Shop Talk

Choosing a Heavy-Duty Portable Planer

  • Makita, Dewalt and Steel City


    A portable planer can be a tremendous asset to your shop or workspace. Smoothly transforming your wood projects into unique and professional pieces, one of these heavy-duty portable planers is sure to provide the experienced and efficient results you strive for. 

    For a superior quality 12” planer Makita’s 2012NB is just about as good as it gets. Offering craftsmen durable portability and precise power in a surprisingly compact package, the tool moves easily from one job-site to another. A lightweight, four-post design with diagonal cross supports keeps the tool unfailingly stable, and with a detachable tool box, you’ll never be without your essential equipment and accessories. The planer’s table extensions provide additional support to the workpiece, and with virtually eliminated snipe, performance is uncommonly smooth. As the quietest planer in its class, and with one of the fastest, easiest blade changing systems on the market (using disposable, double-edged blades), the planer is simple and comfortable to use. The tool has a fully adjustable depth stop for the most accurate repeat cuts, and with an easily adjustable cutting depth, the planer is brilliantly precise. Ranging in price from about $480 – $510, the 2012NB is a compact, powerful planer built for superior operation both in the shop and in the field.

    On another hand, Dewalt’s DW734 12-1/2″ thickness planer is one of the more powerful portable planers in the business today. Offering craftsmen a 15 amp, 10,000 RPM motor, the tool has outstanding durability and the capacity to handle larger and deeper cuts into even the hardest woods. The planer’s three-knife cutter-head provides 96 cuts per inch leaving one of the smoothest, finest finishes from any comparable machine; this means that even your most aggressive jobs will be left with a most professional, smooth touch. The tool offers fast and simple blade changes, and because the planer uses disposable, reversible planer knives, the blades have a much greater life-span and contribute to a more convenient planing process. The tool’s snipe reduction design and longer in-feed and out-feed tables (providing 33-1/2″ of material support) ensure secure stability, and with a turret depth stop which allows users to easily revisit their most frequent cut depths, the planer is a truly brilliant machine. Pricing at just about $400, the DW734 is an awesome thickness planer at a really great price.

    For something just a little bit bigger, Dewalt’s DW735 13″ thickness planer is a beastly powerful and precise machine. With a 15 amp, 20,000 RPM motor the tool handles large cuts in wide materials and has the durability to consistently deliver the utmost high-performance. The machine’s three-knife cutter-head simplifies knife changes, and with a two-speed gear box (96 or 179 CPI), users can change feed speeds to optimize cuts per inch. A fan-assisted chip ejection system cleanly vacuums dust and debris off the cutter-head and exhausts it out of the planer for the cleanest, most worry-free working environment, and with a cast aluminum base, the tool is durable on the outside as well. An automatic carriage lock automatically reduces snipe, and with an accurate material removal gauge and enhanced thickness scale, every pass produces an precise and professional cut. An ultra-large turret depth stop allows users to easily return to their most frequently used thicknesses, and pricing at just about $650, this portable planer is certainly an investment, but a worthwhile one to say the least.

    For a truly superior 13” portable planer, Steel City’s 40200H is a real diamond in the rough. Offering an exceptional design, high-power, seriously high-performance, and a price tag of just about $600, this deluxe planer is a sound investment and a brilliant machine. With a 15 amp motor and cutter-head speed of 9,000 RPM, the planer masters full width planing and continuous jobs with power to spare, and because the cutter-head is built with a patented helical-head design, that surplus of power is unfailingly reliable. The helical-head has 26 indexable HSS inserts to ensure the most professional finishes, a longer cut time, and far quieter operation. Ultra long in-feed and out-feed tables (that fold in for storage and transportation) also work to to support your larger work pieces, and to ensure the most precise planing with every pass, the machine’s depth of cut indicator is clear and simple to read. Additionally, a firmly locking snipe-lock vastly minimizes snipe, and consequently maximizes your positive output as well rendering this little beauty a machine that keeps on giving.

    Whether you’re looking for a high-performance portable planer to spice up your shop, or a heavy-duty portable planer to travel with you on the job, one of these models is certain to be a fine companion.