Hand Planer vs Table Planer – Which is Your Best Choice?

Close up A man with work clothes and a cap carpenter scouring a wooden board on an thicknessing machine in a light workshop

Buying the best planer for the job at hand is something that every woodworker has to consider. When deciding between a hand planer vs table planer, you need to consider what you intend on using your planer for.

I’m sure you know planers do have a lot of uses in the workshop so it’s understandable you want to know which one to choose right away. I’ll explain the difference between the hand planers and table planers in this article.

With this information, you should be able to determine which planer is going to be your best option. By the end, you should know exactly which type of planer you should be looking to purchase for your particular needs.

First up- Benchtop Planers

Bench planers are portable machines that fulfill a specific purpose and can save you quite a lot of money when buying lumber for DIY furniture projects.

Often referred to as a thickness planer, bench planers allow you to size boards to the correct thickness accurately and easily. You adjust the depth of cut to size boards to the desired thickness.

You then pass the boards through the infeed rollers and it comes out the opposite side square and at the desired thickness. This saves a lot of time, especially if you’ve joined, or laminated, several pieces to make one surface.

Buying unfinished lumber, which is wood that has not been finished to a flat uniform surface, is much cheaper than wood that has been flattened beforehand. Over the years, a bench planer could pay for itself. By doing the finishing yourself, you will be saving a bundle of cash on lumber costs.

If you intend on making your own furniture, I would consider a bench (table) planer as an essential tool in your home shop. It is the most efficient way to get your boards to the perfect thickness an create perfectly flat surfaces for joining and laminating.

Once you’ve passed the wood through the planer, there is very little sanding required, especially if you use a high-end planer that leaves a nearly perfect surface.

There are two very important factors when deciding on the best bench planer. The first would be the size of the machine. The width of the planer determines what size boards you can pass through. A 12” bench planer will only accommodate boards that have a width of 12” or less.

The other thing to consider is the cutting knives. Scallop is a wave-like finish to the surface of the board. A table planer works by using knives fitted to a rotating shaft. This can result in the curve of the blade angle leaving indentations in the wood surface, which is scallop.

Most of the best table planers make use of three knives. More knives reduce the effects of scallop. Many may use only two knives and the effect of fewer knives can be overcome by a higher rotation speed, but three knives tend to be the best.

Benchtop planers are usually the best table planers for a home shop, they are not too large, and are portable. However, these machines are generally limited to a width of 13” or less.


Our Best Recommended Table Planers At Amazon

Image
Top Pick
DEWALT 13-Inch Thickness Planer - Three Knife, Two speed, DW735X model
Runner Up
DEWALT Benchtop Planer, Single Speed, 15-Amp, 12-1/2-Inch (DW734)
Best Value Pick
WEN 6552T 13 in. 15 Amp 3-Blade Benchtop Corded Thickness Planer
Grizzly Power
Grizzly Industrial G0505 - 12-1/2" 2 HP Benchtop Planer
Product
DEWALT 13-Inch Thickness Planer - Three Knife, Two speed, DW735X model
DEWALT Benchtop Planer, Single Speed, 15-Amp, 12-1/2-Inch (DW734)
WEN 6552T 13 in. 15 Amp 3-Blade Benchtop Corded Thickness Planer
Grizzly Industrial G0505 - 12-1/2" 2 HP Benchtop Planer
Price
Price not available
Price not available
$408.02
$495.95
Prime Status
-
-
Top Pick
Image
DEWALT 13-Inch Thickness Planer - Three Knife, Two speed, DW735X model
Product
DEWALT 13-Inch Thickness Planer - Three Knife, Two speed, DW735X model
Price
Price not available
Prime Status
Buy On Amazon
Runner Up
Image
DEWALT Benchtop Planer, Single Speed, 15-Amp, 12-1/2-Inch (DW734)
Product
DEWALT Benchtop Planer, Single Speed, 15-Amp, 12-1/2-Inch (DW734)
Price
Price not available
Prime Status
Buy On Amazon
Best Value Pick
Image
WEN 6552T 13 in. 15 Amp 3-Blade Benchtop Corded Thickness Planer
Product
WEN 6552T 13 in. 15 Amp 3-Blade Benchtop Corded Thickness Planer
Price
$408.02
Prime Status
-
Buy On Amazon
Grizzly Power
Image
Grizzly Industrial G0505 - 12-1/2" 2 HP Benchtop Planer
Product
Grizzly Industrial G0505 - 12-1/2" 2 HP Benchtop Planer
Price
$495.95
Prime Status
-
Buy On Amazon

 



On To Hand Planers And Electric Planers

The biggest advantage of using a hand planer is that you can take it anywhere and use it on pre-installed woodwork. Unlike a table planer, where the wood has to be passed through the planer, you pass the planer over the wood that you’re working with.

Using a hand planer to finish large boards or tabletops, is time-consuming and not too accurate. For these jobs, a table planer is the best option. Finishing narrow pieces like table legs is a perfect way to utilize a hand planer.

Probably the best case to be made for the hand planer is when it comes to maintenance and site work. Trimming doors to size is one of the main purposes of a hand planer. This could be when you’re installing a door for the first time, or when a door swells after being exposed to moisture.

