Power Planers for Woodworking and Carpentry

Planers--both handheld power planes and stationary thickness planers--make us thankful once again for electricity. Think of the labor savings these tools offer on the job site and in the shop. And whether they're used for shaving off mill markings, hanging a door, or smoothing rough-sawn beams, there's no doubt they expand the versatility of any carpenter or cabinetmaker.

Handheld Planers
Handheld planers are most common in the 3-1/4-inch-wide size, though a few companies make wider tools for working with beams. While some of the larger tools still use high-speed steel (HSS) blades, most of the 3-1/4-inch tools come with carbide blades. These blades have two sharp edges so when one side becomes dull, you can just flip it around and have a freshly sharp blade. Carbide blades are considered disposable--once both edges are dull, you just toss them--while HSS blades can be sharpened several times before they're too short to use. However, because carbide blades stay sharp longer than HSS, you'll soon find it difficult to find a power plane without them.

Debris Control
Because these tools shoot out such a large quantity of chips, collecting the debris before it hits the floor is a real challenge. With clean-air standards getting tougher, more manufacturers are adding vacuum ports to their tools. Of course, having a hose hanging off one side makes the tool more difficult to control, so many designers simply offer an adjustable chip deflector. With this device, you can control whether the chips shoot out the left or right side of the tool, so at least you can build your pile where you won't have to walk through it.

Going Cordless?
Makita recently introduced the industry's first cordless power plane (model 1050DWA), with a 12-volt battery and a 2-inch planing width. Though the planer market is not a large one, other manufacturers will probably add a cordless model to their lines after they expand the ranks of cordless tools in more popular categories.

New Design: The Kickstand
Other design trends in power planers include adding lock-on triggers and kickstands to existing designs. The kickstand is a small, spring-loaded foot near the back end of the tool that drops down automatically whenever the tool is lifted off the work surface. The kickstand provides clearance for the blade, so you can put the tool down with the blade still running and not gouge your work or ruin your blade.

Portable Planers: Microadjustment and Less Snipe
In portable thickness planers, the only clear trends are toward clearer controls for microadjustments of the cutterhead and reducing snipe. Tools with positive locks for the cutterhead are having the best success at snipe reduction.

Featured Products:

DEWALT DW733 12-1/2

DEWALT DW733 12-1/2" Portable Thickness Planer


* Includes an extra set of knives and dust hood, an $84.99 value
* Four-column head lock secures cutterhead to eliminate snipe
* Extra long infeed and outfeed tables provide 33 inches of material support
* 15 amp motor rotates the cutterhead at 10,000 rpm, making 64 cuts per inch
* Magnetic gauge holds knives in place, making changing knives easy

Amazon.com Review
DeWalt's sturdy four-column planer is a great addition in any workshop--and, because it's easily portable, transition to the job site is always an option. Thanks to the largest material support table of any portable planer on the market and a tight-locking cutterhead, boards feed through effortlessly with minimal snipe. We also liked how easy it is to measure precise cuts with the turret stops (set at 1/4, 1/2, and 3/4 of an inch). There's also a calibrated depth crank that adjusts 1/16 of an inch with each full rotation. Unlike other portable planers, DeWalt's provides an easy-to-read gauge of how much material each pass removes as well as the amount left over on the original board. Rather than using double-edged knives, this model takes two big M2 high-speed steel knives with single-surface cutting areas that deliver an impressive 64.1 cuts per inch. Changing knives took us a mere 10 minutes (and we were new to this design) and--better yet--they can be resharpened multiple times rather than discarded after one use. Powered by 15 amps with a no-load speed of 10,000 rpm, DeWalt's easily transported planer is a nice combination of high performance and convenience. Each planer ships with an extra set of knives, magnets, and wrenches. --Justin Paul

From the Manufacturer
The only thickness planer on the market with a four-column Head Lock, plus an infeed and outfeed table 40% larger than the leading competition, to aid in the reduction of snipe. The turret depth stop allows you to return to frequently used thicknesses (1/4-, 1/2-, 3/4-inch) quickly and easily. Maximum depth of cut is 1/8" (less than 5-1/2" wide). There's also a material removal scale that shows how much material is being removed and a depth scale which shows how much material is left. The DW733 is armed with a powerful 15 amp motor which rotates the cutterhead at 10,000 rpm, making 64 cuts per inch. Sharpenable knives made of M2 laminated steel create a smooth surface finish. A magnetic gauge that precisely holds the knives in place, freeing up your hands, makes changing knives easy. Includes an extra set of knives and dust hood a $84.99 value. One year warranty, one year service contract, 30 day no-risk trial

Product Description
Use this heavy duty planer to square, size or smooth flat wood surfaces in width or thickness quicker and with better results than a hand planer. Unique portable thickness plane allows you to set the amount of material you take off the surface for a perfect finish.

What Customers Said:

Valuable tool!

I've had mine for almost a month now. Have planed over 200 feet of air dried, 6" wide, rough sawn red oak. The first set of blades are dull enough to change. I am very happy with this tool so far. The dust hood is definitely a must, and I feel it should be included with the planer. The only minor problem that I have encountered, is that the infeed rollers get dirty quick and begin to slip. But with a little shove, the wood is on its way again.



I purchased my planer about 3 months ago and have used it on approximatly 300 board feet of oak and maple and I am still on the first set, first side of the blades. I compared planers for about 2 months, read Wood Mag. reviews and decided on the DeWalt. There is little of no snipe due to the extra long infeed and outfeed tables. It was easy to set up because you take it out of the box, unfold the tables, plug it in and your in business. I really enjoy the thickness indicator that tells you how much wood you are removing. I would recommend this machine to anyone who does a lot of planning.


