Purchasing a woodworking planer will end up saving you money in the long run, since you’ll be able to purchase pre-surfaced lumber at a bargain instead of having to buy finished pieces. But there’s no denying that there are plenty of expensive planers that all claim to be the best. I once asked myself if there was a way to balance budget with quality when I was looking for a planer for my own workshop.
Since it took me quite a while you find the ideal planer for my needs, I decided to write up a quick guide to the planers I’ve used before and found to be affordable for most folks. This way, you won’t have to go through exhaustive research and spend hours looking through catalogs or webpages to find the ideal planer for your next project.
In case you are in a hurry, the DeWalt Thickness Planer DW735X is my pick for the best budget planer.
However, there’s something for everyone. Let’s dig deeper and begin with a great budget and beginner-friendly tool.
- Best Budget Planer
- Buying Guide: What to Look for in a Great Value Planer
- Conclusion – My Favorite Planer
Best Budget Planer
Here is my list for top 5 cheap planers in America.
WEN 6530 6-Amp Electric Hand Planer – Best Budget Planer for Beginners
While all woodworkers should have some experience before using planers, this handheld planer is a great place to start, and it’s super affordable. In my experience, its value comes from its light weight (it’s only 6 pounds) and its ease of use.
It’s got an ergonomic handle for easy gripping and up to 16 positive stops to offer some really fine thickness control. Even more experienced woodworkers will appreciate having 16 preset depth stops: they stretch from 0 to 1/8th inches thick.
The planer has a 6-amp motor and can cut up to 34,000 times per minute. To make it an even better bargain, each planer comes with a dust bag for easy collection and a kickstand, plus a two-year warranty and a parallel fence bracket. The fence bracket is another great tool to help with guiding the planer as you move it across the board.
Overall, I’d recommend this for anyone who wants to start learning how to use a planer effectively and who doesn’t want to spend a lot of money on their first tool.
Porter-Cable PC60THP Hand Planer – Best Planer for Hand Finishing
While this planer doesn’t have as many positive stops as the last, it’s still affordable and has 10 positive stops to afford you plenty of thickness variation and control over your current workpiece.
More importantly, I really like the 11.5-inch shoe added onto the tool’s chassis. It’s made of cast aluminum and it improves your control as you press the planer across the board. It can also improve the finish of your board, which can be vital if you’re working with subpar material in the first place.
This planer is even better dust extraction, as well, with two extractor compartments on either side of the tool. This planer is best used for those who need to improve their stock more often than not.
Wen 6552T Benchtop Corded Thickness Planer – Best Budget Bench Planer
This is a tabletop planer that still manages to come in beneath $400. It’s quite a bargain no matter which way you look at it, and the fact that it’s a great tool for the asking price makes it an even better option in my book.
The planer features a powerful 15-amp motor that can handle at 26 ft./m feed rate. It can handle long boards in rapid succession, especially since it can cut up to 25,500 cuts per minute. It uses a three-blade design like many bench planers, and all three work in conjunction to tackle even tougher stock material.
Dust cleanup is handled with a fan-assisted port, which removes sawdust directly from the workpiece. The planer also features a depth adjustment knob, plus an onboard gauge. This aspect is what I enjoy about this planer in particular, as it lets you know exactly how much wood material you’re removing with each pass of the board through the blades.
DeWalt Thickness Planer DW735X – Best for the Money
This tabletop planer is a little over $500, but it’s a fantastic tool if you can manage the price. If the planer I use personally in my workshop. While it’s not a budget tool at first glance, I reckon I’ve saved money in the long run by purchasing a higher-quality machine initially.
It has a two-speed gearbox that lets you optimize your feeding speed. You can slow down the feed rate to give the blades some extra time to finish shearing the workpiece or speed things up during a busy day. It features three knife cutter heads and a fan-assisted vacuum that gets rid of wood chips so you can see the workpiece more clearly.
For added stability, the planer comes with an automatic carriage lock that reduces the movement of the stock as it goes through the planer. This is phenomenal when feeding longer stocks into the machine. The turret depth stop knob, which is thick and easy to grasp, has settings that let you go back to the thicknesses you use the most. I really like this aspect, since most boards tend to stick between a few different thicknesses.
Finally, the planer features a material removal gauge (like the Wen Benchtop Planer). All in all, it has everything you could need for just about any finishing job you’ve got in mind.
Buying Guide: What to Look for in a Great Value Planer
Whenever I’m shopping for new tools, I always focus on a few key aspects to help me narrow down my options. These are the attributes you should focus on when browsing for a wood planer for your workshop.
Type: Handheld or Tabletop/Bench?
There are two primary types of wood planers. The original planer tool was a handheld device, but modern technology has allowed for the creation of more powerful bench or tabletop planers that are just as good, if not better. So which should you choose?
In my experience, handheld planers are great for smaller jobs and smaller workshops. You can usually find these tools in small family garages in use from woodworkers who only produce a few workpieces each year. Handheld tools are easy to manage and don’t cost as much.
