5 Best Bench Top Planers

 

You won’t find a bench top planer in every home shop. Though, owning one says a lot about how seriously you take your wood working. Whether you’re simply cleaning up old floorboards for a home renovation project, or need precise thickness and squaring for furniture, a top-notch bench planer will make all the difference.

We often call these machines thickness planers because you can set the cutters to a precise depth and flatten the wood to the desired thickness. This means you can pass several boards through your bench top planer and they will all have the same thickness. When you join these pieces, you end up with a uniform, flat surface that doesn’t require much finishing.

The top 5 bench top planers that we’ve selected for this review cover all the bases. If you’re looking for a more affordable bench top planer for your home shop, you should be more than impressed with the Wen 3-blade model on review. For those looking for a more professional grade machine, the DeWalt DW735 is a formidable bench top planer and will meet the needs of the woodworking professional and a more discerning hobbyist.

All the planers in the review are within the 12.5 to 13-inch size range, making them ideal for home shops with fairly limited space for a large machine, and contractors who need a portable bench top planer. At the same time, a width capacity of 12 – 13 inches provides a good deal of versatility.

Which ever way you look at it, the work in selecting the top 5 bench top planers has been done for you. I’ll be providing a comprehensive review of the products, so you can make an informed decision. I may, at times, give my personal take on things, based on many years of experience working with power tools. Though, remember, this is merely one person’s opinion, albeit an informed one. When it comes down to it, I’ll be providing you with the facts, leaving the final decision to you.

If you’re new to bench top planers, I’ll be pointing out important features as I review the products. This should help you get to grips with why certain features may be more beneficial.

Here’s a quick comparison table of the top 5 before I get to the in-depth reviews!

Product ImageModelSpeedCutting DepthWeight 
Delta Power Tools 22-555Cuts per minute:18,8003/32"66.3 poundsCheck price on Amazon
Dewalt DW735 13 Inch10 000 RPMs1/8"90 poundsCheck price on Amazon
Dewalt DW734 15 Inch, Two Speed Thickness Planer10 000 RPMs1/8"80 poundsCheck price on Amazon
WEN 6552 3-Blade 15 AmpCuts per minute: 25,5003/32"70lbsCheck price on Amazon
Grizzly G0505 12-1/2-Inch Planer10 000 RPMs3/32"78 poundsCheck price on Amazon

 

DeWalt DW735 Three Knife 13” Bench Planer


Of the models in this top 5 bench planer review, the DeWalt DW735 would be my first choice. In general, I’m a huge fan of DeWalt tools and they will usually be my top choice. With that said, this is the most expensive bench top planer in the review. So, I guess it may not be the first choice for everyone. However, you will find bench top planers that cost a good deal more than the DeWalt DW735 and I’m not entirely convinced that you’ll be getting much more for your money. To my mind, DeWalt tools offer outstanding value for money at the top end of the market.

The DeWalt DW735 has the power to chew through large pieces of hardwood, thanks to a really potent 15A electric motor running at 20,000 RPM. The power is transferred through a superb two-speed gearbox, delivering 10,000 RPM to the 3-knife cutting head. I find this to be an ideal setup.

Three knives provide a wonderfully smooth finish and there’s little to no scallop or tear out. Using three knives instead of two also means you won’t be replacing them as often. In addition to this, the dual speed gearbox allows you to set your feed rate at 179 cuts per inch (CPI) for an extra-smooth finish, requiring very little sanding to provide a beautiful end product.

If time is more important to you than a fine finish, you can crank the feed rate up to 96 CPI. This will speed things up, but, with fewer cuts per inch, you won’t get quite the same smoothness. I really like this versatility, as different projects have different priorities.

In true DeWalt style, the DW735 has a fantastic base and a bunch of user-friendly features. At 19 , the aluminum base is as rigid as gets and will remain so for years. Compared to the standard 10” base, found on many of the cheaper options, this is an amazing work surface. The extra capacity of the huge in-feed table is another great feature, providing 33 material support.

The DeWalt DW735 has a really chunky aluminum crank handle for precise depth settings, an over-sized depth scale makes it super easy to make fine adjustments with perfect precision. The addition of a turret depth stop is another handy time saver, allowing you to easily set commonly used depths. The carriage lock has great support at each corner, I can see the DeWalt DW735 remaining perfectly accurate for many, many years. This is something I’ve come to expect from the top-rated DeWalt machines.

