Last Updated on October 20, 2022 by Barry Gray
A handheld planer may not be the most used tool in your arsenal, but I feel any individual who plans to work with wood should certainly have one in their collection. I know that I can go through a time where I feel like it’s never taken out, but then a time comes when it’s just the perfect tool to get the job done.
You see, a handheld planer is also a straightforward tool to work with, and I see it as the perfect power tool even for an individual new to woodworking. The way that a handheld planer has the potential to transform your projects and get things smoother than you anticipated is also impressive.
I know large planer machines are out there on the market, but they do have their limitations. If you are working with a large board, then there’s a good chance your planer machine just cannot work with the stock simply because of the size. In those situations, that’s where your handheld planer can really come into its own.
But, as always, this leads to a problem, as a quick look at the market reveals a number of different handheld planers are out there. However, don’t worry because I have your back.
I have worked my way through the different options on the market, creating this list of five of the best handheld planers available right now. But if you don’t know what to look for in a planer, then you will probably be interested in my tips at the end, where I tell you all about the key aspects to look for in a planer.
- Best Overall Handheld Planer – DeWalt D26677K 3 ¼” Portable Hand Planer
- Best Value Handheld Planer – Porter-Cable PC60THP
- Best Cordless Handheld Planer – DeWalt DCP580B 20V MAX XR Cordless Planer
- Best Heavy-Duty Handheld Planer – Makita KP0810 Planer
- Best Lightweight Hand Planer – Ryobi One+ 18V 3 ¼” Planer
How I Made My List
I used my experience working with power tools over the years to make my list. I’ve got a good idea of what I want from a power tool regarding ease of use and reliability and getting the results I am looking for.
In the case of a handheld planer, I had specific criteria that I felt were important for a tool to qualify for my list.
For me, the handheld planer had to be light to hold to prevent fatigue. You could be using the planer for a prolonged period of time, so it had to be comfortable to hold, or that opens up a whole host of problems all on its own.
Also, it had to be powerful enough to produce the types of results I would be looking for. You want a planer that actually removes material and does so smoothly and without problems. You certainly do not want a planer to jump and jar, resulting in it effectively digging into the material, as that opens up a whole host of other issues.
Then there’s the issue of how easy it is to operate. I only wanted to suggest tools you could effectively take out of the box and use. I hate nothing more than a power tool that appears to want to make your life more difficult.
Finally, there was the question of what a tool was like to use over an extended period. So, I checked out what other owners had to say about their experiences.
After that, I had my list of five of the best handheld planers on the market that I feel will transform your entire project.
Best Overall Handheld Planer – DeWalt D26677K 3 ¼” Portable Hand Planer
- Power: 5.5 Amp
- Cutting Capacity: 3 ¼”
- Cutting Depth: 1/16”
For me, this handheld planer by DeWalt is the best on the market, and I say this for several reasons. Yes, I know this planer is corded, but I don’t think that should put you off giving it a shot.
Instead, I want you to focus on the fact that it comes packed with a lot of power and an impressive cutting capacity and depth.
Actually, with the 5.5 Amp of power, this machine produces an impressive 35,000 cuts per minute along with speeds of 17,000 RPM. That does mean it produces smooth end results that will be perfect for your woodworking projects.
Another thing I love about this model is that it comes with a reversible two-blade design. That should mean the blades should last longer than other models, and even changing the blades will not prove too challenging.
From a handling perspective, this tool has been ergonomically designed, so it does sit well in your hand. I feel this makes it easier to handle the tool, and you certainly won’t feel as if you are losing grip.
I also appreciate how this model comes with a front-mounted knob, making it easier to adjust and control the depth. It results in you having the impression that you can do anything you want with this handheld planer, which will respond to your actions.
Overall, this planer works exceptionally well, and it is also straightforward to use. With it being a DeWalt, durability should also not be an issue if you go ahead and purchase this model.
- It offers you a lot of speed in delivering quality end results
- It’s comfortable to hold
- You get extra blades and a fence in the kit
- Changing the depth is straightforward
- It’s highly durable and reliable
- You need to supply your own dust collection
Best Value Handheld Planer – Porter-Cable PC60THP
- Power: 6 Amp
- Speed: 16,500 CPM
- Cutting Depth: 5/64”
Porter-Cable is clearly a well-known and respected name, and in my opinion, they do still make some decent power tools. The PC60THP is my choice for the best value handheld planer, and I’ve chosen this one for a couple of reasons.
First, I think it offers a lot of power, thanks to those 6 Amps. That’s more than you see with many other brands, so it should have no issue working on any type of wood.
I also love how it produces so many cuts per minute. That leads to a smoother end result, so it quickly becomes apparent that this model works better than its price suggests.
And then there’s the control aspect. I do enjoy it when a planer gives you options, and this model certainly does that regarding the depth control. Actually, the adjustable knob has ten different steps, so you can carefully move thrown the cutting depth until you get it to exactly what you want.
To me, that means you stand a much better chance of getting your desired end result, and then there’s another reason why I love this model: the dust extraction.
