Hand planers are an invaluable tool for any woodworker.
While smaller and less powerful than more stationary models, their mobility makes them great for working on smaller parts of a larger project, and perfect for a more amateur woodworker that just needs something relatively inexpensive and easy to maneuver to use around the house.
Whatever your purpose or skill level, there are a few things you should keep in mind when looking for a hand planer.
Makita 1806B 10.9 Amp
WEN 6530 6-Amp
Our Top Hand Planers on the Market
What to Look for in a Hand Woodworking Tool?
For any planer you want to note three main things about its size: the width capacity, thickness capacity, and weight.
All three are exactly what they sound like. Width capacity is how wide of a board you can fit in it. A smaller width capacity may mean you need to plane the same board multiple times, and if you’re not very precise can lead to the boards looking uneven.
Thickness capacity is how thick of a board it can safely plane.
Weight is the weight of the product itself. This last is especially important for hand models, for obvious reasons. Don’t buy something so heavy it will be uncomfortable to hold for long periods of time.
Horsepower, voltage, and RPM: the three things that determine how powerful your tool is.
Generally something with a higher voltage (meaning it uses more electricity) produces more horsepower, which increase the RPM (revolutions per minute) of your hand planer. All three work together to determine how fast you get done planning a board, and how smooth the cut is (a lower RPM may result in the blades missing spots if pushed through too fast).
More blades (meaning more options) is usually better. You want a product with multiple blade types that can cut multiple different thickness levels for increased adjustability. While you shouldn’t sacrifice any of the other categories for this, having more options increases how many different projects a single tool can carry you through.
Top 7 Hand Planer Reviews
Makita 1806B 10.9 Amp 6-3/4-Inch Planer
This is a great hand thicknesser for larger projects like creating wooden decks or patios. The 6 and ¾ inch width capacity dwarfs the competition, providing a little over double the average width of cut on a single pass.
It features a lock on button (most hand planers require you to hold down the on switch to operate), making it easier to use on larger jobs.
The power consumption is a bit inefficient, so be warned if that a concern (if for example you’re on a remote job site and working off of a generator), drawing 10.9 amps for only 15, 000 RPM, and it is not recommended for more delicate jobs or any awkward angles, as it only cuts to 1/16 inch deep on a single pass, and the machine weighs nearly 20 lbs.
This is the kind of machine that is great for products consisting of a lot of large, long pieces of wood that require little modification, but you will also likely need to buy another hand planer to handle smaller jobs on the same project.
WEN 6530 6-Amp Electric Hand Planer, 3-1/4-Inch
This is a great cheaper option for the amateur woodworker that just needs to smooth out some smaller projects around the house.
At a 3 and a quarter inch width capacity it isn’t quite wide enough to cut a 2 x 4 in a single pass, but what it lacks in width it makes up for in maneuverability.
Coming in at only 6 lbs, the 6 amp motor cranks out enough power to produce 34, 000 RPM, making a smooth cut on narrow surfaces like the edge of a door or cabinet, or any kind of shelf.
It has 16 positive stops, increasing in 1/128 inch increments up to 1/8 inch. This give you a lot of variety on how thin you shave your project down on each pass, and plenty of control to get you through any everyday project.
As added bonuses, it comes with a chamfer groove pre-notched into the shoe (for rounding off sharp corners) and can cut rabbets to 7/10 of an inch.
For your safety and convenience, the dust bag can be mounted on either side of the tool, and a kickstand can be engaged at the back to prevent any accidental activations from ruining your project or the blade.
Bosch PL1632 6.5 Amp Planer, 3-1/4"
Cutting the same swathe as the Wen above, this model pulls a little more power (6.5 amps as opposed to 6 amps) and outputs nearly half the RPM.
This is not necessarily a bad thing, as this one is designed for more delicate indoor jobs, such as shaving a doorjamb or creating decorative bevels inside the surface of something.
The forward angled ergonomic grip takes a bit of the discomfort out of the nearly 10 lb package, with the weight being more forgivable than some other heavy options due to what features this allows.
These include: both metric (millimeters, centimeters) and imperial (inches) depth scales, a dual mount guide fence with protective shielding, and a spring loaded stand that raises it safely off the work surface when not in use.
The final unique feature is a safety lock off and continuous on button, which allows for safe storage or temporary work stop, or continuous usage without uncomfortable button pressing.
Ryobi HPL52K 6 Amp 16,500 RPM 3 1/4" Corded Hand Planer w/Kickstand and Dual Dust Ports
Ryobi generally makes cheap, quality products and this model is no exception. Coming in at only 3 lbs (the lightest hand planer we’ll be looking at today), it also has the options and adjustability to back it up.
