Planers in general are a key tool for woodworkers, since they help turn rough, unusable wood into smooth and easy to work with pieces. Of the various different types, the one I think every woodworker of any stripe should own at least one of, is this kind: the benchtop planer.
While hand planers are useful, they can be done without in a pinch, their job taken over (if in a more cumbersome way) by a full size or benchtop counterpart. And full size planers are extraordinarily large and heavy (some weighing nearly 1000 lbs, and the average being around 500!), and are overkill for many who are just looking to do DIY projects.
Benchtop meanwhile fill the perfect middle ground: they’re light enough to move by hand for one reasonably fit person (or two not so fit people), can plane boards that are plenty wide enough for most common purposes, and they can get the job done a bit faster than a hand one (without breaking the bank like a full size version).
I’ve curated ten of the best models I can find from various brands on Amazon in this list, but if you’re in a hurry and can’t spare the time to read the whole thing, just peek below for my favorite one:
In A Rush? My Top Pick:
8 Top Rated Benchtop Planers on the Market
How to Choose the Right One for Your Needs
There are three different dimensions you want to keep track of: thickness capacity, width capacity, and the total size of the tool itself.
Width capacity is how wide of a board it can handle. Thickness capacity is, as the name suggests, how thick of a board it can take at once. Wider and thicker is better, since it makes a more versatile product.
The total size will generally grow with the other two. Two main factors you want to look at here is how heavy the tool is, and how large the benchtop is.
While the benchtop one being lightweight isn’t as important as if it were a hand planer, it’s still important to note, as a lighter benchtop thicknesser will be easier to transport.
This should be the lowest on your list of priorities (it’s not worth sacrificing effectiveness anywhere else to get a lighter tool), but it’s still worth looking at. Take care when looking at lighter weight models that you aren’t sacrificing durability for a more easily moved tool.
The benchtop size is important because it give you more workable space, and lets you handle longer boards without help.
Always note the voltage the benchtop planer draws, how much horsepower it puts out, and the Revolutions Per Minute (RPM) of its blades.
These three are closely connected.
A higher voltage draw will usually result in more horsepower, which directly translates to more RPM. If this is not the case, it may be worth looking at another benchtop model that may be more efficient (i.e. it does more with the same or less draw on electricity). Energy efficiency is especially important if you’re working off of a generator instead of a more steady power grid.
You want something that has blades which are adjustable and easily swapped out for other blades.
More adjustability means you can cut to a desired thickness on a single pass and be more precise as well, and easily swapping them out lets you more easily remove to sharpen or replace blades (potentially with better ones, such as trading steel for carbide blades).
This kind, like in their other stats, cost about in the middle of what you’d expect for a hand model and full size counterpart, running you on average between $400 and $600 (as opposed to the thousands for a full size, and under $100 for a hand planer).
A bit of a commitment for sure, but it’s a generally useful tool for anybody looking to regularly work with wood, and will pay for itself in the long run much like any commonly used power tool.
Now that you know what to look for, let’s dig into our recommendations!
Our Top 8 Benchtop Planer Reviews
WEN 6550 Benchtop Thickness Planer, 12-1/2"
This is a great, very portable model that can perform most jobs an amateur or experienced hobbyist would need.
Its granite tabletop can support up to a 12.5 inch width capacity and 6 inch thickness capacity, cutting at 18, 000 RPM using traditional straight blades, to a speed of up to 26 FPM.
This puts it at slightly below average on width capacity, but the boards feed quite quickly and the finish comes out very smooth for a straight blade cutterhead.
Those basics wouldn’t be quite enough to push it to the top, but the adjustability is what cinches it: the thickness of the cut can be adjusted in 1/16 inch increments up to 3/32 inches, making this a very precise machine.
To support the idea of portability, it features easy grip handles and weighs only 79 lbs (including the table). While not the lightest I’ve ever seen, it’s impressive given the power.
Rounding things out are triple rollers to ensure smooth travel down the length of the board, and a fan assisted dust port to prevent clogging and overheating (though note it doesn’t come with an attached dust collector, so you’ll still have a lot of sweeping to do if you don’t attach a bag or shop vacuum), and an affordable, under $300 price tag.
