What is the Best Planer for Beginners? Affordable for Woodworkers (2023)

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Making the material smooth and flat is crucial in completing a project, and that’s where wood planers shine the most. However, as useful as they can be, these tools aren’t cheap. One wrong purchase, and you’ll end up with ones not suited for your skill level. 

So, I’ve put a variety of these bad boys to help you steer clear of subpar choices. Stick with me, and I’ll guide you through the best planers for beginners to ease your experience.

Premium Option
Makita 2012NB
Editor’s Choice
DEWALT DW735X
Budget Option
PORTER-CABLE PC60THP
Makita 2012NB
DEWALT DW735X
PORTER-CABLE PC60THP
• Low Noise: 83dB
• Power: 15 Amp
• Interna-Lok Auto Head Clamp
• Knives: Two
• Speed Range: 8500 RPM
• Motor Engine: 15 Amp
• Speed Range: 20000 RPM
• Three-knife Cutter Head
• Auto Carriage Lock
• Cast Aluminum Base
• Electric Motor: 6 Amp
• Max Speed: 16500 RPM
• Positive Stops: 10
• Dust Extraction System
• Cut Depth: 5/64-inch
Premium Option
Makita 2012NB
Makita 2012NB
• Low Noise: 83dB
• Power: 15 Amp
• Interna-Lok Auto Head Clamp
• Knives: Two
• Speed Range: 8500 RPM
Editor’s Choice
DEWALT DW735X
DEWALT DW735X
• Motor Engine: 15 Amp
• Speed Range: 20000 RPM
• Three-knife Cutter Head
• Auto Carriage Lock
• Cast Aluminum Base
Budget Option
PORTER-CABLE PC60THP
PORTER-CABLE PC60THP
• Electric Motor: 6 Amp
• Max Speed: 16500 RPM
• Positive Stops: 10
• Dust Extraction System
• Cut Depth: 5/64-inch

Reviews of the Top Planers for Beginners

1. DEWALT DW735X

One feature that sets DEWALT DW735X apart from others is its motor speed, which operates up to 20000 RPM. It also runs with 15-amp of power, and in my experience, it gets the job done faster than other models. 

This wood planer also has a 2-speed gearbox, allowing you to choose between slow and fast operations. As a beginner, you’ll find this feature extra handy when you’re handling material you’re unfamiliar with. 

And here’s another thing that made my life easier: the three-knife cutter head. If you’re like me and not a fan of constantly stopping to sharpen or replace blades, you’ll appreciate this feature.

(You might want to check this guide on how to sharpen your plane iron to get the most out of your tool)

What I Like

What I Don't Like

2. Makita 2012NB

I get it, budget is a big concern when you’re just starting out in woodworking. But like it or not, the best planer for beginners won’t always be affordable. That said, the Makita 2012NB has some features that I personally think make it worth the investment. First off, its cutting capacity is a solid 12 inches wide, and it runs at a brisk 8500 RPM, thanks to a 15-amp motor. I mean, that’s no slouch.

If the unit’s blade gets dull, you won’t have difficulty replacing it as it’s completely interchangeable. This feature is crucial, especially if you’re a newbie unfamiliar with this power tool. 

If you’re concerned about snipe, this Makita planer has an Interna-Lok auto-clamping mechanism that’s designed to keep that in check. And finally, it’s quieter than other models I’ve tried.

What I Like

What I Don't Like

3. PORTER-CABLE PC60THP

While I understand that not everyone wants to break the bank when getting started with woodworking, you don’t need to buy substandard tools to stay on budget. Here’s where the PORTER-CABLE PC60THP comes in. It might not be the most powerful machine, but its 6-amp motor is more than enough to tackle heavy-duty jobs. 

If you ask me, the unit’s dust port is one of the features that makes it very handy. As you know, using power tools produces sawdust [1], so having this feature keeps your workshop clean and safe. 

