Woodworking Planer Reviews, Benchtop Planers and Stationary Models
You can find woodworking planer reviews lots of different places online. There are woodworking forums, retailer websites, magazine tests, and many personal websites where someone who owns a particular woodworking planer has posted their experience. If you have researched many woodworking tools at all, you almost certainly have found that personal opinions of any particular machine will vary considerably.
Even the "best" tool out there will likely have at least a few unhappy owners. In a world of mass-produced machinery, it is inevitable that a defective part will occasionally slip through the cracks. Manufacturers are also forced to make compromises in the design of any machine in order to keep costs down to an acceptable level.
Different people also have their own unique needs and expectations. A lot of the negative planer reviews that you see are actually the result of a person expecting too much from the machine that they bought. Just because a machine has the capacity to accept a 13' wide board and the capability to take off 1/8" in a single pass doesn't necessarily mean that it was designed to do both at the same time, all day long on exotic hardwood!
If numerous different people have a common complaint, you can figure that there actually is a potential flaw in the machine. Isolated cases of failures or individual complaints that you just see from one or two people usually aren't a cause for concern. When reading woodworking planer reviews, what you want to look for are patterns. That requires checking out reviews from many different sources to get an overview of what kind of experience others are having with a particular model.
It can be time-consuming though, to sort through all of the different sources on the web and dig through the forums looking for comments on a particular model. That's why I have compiled the planer reviews listed below. I have gathered as many different reviews and ratings as I could find on some of the most popular woodworking planers.
I have provided the features and specs for different brands and models, and listed the average owner ratings as well as quotes from various woodworking forums and individual reviews. Click on the links below to get a more in-depth and detailed idea of what actual owners are saying about a particular woodworking planer:
Delta Planers : Delta previously had six different models on the market, but several have been discontinued now. There were two portable benchtop planers and four stationary models. The breakdown is:
Delta planers come with a five year warranty and are priced similar to competing models.
Dewalt DW734: The "entry-level" Dewalt is a benchtop planer with a 12.5" width capacity, a three-knife cutterhead, and folding infeed/outfeed tables. It has fared pretty well in the magazine comparison tests, and the DW734 planer reviews overall are very good. It comes with a three year warranty.
Dewalt DW735: This is often considered to be the benchmark in the benchtop planer category. The DW735 has a 13" width capacity, a three-knife cutterhead, and dual speeds. The "regular" DW735 does not come with infeed or outfeed tables, but they are available separately or as part of the package if you get the DW735X model.
The average ratings on the DW735 actually aren't that great, which is misleading for a couple of reasons. When the DW735 first came out in 2003, there was a reliability issue that was corrected in 2004. There are also numerous complaints about short blade life. That issue has apparently also been corrected, but there are a lot of older reviews out there that bring the average ratings down.
The DW735X (with the infeed/outfeed tables) hasn't been out as long, but it is the exact same machine. DW735X planer reviews are much better than for the "regular" DW735. I think that is a better representation of the Dewalt DW735 that you can buy today. The DW735 and DW735X come with a three year warranty.
Jet Planers: Jet currently only offers stationary wood planers, and they compare pretty well with the stationary models available from Delta. There are six different models available, all with dual speeds:
The Jet planer reviews are very good overall, and the machines come with a five year warranty.
Makita 2012NB: Makita only offers one benchtop planer, the 2012NB. It has a 12" width capacity, a 2-knife cutterhead, and comes with folding infeed and outfeed tables. The surface finish it leaves is smoother than a lot of three-knife planers out there. It is also lighter than many other benchtop planers. The 2012NB comes with a one year warranty. Makita also has a line of handheld power planers that I have not reviewed yet, but they all get good ratings on Amazon.
Ridgid Planer: Ridgid previously had two woodworking planers available, the R4330 benchtop planer and the R888 cordless hand planer. The R4330 has been replaced with the R4331, and the cordless hand planer has apparently been discontinued.
The older model R4330 has a 13" width capacity, a three-knife cutterhead, and comes with folding infeed and outfeed tables. It gets good ratings overall, although for some reason it didn't fare very well on Amazon. It has won the "Best Value" award in a couple of magazine tests. The current model R4331 has good, but not great owner ratings on the Home Depot website. I will be compiling a new Ridgid benchtop planer review soon.
The (discontinued) R888 cordless planer uses Ridgid MaxSelect batteries in either the 18V or the 24V variety, but does not come with a battery or charger. It has a 3-1/4" wide cutterhead.
One advantage that is unique to Ridgid tools is the Lifetime Service Agreement, which is basically a lifetime warranty for the original owner.
Ryobi Planers: Ryobi previously had three different models available: the (now discontinued) AP1301 benchtop planer, the HPL51K handheld power planer, and the P610 cordless planer. These are all entry-level tools at entry-level prices, but they get surprisingly good reviews and come with a three year warranty.
The AP1301 benchtop planer (discontinued) has a 13" width capacity and a two-knife cutterhead. It does not have infeed or outfeed support tables like most other benchtop planers, but it was also at the bottom end of the planer price range. Like the Ridgid R4330, it has won the "Best Value" award in a couple of magazine comparison tests. Most owners agree that it is (or was) a good tool for the money for light-duty use.
The HPL51 handheld planer has a 3-1/4" two-knife cutterhead and a 5-amp motor. The P610 cordless planer has a 2" wide two-knife cutterhead, and it uses the Ryobi ONE+ batteries. It does not come with a battery or charger, but is a good buy if you already own other Ryobi ONE+ tools.
There are several other woodworking planers out there that are worth looking at. Powermatic planers have a good reputation, and Woodmaster planers also seem to have a following among serious woodworkers. Steel City, General, and Grizzly also make some good machines. I will be doing planer reviews of those brands later as time allows.