However, their handheld nature doesn’t necessarily mean they are more precise. In fact, bench or tabletop wood planers are often more precise than their handheld counterparts. It’s just a fact of life that a human hand isn’t quite as steady as an unmoving tabletop planer. If you’re a woodworker looking to get your dimensions down as precisely as possible, a tabletop planer probably your best bet.
In addition, tabletop planers can take stock or boards of much wider dimensions. Most tabletop planers can take boards between 12 and 13 inches wide depending on the exact model. Most affordable planers can only work on workpieces that are less than 4 inches wider so, although there is some variation.
Keep in mind that tabletop planers are more expensive and are not nearly as portable as handheld ones. All in all, the right woodworking planer will be matched with the kind of work you do. Even if they are more expensive, tabletop planers are often more valuable in the long run if you spend a lot of time in your workshop.
The blade material your planer brings to each workpiece can have a dramatic effect on the end result. Metal that’s too soft won’t do a good enough job on a workpiece. At the same time, of course, you don’t want your blade to be too hard and ruin your workpiece. Similarly, you should try to find planer blades that are reliable and long-lasting; no one wants to have to switch out their blades too frequently.
Carbide blades are always a good choice due to their long lifespan. But keep in mind that you need to purchase full carbide blades rather than carbide-tipped ones if you want the best bang for your buck. Carbide tipped blades are a little too prone to chipping for my tastes. However, carbide blades usually provide a great finish for your workpiece.
You can get high-quality steel blades if you wish, and you’ll often find inexpensive planers with blades of this caliber. But keep in mind that the finish might not be quite as good, and you may have to take extra care of the blades to diminish the effects of the chipping they are likely to receive from regular wear and tear.
Even the best blades will require switching after some heavy use. To that end, it might be helpful to purchase a planer with an easy-switching system. This is less of a concern for handheld planers, but tabletop planers can sometimes have involved or overly complex blade switching apparatuses that make the entire prospect annoying.
Look for a planer that makes it easy to swap out your blades or remove them for regular maintenance and cleaning. Trust me; it’ll save you a big headache in the long run and save you time that you can use for anything else.
The ideal power options for your woodworking planer will depend on the kind of work you plan to use it for. Planers with high-powered options are great for stripping harder stock and working with larger workpieces. Higher power settings also usually translate to a faster finish for the workpiece as a whole.
But higher power motors cost more money and aren’t necessary if you will mostly be working with softer boards or stock. Low powered planers are still great for softer workpieces. Basically, I think you should only go with a planer that’s powerful enough for what you’ll use it for. It’s wasted money if you buy a high-powered planer and never use the upper half of its possible settings.
Don’t discount the dust collection aspect of your chosen planer. Some woodworking planers will come with dust collector containers or funnels to keep things tidy in your workshop. This sounds like a minor feature, but it’s really not, especially if you spend a lot of time in your workshop as I do. A good dust collector feature can convince me to purchase a planer with subpar blade material in some cases.
After all, some jobs will blow dust everywhere across your workshop, necessitating a lengthy cleanup process later.
Finally, consider the size of a planer you are thinking about purchasing. For a cheap tabletop planer, this is more relevant for but it can still apply to handheld ones. It’s a good idea to measure the bench or table that you’ll be using with a planer primarily and to buy one that fits within those dimensions.
What’s the Difference Between Jointers and Planers?
These terms are sometimes used interchangeably, especially on the Internet. But jointers and planers are distinct tools that are often used together in a well-stocked workshop.
A woodworking planer strips down a piece of wood stock to a preset thickness on either side. It also makes either side of the board totally flat. You can adjust the planer’s settings to fiddle with the ending thickness and smoothness of the board once it’s finished.
Woodworking jointers are used to give boards flat faces along each edge of the workpiece. It’ll remove any warps or twists embedded into the board when you received or retrieved it. Basically, jointers make a piece of stock flat and planers are used to file it down to the thickness level you desire and ensure that both sides are parallel. Interest in finding a cheap jointer? Save your time by reading this article as I provided some of the best budget jointers. My recommendation for good 8-inch jointers can be found here.
Why is a Planer Useful?
Woodworking planers are useful in a workshop because you can purchase wood of variable thicknesses and cut it down to the thickness you desire for your next job. This can save you money in the long term, as you can buy wood at a bargain price that isn’t ideal and still make it work for your needs.
Furthermore, a woodworking planer can let you customize a build or project to new specifications. Of course, this only works when decreasing the thickness of a workpiece, but it’s still useful.
Can a Planer be Used with Old Wood?
Yes! In fact, I like to use my planers to reclaim old wood from my property and integrate it into projects. Alternatively, you can always make your own boards out of old wood and sell the excess to those who need it most.
All in all, a woodworking planer is a versatile and worthwhile addition to most woodworking shops and garages.
Conclusion – My Favorite Planer
In the end, the DeWalt Thickness Planer DW735X is the planer I use in my shop at home since it delivers fantastic versatility and control options without breaking the bank too much. But there are plenty of other good budget planer options out there depending on your needs. Remember to consider your workshop needs carefully before making a final decision.
Whichever planer you pick, good luck and thanks for reading!