will help you achieve precision and smoothness.

best thickness planer

FYI, prices and ratings are accurate as of time of writing.


1. DEWALT (DW735X) Thickness Planer -13-Inch, 3-Knife, 2-Speed

Top-rated: 8,670 ratings


best thickness planer

Credit: Amazon.com


Highlight: Original DEWALT powerful 15 AMP, 20,000 RPM motor.

Helpful review: "I am a hobbyist woodworker who had considered this DeWalt Planer (DW735X) for a while. However, I never really had the need for it. Then I found 2 lumber mills in the area, one that sells rough domestic lumber and one that sells rough exotic lumber. That's when it became possible to very quickly recoup the money for the planer through savings on lumber. I decided to buy the DeWalt because I wanted the infeed/outfeed. The extra set of knives is an attractive addition as well, given the less than stellar reviews of the longevity of the stock knives on this planer.
The planer arrived on time and the box was in great condition. It's HEAVY (~90lbs), so either get a friend to help, or get a workout deadlifting the beast! The only things that needed attaching were the dust collection attachment, the infeed/outfeed tables and the wheel for the depth control. All of these items installed with the greatest of ease and I encountered no issues with setup whatsoever.
My first test cut was on an extra piece of rough 6/4 ash that I had lying around. This piece had previously been run through a friend's planer, which got it down to thickness, but still left it pretty rough overall. In fact, I was skeptical about the value of any planer after that experience. But on the very first pass through this planer, the ash came out butter smooth. Literally. The difference between the surface of that board before it went through this planer and after was night and day. AND IT HAD BEEN THROUGH A PLANER BEFORE!
I hook my ShopVac directly to the dust port, so I can't comment on the strength of the chip ejection. However, I have removed the top in order to check everything out and I can report that there is a substantial fan mounted directly above and behind the knives and just in front of the port, so I have no doubt that the chips created would be tossed a good distance!
The first project that I've worked on has been a nice wall shelf made out of solid cherry. I bought ~10 board feet of 4/4 rough lumber that I needed to plane down to 5/8", 1/2" and 3/8" sections. The boards were 4/4 x 8 1/2" x ~74". After squaring and cutting the boards to size, I started planing by removing around 1/32" on each pass. This was taking a while to get down to the desired thicknesses, so I decided to get a little more aggressive. I wasn't doing anything the machine isn't rated to handle...the depth gauge shows that up to 9" wide boards can take as much as 1/16" off on each pass. So I started taking that. The DW735 was working, but not noticing all that much. Things went much faster after that.
The results of the planing were astounding. My boards are exactly the thickness that I need and they are SMOOOOOTH! And I only used the 96 CPI setting! I sanded the boards with my random orbital to 220 and they are absolutely perfect. I'm pretty sure that they were already ~100 grit smooth after being planed down, again, on the 96 CPI setting. I'm not sure what grit the 192 CPI setting creates, but I'd be shocked if it was less than 120-150.
I have only used this planer on a single project. But the ease of setting up, the ease of use and the results that I have seen after that single project, along with the savings in lumber costs, have already made me a firm advocate of this planer. If you have access to rough lumber and you work more than a couple of projects per year and you're considering a planer, DO IT! You will not regret it!
PROS:
1. Three blade cutter is fast, and leaves a very smooth finish. Minimal sanding needed before finishing (220 & 320 grit with a clear finish) when using the slower feed rate.
2. Motor is 120V, but very powerful. Even in full width planing of hardwoods, it does not bog down.
3. Dust collection is very efficient when hooked up to my 4" shop DC. The planer has a builtin fan that blows chips out the chute even when not hooked up to DC. This prevents chips from getting crushed into the wood when it goes under the feed roller. There are none of the annoying little crushed chip marks that require extra work to get the wood surface ready to finish. By the way, if you do not hook up a DC, and just let the chips blowout of the dust port, you'll have a trail of chips 10'-15' away from the planer! This little puppy BLOWS!
4. I get no detectable snipe even when planing long boards, as long as I support the out-feed end. This model includes the extension in-feed and out-feed tables. I did not expect these to be enough to prevent snipe, but they work great.
5. Comes with an extra set of knives.
6. Machine weighs a little under 100 lbs. It can be moved fairly easily (even by an old fart who's not as strong as he once was) but still has enough mass to be stable when planing larger boards.
7. Thickness and depth of cut adjustments are easy and accurate.
8. Overall build quality is excellent.
9. Not cheap of course, but well worth the money if you are doing enough work.
CONS:
1. The machine is fairly noisy. IMHO good hearing protection is an absolute must.
2. There is an aftermarket spiral, individual carbide cutter head available. I wish that was an option on this model when new, rather than as an aftermarket item. It would be a big advantage for those of us who have a higher workload for the machine.
Overall, It is easy to set up and very sturdy. So I'm very satisfied with this machine. Honestly, no qualms and I'd buy it again, because it really is worth the money! And I feel confident and protected seeing that both Amazon and Dewalt have such amazing customer service." — M. Bailey

Get it from Amazon now: $799.00 & FREE Returns

 

2. WEN Benchtop Thickness Planer - 12.5-Inch, 2-Blade

Top-rated: 2,021 ratings


best thickness planer

Credit: Amazon.com


Highlight: Up to 20,000 cuts per minute.

