Checked and updated on November 27, 2020 by Aaron Barnett
The best electric wood planer is cordless and portable, with an accurate to the point depth adjustment dial that is fast and easy to set for each swipe. It’s important to also have a battery life that lasts a demanding environment in a lightweight design. Also, consider easy access blades for changing and adjusting to keep them parallel if you hit a nail or a savage knot.
The Makita XPK01Z is one of my favorite power tools. It is comfortable to hold, and being cordless it means not being tethered to a power outlet.
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Electric planers are power tools that remove small amounts of wood by shaving off thin slices with each stroke. Most planers have two or three blades that can take off up to 3/32″ of material in a single pass, although some can remove as much as 5/64″.
Electric planes are relatively simple tools, but they perform essential functions that no other tools can. They can handle be used for reclaiming old timber by stripping away discolored wood.
Builders often use power planers to straighten framing, quickly reduce timber to the right thickness, and square uneven edges in flooring material, door jambs, and pretty much any joinery work.
Most electric planes are pretty lightweight so they can be carried easily while climbing around a building site. Even small planers are usually good enough for basic home repair and building cupboards, shelves, and cabinets.
However, small handheld electric planers aren’t usefully ideal for working with hardwoods. Most compact models and DIY models are somewhat underpowered and may burn out when pushed too hard. If you are going to be working with hardwood a lot, I suggest you go for a heavy-duty model that can stand up to the task.
If the choice comes down between a corded and a cordless planer, figure out the type of work you are trying to do. Cordless models are excellent for building work, especially when there is no power outlet nearby. A cordless planer will also be useful in a busy worksite where you want to minimize the number of power cords and cables lying around.
Most professionals have more than one electric plane in their toolkit: a cordless one for quick and easy jobs, and a heavy-duty model for bigger and more demanding work. It is also a good idea to have both a corded and a cordless model so you can choose either one depending on the work setting.
Features to consider
Before you buy a cordless wood planer…
Get a tool that lasts.
Planers that are brushless, and manufactured by top brands, and made from the best materials. Most come with at least a 2-year warranty, so you can be fairly confident with their build quality.
Make sure you have the power you need.
You will want sufficient power for most tasks but make sure that you can the size and weight make’s the tool easy to use. Most handhelds from reputable brands do have powerful motors, allowing you to cut most types of wood consistently smooth.
Pay the price.
As with all power tools, don’t go with the cheapest model you can find. It is always worth spending on a better model now and get reliable services for years, rather than going for an inexpensive model that you will have to replace sooner or later. Choose your planer carefully, and it will pay for itself many times over.
Consider your safety.
The best planers have a second safety power switches so you need to push 2 buttons to turn the tool on, this is good for when you are carrying the tool while plugged in, or with the battery installed.
Cordless planers are than corded models because no power cable can get in the way, although you still have to be careful of the blades. If you do use a corded planer make sure you use an RCD at the power source.
Good jobs for an electric plane?
Electric planers are mainly used for smoothening wood surfaces. But they can also be used to smoothen the end grain of rough-cut pieces and to taper doors that are too wide to fit into the door jamb.
They also make it easy to remove an even amount of material from workpieces, which can be very difficult to do with non-electric planes. You do this by holding the planer on a slight angle.
An electric planer can handle a wide variety of other building jobs too, from kitchen joinery to making adjustments in finished work. Models with precise depth adjustments allow you to remove very small amounts of material at a time until you get the piece just right.
Another common use of electric planes is leveling floor joists. To do this, you will first have to take a straight edge and mark off the irregularities that need leveling.
Then, mark the low spots to establish a platform for working. You can then use your electric planer to shave off the joists until they are flat and level.
Planers can make it easy to get walls perfectly straight and level. By making repeated shallow passes from framing timber that has a bulge, you can do this while avoiding removing too much material as each swipe takes a thin slice off at a time.
You can use a green laser level to help with many planing jobs, the laser level will give you a clear temporary mark to plane to. You easily level floor joists or finish straightening wall jobs with the combination of using a laser level and a cordless wood planer.
Corded vs. Cordless planers
I prefer cordless planers because there isn’t a lead that could get in the way. With corded planers, there is always a risk of cutting the cord accidentally, which could mean a costly replacement.
It also means the planer is easier to move around and use, as its a tool that is moved around often, and used on ladders and scaffolds.
I’ve found that the best cordless models from Makita, DeWalt, and Milwaukee have enough grunt for most planing tasks. They are also usually easier to use than most other corded planers, shaving off up to 5/64” with every swipe.
As much as I like using my cordless planer, I do have a corded model that I use for heavy-duty jobs. Switching over to the corded planer helps avoid wear-and-tear on my cordless.
For everything else, it’s hard to beat a cordless planer for its ease of use, and getting a smooth finish.
If you need to do a lot of indoor heavy duty planing work that lasts continuously for more than 15 min at a time only-then would you think about getting a corded model to save wear and tear on your battery pack.
How importance is a accurate depth adjustment dial?
It’s always useful to have a depth adjustment dial with tiny increments. Most planers for the DIY market do not have a very precise depth adjustment control.
This feature moves the cutting blades while keeping the base flat and parallel to the blade so that an equal amount of material is removed with every swipe.
A problem with DIY models is that they tend to plane at an angle after the depth is adjusted a few times. This can make the tool useless for precision planing and finishing work. A trick to do if you notice your planer beginning to plane at an angle is to start alternating planning directions.
This can stop a square edge from being planned out of square with DIY models but obviously isn’t ideal. If a pro model is planning out of square, you need to check to see whether or not the blades are positioned correctly, and you then need to adjust them if needed.