An automatic carriage lock keeps the machine perfectly stable, thereby greatly reducing the possibility of snipe. For newbies, snipe is a slight indent caused by the planer cutting a little deeper as you begin to feed the wood into the cutter. The DeWalt DW735 has a maximum depth spec of 1/8 inch, with a 6-inch depth capacity, and a 13-inch width capacity.

Along with the expected dust extraction port, this DeWalt model has a blower fan that expels sawdust and wood chips out the back. If you don’t have a shop vac on site, this will help keep the work surface clean. Of course, you still need to clean the area afterward, because the debris is simply dumped behind the planer. The knives are reversable. Flip the knife around to use both cutting edges before discarding. DeWalt has made inserting the knives really simple, by using holes in the knives that correspond with locating pins in the knife carriage.

Although aluminum has been used extensively to reduce weight, and improve durability, the DeWalt DW735 is quite heavy at 92-pounds. This is not ideal for contractors looking for a portable bench top planer. Though you have to excuse the hefty weight tag, when considering the extra thick base and general heavy-duty nature of this machine.
Like all DeWalt tools, you’re getting of the best warranties and service agreements around: 3-year limited warranty; 1-year free service plan; 90-day money back guarantee.

Pros:

·Solid, heavy-duty build with a thick base and 4-column carriage lock.

·Robust 2-speed gearbox for variable feed rate.

·Fan blower for wood chip and sawdust exhaust.

Cons:

·The DeWalt DW735 is expensive, but I believe that that you’re getting what you pay for.

·You need to use an adapter for when fitting a vacuum hose, which takes a little extra time.

·A little on the heavy side.

Check price at  Amazon

DeWalt DW734 12 Inch Bench Top Planer


This is the previous generation DeWalt bench top planer. It has many similarities to the newer DeWalt 735 (reviewed above) but does not have all the benefits. The good news is, being an older model, you’re not paying as much for the DW734. This makes for outstanding value for money.

You’re still getting great DeWalt quality, at a cheaper price.

The DeWalt DW734 has a 15A (20,000 RPM) electric motor. From what I can tell this remains the same on the new DW735.

One of the key features that I like so much on the new DW735, that the DW734 lacks, is the two-speed gearbox. The 3-knife cutter rotates at 10,000 RPM with a constant 96 cuts per inch. This is quite adequate, but the option for a 179 CPI rate is obviously a big plus.

The DW734 has an excellent four column carriage lock for improved stability without much chance of snipe. It has a material removal gauge, with enlarged thickness scale for perfectly accurate settings. This model has the same extra-large feed table capacity as the DW735, fold out infeed and outfeed tables provide support for 33. Though the tables are not as thick and sturdy as the more expensive DW735. There is a slight bit of wobble on these extensions, though it’s not too bad for a portable bench top planer with this capacity.

While the DeWalt DW734 doesn’t have the exhaust waste blower fan, it has an optional plastic hood. You can fit a vacuum hose to this, and it does an excellent job of removing the sawdust and wood chips. Though the vacuum attachment can tend to block up. In all other respects, the DeWalt DW734 compares quite well to the DW735. This model has a 12 width capacity, maximum depth of cut is 1/8”, with a maximum depth capacity of 6”.

One of the advantages to the less sturdy table is a noticeable weight reduction. The DeWalt DW734 weighs a much more reasonable 80-pounds. Though I’m not too impressed with the plastic depth adjustment handle at the top of the DW734.
Pros:

·Reasonably affordable for a quality DeWalt product

·4 column carriage lock for improved stability and reduced snipe.

·Effective dust collection hood (sold separately).

Cons:

·Extended infeed and outfeed tables have some movement.

·Vacuum port to the overhead hood can become blocked.

·The large plastic handle toe set the depth of cut protrudes from the top of the machine and can be prone to damage.

Check price at Amazon

WEN 6552 3-Blade Bench Top Planer


While I prefer high-end tool brands (DeWalt and Makita are usually my first choice), I know that many hobbyist woodworkers simply aren’t up to paying the high prices for the more prestigious brands. In this context, I have to give the WEN brand its dues. In general, WEN power tools defy their low price tag and can, in many respects, proudly hold their own amongst more expensive tools.