Helpful review: "I have recently gotten into wood working and decided that I needed to have a thickness planer in my shop. With tight funds and realistic expectations, I decided to purchase the WEN 6550 planer. I came to this decision after doing countless hours of research and watching pretty much every video out there comparing, using, and reviewing planers. While big yellow (DEWALT) came out on top in most reviews and in forum discussions, I just couldn't justify spending that much money for a tool that will probably not get used that often. Especially when the WEN seems to get overwhelmingly good reviews. Now, to get to the review.
My package arrived completely intact. I had visions of battered boxes with broken or missing contents. None of that happened. The box was completely intact and the planer was well cushioned inside. Setting up the planer was a simple matter of removing the styrofoam, attaching the handle, attaching the dust chute, wiping off the infeed, outfeed, and granite tables and waxing all of them down. The next thing I did was place the planer on a completely level surface and check the surfaces with a level. Everything was level in all directions and the cutter head needed no adjustments.
The first piece of wood I ran through the planer was a scrap 2X4 that I know had a slight warp. Several passes through the planer gave me some nice square edges and most of the warp was planed out. I'm sure that if I had kept going I could remove the entire warp. Next I fed a piece of oak pallet wood through the planer that was warped and cracked. While the planer did nothing for the crack, it did remove every bit of nastiness and revealed a beautiful tiger pattern under all the rough wood. Now I just have to find the right project for this piece of wood.
One thing I read a lot about with all planers is snipe. The WEN 6550 is not immune to this either. While not bad there is definitely snipe there. Running other pieces of wood through the planer with sacrificial wood before and after what you are planing completely eliminated all traces of snipe. In fact, the cutter head did such a good job on my project I almost don't even need to sand now.
But Fred, how loud is this planer? I'm glad you asked. It's loud. Running it without hearing protection just means that you will become friends with an Audiologist sooner rather than later because you WILL need hearing aids. Ok, all kidding aside, yes, it is loud and yes, you should wear hearing protection. Without any wood running through the planer it's not really any louder than any other tool in your shop. In fact, my table saw is probably louder but, put some wood through the planer and you can tell a huge difference in the decibels.
Wood removal is excellent but I have yet to turn the handle more than 1/2 a turn per pass (1/32nd inch wood removal) and mostly I'm only doing 1/4 turns (1/64th inch wood removal) with each pass. Each full turn will remove 1/16th inch of wood. So far, I've run pine, poplar, oak, walnut, maple, and purple heart through the planer and it has yet to even act like it's having trouble. Once I've used the planer some more and gotten used to it, I'll try doing a full 1/16th inch in a pass to see what happens.
This is a two blade cutter head planer and the blades are reversible. One review that I read said that blade removal was harder on this planer compared to others. Now, I will admit that I have nothing to compare that statement to. But, I did not find blade removal hard or complicated. Just remove the two screws from the dust hood, remove the two screws from the blade cover and bam, there are your blades. There is a cutter head lock and you do have to push it down to rotate the cutter head to get to the 2nd blade but, that's not hard or a big deal.
Time will tell how well this planer will hold up but, based on its performance so far, I see no reason why I won't get many years of service out of it. If you are in the market for a planer, you should definitely consider WEN." — Frank N. Neue

Get it from Amazon now: $319.99 & FREE Returns

 

3. DEWALT (DW734) Benchtop Planer - 12.5-Inch, 3-Knife

Top-rated: 2,511 ratings


best thickness planer

Credit: Amazon.com


Highlight: Extra-long infeed and outfeed tables provide 33-1/2-inch of material support.