The high-caliber precision is also a plus in my books. The adjustment knobs offer ten positive steps, which can be a godsend when you’re aiming for that perfect finish.

What I Like

What I Don't Like

4. WEN PL1252

When I first got my hands on the WEN PL1252, I wasn’t sure what to expect given its mid-range price. But I must say, I was impressed. The max depth capacity of 6 inches allowed me to cut smoothly and evenly, every single time.

The 15-amp motor is no slouch either. This thing runs up to 18,000 RPM without breaking a sweat. Thanks to this, getting the job done can be faster than you’d think. 

You can expect this unit to deliver a material feeding rate of 20,000 cuts per minute with the power it can generate.

What I Like

What I Don't Like

5. CRAFTSMAN CMEW320

The versatility of CRAFTSMAN CMEW320 makes it one of the most suitable planers for woodworking beginners. Thanks to its powerful 15-amp engine, removing materials made of hardwood and softwood comes easy. 

It can achieve 16000 cuts per minute, depending on the material’s thickness. Nevertheless, its Poly-V Cutterhead ensures that the material removal operates at maximum capacity. 

Now, let’s talk durability. This machine is built with high-carbon steel, so it’s not just for light-duty jobs; it’s made to withstand some serious work over the long haul. Its cutting life is further extended with its reversible blades and a double-edged design. 

What I Like

What I Don't Like

6. DEWALT DW680K

When it comes to power, DEWALT DW680K’s 7-amp motor surely delivers an excellent performance. You don’t need to pass over the material multiple times because the unit has a depth capacity of 3/32 inches. 

Another feature I found incredibly useful was the reversible blade, allowing you to work in both forward and backward directions. And for those looking for that extra touch of precision, you’ll appreciate the adjustment knobs for blade depth changes.

Unlike other wood planers, this model has a lighter weight. I was able to carry it around the workshop and transport it from one place to another with relative ease. Considering the whole package, it’s definitely one of the best planers for beginners in my book.

See Also: Dewalt DCP580B 20V Max Brushless Planer Review

What I Like

What I Don't Like

7. Makita KP0800K

Let’s talk about the Makita KP0800K. Let me tell you, it’s the strong, silent type of wood planer you want in your workshop. This unit purrs quietly but don’t mistake that for a lack of power. With its 6.5-amp motor running up to 17,000 RPM, it’s no slouch.

This powerful operation includes two blade cutters that deliver a smooth wood finish and swift material removal. It can plane the wood around 3-¼-inch wide and 3/32-inch deep. 

And given that it has a no-hassle blade setting system, beginners won’t struggle with the component installation regardless of their unfamiliarity with the tool. 

What I Like

What I Don't Like

Different Types of Planers: Which is Good for Beginners?

Electric

Benchtop

True to its name, benchtop thickness planers are machines with compact construction suited to be used on a workbench with the proper height. Some models you’ll find in the market are small, but there are some planers meant for heavy-duty construction. 

Some of the quality hand-electric planers are more affordable than standalone units. However, not all of them can withstand hard-figured wood pieces. 

Automatic Hand-Held

Another budget-friendly option you can consider is automatic hand-held models. These electric planers work well if you want to plane doors. It’s designed to remove material in small amounts, making it ideal for shaving material edges. 

Stationary

These electric planers are more common in commercial and professional woodworking shops. It’s not as affordable as the previous types I’ve discussed, and it’s meant to work on demanding projects. 

Molding

Similar to its name, it’s a planer designed for molding. I suggest using this machine for cutting materials into specific thickness specifications. 

It works by feeding the board through one side of the unit and letting the guide wheels bring it under the cylinder, where the blade will cut it. 

Manual

Hand and Two-Hand

When using these planers, you must have enough muscle power. It includes one or two handles where you can grip firmly and push the tool’s blade over the wood’s surface with manual force. I’ve used these for more intricate tasks and found them effective, but they do require a fair amount of muscle power.