Though, one must remember that this is a relatively cheap bench top planer, not that cheap is a word that one can really use for these tools. At this price, no one can expect the same build quality as the top-rated tools that cost considerably more. Apart from the expected (cheaper) plastic components, there is one area of concern that I have to point out regarding the WEN6552 bench top planer.

I’ve heard of several owners who have had bearings collapse, which is not very reassuring. There seems to be a quality control issue here and the guys at WEN should take care of this. Because, in all other regards, this a wonderful bench top planer for its price. The good news is that WEN are very helpful in rectifying the situation, willingly repairing the defect under warranty. It seems as though the bearings will either break within the first few uses or hold up to regular work. I guess, it’s a question of luck as to whether you get a model with a faulty bearing. If luck is not on your side, you face the inconvenience of sending your planer for repairs and the possibility of transportation costs.

Having pointed out my concern regarding the WEN 6552, I should emphasize that this is still a great product with features and functions to compete with the very best. It is certainly deserving of a place on best 5 bench top planer list, amongst the more affordable machines.

The WEN 6552 is a pretty lightweight 13” bench top planer, weighing only 66-pounds. This is good news for those in search of a portable bench top planer, but it does suggest a less than heavy-duty purpose. Any bench top planer in this price range has to be seen as a light to medium-duty machine.

As they say: you get what you pay for.

For the home shop, or contractors that don’t use a bench top planer all that often, the WEN 6552 will certainly do the job with pretty much the same ease as the big boys. It has a powerful 15A electric motor, so it can handle hardwood as good as any of the best bench top planers. At a feed rate of 26 Feet per Minute (FPM), the 3-blade cutter does an amazing 25,000 cuts per minute. So, in terms of smooth scallop-free cutting, the WEN 6552 has the goods.

Over-sized depth scale and large crank handle with fine adjustments take all the hassle of setting the depth cut to within 1/64”, scale markings are 0 – 3/32”. Depth and width capacity are equal to the others in this review: 6” maximum depth capacity and 13” maximum width. Fold down infeed and outfeed tables offer a good deal of support and can be adjusted for the best infeed angle. This, combined with triple infeed rollers, do a lot to minimize the chance of snipe. Along with a vacuum port, this planer also has a fan assisted sawdust and woodchip expulsion system for when it’s not possible to use a vacuum extractor.

As a very portable bench top planer, the WEN is great. Lightweight design, folding tables, and comfortable handles all contribute to its portability. This is a very capable machine, with many features that one wouldn’t expect to find on a bench top planer this cheap. All this makes the WEN 6552 outstanding value for money. The 2-year warranty goes a long way to put your mind at ease if you have some concerns about the quality of this machine.

Pros:

·Very affordable.

·Top features, like a fan extractor and folding infeed and outfeed tables.

·Lightweight and portable.

Cons:

·Infeed and outfeed tables are not too sturdy.

·Can be prone to bearing failure.

·Some plastic components are a little flimsy.

Check price at Amazon

Grizzly G0505 12 Bench Top Planer


We normally think of heavy-duty very expensive tools whenever the Grizzly name is mentioned. The Grizzly G0505 isn’t all that cheap, costing only a little less than DeWalt DW735, making it the second most expensive model in this best 5 bench top planer review. Though, in comparison to the heavy-duty equipment that this brand is synonymous for, the Grizzly G0505 is way cheaper than I’d have expected.

Even at this price, its heavy-duty industrial heritage is clearly evident. Durable metal is used throughout and all components appear to be sturdy and well-made. Despite the tough design and build, it is not as heavy as one would think. At 78-pounds, I feel a healthy balance has been achieved between portability and good old-fashioned solid stability. Handles at either side of the machine make for easier portability. It’s clear to me that the guys at Grizzly have set out to build a quality portable bench top planer for professional contractors in the same spirit as their large industrial machines.

The Grizzly G0505 has the technical specs to stand proudly amongst the best portable bench top planers. A width capacity of 12 and a maximum depth capacity of 6” is in line with the other planers in this review. A rugged and powerful 2HP motor delivers the goods and keeps the cutting head rotating at 10,000 RPM, even when pushing through seriously hard wood. The folding infeed and outfeed tables are sturdy and well-made. As is the superbly polished smooth base. I like the return rollers at the top, another indication that this planer is designed for practical woodworking.

