The Ultimate Wood Planer Buying Guide: What to Consider Before Making a Purchase

by:V-hold Machinery      2023-11-05

The Ultimate Wood Planer Buying Guide: What to Consider Before Making a Purchase


Woodworking is a fulfilling hobby that allows you to create beautiful and functional pieces from raw materials. To achieve precision and smoothness in your woodworking projects, investing in a wood planer is crucial. A wood planer is a versatile tool used to smooth and level wooden boards, giving them a polished and professional appearance. However, with various models available in the market, choosing the right wood planer can be overwhelming. In this comprehensive buying guide, we will explore the key factors you need to consider before making a purchase.

1. Type of Planer: Benchtop or Handheld?

When purchasing a wood planer, the first decision you need to make is whether you require a benchtop or handheld unit. Benchtop planers are larger, more powerful, and suitable for heavy-duty woodworking tasks. They are designed to be placed on a workbench and can handle larger stock sizes. On the other hand, handheld planers are smaller, lighter, and offer greater portability. They are ideal for smaller woodworking projects or when working on a job site. Consider the scale of your projects and the level of portability you need before deciding which type of planer will work best for you.

2. Power and Motor Capability

The power of a wood planer is determined by its motor capability. Higher power ensures smooth and efficient planing, especially when working with hardwoods or thick stock. Motors are rated in amps, and a higher amp rating indicates a more powerful planer. A planer with a minimum of 15 amps should be considered for adequate performance. Additionally, verify if the planer has a variable speed setting, as this allows you to adjust the cutting speed according to the wood species and the desired finish.

3. Cutting Width and Depth Capacity

The cutting width and depth capacity of a wood planer determine the size of wood it can handle. The cutting width refers to the maximum width of the board that can be planed in a single pass. Common cutting widths range from 12 to 20 inches, and the appropriate size depends on the average width of your woodworking stock. Additionally, consider the planer's depth capacity, which indicates the maximum thickness of wood that can be removed in a single pass. The higher the depth capacity, the more wood the planer can remove, cutting down on the number of passes required for thicker stock.

4. Cutterhead Design: Straight Knives or Helical?

The cutterhead design significantly impacts the quality of the planing finish and the ease of maintenance. The two common types of cutterheads are straight knives and helical (spiral) cutterheads. Straight knives consist of two or three blades set in a row, and they are suitable for general planing tasks. They are relatively easy to sharpen but require more frequent maintenance. Helical cutterheads, on the other hand, have multiple small carbide inserts arranged in a helical pattern. This design provides quieter operation, reduces tear-out, and requires less frequent sharpening or replacement. However, helical cutterheads are generally more expensive.

5. Dust Collection System

Wood planing generates a significant amount of wood chips and dust, making a reliable dust collection system crucial. Look for a planer that features an efficient dust collection port or integrated system. This will help keep your workspace clean, reduce airborne particles, and improve visibility during planing. Some planers allow you to connect a shop vacuum or dust collector directly to the machine, while others have built-in dust collection bags or chambers. Ensure the planer you choose has a dust collection system that suits your needs and allows easy disposal of the shavings.

6. Portability and Stability

Consider the portability and stability of the wood planer, especially if you may need to move it between job sites or workshops. Benchtop planers should have sturdy and adjustable stands or tables that provide stability during operation. Look for models with folding or detachable tables for easier storage and transportation. Handheld planers should be lightweight and have a comfortable grip for ease of use. Additionally, consider if the planer has integrated handles or cases for convenient transportation.

7. Safety Features

Woodworking involves sharp tools and potentially hazardous situations, so safety is paramount. Ensure the planer you choose has essential safety features, such as a blade guard that covers the cutting area when the planer is not in use. This prevents accidental contact with the blades. Also, look for a planer with an emergency stop button or switch that can quickly shut off the motor in case of any issues. Some models also feature a lock-off switch to prevent accidental start-ups. Prioritize your safety by thoroughly checking the safety features of any wood planer you are considering.


Purchasing a wood planer is a significant investment for any woodworking enthusiast or professional. By considering the type of planer, power and motor capability, cutting width and depth capacity, cutterhead design, dust collection system, portability and stability, and safety features, you will be well-equipped to make an informed decision. Remember to thoroughly research and read customer reviews before finalizing your purchase. With the right wood planer, you can elevate your woodworking projects to the next level and achieve impeccable craftsmanship.

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