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Top 4 Best Hand Planers of 2018

Best hand planer reviews 2018

Best-in-class
Makita 1806B

Makita 1806B 10.9 Amp Hand Planer

Engineered for planing accuracy

A heavy-duty tool designed to bring performance to your hands. Sharp dual blades and minimal vibration deliver consistent results on every occasion.

Makita 1806B Review

The Makita 1806B is an electric hand planer constructed for the professional carpenter in search of precision. It comes equipped with razor-sharp dual blades that provide planing accuracy on all types of wood and features a powerful 10.9-Amp motor which spins at 15,000 RMP. A generous cutting capacity allows the tool to provide fast and flawless results on surfaces up to 6-3/4 inches wide and 1/16 inches deep. Pleasant to handle despite its heavy weight, the unit boasts an ergonomic handle with lined-up front and back grips. A lock-on button is another element designed to ensure a smooth, continuous, and comfortable operation. The Makita 1806B is definitely not the cheapest but is the best electric hand planer for those in need of a resilient tool capable to handle heavy-duty tasks and demanding DIY projects with ease.

Best value
Bosch PL2632K

Bosch PL2632K 3-1/4 Inch Planer

Versatile two-blade system

This conveniently priced hand planer is powerful enough for the pros and easy to operate by the rookies.

Bosch PL2632K Review

Appealing to woodwork specialists and skilled homeowners, the Bosch PL2632K mixes high-end features with mid-range affordability in a top-notch tool ideal to use in professional settings or at home. Like our best-in-class pick, the PL2632K comes with a dual – yet more versatile – blade system that converts for use with high-steel blades and guarantees planing precision. The unit’s fast-spinning motor reaches 16,500 RPM, ensuring a quick stock removal. You’ll also like the planing capability up to 3-1/4 inches wide and 3/32 inches deep. But the remarkable feature of this unit is its ambidextrous design. Comfort and safety come from the lock-on button for extended operation and lock-off button that prevents accidental starts. Undoubtedly, this is the best electric hand planer if you’re looking for value for money.

Also great
Makita KP0810

Makita KP0810 3-1/4-Inch Planer

Efficient ball bearing mechanism

An easy-to-use, comfortable and powerful tool. This electric hand planer is perfect for beginners.

Makita KP0810 Review

If you’re unfamiliar with using an electric hand planer, you’ll like the Makita KP0810. This unit has a balanced gravitational center and anti-skid front and rear grips which ensure comfort during operation. A nice heft of only 7.3lbs increases maneuverability and gives a great weight-to-power ratio together with the 7.5-Amp motor. Performance is delivered by the dual cutter head with double edge carbide blades while an easy-to-adjust depth scale allows for precision planing. A durable die-cast aluminum frame with ball-bearing construction also adds value to the unit. Not quite as performing as our best-value pick, this unit still comes with all features needed to bring versatility to your workshop.

Best budget
WEN 6534

WEN 6534 4-3/8-Inch Electric Hand Planer

Perfect for hobbyists

A low-cost, high-quality unit for hobbyists and beginners suitable for a wide range of projects.

WEN 6534 Review

The WEN 6534 electric hand planer brings the utmost value for money and is ideal for hobby use. Fast and efficient, the unit comes with a powerful 8-Amp motor and is characterized by an adjustable cutting depth with 16 positive stops and a range from 0 to 1/18 inches. The ejection of shavings can be directed to your liking either to the right or to the left while the convenient dust adaptor allows you to keep the workspace clean. Ideal for beginners, the unit comes equipped with a parallel fence bracket and two reversible blades, V-shaped chamfer grooves and other accessories.

2. What is a hand planer?

In a nutshell, a hand planer is a tool designed to plane wood.

Planing consists in creating a flat and smooth surface on your workpiece but depending on the specifications of the tool, you can also use the planer to cut or level chamfering edges or to incise grooves.

This workshop tool serves a multitude of professional and domestic tasks. You can use it to level irregular pieces of wood to the desired thickness, smooth or bevel edges, revive old woodwork, and more.

3. Types of hand planers

While a carpenter could talk for hours about the different types of hand planers, know that they are essentially classified into two categories, manual and electric.

4. Manual handheld planer

Is operated by your manual force. Needless to say, it is the oldest type, and it is classified in so many subcategories that it’s near impossible to put them together into an exhaustive list.

Regardless of their type, all handheld units are made of either hardwood, metal, or both.

The most common types of manual planers include:

  • Scrub planers: Relatively small units equipped with thick blades used to reduce the size of wood pieces.
  • Bench planers: Comprise smoothing, jointer, jack, and fore planers used to cut, straighten, or smoothen wood.
  • Specialized planers: Designed to cut grooves, decorative shapes, curves, and moldings.

