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 beginner woodworker has to consider. When deciding between a hand planer vs table planer or bench 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 no which one to choose.

A hand planer, be it manual or electric, is common in most woodworking shops. A bench planer, on the other hand, won’t always be found in a home shop. I’ll explain the difference between 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 what we’re talking about when discussing a hand planer vs table planer.

BenchTop Planers

Bench planers are large machines, and this might not always be that practical for a small shop. They do, however, 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, that 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 are the 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, that 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. 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. A cabinet, or standing, table planer has a large footprint. The machines are mounted to heavy cabinets, or stands, and are not portable. They have the advantage of providing a greater width capacity for larger boards.


Our Best Recommended Table Planers At Amazon

Image
Top Pick
DEWALT Thickness Planer, Two Speed, 13-Inch (DW735)
DEWALT Benchtop Planer, Single Speed, 15-Amp, 12-1/2-Inch (DW734)
Best Budget Buy
WEN 6552T 13 in. 15 Amp 3-Blade Benchtop Corded Thickness Planer
Grizzly Industrial G0505-12-1/2" 2 HP Benchtop Planer
Delta Power Tools 22-555 13 In Portable Thickness Planer
Product
DEWALT Thickness Planer, Two Speed, 13-Inch (DW735)
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
Delta Power Tools 22-555 13 In Portable Thickness Planer
Price
Price not available
$448.00
$338.20
$435.95
$379.00
Prime Status
-
-
Rating and Reviews
Total Reviews
565 Reviews
622 Reviews
317 Reviews
47 Reviews
144 Reviews
Top Pick
Image
DEWALT Thickness Planer, Two Speed, 13-Inch (DW735)
Product
DEWALT Thickness Planer, Two Speed, 13-Inch (DW735)
Price
Price not available
Prime Status
-
Rating and Reviews
Total Reviews
565 Reviews
Buy On Amazon
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
$448.00
Prime Status
Rating and Reviews
Total Reviews
622 Reviews
Buy On Amazon
Best Budget Buy
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
$338.20
Prime Status
Rating and Reviews
Total Reviews
317 Reviews
Buy On Amazon
Image
Grizzly Industrial G0505-12-1/2" 2 HP Benchtop Planer
Product
Grizzly Industrial G0505-12-1/2" 2 HP Benchtop Planer
Price
$435.95
Prime Status
-
Rating and Reviews
Total Reviews
47 Reviews
Buy On Amazon
Image
Delta Power Tools 22-555 13 In Portable Thickness Planer
Product
Delta Power Tools 22-555 13 In Portable Thickness Planer
Price
$379.00
Prime Status
Rating and Reviews
Total Reviews
144 Reviews
Buy On Amazon

Hand Planers And Electric Planers

The biggest advantage to using a hand planer is that you can take it anywhere and use it on per-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 requires 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 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
29 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

 

 

Sale
Stanley 12-404 No. 4 Adjustable Bench Plane with 2-Inch Cutter
505 Reviews
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 Hand Planer, 7-Amp, 3-1/4-Inch (DW680K)
Cordless
DEWALT DCP580B 20V MAX Brushless Planer (Tool Only)
Cordless
Makita XPK01Z 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Cordless 3-1/4-Inch Planer, Tool Only
Bosch Power
Bosch PL1632 6.5 Amp Planer, 3-1/4"
Best Seller
PORTER-CABLE Hand Planer, 6-Amp, 5/64-Inch (PC60THP)
Product
DEWALT Hand Planer, 7-Amp, 3-1/4-Inch (DW680K)
DEWALT DCP580B 20V MAX Brushless Planer (Tool Only)
Makita XPK01Z 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Cordless 3-1/4-Inch Planer, Tool Only
Bosch PL1632 6.5 Amp Planer, 3-1/4"
PORTER-CABLE Hand Planer, 6-Amp, 5/64-Inch (PC60THP)
Corded
Yes
No Tool Only
No Tool Only
Yes
Yes
Price
Price not available
Price not available
$162.70
$186.35
$70.99
Prime
-
-
-
Ratings
Latest Reviews
143 Reviews
414 Reviews
138 Reviews
296 Reviews
449 Reviews
Top Pick
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
Price not available
Prime
-
Ratings
Latest Reviews
143 Reviews
Buy On Amazon
Cordless
Image
DEWALT DCP580B 20V MAX Brushless Planer (Tool Only)
Product
DEWALT DCP580B 20V MAX Brushless Planer (Tool Only)
Corded
No Tool Only
Price
Price not available
Prime
Ratings
Latest Reviews
414 Reviews
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 Tool Only
Price
$162.70
Prime
-
Ratings
Latest Reviews
138 Reviews
Buy On Amazon
Bosch Power
Image
Bosch PL1632 6.5 Amp Planer, 3-1/4"
Product
Bosch PL1632 6.5 Amp Planer, 3-1/4"
Corded
Yes
Price
$186.35
Prime
-
Ratings
Latest Reviews
296 Reviews
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
$70.99
Prime
Ratings
Latest Reviews
449 Reviews
Buy On Amazon

 

So there you have it, Basically if you are going to do a lot of wood working from home we would recommend a table planer.

If your a handy man 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 bench top 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 wood workers in this day an age have all three types of planers so it really depends on your specific situation.

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

Feel free to drop us a comment below if you have any questions.

Regards

The Best Power Toolz Team

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