If a woodchuck could chuck wood

I like this planer just fine. However I must admit that this is the only one I have ever used. I had a friend who had a maple tree fall in his yard. We went our and ripped about 40, 12" x 30" x 3" blocks with our chain saws. (without a ripping chain). The blocks were in terrible shape. I have run these through this planner and now have 40 pieces of 1" x12"x30 beautiful marbled maple. I had to run each piece through about 20- 25 times to get all the chain saw marks out. So I would guess that is about 2500 board feet of nasty rock hard maple. NO PROBLEM. This thing is like a ginsui knife, I took one of the pieces and ran it through to see how fine I could finish it, a buddy of mine needed a custom size cutting board for his kitchen cabinet. I hardly need to sand it when I was done. The one problem I had was when I bought it the screw that holds the handle on was not long enough and I stripped the hole, but it stays on with gravity just fine. I Also would like two speeds, as with most of my reviews this is my fault for not spending the money.


Great Litte Machine!

You will be hard pressed to find a planer that will do a better job than this DW733. Set up was a snap, maybe an hour to remove from the box and double check all adjustments. If you do the basics - keep knives sharp, in and out tables adjusted properly and provide support for long pieces - this machine will give you great results. Snipe is minimal to non-existant. The dust hood & my 650cfm dust collector eliminates 95% of all chips.


Excellent Product

I bought this planer 10 months ago and just got around to using it. I am impressed! Set up was easy right out of the box. The planer makes super smooth cuts with no snipe. Dewalt has upgraded to a 3 knife model, but it is hard to see how they could improve on this one. The dust hood does a good job with my shop vac attached with very few chips ending up on the table.
The only negative I have found so far is the carrying handles. If you don't carry it level the planer can shift on the telescopic handles and pinch your hand.



Compared to other portable planers I have used in the past, this one seems to be the most solidly built. I have owned this tool for well over 5 years now and I can honestly say that it was put through its pace and then some. There are nonetheless a few problems with it, one of them being clogging and that happens generally with green woods and wider boards; something that can be remedeed with a dust collection system. My main issue with this machine is with the feed rollers that seize and can create havoc. Hard to reach bushings with no grease fittings just ask for trouble. The chain and sproket assembly also gets filled with shavings and need to be cleaned regularly (Another hard to reach place). On the older models like mine, the scale is practically impossible to read, but on the other hand, the old foldable crank handle is much better than the new one that always sticks out and ends up broken. Providing this tool is used for what it is intended to, it is a crisp planer that yields excellent results. The column lock is good at preventing sniping (but watch for your knuckles with thicker stock, that lever can bite!) In my opinion, a few minor refinements and a major bearing job on the rollers would turn this planer into a serious tool. Also, I much prefer the resharpenable knifes over the new disposable ones in the new model, even if it's only two instead of three.

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Makita 1050DWA 12-Volt Cordless Planer

Makita 1050DWA 12-Volt Cordless Planer


* 12 volt
* 2 inch capacity
* Includes battery, and plastic case

From the Manufacturer
The powerful 12-volt battery on this cordless planer will plane up to 140 feet at a depth of 1/64 inch from a single charge. The two-blade cutting head makes 18,000 cuts per minute for fast and smooth planing. In addition, it has an electric brake to stop the blades quickly. There is a v-groove on the base for easy chamfer cutting. The lock-off button is conveniently located for operation both left- and right-handed. Includes the battery and charger, a planer blade, a hex wrench, a guide rule, a guide holder, a battery cover, a dust bag assembly, and a plastic tool case.

Customer Reviews:

How sweet it is

I am sorry I didn't buy this tool sooner. It does a beautiful job. I have the big Dewalt power plane with a 7+ Amp motor. It has a lot of power for hogging out material but the chute doesn't keep up. It clogs pretty easily . Then there's the cord. Have you ever been in the middle of a crucial cut and the stinking cord hangs up on you creating a nice divot or burn mark on your piece. That problem is a thing of the past now. I hesitated to buy this little planer , thinking it wouldn't have enough power to be useful. Boy was I wrong. It totally surprized me how nicely it glides through the material . It is so light and easy to control .You never have to check the cord or grit your teeth and hope it's long enough. It won't clog up like the big Dewalt does. The fence is well made and makes accurate cuts easier. The reversible carbide blades are great. There is a chamfer groove built into the front shoe like on others'.It Does anything any other power plane will do. It's just better because it's cordless. The battery lasts quite a long time. If mine walked off the job tomorrow , I would be ordering a new one the same day.

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Freud FE82 3-1/4

Freud FE82 3-1/4" Portable Planer


* 6 amp motor
* 3-1/4 inch wide, 3/32 inch depth of cut
* Calibrated depth control
* Light weight only 5.4 lbs

From the Manufacturer
This heavy duty 6 amp portable planer can handle beveling, chamfering, rabbeting and surface planing with ease. The powerful planer cuts a full 3-1/4 in. wide area with a 3/32 in. maximum cut depth. Calibrated depth controls allow for precision depth cutting. Designed to meet the needs of the professional at the job site as well as the fine woodworker. A blade wrench, rabbeting depth stop, dust collection nozzle and fence are all included.

Customer Reviews:

plenty of power

I bought this planer about 3 months ago. I have been using it to flatten pine logs after ripping them with a chain saw, even set at full depth it doesn't bog down.Good value.

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