The large depth control handle is easy to use, with large a large depth scale gauge along the front. Material removal is down to 1/8” knives, pretty much the standard for top rated planers in this class. This offers a 3/32” maximum depth of cut, and a minimum board thickness of 13/64”. At a feed rate of 32 FPM, the Grizzly accomplishes 52 Cuts per Inch. I find it strange that they have chosen to use a 2-knife cutting head, when a 3-knife setup is the best. Though these are high-quality HSS knives, with double-edged reversable design. By all accounts, the Grizzly leaves a great finish on all types of wood.

While the Grizzly G0505 has the technical specifications to make it one of the very best bench top planers, it lacks some of the refinement and advanced features that I so like on the DeWalt equivalent (DW735). The Grizzly is a noisy beast, which is acceptable, a woodworking shop is never going to be quiet. You’d best wear ear protection when operating this planer. It doesn’t have the additional equipment to make your life easier. Instead, the Grizzly is a no-nonsense workhorse, designed for durability.
Pros:

·Solid industrial design

·Top-mounted return rollers

·Sturdy infeed and outfeed tables
Cons:

·Noisy.

·2-blade cutter, when most of the best planers use a 3-knife system.

·Basic features

Check price at Amazon

Delta Tools 22-555 13” Bench Top Planer


I’m surprised at the very reasonable price tag attached to the Delta Tools 22-555 bench top planer. Only a few dollars cheaper than the WEN 6552, it is the second cheapest in this review. In most respects, this looks like a well-made tool, with quality components. The 5-year warranty is certainly nothing to scoff at, especially at this price. Though, like it’s cheaper WEN stablemate, the Delta 13” bench top planer also seems suffer the same bearing weakness. You should consider this to be a great entry level bench top planer for the hobbyist woodworker.

Apart from some complaints of bearings giving up the ghost, I cannot fault the design and build of this planer. Everything seems to be robust and built to work. The foldable infeed and outfeed tables are both sturdy and perfectly smooth. It shares the four-column design with more expensive heavy-duty machines, making it stable and ultimately durable. Dual polyurethane rollers make for really smooth feeding of the boards.

Like the Grizzly (reviewed above), this planer uses only 2-knives. Naturally, I’d prefer three. Though it has the power and rotation to get the job done and the finish is remarkably smooth, despite only using two knives. All the technical specs compare well to any of the best 5 bench top planers in this review. Maximum board width is 13”, with a height of 6”. Minimum stock dimensions are 1/8” X 10”.

The 15A motor is on a par with any of the others, giving you a feed rate of 28 FPM with 18,800 Cuts per Minute. At a weight of 58-pounds, no one can complain about portability. I’d say it’s actually a little too lightweight, you may need to fasten it to the workbench in order to prevent the machine from moving around.

Like the WEN 6552, the Delta Tools 22-555 13” bench top planer offers great value for money. It will never be able to fully compete with the industrial grade, more expensive tools, but offers a lot at a very reasonable price.
Pros:

·Very affordable

·Features comparable to more expensive planers

·5-year warranty

Cons:

·Bearings may need replacing sooner than most.

·Large plastic depth adjustment handle can be easily damaged.

·Lightweight may be good for portability, but indicates extensive use of lightweight materials that may not be too durable and affects stability.

Check price at Amazon

The Final Word

Of the 5 best bench top planers in this review, I feel there is one outright winner: The DeWalt DW735. It is the most expensive but has the quality to rival the best industrial grade tools. Few portable bench planers have the stability and features found on the DeWalt DW735.

A close second place has to go to the Grizzly G0505. It is noticeably cheaper than the top-rated DeWalt machine but has an industrial grade quality factor that is hard to beat. It may be a little rough around the edges, and not too sophisticated, but it does a superb job. More importantly, the Grizzly should keep working perfectly for many years.

Neatly in the middle, the DeWalt DW734 provides an excellent combination of affordability, quality, and features. It is not as expensive as the first two on the list, but the cheaper DeWalt has all the quality hallmarks that we associate with the brand. Though it obviously doesn’t have all the advanced features that you’ll find on the more expensive DeWalt model in this review.

At the bottom of the list, we find the two cheaper options, the WEN 6552 and the Delta 22-555. While neither of these two planers can really compete with the top machines, they are a lot cheaper. At the lower end of the price range, these two planers are probably the best entry level tools for beginners.