RIKON Power Tools 25-130H 13-Inch with Helical Head
At first glance, this bears many similarities to the option above. It is a 15 amp motor (115 volts) that outputs a good 22, 000 no load RPM (10, 000 RPM with the blades). It can cut up to a width capacity of 13 inches, or a thickness of 6 inches, making it fairly standard for larger machines. As a bonus, it comes in at a very lightweight (especially for this size machine) 73 lbs.
The main draw here is it is a helical (or spiral) cutterhead machine. Straight bladed machines are fine, but spiral cutterheads give a smoother finish (more consistent and lengthy contact with the board due to having more, smaller blades) and are easier to replace blades on (since the inserts can be bought in bulk and replaced one by one instead of having to replace whole blades at a time), leaving room in your budget for buying higher quality carbide blades, whose downsides (brittleness and expense, primarily) are mitigated by being easily swapped in and out on the cheap.
This one comes in a bit lower than the Wen largely because while it’s a bit better, it’s MORE than a bit more expensive, costing two and a half times what the Wen does (a bit under $700). If you run the numbers it may come in a bit cheaper in the very long term due to how cheap it is to replace the blades, but for many the Wen is a better choice.
Cutech 40200HC-CT 13" Spiral Cutterhead
This is near identical in stats to the Rikon. 15 amp (115 volt motor), 26 carbide blades, a 23, 000 no load RPM (and 9000 RPM cutterhead), 13 inches width capacity, 6 inches thickness capacity, and it cuts down to 1/8 of an inch.
The main differences here are weight, warranty, and price. This Cutech weighs a whopping 15 lbs more than the Rikon (88 lbs) making it much harder to move around. It only comes with a 2 year warranty (as opposed to the Rikon’s 5 year warranty) and in exchange is a bit less expensive on average from most sellers.
The final nail in the coffin is it costs $20 more than the Rikon.
It’s still a great machine, but its drawbacks (particularly the increased weight, 88 lbs is enormous and unwieldy for a benchtop planer, and it doesn’t have any discernible upsides to justify that kind of weight increase (like a significantly bigger motor or a much sturdier frame).
Pick this one up if you see it on sale and don’t mind leaving it in one place a bunch, but the above two are better picks in most cases.
Makita 2012NB 12-Inch with Interna-Lok
This Makita is largely engineered for stability, with a 4 post design, diagonal brace, and head clamp that all work together to eliminate snipe as much as possible.
Onto that sturdy frame you add a 15 amp motor that gets you 8500 RPM with its two blades (so roughly 17, 000 cuts per minute) that can feed 28 feet per minute of wood (up to 12 inches wide and 6 and 3/32 inches thick). Given it’s a relatively lightweight package (73 lbs) that makes it a fairly easy to move benchtop planer (though not as light and easy as some below), this is all as to be expected.
In addition to those basic features this model comes with an attached (and detachable) toolbox and ports for dust collection (though does not come with a dust bag or anything like that).
This one overall comes down to a mixed bag.
The increased thickness capacity (most here cap out at 6 inches) is an amazing boon, and anything that helps to eliminate snipe is a godsend, but to fit it all into a lighter package they had to sacrifice a bit of durability (many of the parts are made of cast aluminum), and that taken with its awkward pricing (between $500 and $600, meaning it’s competing with much cheaper models like the Wen 6550 in price and barely edges it out in only some performance categories) means it’s not as strong of a recommendation as I would like to give.
If you regularly work with wood that’s just a little too thick for some of these other models, by all means get it. It’s great for that. But 6 inches is standard for a reason (it’s a common max thickness for many jobs), and I’m not sure that’s worth a price jump.
DEWALT DW734 15 Amp 12-1/2-Inch Benchtop
96 cuts per inch is good for a traditional three blade tool. The 15 amp motor produces 10, 000 RPM on boards up to 12.5 inches wide and 6 inches thick.
While it can’t go as deep as the Wen 6550, it can cut down to 1/8 inch, serviceable for most jobs, and only weighs 80 lbs so it’s easy to transport.
The main drawback of this one is dust collection. It doesn’t have a built in dust collector, so one (or a shop vacuum) must be purchased separately, making its price (just under $400) slightly deceptive.