Adjusting up to 1/8 inch in 1/96 inch increments, this has enough options to do most jobs that don’t require extreme precision or value one pass cutting.
While it is a bit slow (16, 500 RPM), the 6 amp and 120 volt motor puts out plenty enough power to do any job smoothly and easily with a bit of patience. The rubber overmold gives it a bit of an edge, increasing friction and reducing the chances of a slip in wet or hot environments.
A safety lock button and kickstand make this a very safe tool to work with, turning this Ryobi into a very well rounded package for any woodworker that requires no special attachments to handle dust (coming equipped with dual side exhaust ports).
Keep in mind that the cord is only six feet long (an extension cord will likely be needed for most jobs, even nearby; six feet is shorter than most people think), but that’s the only real drawback here.
Hitachi P20ST 5.5-Amp 3-1/4-Inch Portable Handheld Planer
Hitachi gives us a light weight, low power option that bucks the trend on average numbers.
The 5.5 amp motor gives the blade 17, 000 RPM, making it a little more energy efficient than some of the 6 amp, 16, 500 RPM options on the list.
It weighs only 5.5 lbs, the second lightest on the list after the above-reviewed Ryobi.
It cuts down to 1/16 inch, requiring two passes for some jobs, and has a few of the more standard luxury and safety features other hand planers have, including the kickstand to help save your workspace and blades unintended damage.
The dust collection is one side only, but can attach to a vacuum as well, making it good for easy clean up.
The main standout feature is a 5 year limited warranty covering any defects in material and workmanship for that period.
PORTER-CABLE PC60THP 6-Amp Hand Planer
This 6 amp (120 volt) little tool is good enough to do most jobs, if you have a little patience. The width capacity comes in at only 3 inches (a quarter inch less than the average of the ones on this list) and it can hit 16, 500 RPMs with no load (note: this will significantly slow once the blades hit wood).
This is enough to do the job, but you’ll need to keep in mind that if you try to rush things, it may come out uneven or rough. The 10 positive stops (going down to 5/64 inch) and .47 inch rabbet length mean it can’t as easily handle some jobs as well as the above Wen or Bosch options, but it can hold its own well enough for smaller jobs.
Rounding things out is a relatively standard dual side dust bag, three chamfer grooves (a stand out option for things like doors, cabinets, and bookshelves) and a 3-year manufacturer’s warranty.
While not as good as some options on this list, it’s still great for most things an amateur would use for it (though someone who regularly uses a planer would want a more powerful and versatile option), and perfect to pick up on a sale.
DEWALT D26677K 3-1/4-Inch Portable Hand Planer Kit
The 5.5 amp motor on this model outputs a surprising amount of power, resulting in 34, 000 RPM. The relatively standard 3 and a quarter inch width capacity and 1/16 inch thickness capacity make this great for jobs that tend to use more standard board sizes and don’t need to adjust thickness settings much.
The front and back shoes are machined to ensure parallelism of the cuts, and it comes with a more reinforced belt, making this a sturdy and long lasting hand planer.
The main problems with the D2667K come out more in its user friendliness.
The relatively heavy weight (near 10 lbs) makes it cumbersome for many jobs, and the dust ejector is meant to connect to a DeWalt brand vacuum cleaner rather than utilizing a standard dust bag.
This makes it a less desirable purchase if you do not already own a compatible shop vacuum, meaning it is not a great product for amateur woodworkers in some ways, and lacks the increased depth of cut and adjustability a professional or dedicated hobbyist would prefer.
There are two primary winners on this list: the 10.9 amp Makita and 6 amp Wen.
Best Hand Planers for the Money
Makita 1806B 10.9 Amp
WEN 6530 6-Amp
The Makita is excellent for larger jobs where the added bulk is a potential plus (it helps prevent board slippage) and can significantly decrease time spent on large outdoor projects.
The Wen on the other hand is a light, maneuverable hand planer with a lot of power and the greatest incremental adjustment on cutting depth of any hand planer on this list.
Both are perfect at their respective roles, and I would recommend both be purchased together if you plan to do multiple different types of jobs.
The rest are great for a variety of jobs as well, but none significantly outperform our two top products in the areas they excel in, being either slightly more specialized (like the Bosch) or slightly lower performance for reduced weight (like the Ryobi and Hitachi options).
All of these will do the job and well, but you can’t go wrong with our two recommendations.
For other options, check out our best planers review where we take a look at different kinds of planers for every woodworking job.