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. 

Fortunately, our woodworking pros tested 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, so we don’t doubt it can get the job done faster than other models. 

This wood planer also has a 2-speed gearbox, allowing users 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. 

You don’t need to worry about frequent sharpening or replacements because the unit features a three-knife cutter head. 

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

What We Like

What We Don't Like

2. Makita 2012NB

Like it or not, the best planer for beginners won’t always be affordable. However, Makita 2012NB justifies its costly price tag with its cutting capacity of 12-inch wide. It can operate as fast as 8500 RPM because it carries a 15-amp motor system. 

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. 

Its Interna-Lok auto-clamping mechanism prevents the planer from sniping. On top of that, it has a lower noise level than other planer tools in the market. 

What We Like

What We Don't Like

3. PORTER-CABLE PC60THP

You don’t need to buy substandard tools to stay on budget because you can get an affordable and reliable planer through PORTER-CABLE PC60THP. 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 our testers, 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 will keep your workshop clean and safe. 

It also offers high-caliber precision, given that you can rely on its adjustment knobs with ten positive steps. 

What We Like

What We Don't Like

4. WEN PL1252

We don’t doubt that WEN PL1252 will suit the needs of a woodworking beginner not only because of its mid-range price but also because it has a max depth capacity of 6 inches. During our first-hand experience with the tool, this feature allowed us to cut smoothly and evenly. 

It also features a 15-amp motor system, which explains why it can run up to 18000 RPM without issues. Thanks to this, getting the job done can be faster than you’d think. 

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

What We Like

What We 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. 

We’re also confident about this wood planer withstanding harsh conditions and heavy-duty operations in the long run because it’s made of high-carbon steel. Its cutting life is further extended with its reversible blades and a double-edged design. 

What We Like

What We Don't Like

6. DEWALT DW680K

When it comes to power, DEWALT DW680K’s 7-amp motor will surely deliver the performance you’d expect in the best planers for beginners. You don’t need to pass over the material multiple times because the unit has a depth capacity of 3/32 inches. 

We could work in forward and backward directions because its blade is reversible. The cut offers more precision since its adjustment knobs allow blade depth changes. 

Unlike other wood planers, this model has a lighter weight. It means you can carry it around the workshop and transport it from one place to another without worrying about its heavy mass. 

What We Like

What We Don't Like

7. Makita KP0800K

Quiet operation is where Makita KP0800K shines more than other wood planers. Despite that, it doesn’t mean that the unit isn’t powerful enough. In fact, it carries a 6.5 amp motor that runs up to 17000 RPM. 

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 We Like

What We 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 we discussed, and it’s meant to work on demanding projects. 

Molding

Similar to its name, it’s a planer designed for molding. We 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. 

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?

Benchtop planers are great for beginners, given 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. Doing this can help you avoid unnecessary tear-out, even when handling thick and hard pieces of wood.

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. Models with higher speed and power are also more convenient when you need to plane harder and thicker 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

Remember to feed the material’s smooth face first to prevent tear-outs. Some models include a chip breaker to press the surface into tiny bits instead of extensive slivers to prevent tearing. 

Dust Collection System

If you read our review, you’ll notice that most wood planers already offer a dust port feature. 

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. You may not know, but some woodworking jobs take longer than you’d expect. Uncomfortable handles could reduce your productivity and cause hand fatigue. 

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, we 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

Our Top Pick For a Beginner Planer: DEWALT DW735X

After testing the best planers for beginners, our resident woodworkers hailed DEWALT DW735X as our top pick among these products. 

Our first-hand experience proved that this tool has beginner-friendly 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 woodworker who takes joy in sharing his passion for creating to the rest of the world. His brainchild, Sawinery, allowed him to do so as well as connect with other craftsmen. He has since built an enviable workshop for himself and an equally impressive online accomplishment: an extensive resource site serving old timers and novices alike.
Robert Johnson
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