A hand planer has always been a highly effective tool used to shape, straighten or smoothen wood surfaces for industrial or DIY purposes. This is one of the most indispensable tools in a carpenter’s toolbox. Despite the invasion of similar power tools like jointers, routers, and sanders in the woodworking industry, a hand planer, either manual or electric, has always been a delight to many.
You will be amazed at how easily you can peel off a piece of wood or shave off the edges of a sticking door with a hand planer. This unique tool can also be used without a power source and is safer when straightening some twisted or warped piece of wood than using a power tool. These are some of the reasons why you will always find it in my workshop.
There are many brands manufacturing this type of power tool and choosing one that suits your needs could be confusing as a result. This review is packed with useful information that you must know before buying the best hand planer. We painstakingly conducted our research in ranking the top 10 best value models on the market.
Why you should trust us
In case you were wondering about the Drillly team, we're a cluster of craftsmen, metal, and woodworkers with decade-long experience with different woodworking tools. Our first-hand experience with the tools that we work with gives us a valuable understanding of their ergonomics, performance, and reliability. The team members' shared interest and passion brought them together from all over the US to launch this website where we share our research-backed reviews on top-of-the-line wood and metalworking tools.
You will find a number of how-to blogs and power tool reviews on our website as well that will hopefully give you crucial pieces of information on different types of power tools used in the industry. Before we start reviewing a tool, we maintain a strict protocol of collecting the most authentic data on it. We carry out field-testing for each of our selected product models. We also consult with industry experts for the reevaluation of our results.
Nonetheless, we don't have any affiliation with any particular brand or manufacturer. Our objective is to attain the trust of our readers and we present fact-based reviews in a bid to prepare them for making an informed buying decision.
How did we pick these products?
The Drillly team maintains a strict protocol for attaining fact-based research result. Initially, we spent online around 30 hours searching for the most popular units of that time and we listed down 25 top-rated high-end hand planes based on their ratings, features, design, and reliability of the manufacturing companies. After the initial sorting process, our team members and a group of community-based volunteers started field-testing the tools for attaining first-hand experience with them. We applied the tools on different woods with various sizes and shapes. It took around 15 days of rigorous testing to shortlist 10 units.
After that, we reached out to some of the leading industry experts for their insights into our top list. We were further assured by their nods on our choices. Our repeated revision of our final list certified it to be flawless from our end.
From our research, we found that each tool has it's distinctive specialty when it comes to application. We believe our readers will find this research-backed buying guide useful when choosing the right planer model for themselves.
Our top 10 Best Hand Planer
So, what are the best hand planes? Let's figure that out. If you already know the type of wood you’ll be using and how much output you want from your tool, I hope this buyer's guide will help you choose the ideal model from our top 10 list.
What are hand-held planers used for?
A hand planer or wood shaver is used to create wood slabs or sometimes wide boards of equal thickness by flattening their surfaces. They are equipped with a knob that allows you to control the thickness of the cut.
In addition, the wood shaver can be used to create parallel faces on two wooden boards. It will be easier to use this tool if you know the working principles of a planer. As I had said earlier, you can use it to smoothen the surface of your door to prevent it from jamming or sticking with the frame.
Recycling an old but good quality wood can help you save some bucks. All you can do is to flatten the wood to expose a fresh surface. Also, with the help of a wood planing tool, you can easily process rough woods to obtain the right size or thickness for your boards.
These hand held mini tools are light, easy to use and easy to maintain. You shouldn’t be a professional woodworker before buying one. However, I will be discussing the various factors you should consider before buying any of these products.
Hand Planers - A Comprehensive Buying Guide
Buying a good hand planer for the money can be difficult if you don’t have any experience with these products. However, the following factors should come to your mind before choosing your most preferred model.
The type of wood and your rate of production should determine the type of planer to buy. If you have more projects to cover in a short time, you should prefer a thickness planer to a benchtop planer because of its higher rate of production.
In terms of energy supply, there are two major types: Electric and Manual. Electric ones are more efficient and less time consuming than their manual counterpart. Big brands like WEN and Makita manufacture some of the best electric hand planers out there.
However, manual ones are often locally produced. You'll find some overseas companies like Kakuri manufacturing manual models. US-based brand Caliastro manufactures some good quality number 4 manual models. There spokeshave design is a bit different but they fall in the manual category.
The higher the power rating of the machine the better. Motors with high power ratings can deliver more cuts in record time than those with lesser ratings.
3. Performance & precision
High-end models on the market offer good performance and accurate cuts that enhance the quality of your finishing. A good machine can create the cuts exactly as you desire.
4. Feed speed
This is the speed at which the blades of the machine passes through the board. The feed speed is higher in thickness planers than their portable counterparts.
