Tool Test: Benchtop Planers
For small shops, these machines offer good value and performance
Synopsis: Nine benchtop thickness planers were given a hands-on test to evaluate their accuracy and smoothness of cutting. Lon Schleining also tested them for ease in changing knives and other adjustments, effectiveness of dust collection, and price. The results are filled with in-depth, specific details to help you pick the planer that will work best for you.
When benchtop thickness planers were introduced in the early 1980s, many woodworkers viewed them with suspicion, certain that such a compact, portable, low-cost machine offered little more than a collection of assembled parts destined for early retirement. Over the years, however, these lightweights have more than managed to prove their value.
Granted, portable thickness planers aren’t industrial-strength cast-iron machines. They’re not intended to run all day or hog off 1 ⁄4 in. of stock in a single pass. But for occasional use, as in a home shop or even a small commercial shop,…