This one is in an unfortunate spot, like many here of directly competing with the Wen 6550 and not matching its price or significantly overmatching its quality. It has one extrablade, same RPM (and therefore a bit more cuts per minute), and same power draw in the motor, but doesn’t cut as deep and isn’t as adjustable.
The extra blade (especially given the Wen’s can be swapped out anyway) isn’t worth the loss in precision and depth in my opinion (worst comes to worst the loss in finish quality can be made up with good old fashioned sanding), not for $150 more in price.
PORTER-CABLE PC305TP 12"
A standard 15 amp (120 volts) motor starts off this simple, but effective benchtop tool. While it only has two reversible blades, it is lightweight (63 lbs) and easy to move, while still being able to output 8000 RPM (16, 000 cuts per minute) and can cut boards up to 12 inches wide up to 1/16 inches deep (3/64 inches for hardwood).
This makes it an excellent starter planer, especially at its relatively very low price point (under $275).
One main thing to keep in mind though is that the table is made of steel on this one, which is easier to cut, scratch, or dent than the granite or cast iron tables (which are harder, though the former is easier to chip since granite is less flexible) on some of the other benchtop planers on this list, so extra care needs to be taken to keep it working perfectly.
While not my first choice, this is the best benchtop model in this “weight class”, being nearly 20 lbs lighter than some models here and not skimping too hard on performance. Worth taking a look at if you find yourself needing to change positions a lot for whatever reason.
POWERTEC PL1251 12-1/2-Inch 15-Amp
This 15 amp, 120 volt benchtop planer outputs 2 horsepower and 9400 RPM (18, 800 cuts per minute) with its two straight blades.
While a bit wider than the above Porter-Cable (12 and ½ inches width capacity), it has a max thickness capacity of 5 inches, and only cuts down to 1/32 inches. Essentially, it cuts faster at the cost of cutting shallower, and does poorly with thin boards (1/8 inch thick is the minimum).
The main upsides are that it is very light (63 lbs) and has easy to grip handles for moving around a shop, which makes this better as a lower performance “backup” tool for those awkward jobs that need a full size planer that a hand model can’t cut it for, but are relatively shallow cuts so there’s no need to muscle out the larger, powerful benchtop planer you might otherwise own.
The main saving grace here is the price: it’s the cheapest one on this list (if only by about $10) and its extreme lightweight design lets you forgive some of the lower performance…but it just doesn’t quite cut it when you could shell a bit extra from the Porter-Cable that has the same weight and better cutting depth and cuts per inch.
Triton TPT125 High Performance with 12-1/2" Cutting Width
At a base level, this is a pretty good benchtop planer. 12 and ½ inch width capacity, 6 inch thickness capacity, and an extremely lightweight frame (65 lbs).
The main issue with this one is the motor. Being battery operated givesit a big hit to performance, with only 1.5 horsepower, 8750 RPM, and 17, 500 cuts per minute from its two blades.
The other major drawback is that lithium ion batteries (which this uses two of) have a lifespan of about 2 to 3 years, after which they must be replaced. That makes the price (over $400) the last nail in the coffin.
In the short term it has lower performance to cheaper models like the Wen models and Porter-Cable, it isn’t as light as the former, it’s more expensive than both, and will cost you more in the long term with battery replacement every few years.
Avoid, unless you can get it for some absurd discount ($150 or less).
There are a lot of great benchtops here, but the ones I’d highlight as the absolute best are the Wen 6550, Rikon, and Porter-Cable.
Best Benchtop Planer for the Money
The Wen 6550 is by far the best performance for price available on this list.
Very few outperform it, and none do so significantly without doubling the cost. A great option for any kind of woodworker.
Other Options Worth Checking
The 25-130H is a huge price jump, but has enough of a performance increase that IF YOU NEED IT is the best performing option here (beside the slightly more expensive, nearly identical Cutech), and I’d say pick it up primarily for the spiral cutterhead (or buy a Byrd for the Wen).
The PC305TP rounds things out as the extremely portable one you can easily load up, take to a job site, and move it around to different stations as needed.
It’s not the best around, but it’s not bad, and the insane lightweight design more than makes up for any deficiencies in some situations.