Helpful review: "First, a little praise for Amazon. Free shipping, and free set of spare knives (didn't even know these were included.), resulting in an incredibly affordable price. That's the best deal in town, especially when you consider the free knives.
Now, the planer. It's heavy. Really heavy. But that's a good thing. It took only 10 minutes to set up, read the manual, and make my first sawdust. Initial results were excellent. Glass-smooth surfaces on White Oak, Poplar, and Red Oak. Minimum snipe limited to ends of board. No snipe detected elsewhere. Nice fit & finish. Decent manual. Good ergonomics. Plenty powerful. So far, highly recommended. I'll update after a few hundred board feet.
UPDATE (2 YEARS LATER):
I'm still very pleased. I've put in excess of 1000 bf through the planer now. It hasn't missed a beat. Unbelievably, I'm still on my first set of knives. They are a little nicked now due to some hard maple I put through it a few weeks ago, but I'm not yet sufficiently motivated to change them. This machine has served me well, and shows no signs of slowing down. It still ranks 5 stars.
UPDATE (A WEEK SINCE LAST UPDATE):
I broke down and turned the knives over. I cut myself in the process. Clumsy! A few cuts after freshening the knives made it obvious that I should have done this some time ago. The planer performs like new. Still 5 stars.
UPDATE (AT 4 YEARS):
Still 5 stars. I turn or replace the knives every 6 months or so. The knives don't like Hard Maple, but all other species do fine (including Walnut & Oak). The results delivered by this planer are excellent.
UPDATE (AT 6 YEARS):
Still going strong. Just added a Wixey digital readout that I got from Amazon. Still 5 stars.
UPDATE (AT 12 YEARS):
Still going strong. Feed rollers started to slip, so I cleaned them with a stiff brush and alcohol. Worked like a champ. Back to 100% function. Obviously a great planer.
UPDATE (AT 15 YEARS):
Seriously. 15 years. My kid is now grown and off to college. The planer still delivers. I planed some Walnut boards a couple days ago. Fantastic results. Clearly, I got my money's worth. Would buy another in a minute should the need arise.
UPDATE (AT 19 YEARS):
The planer and I have grown old together. It functions far better than I do. The only problem I’ve had is a broken tab on the dust collection fitting. That’s trivial, considering all the use this machine has had. A great product.
A FEW WORDS FROM A FRIEND:
While there are some parts of this tool that I wasn't totally thrilled with, they were relatively easy to correct, and the planer is now a trusted and often-used part of my shop. So far it has been used for roughly 75% red oak, 15% cedar and 10% poplar, and has performed well on all of these. I trued-up some cupped wood without much trouble, although the cups were relatively slight-maybe 1/8 or so. So, yes, I read tons of reviews and this planer is what everyone says." — Mark A. Green

Get it from Amazon now: $579.00 & FREE Returns

 

4. Delta Portable Planer - 13-Inch, Disposable

Top-rated: 256 ratings


best thickness planer

Credit: Amazon.com


Highlight: Adjustable infeed and outfeed tables.

Helpful review: "This is a delightful machine. It's everything one could hope for at a giveaway price. For a small shop, where planing is not an everyday event, it's unbeatable. It's much larger than one would expect; actually, it's larger than most higher powered, higher priced planers. It is quite solidly built. The outer housing uses Lexan (a tough plastic form) instead of metal, but you'd never know it, it's so tough, and the housing is rust proof, to boot.
The innards are solid as a rock. It is a four-post model, and the castings are so tight and solid that there is virtually no play in the cutterhead-feeder mechanisms. The blade changes are amazingly simple, the tools to do so are provided and stored in the machine, and while there are only two blades, they are reasonably priced (average $40 pair for Delta Brand, less for third party brands). The head makes 9400 RPM, for 18,800 cuts per minute.
I tested it starting with soft Pine, then standard American Walnut, each at 1/16" cuts (one full revolution of the handle). The motor did not slow, there were virtually NO planer marks, and NO snipe. The pieces were about 6" wide and 2' long. I then tried the same with white rock maple, expecting a motor overload and freeze. The motor slowed only slightly, but did not falter. Testing it to the extreme, I tried Purpleheart (with a respirator mask, which you MUST wear when making dust with this wood). This is about the hardest wood available. The motor strained too much to suit me at 1/16" cuts, so I reduced the cut to 1/32 (1/2 turn of the handle). There was not slowing, and again, no snipe.
With 13" blades, an extremely rapid cut, and effective dust collector (I just connected it directly to my Shop Vac) and NO snipe whatsoever, the occasional user in a home or hobby shop cannot find a better machine at this price anywhere. I love it!
I make TONS of small fretwork boxes, and am sick of buying exotics for fretwork in 1/4 thicknesses. I can now buy 3/4 thicknesses, rip them with my bandsaw, and quickly plane them to 1/4 or thicker, at half the price.
PROS:
- extremely accurate (I had perfect results down to 1/8"; did not try further).
- solid, tight build of the 4-post cutterhead assembly/support columns.
- reversible blades, giving you two very sharp shots with the same set.
- EXTREMELY attractive price.
- Five year warranty (but if you're not within driving distance of a major city, you must ship it in at your own cost).
- Perfect for hobbyists or small shops.
CONS:
- The motor could be more powerful. The in/out feed rate is perfectly appropriate and dependable, but a larger capacity motor would help with hardwoods.
- It is a single speed feed. It is a compromised speed between the two speeds found on higher price machines, but it is a well thought-out speed to do a remarkable job with two straight (not spiral cut) blades.
These "cons" about this machine are really not pertinent, because these features are found only on machines costing twice as much. This one is a steal. You may read about the virtues of a "chain drive" (e.g, "Steelex" brand). Don't buy into that. This machine appears to be direct (geared) drive (I've not looked at the parts sheet), and has a motor overload reset button. It'll do what you need it to do.
This is a SMALL SHOP planer, not designed for 8-hour/day use seven days a week, or in commercial cabinet shops. That in view, I'd do it again in a second, and recommend it even faster.
UPDATE:
I've now planed all four surfaces of eight 8-foot x 6" sq. hardwood posts (32 8-foot x 6-inch surfaces). Aside from the trouble of rigging in and out feed tables, it was a breeze. No strain, no signs of blade dulling. The more I use this machine, the more impressed I become with its bang-for-the-buck." — Thomas B. Hunnicutt