Flat Plan Bottom Edge

These planers are operated with a single hand, so it’s not the best tool to use when dealing with hard materials. It’s the cheapest wood planer in the market and works sufficiently well for shaping boards. 

Combination Rasp

At first glance, this tool may look like a cheese grater. Other than wood, it can shape materials like fiberglass and soft aluminum. 

Which is the Best Option for Beginners?

When it comes to beginners, I often recommend benchtop planers because of their compact size and adequate power. These tools are not too massive to overwhelm newbies, but they include blades with wider and deeper cuts that suit a wide range of woodworking projects

Uses of a Planer

Leveling

If you’re handling an uneven material, using a wood planer to level its thickness is the best method to consider. Remember that not all wood planers can reach the same level of thickness in one pass. 

Smoothing

If your wood planers have helical cutter heads, they can smoothen the surface of your board without hassle.

By utilizing its sharp blades and adjustable depth settings, you can effectively removes imperfections, such as bumps, rough spots, and unevenness, from the surface of the wood.

It’s a real help in preventing tear-out, especially when you’re dealing with thicker, harder woods.

Chamfering

These tools can also cut bevel cuts on the material’s edge, commonly referred to as chamfering. It’s an intricate cut considering that it’s executed at the workpiece’s edge, but it’s possible as long as you have a planer with the right specification. 

Planers for Beginners Buyer’s Guide

Speed

Like any power tool, how much motor power your wood planer can produce affects how fast it can execute material removal. From my experience, models that pack more speed and power save you time and are particularly handy when you’re working on hard, thick wood pieces.

Sanding Cylinder

Sanding cylinders are often attached to the tool’s infeed features, so you must get ones with smooth rollers. If not, chances are the boards will come out rough with different thicknesses. 

Chip Direction

Here’s a tip: always feed the smooth face of your material first. This will help prevent any tear-outs. I’ve seen some models that include a chip breaker, which essentially breaks the wood into tiny pieces instead of long slivers. This feature helps to prevent the wood from tearing and can be a real lifesaver.

Dust Collection System

I’ve tested a fair amount of wood planers, and most of them these days come with a built-in dust port.

Through this, you can keep your workshop clean and safe during the task without the risk of it looking like a sandbox in every other operation. 

Blades

These tools come with two blade styles; straight and spiral. Knives with straight designs can cut off thin wood layers. Most of these accommodate two to three blades, depending on the smoothness level you want to achieve. 

Meanwhile, spiral blades execute cuts more consistently as they’re made of multiple small cutting knives. These are the blade types you’ll encounter on commercial-grade units.

Grip

If you’re buying a hand-held planer, it’s crucial to check if it has a comfortable grip. Some woodworking jobs take longer than you’d expect, and believe me, uncomfortable handles make the job that much more difficult.

Depth Scale

Modern benchtop planers all have built-in gauges. These features allow you to easily determine how thick of a stock you should remove from the material to level its surface. 

Some units also include a depth stop. It could get handy because it halts the operation once the tool exceeds its maximum cutting depth. 

Fences

Having a tool with a fence is especially important for inexperienced woodworkers. It’s a feature that guides and secures the workpiece during the operation.

Tips for Maintaining a Wood Planer

If you want your wood planer to last a long time, be it a jack plane or smoothing plane, I suggest storing it in a secure place where it’s not at risk of damage. It would be best to sharpen the plane iron blades regularly for maximum efficiency and to avoid unnecessary bending. 

Don’t forget to lubricate the components of your electric planer to avoid heat production and reduce friction.

Safety Precautions to Know While Planing Wood

My Top Pick For a Beginner Planer: DEWALT DW735X

In my quest to find the best planers for beginners, I’ve got to give the crown to the DEWALT DW735X.

I’ve had my hands on this tool and it’s beginner-friendly in terms of maintenance and features. It also has a great speed range and durable construction suitable for handling different materials in various projects. 

Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You've probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.
Robert Johnson

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