Makita power planers have the best depth adjustment control, with dials that click at every increment. Doing so while keeping the base plate parallel with the blades, giving you even cutting results.
What are the best wood planers: And why
Makita is known for its quality power tools, and its planers are among the best on the market. The Makita XPK01Z is an excellent choice for serious woodworkers and builders, and it is more than enough to handle even demanding DIY work.
The XPK01Z can cut to a width of 3-1/4″ and 5/64″ depth in a single pass. It has a gutter head fitted with two blades for maximum power. The 14,000 RPM motor allows for quick stock removal, and it even had an easy to read scale guide for setting the cutting depth.
The XPK01Z is pretty much ready to go right out of the box a cordless wood planner is my #1 recommendation over a corded plane. I get smooth and even finish every time. The battery life is impressive.
If you have large amounts of indoor work a corded planer can run for longer periods of time, take a look at the Makita KP0800K. A 3-1/4” this model that has a 6.5-amp motor, it removes material faster than most other corded planers in its class.
It’s also pretty lightweight. The KP0800K takes off as much as 3/32″ of material in a single pass, and the two-blade cutter head always results in a smooth and even finish.
The Makita KP312 is a larger model, for huge wood planing jobs with a motor that can be adjusted from 12,000 RPM to 15,000 RPM. It has a unique poly “V” belt design that allows the mechanism to transfer power efficiently.
The KP312 also has a front roller that makes it easy to move over uneven surfaces and a large ejection chute for discharging chips.
This is a corded model with a cord length of 33 feet, so you don’t have to worry about being too far away from a power outlet. This is suited for the most serious woodworker that tackles jobs like building a table from a tree or are building a wooden boat in the garage.
What happens if your not getting results: Blade adjustment
To get your blade perfectly positioned parallel to the base plate using a socket set on the hex head screws that are holding the blades in place.
Otherwise, look for a small lever at the top of the blade mechanism. This metal clamp is called a lever cap, and it keeps the blade assembly in place. The lever cap itself is held in position by a screw and a cam. When you move the cam to the ‘locked’ position, it presses the lever cap against the screw and keeps the blade in position.
Annoyingly most DIY blades tend to move out of alignment even after only a few uses sometimes, this is because the casing that is holding the blade is not strong enough to hold after a bit of heavy use.
Component failures with DIY branded planers
With cheaper DIY marketed electric plane tools, you have a few issues with this particular tool. The most common problem is the rubber belt that drives the blade can be made from a cheaper material. This belt tends to wear down more quickly and possibly break.
The most annoying issue a cheaper plane can have is the base plate can become out of line in parallel to the blades, this can cause the tool to cut out of square.
The blades may also slip slightly out of the casing that holds them this results in uneven cuts, and the possibility of injury or damage to the work-piece.
The best planers for sale have very strong blades that can remove large chunks of wood. However, they can also tear out the grain in the work-piece, causing small pieces to fall off and clog up the blade assembly. It’s a good idea to check the dust port frequently to make sure that it is empty and free of obstructions.
When to get a cheaper DIY brand planer
Get a professional planer for any building and finishing work, especially if you want consistent results and smooth finishes. But for really heavy-duty hardwood jobs when you aren’t that concerned about high-quality results, rather to just remove a bulk amount of timber quickly you could use DIY planer like a XU1 or a old corded planer as a sacrifice.
This will help you avoid putting your good cordless planer through wood that might contain nails and to avoid wear-and-tear from the heavyier taxing jobs.
What size planer is best
If you do plan on doing a lot of planeing work, Makita has two large electric planes that are well suited for the job: the KP312 15-amp and the 1806B 10.9-amp models. They are more powerful than standard models in their respective price ranges and can help you get the job done much more quickly especially for large heavy-duty jobs.
Standard electric planers are versatile, allowing you to do most any type of planeing work. You do have to get used to the action and practice if you have to do small or detailed work. The Makita planers come in cordless and corded models. I suggest you get the cordless version first and pick the corded model up later on if you need it, in most cases you won’t.
For light DIY and building work in and around the house, a standard planer should be able to get the job done in most cases. Lighter planes are a lot easier to handle, and they are less likely to cause fatigue even with prolonged use.
Makita also has electric planers that are the ideal size and weight for even beginners and there shouldn’t be any trouble handling them easily.
Tips for using an electric planer
It’s always a good idea to work with a sharp blade. But don’t throw your old one away when it gets dull. You can sharpen planer blades pretty easily with a sharpening stone, and you could save yourself the cost of a new one. Unless the blade is broken or corroded, you can follow a honing guide and sharpen and recycle your blades a few times before you need to replace them.
You should use Irwin clamps to firmly support any lose work, so both of your hands are free to hold and guide your plane square.
Try to keep even pressure on the planer throughout the cutting process, this will help keep the blade steady and in a straight line. It is especially important to maintain constant pressure when you are close to the edge so that you don’t cause any unevenness or jaggedness.
Figure out the proper speed and depth for the work you are trying to do. How fast you push the planer and how deep you set it will affect the smoothness of the work. Try to do it slowly at first and make a few passes instead of trying to carve out one big chunk. This will give you more consistent and even results.
Makita makes some of the best power tools around, so it’s no surprise that their planers are the top picks in this roundup.
The cordless XPK01Z is a great choice for all-around DIY work at home, while the corded KP0800K is better suited for more demanding building jobs. And if you need even more power, you could look into the KP312, which has a 15 amp motor for those really big jobs.
To perfectly set and automate the thickness of multiple wooden boards, have a read of my thickness planner reviews.
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