Get it from Amazon now: $580.06 & FREE Returns

 

5. CRAFTSMAN Benchtop Planer - 2-Knife Solid Steel Cutter Head

Top-rated: 1,127 ratings


best thickness planer

Credit: Amazon.com


Highlight: Features Poly-V Cutterhead drive for maximum stock removal.

Helpful review: "I have 3 redwood decks totalling around 700 sq ft. I constructed this deck 14 years ago and typically would replace 4 or 5 boards every year. The stain we used did not hold up well to traffic so the deck looked pretty beat up. California forced producers to change the stain formulas and the result is a weaker product. Anyway, I considered using a stain remover to get down to bare wood. Nope. The best stain remover did the job but my brush was full of gooey stain very quickly plus the stain remover was expensive.
So I decided to try to plane my old boards and bought this Craftsman unit. It works well and it feeds the boards through for you. I have used it on 2 x 6 redwood up to 12 ft length. I mounted the planer on my mitre saw stand that has extendable arms. Works well. The only complaint I have is using guidance given here. I attached a 4 inch dia expandable aluminum clothes dryer vent tub to the planer with screw tight clamps and fed the tube into a 5 gal bucket. Let's just say the tube gets clogged up immediately and the cuttings blow out the front of the machine (input side). So wearing a mask is a must.
I have probably done almost 200 board feet so far and I think the blades are ok BUT when they come to a knot in the board it can stop or slow the planer. I now have about 5 inches of fine cuttings I will have to blow out of the way before it gets any deeper. The good news is I have some "free" mulch for my plants. I would buy it again as it was a bargain given the job it does. Hand Cranking the blades up and down as you switch from flat to edge planing on the 2x6 can be a pain and I have taken a sharpie to mark on the scale for the proper range for a flat or on edge 2x6. We will just be using a clear seal on the redwood.
A FEW WORDS FROM A NEIGHBOR:
Built a screened in porch for my wife and needed to plane the trim I made on the sawmill. After borrowing a friend's much heavier planer and wrestling with it for hours I decided to buy one of my own. I have always found Craftsman hand tools to be quality products so after reviewing I decided to go with this one. I have to say so far I am very pleased. The unit is heavy enough to stay put when used but light enough not to break my back moving it. The four holes in the base also give you an easy point to bolt the unit down. I have put about 1200 board feet through this unit and it is still cutting as well as, if not better than, my friend's three knife brand. The measurements appear accurate and the shavings collector all work well. If I had one issue it would be the placement of the power cord at the front left of the unit. A side placement would seem more practical and out of the way. This is a quality planer that looks as if it will last the long haul. I will let you know in a future post about ease of blade replacement and cleaning. Well done Craftsman.
MY FRIEND’S REVIEW:
Upon removing the protective blue plastic from the feed table a 2' gouge into the metal plate showed up (but wasn't visible through the heavy blue plastic. I could feel the gouge/scratch so I smoothed it using some fine compound to prevent it scraping my expensive wood. See uploaded photo of the scratch on the base plate. Both the in-feed and out-feed tables needed adjustments to make them level with the central table? The problem with this is that the small black Phillips adjusting bolts had been over tightened at the factory? One of them stripped without loosening. Fortunately, I was able to force the table into proper alignment once the other three were loosened. BTW both of these in/out-feed tables are the stamped metal kind. I plan to replace them, eventually but for now, once adjusted, they work. The snipe is minimal ... about a 64th inch for the first and last couple of inches, as expected.
Overall, this Craftsman thickness planer does the job at a fair price provided that you can adjust it. My 69 year old lower back is aching today... because this is a clunky shaped, 61 pound machine! I've mounted it on an old Craftsman stand that I already had. Today I will add some casters to the base so that I won't have to lift it up to move it. You will need a vortex style dust collection system for the chips it will produce, even on small boards because I don't think a shop vac alone could handle the quantity of chips that this produces. All of that said and done, you do get what you paid for! I'm satisfied with my purchase." — Marty German

Get it from Amazon now: $469.00 & FREE Returns

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