An electric planer is used to shave wood from a surface in order make it level. If you are planning to do a lot of planing for a large project, then you should use a stationary planer that is also designed to handle larger and denser material.
On the other hand, if you need to take your planing capability with you on multiple job sites or only need the planer for small projects, a handheld electric planer will do the job. This article is designed to help you choose the right handheld electric planer.
What should you consider when buying an electric planar?
You can choose between corded and cordless electric planer models. Cordless models give you the flexibility to operate without access to electric power while corded models are generally more powerful.
How much power you need depends on the material you’re planing and the size of your project. A lightweight cordless model may be fine for small projects in less dense wood material, while you will probably choose a corded model with plenty of power to complete a large project like a deck or a project that uses denser material.
Cordless models are also more expensive, so if you are watching your budget, a corded model will be a better choice.
Despite inroads by cordless models, corded models still dominate the electric planer landscape. So, when considering power, you’re generally looking for the Amps rating.
For most applications, an Amp rating of 7 Amps or more should be adequate. If you’re planning to do heavy-duty planing in dense material for frequent large projects, you can buy an electric planer with a 10-Amp rating or more.
The larger the motor the heavier the electric planer, so keep that in mind when choosing.
An electric planer uses a cutting wheel that rotates at high speed to shave wood from the surface you’re working with. Higher speeds usually translate to more even, consistent cuts. You should choose a model with an RPM rating of 15,000 or more.
Maximum Cutting Depth
The maximum cutting depth determines how much material you can remove with each pass. A deeper cut allows you to finish faster, but only if your planer is up to the task. If you have the right amount of power and the right RPM, you can cut more material per pass if the electric planer has the right maximum depth capability.
Cutting depths from 2/32 inch up to 5/32 inch or more are available. Planers also come in various widths achieving faster passes by removing more material area than depth. Generally, wider planing widths mean shallower maximum cutting depth, but may end up removing more material faster overall.
Maximum Cutting Width
A common maximum cutting width for an electric planer is 3-1/4 inches. If you need to remove more material, larger widths are available. Wider electric planers are usually more powerful and more expensive.
Most common handheld electric planers have dual blades that remove the material. Blades take a lot of abuse spinning at over 15,000 RPM which means that each blade is hitting the material 15,000 times per minute. Depending on the material, blades can go dull very rapidly. Blades for light to medium duty are made from high-strength steel (HSS). If you will be using your planer for frequent heavy-duty use, a better choice are carbide blades if they are available.
Some blades are reversible for double the use before they need to be replaced. Still other blades can also be sharpened so you can use them multiple times before having to replace them with new ones.
The depth of the cut you’re using to remove material is one of the most crucial factors in effective planing. Most models come with some sort of depth adjustment.
Typically, they include a depth control knob that allows you to adjust the depth of your cut down to the maximum cutting depth.
One important consideration is whether the depth adjustment is calibrated. If you need highly accurate material removal, make sure the depth gauge or adjustment knob is calibrated.
Some models come with click stops at standard increments that provide more positive control over the depth if the click stops are properly calibrated.
Since you’re tethered to a power outlet, it’s nice to have a long power cord that keeps you from having to carry an extension cord. The length of power cords that planer manufacturers provide varies like the wind. Suffice it to say, a longer cord is more convenient.
Some common included accessories that can be very helpful are a planer guide/fence and some sort of dust control capability.
If you work with wood, you have to plane wood. Wood is an imperfect material with only rough dimensions from the mill. If your project needs finished dimensions, you will need to plane the wood to achieve the excellent results you’re looking for. I sincerely hope that this guide has provided you with valuable information that helps you choose the best electric planer for your needs.