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      Benchtop Planers

      Not only ideal for making sure that your pieces of lumber are all the same thickness, a high-quality benchtop planer, like the ones on our list, can also be used to get square stock integrated with beadboard for thickness and reveal, and for dressing out rough stock to prepare for gluing on furniture pieces. We've ranked the best of their class here by build quality, accuracy, and noise level.

      6 Best Benchtop Planers

      What To Consider When Choosing A Benchtop Planer

      The goal of using a bench top planer is to produce smooth boards that require minimal finish sanding, and boards of a specific thickness to fit whatever application you have planned. Because of this, any benchtop planer that can't produce smooth boards accurately at a specific thickness won't serve its main purpose.

      The first step is to identify which models will most likely produce the least amount of snipe. Snipe is a noticeably deeper cut at the beginning and end of a planed board. It results from the board moving up and down as it passes through the planer. All models will produce some snipe — it is almost inevitable — but this can usually be removed with some simple sanding. As a general rule of thumb, the larger the infeed and outfeed boards, the less snipe a machine will create and the less sanding you will have to do. Models that automatically lock the cutter head can also significantly minimize snipe.

      Board scallop is another common unwanted effect that poor quality benchtop planers produce. Scallop refers to a ripple-like effect carved into a board as it works its way past the cutters. The number of rollers, knife speed, and feed speed all play a role in board scallop. Since no one wants planing their boards to take forever, we must find a compromise between feed rate and scalloping. A higher number of rollers and cuts per inch allows for a faster feed rate, without causing noticeable scalloping. Motor power will also effect how quickly a machine can smoothly cut a board. Units with weaker motors may bog down if you try and cut too deeply on a single pass. They may also have trouble on wider stock.

      Next, one should look at the depth gauges and stops. A clearly marked depth gauge helps you to more accurately adjust the cut to match your specifications. You should also choose a model that allows for fine depth adjustments to the cutting depth. This can help minimize the possibility of tear-outs. An adjustable depth-stop allows the user to set a minimum thickness to ensure a board is never cut too thin.

      For convenience's sake, one should also look at the dust collection options each particular model offers. Some units have a fan that blows dust and chips away from them cutter to improve its performance, but these can be messy. Units with a vacuum-assisted dust port that you can attach a collection bag to can help cut down on clean up and improve performance simultaneously.