You can remove thin layers of wood until the door fits perfectly, and the surface will be smooth and square.

For building projects, a hand planer is essential. Fitting cabinets and balustrades usually require some final cutting to obtain a perfect fit. The fact that a hand planer will remove a very thin layer with each pass, allows you to get pieces to fit into corners with perfect precision.

Getting shelves to fit and other site joining projects, will almost always require some degree of planning.

Traditional manual hand planers are still very popular because you can use them anywhere without the need for an electric outlet. They are relatively easy to use and don’t require much physical effort.

Manual hand planers are also cheaper and are virtually indestructible, if you buy a quality planer. Electric hand planers use rotating knives and can save time when you’re doing a lot of planning. They are often easier to use than hand planers.


Best Recommended Hand Planers

Manual Hand Planers

Taytools 469591 Fore Bench Hand Plane #6, 18 Inch Sole, Ductile Cast Body, Lapped Sides and Bottom, Blade RHC 55-60, Sapele Handle and Tote
36 Reviews
Taytools 469591 Fore Bench Hand Plane #6, 18 Inch Sole, Ductile Cast Body, Lapped Sides and Bottom, Blade RHC 55-60, Sapele Handle and Tote
  • Body and frog made from nearly indestructible ductile cast iron
  • Tote and knob are made from premium grade oiled and hand-rubbed Sapele
  • Iron is 0.120” thick and 2-3/8” wide and made from tool steel hardened and tempered to 55-60
  • Sole precision ground to within the British Standard of 0.005” over the entire length
  • Overall length 18" and 2-7/8" wide, overall weight 7.86 pounds

 

 

Stanley 12-404 No. 4 Adjustable Bench Plane with 2-Inch Cutter
  • 9-3/4-inch adjustable bench plane with a 2-inch cutter
  • Hardened, tempered steel gives precision-ground cutter edge durability
  • Gray, cast-iron base with precision-ground sides and bottom; durable epoxy coating provides long-lasting protection
  • High-impact polymer handles and knobs are contoured and polished
  • 2-inch cutter; limited lifetime warranty

 


Electric Hand Planers

Image
Top Pick
DEWALT DCP580B 20V MAX Brushless Planer (Tool Only)
Runner Up
Bosch PL1632 6.5 Amp Planer, 3-1/4"
Cordless
Makita XPK01Z 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Cordless 3-1/4-Inch Planer, Tool Only
Best Seller
PORTER-CABLE Hand Planer, 6-Amp, 5/64-Inch (PC60THP)
Out Door Use
DEWALT Hand Planer, 7-Amp, 3-1/4-Inch (DW680K)
Product
DEWALT DCP580B 20V MAX Brushless Planer (Tool Only)
Bosch PL1632 6.5 Amp Planer, 3-1/4"
Makita XPK01Z 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Cordless 3-1/4-Inch Planer, Tool Only
PORTER-CABLE Hand Planer, 6-Amp, 5/64-Inch (PC60THP)
DEWALT Hand Planer, 7-Amp, 3-1/4-Inch (DW680K)
Corded
No
Yes
No
Yes
Yes
Price
Price not available
$119.00
$158.64
$69.57
$172.99
Prime
Top Pick
Image
DEWALT DCP580B 20V MAX Brushless Planer (Tool Only)
Product
DEWALT DCP580B 20V MAX Brushless Planer (Tool Only)
Corded
No
Price
Price not available
Prime
Buy On Amazon
Runner Up
Image
Bosch PL1632 6.5 Amp Planer, 3-1/4"
Product
Bosch PL1632 6.5 Amp Planer, 3-1/4"
Corded
Yes
Price
$119.00
Prime
Buy On Amazon
Cordless
Image
Makita XPK01Z 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Cordless 3-1/4-Inch Planer, Tool Only
Product
Makita XPK01Z 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Cordless 3-1/4-Inch Planer, Tool Only
Corded
No
Price
$158.64
Prime
Buy On Amazon
Best Seller
Image
PORTER-CABLE Hand Planer, 6-Amp, 5/64-Inch (PC60THP)
Product
PORTER-CABLE Hand Planer, 6-Amp, 5/64-Inch (PC60THP)
Corded
Yes
Price
$69.57
Prime
Buy On Amazon
Out Door Use
Image
DEWALT Hand Planer, 7-Amp, 3-1/4-Inch (DW680K)
Product
DEWALT Hand Planer, 7-Amp, 3-1/4-Inch (DW680K)
Corded
Yes
Price
$172.99
Prime
Buy On Amazon

 

So there you have it, Basically, if you are going to do a lot of woodworking Involving boards that will need to be a certain thickness then a benchtop planer is what you will need.

If your a handyman on the go and you do a lot of small renovation jobs then an electric hand planer would better in your situation.

Although having a benchtop planer at home would still give you access to one should you need it and they are not that hard to transport to a job site if required.

We know most woodworkers in this day and age have all three types of planers so it really depends on your specific situation and how often you participate in woodworking.

It doesn’t really matter what level you’re at we just hope this article has helped you understand the differences in the two machines and which one, will benefit you and your woodworking ventures.

 

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