5. Cuts per inch
This is another important factor to consider as it determines the quantity or thickness of wood that is cut within one inch. The finishing of the work depends on the planer’s cuts per inch rating. Also, your likelihood to make finishing touches on the workpiece will reduce if you’re using a model with a good cuts per inch rating.
6. Planing height, width, & depth
These three features determine the dimensions of the wood piece that the planer can handle. The maximum thickness and width of a board that can be accommodated by the machine are determined by its planing height and width rating. Also, the maximum cut in a single pass is determined by the machine’s planing depth.
Ergonomics refers to the design language of a tool that increases its durability, ease of use, maintenance and safety. An ergonomic design ensures a better working experience as ergonomics is all about engineering on the design of a tool that aims to improve work-experience.
You will have more confidence in buying a product with a warranty because of the protection that it offers if it is defective. You should consider buying one that has a minimum of 3-years warranty.
The quality and durability of the machine are determined by the material it is made from. Mostly, the material used in its construction determines the cost of the product. You should choose a model that is made from high-quality materials; of course, it does influence its durability and performance.
10. Other features
These are features that are included in the design and construction of these machines to enhance its performance and usability. They are usually found in the product descriptions. You should consider buying models with these extra features and choose the right type of hand planers for your project.
Consider a good price to quality ratio. You should understand that the price tag on a product may or may not be determined by its quality. There are some budget-friendly hand planers that come with high-quality features. Usually, the prices of these tools range from $30 to $200.
Care & maintenance tips
A good planer can always work at maximum capacity if it is given the required care and maintenance at the right time. This will help to reduce its inefficiency that may result from friction or aging. One of the major reasons you should maintain your hand planer is to increase its lifespan. Usually, setting up this machine is not that difficult. The user manual guide should be followed strictly.
Just like other industrial tools available, a hand planer requires adequate and regular maintenance. However, the procedure for the maintenance may vary in accordance with the type of machine you’re using. The following tips will be helpful in your daily care and maintenance routine.
Your hand planer should be stored in a good and secure place. If it is wrongly stored, it exposes the machine to damages while you could as be at risk of accident or injury. The proper storage of the machine is very essential for your personal safety and its durability as well.
Rusting will limit the performance of the machine and consequently, may ground it permanently. One of the leading causes of rusting is poor storage. In addition to storing the machine properly, you should scrape off the rust and apply some penetrative oil on it immediately. This will mitigate its spread and helps to renew the rusted portions.
The moving parts of an electric hand planer should be oiled periodically to reduce friction which may inhibit the performance of the machine. In addition, friction can cause overheating and the energy which would have been spent on the workpiece would be wasted on overcoming friction.
Sharpening the blades
The blades of the wood planer should be adequately sharpened regularly to obtain a smooth and accurate surface. Also, you should maintain the correct orientation of the cutting blades always. This is even more applicable to a manual hand planer.
There are parts of this machine that must be replaced periodically. For example, moving parts and blades. Only the manufacturer’s recommended parts should be used for their replacements. Also, the repairs must only be handled by certified personnel.
Bolts and Nut
The moving parts of the machine are held tight by the bolts and nuts. You should do the periodical adjusting using the wrench and screwdrivers to ensure that there is no loose part that may bring some damage to the machine.
Safety tips & tricks
- Always wear safety glasses that are equipped with side shields
- All persons working around the machine should be provided with hearing protection
- The thickness, length, and width of the wood should be carefully examined before starting the planing operation
- Clean off any dirt or foreign object especially metals that are on the workpiece to protect the machine from harm
- Examine the dust collection mechanism to see if it’s working before commencing with the planing
- Stand on a convenient side while using a planing kit
- Don’t focus your eyes on the planer while the operation is on
- Stop or lock the machine before making any adjustment or removing any woodchip from the blades
- Don’t plane woods that are less than 10mm thick to prevent it from damaging
- There should adequate allowance between the board and the outfeed end
- The boards should not be too wide to prevent it from catching on the feed which may result in overheating
Having read our top hand planer reviews, you should have the confidence in finding the right one. You will know the difference if you pick the right tool. We are confident that our detailed review and ratings will help you choose for yourself. You should also keep a good quality benchtop planer in your collection as a complementary tool while working on bigger projects.
Our top recommended model is the DEWALT DCP580B which features a brushless motor powered by a 20V battery, running at a no-load speed of 15000RPM. This bad boy is sturdy and durable enough to accompany you through all hand planing needs, yet, coming at a very affordable price.
Second on the list comes the WEN 6530 which has an amazing power to weight ratio. Despite falling on low-price category, it can make 32000 cuts per minute on woods of maximum width of 3 ¼ inches. Its features and specifications offer a much higher value than its market price.
The Drillly team worked hard preparing this well-researched review of the best hand planers currently on the market. These models will be ideal for any project that you will be embarking upon.