Thickness Planer: How To Choose?

With numerous portable thickness planers on the market, it can be daunting to choose the best one for your needs and budget. This is especially the case for those buying such equipment for the first time. Do not, as happens with many first-time buyers, assume that thickness planers from the most popular power tool brands or the ones with the highest prices are the best.

To help you make a good choice, this is a detailed guide on how to how to choose a planer that is great value for your money.

 What Makes an Ideal Thickness Planer?

Thickness Planer working

Admittedly, every woodworker has a special list of features they consider as important to have in a planer. However, there are some universal, cross-cutting factors you should have in mind when evaluating the real worth of a prospective thickness planer for your workshop.

 Here are the top three in that regard:

  • The motor
  • Quality of construction
  • Thickness allowance

Also you can view: comparison table of the top-rated thickness planers

We will take a look at each of these in detail:

The Motor

The most important feature of a planer is its motor. Generally speaking, the more powerful the motor, the better the planer is. The most telling indicator of the power of an electric motor is the speed in RPM (revolutions per minute).

If you want a thickness planer that is sturdy enough to plane softwoods like pine as well as hardwoods like oak with equal ease, the motor speed of 8,000 rpm should be your minimum consideration. But the power rating is not the only important consideration for a motor. The type of electric motor matters as well.

We have two types of electric motors for powering thickness planers: induction motors and universal motors. Induction motors are much heavier, sturdier and more durable than universal motors. Owing to their weight and power needs, however, induction electric motors are rarely fitted on portable thickness planers. However, if you find one within your set budget, consider the feature an added plus.

Quality of Construction

Planer Construction

Even if the term portable thickness planer seems to imply a lightweight piece of equipment, that shouldn’t be taken to mean the ideal planer should be delicate in its construction. Look for a planer that has been designed to withstand rigorous usage. In the course of use, the device should be sturdy enough to perform even with a lot of shaking and vibration.

The best thickness planers are made from durable metals such as cast iron. Always remember to check out any prospective device to ensure that it has no tell-tale points of weakness around the frame as well as on functional elements such as gauges, the blade or handle.

 Thickness Allowance

The thickness allowance of a thickness planer refers to the largest width of rough wood that the planer can take. A good portable thickness planer should have a thickness allowance of at least six inches. In addition, top-rated thickness planers come with “depth stops” which allow you to easily adjust the planer to accommodate the most common thicknesses of wood pieces for your projects.

With such a planer, you do not have carefully measure out the piece of wood as if it were a custom cut but can effortlessly adjust the device to your exact requirement. While it is impossible to offer a set of considerations that satisfy every requirement of every person looking to buy a portable thickness planer, the three factors outlined above are of such a universal importance that they apply across the board.

Whether you are a rank beginner or a dyed-in-the-wool woodworker, you are certain to find the recommended factors applicable as you scout for a planer that is ideal for your needs. But if you feel we left out something important or got a detail wrong, feel free to post a comment about it below.

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