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Jun 16, 2023

The 8 Best Hand Planers of 2023

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Smooth and level your woodworking projects with ease using one of the best electric hand planers.

Whether you are shaving out the edges of a door or smoothing the side of a bookshelf, hand planers are vital tools to keep closeby for any woodworking project. Hand planers shape up slight imperfections, smooth rough sections, and even taper down the height or width of your woodworking project by shaving off thin layers of wood to reveal a smooth layer beneath.

Planing is similar to sanding in that it provides a smooth finish, but sanding leaves fine grains and a soft texture, while planing leaves hard edges and a slippery texture. Planers can make daunting projects simpler and more efficient, and can take a completed project from amateur to professional-looking—but you might still need to sand down those edges by hand afterwards.

Planers comes in many different sizes, with many wood planers designed as tabletop equipment or stationary machinery to be installed in a workshop. Hand planers are one of the most popular versions because of their maneuverability and versatility. You can use the device with just one hand, making it far easier to make precise adjustments for detail work. Nonetheless, most electric planers are more than capable of shaving down long stretches of wood with ease.

We found all the best hand planers to add to your toolkit so you can really call your workshop complete. Here are our picks.

Before you make your decision on which hand planer to purchase, there are several factors worth considering such as power, planer size, and whether to choose a battery-operated or corded model. Here are some of the major highlighted points to keep in mind when picking out a new hand planer.

When comparing different electric hand planers, one of the most important considerations is the power of the motor. The power scaling of electric hand planers is measured in amperage or voltage, depending on the power source. Most models score somewhere between four and seven amperes, which should provide enough power woodworking projects. High power matters most if you tend to work with hard woods and expect to be putting more strain on your device. However, if you plan on mostly working with softer woods on smaller, more manageable projects, the amp rating of your planer doesn't matter quite as much.

Another figure to pay attention to is RPM, or rotations per minute. In terms of planers, this refers to the cutter speed. You can tell how fast the planer blades move by understanding the maximum RPM capacity of the device. The RPM of the planer, alongside direct power, provides a solid indication of how quickly and efficiently the device can shave down or shape a piece of wood.

One of the biggest factors to pay attention to is the cut size and depth on your planer. The size refers to the width and capacity of the cut, which is generally standardized at 3.25 inches on handheld devices. This is wide enough to comfortably handle thick doors, tabletops, and even framing lumber. Some devices come with larger sizes, but this would only be necessary in the case of incredibly large or wide pieces of wood.

The cut depth refers to the thickness of the wood that gets shaved away with each pass of the planer. Nearly all electric hand planers have adjustable depth levels so you can make cuts based on your needs. The maximum depth of a cut on a planer is rarely necessary, but it is good information to know in the case of shaving significant amounts off of a project surface.

Like many other handheld power tools, you can choose a planer that is battery-powered so it's easier to take with you to different locations without worrying about being close to a power source. Many corded hand planers offer more power to the device and some experts say they're more consistent overall. So, if you don't plan on taking your planer out of your own shop or to locations without a direct outlet, you should consider a corded planer.

The selections made for this list include some of the most well-known and trusted names in power tools such as Bosch, Dewalt, and Milwaukee, among many others. The choices for this list were made with the help and wisdom of DIY expert and Popular Mechanics test editor Roy Berendsohn.

In addition to brand recommendations, Roy advised us to steer clear of the junk brands that may cost significantly less upfront but end up costing you more over time due to the constant need for replacements. We also consulted customer reviews to make sure you don't have any buyer's remorse. Whether you're just starting out on your first DIY woodworking project or you're looking to upgrade your bustling shop, check out our list of the best hand planers to fit your needs.

When it comes to electric planers, there are few models as well-rounded as the Bosch hand planer. With a 6.5-amp motor capable of up to 16,500 RPM, this tool is capable of smoothly and quickly shaping or shaving down any kind of wood.

The planer comes with a number of added features including an attachable wood shavings bag, a guide fence that can be mounted on either side of the device, and a carrying case for easy portability and storage.

For amateur woodworkers or weekend DIYers, this Dewalt hand planer is a great option for semi-regular use. The planer comes with reversible blades that can be sharpened, as well as a sturdy exterior construction to help improve longevity and reduce the need for any replacement parts.

The electric planer is also capable of up to 34,000 cuts per minute at a depth of 1.5 millimeters for speed and efficiency. On top of this, the lightweight design makes the device easier to maneuver and it's not as hard on your wrists and arms to operate.

When looking at lower-cost planers, many lack the long-term quality that makes them worth buying. The Wen hand planer is one of the few choices that maintains its low price tag without seriously compromising on quality.

Built with a parallel fence bracket and a six-amp motor, the planer does not skimp on fundamentals. Additionally, the planer comes with a two-year warranty to ensure you get your money's worth.

The Makita 18V LXT cordless planer is, at its simplest, an incredibly high-quality option. With a two-blade cutter head equipped with double edge carbide blades, the planer is built for high performance that's still smooth in your hands and on the wood.

Furthermore, the device is built with several additional technological features that other planers don't have, like an automatic speed changer that makes adjustments as you work, as well as a Bluetooth feature that syncs the shop-vac-like dust collector with the planer, so the collector is always on when the planer is in use.

The cordless hand planer from Milwaukee offers 20 different adjustable blade depth positions from its front knob, which gives you significant control over the cuts you make into your workpiece.

The electric hand planer is also built with a motor capable of up to 14,000 RPM, as well as bevel and edge guides to help you cut at up to a 45-degree angle with accuracy. The universal M18 battery, which is sold separately, is also compatible with all other cordless Milwaukee tools.

There are no added bells or whistles on the Craftsman hand planer, but it doesn’t need them. The electric planer provides you with all you need for most woodworking projects at an affordable price. At around seven pounds, the device is also lightweight and easily maneuverable for added control.

The planer comes with 10 adjustable depth settings and a six-amp motor for a quality mix of power and precision.

The Metabo HPT is an electric hand planer that gives you more from its cordless design. On top of the added portability and maneuverability, the planer comes with an on-device battery life display so you can keep tabs on how much life you have left before needing to recharge.

Additionally, the Metabo batteries, which are not included, are incredibly long lasting with compatible options up to eight amp-hours.

With versatile cutting depth and width, the Ryobi cordless planer comes prepared to handle woodworking projects of varying scopes. The power tool comes with a wood shaving bag, dual side chip exhausts, and on-board blade wrench storage to keep you from losing blades in transport (or just sitting in your workshop).

The storage and cordless design make this a great option for anyone that often travels to different job sites. The battery life can die quickly if you're using it often, so make sure to keep the charger on hand as well.

Tom Price is an Associate Editor of Commerce for Popular Mechanics, and also contributes to Runner's World, and Bicycling. He has previously covered product reviews, startup news, and even professional wrestling. In his free time, he enjoys watching pretentious TV, low-brow movies, and exercising for beauty, not health. If you are interested in exploring more of his work, check out his website.

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