5. Electric hand planer

The electric – or power – hand planer is a tool suitable for heavy-duty assignments and can be either corded or cordless. It can deal with all types of wood and can plane, smooth or shape surfaces that cannot be treated manually, saving you time and hassle.

In terms of style, electric hand planers are either straight or curved.

  • Straight base planers: Have a simple design and can be easily used even by inexperienced operators. They serve to plan, cut, shape, smooth, or level plan surfaces like doors and frames, furniture, but also rough wood planks and boards.
  • Curved base planers: Are specialty tools developed to shape arches or curved structures and are majorly used in the log home building and in the timber industry.

6. How does an electric hand planer work?

The electric hand planer has a simple operating principle. The machine uses blades powered by an electric motor to cut through wood. The blades, usually made of carbide, are fixed to a rotor that spins at speeds between 10,000 and 16,000 RPM.

A knob located above the planing surface allows you to adjust the cutting depth, thus helping you determine the thickness of the stock to be removed.

The cutting depth adjustment varies from unit to unit and is usually determined by the efficiency of the motor and the quality of the blades, nonetheless the thickness of the material to be planed.

7. Cordless vs. corded hand planer

Like all power tools, the electric hand planer draws its power either from a battery or from a wall socket.

1. Cordless hand planers

Are powered by a rechargeable battery and can be used in any setting, even outdoors or in areas where the access to a wall socket is restricted. Their main advantage is the portability and the last generation batteries withstand even the harshest tasks due to their extended runtime and quick recharge.

However, the battery adds extra-burden and bulk to the tool. Autonomy is affected by the battery’s runtime and in general, you’ll have to plan your tasks in advance.

The tools with removable battery come with a clear advantage, allowing you to just replace the drained battery with a fully charged one for continuous work.

2. Corded hand planers

The strongest feature of a corded hand planer is the endless power. Plug your tool into a wall socket and carry on planing for as long as you like. Bulk and burden are replaced by a cord though, which will limit your mobility.

These hand planers are typically more powerful than the cordless and are more suitable to use in carpentry workshops or worksites.

But despite the restricted mobility, many hobbyists also prefer this type of tool due to its reliability and low maintenance.

8. Electric hand planer blades

The blade is the vital element of an electric hand planer and its quality defines the outcome of your work. Hand planers use two types of blades, high-speed steel and carbide, developed to cut through softer or harder materials.

1. High-Speed Steel Blades

HSS blades are suitable for soft wood such as pine and are made of metal alloys containing either tungsten, molybdenum or a combination of the two. The multi-component system also contains iron and another metal which can be either cobalt, vanadium, or chromium.

The blend of metals determines the strength of the blade and its durability but the hardness-retaining properties of the blade are achieved through high-temperature treatment. Higher-end HSS blades are also coated with a titanium nitride solution that increases the blade’s hardness and lubricity while promoting heat dispersion.

HSS blades are economical and they can be sharpened for a few times before wearing off completely.

2. Carbide Blades

Carbide blades are usually made of tungsten carbide and are strong enough to slice through hardwood or engineered wood, such as MDF. Often called knives, these blades are long, narrow, and reversible. When one side wears off, just turn the blade on the other side for fresh cutting power.

Carbide blades are more durable than HSS but they are less suitable for precision works.

9. Which is the best hand planer blade size?

Picking the right blade size is crucial for the outcome of the project. Planing a large piece of wood with a too small blade can produce unflattering results. Likewise, working on a small piece with a too large blade is uncomfortable and cumbersome.

Most hand planers come with standard 3-1/4 inches blades. This size is perfect for most DIY and professional applications, including the planing of beams and wooden panels, door trims, window frames, and other pieces of wood with a dimension below 3.25 inches.

High-end professional units boast blades up to 6-3/4 inches suitable to plane doors, tables, furniture, and other wood structures such as large panels and struts faster and easier.

10. Useful hand planer accessories

The right accessories can turn the electric hand planer into a versatile tool that serves different purposes, either in a carpenter’s workshop or at home.

  • Beveling accessories: Consist of V-shaped groove plates the allow for a regular beveling of the plane, but the action requires a certain mastery of the tool.
  • Sanding accessories: As awkward as it may seem, a sanding drum can turn your planer into a real sanding machine.
  • Fences: Designed for precision woodwork, allow you to measure and cut perfectly square timber.

11. Other features to consider

To choose the best hand planer, also consider:

  • The length of the blades and the width of the plate, which should be a perfect fit for the task.
  • The number of blades also matters. High-end units are usually equipped with dual blades that deliver sharper and faster results.
  • An adjustable exhaust chute is preferred to a fixed system, while a debris collection bag helps keep your work area clean.
  • Consider the tool’s maneuverability Choose an ergonomic tool with a comfortable handle and rubberized grip.
  • Don’t forget about the noise level. Electric hand planers are very noisy machines and even a few decibels can make the difference between working seamlessly or getting def.
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