This Porter-Cable handheld planer does a fantastic job of throwing the dust out of your way on both sides of the planer. That means you can still see what you are working on, leading to a reduction in the chances of you making mistakes.
But it still doesn’t end there. This model also has edge chamfering, which you also tend to miss out on elsewhere.
Overall, this handheld planer is a stunning example of what’s on the market. The fact it doesn’t have to cost a fortune to own either is just a real bonus.
- It produces a huge number of cuts per minute for a better finish
- It’s very easy to adjust the cutting depth
- It removes an impressive amount of wood in little time
- It keeps the dust away from you
- The edge chamfering option may prove more useful than anticipated
- It’s a bit on the loud side
Best Cordless Handheld Planer – DeWalt DCP580B 20V MAX XR Cordless Planer
- Power: 20V
- Cutting Capacity: 3 ¼”
- Cutting Depth: 5/64”
If you prefer your power tools to be cordless, can I suggest this model by DeWalt as the one you should choose? It’s part of their 20V battery range, so you know it’s not going to be lacking in power, and also, the battery lasts longer than you expect, even when planing large boards.
I also like how they ensured that this model comes with a brushless motor. That means it needs less maintenance and is less likely to burn out and stop working when you need it the most.
This particular model offers 30,000 cuts per minute thanks to a speed of 15,000 RPM and a two-blade cutterhead. Also, don’t stress about changing the cutting depth; this can be done in small increments of a fraction of an inch, so getting the correct depth should not prove problematic.
Thanks to the ergonomic design, you will also find this planer is easy to hold, which means you have more control. Overall, this cordless power tool is an absolute joy to use, and I have no doubt it will produce the types of results you are looking for.
- The brushless motor means better speed and less burnout
- The ergonomic design makes it easier to hold the planer
- Adjusting the cutting depth is straightforward
- It produces smooth results thanks to the cutter’s speed
- Changing blades is not problematic
- You need to get a dust bag yourself
Best Heavy-Duty Handheld Planer – Makita KP0810 Planer
- Power: 7.5 Amp
- Cutting Capacity: 3 ¼”
- Cutting Depth: 5/32”
If you know that you will be using your planer regularly and for extended periods, then I suggest this model by Makita. For me, this is more of a heavy-duty handheld planer, and I know it can cope with pretty much anything you throw at it.
This is all helped by the fact that it has a 7.5 Amp motor, which is more powerful than the average handheld planer. It produces speeds of 16,000 RPM resulting in 32,000 cuts per minute thanks to the two-blade cutterhead. However, that motor and power stand out for me, so it should make short work of even the toughest woods.
But this model comes with a couple of other features that make a difference. For example, it has spring-loaded feet, which gives the blades and surface some added protection from damage.
Also, it has its own chip ejection system that does an above-average job of clearing things out of your path to allow you to continue to see what’s going on, and this does make using the planer a whole lot easier.
Overall, with this model being easy to both control and adjust, I think it represents the best heavy-duty use planer on the market.
- The chip ejection system works well
- It has a vast amount of power, making quick work of tough wood
- Adjusting the depth is straightforward
- It comes with a comfortable handle
- It remains easy to control even with all that power
- You need to get a dust bag
Best Lightweight Hand Planer – Ryobi One+ 18V 3 ¼” Planer
- Power: 18V
- Cutting Capacity: 3 ¼”
- Cutting Depth: 1/16”
On the flip side of the heavy-duty Makita planer, what I have here is more of a lightweight model in the Ryobi One+ 18V cordless planer. However, don’t think for a second that makes this an inferior handheld planer, as it can still produce some wonderful results.
It does come with an 18V battery, so you know straight away that it will pack a bit of a punch. Also, it still has a two-blade cutterhead, making quick work of most materials.
One thing I love about this model is its design and ease of holding. Ryobi has sought to reduce how vibrations can impact the planer, making me feel as if I’m in more control as a result. That’s one thing I wish all handheld planers would do, so it’s somewhat surprising that a budget option includes this in its features list.
I do appreciate how it comes with a kickstand to offer more protection to both the surface and the blades. Surprisingly, you also receive both a fence and a dust bag, and the dust bag is often missing from most planers.
Overall, this budget model delivers everything a beginner or average home DIY’er would want from their handheld planer.
- It works hard at reducing vibrations
- The kickstand does offer real protection
- You get a dust bag, which is a rare thing
- It’s perfect for a beginner to a handheld planer
- It only weighs 5.6lbs, which is almost nothing
- As with any Ryobi basic tool, the battery is not included
How to Pick the Best Handheld Planer
I love the five different handheld planers that appear on my list, but I know any individual new to the concept of a handheld planer may wonder how to choose the right one. So, I have a few tips that I believe will make life a whole lot easier.
Corded or Cordless?
The first question you need to answer is whether you want to use a corded version or go cordless. Both options are out there, and while it may often come down to personal preference, I have a suggestion.
If you know you will be using your handheld planer to work on large boards regularly, then you will often need more than one battery. That would help you avoid running out of power before completing the job. In this instance, a corded version would be the better option.
However, if it’s portability you want, then cordless versions are best.
Aside from determining how you want the power sent to your planer, you must also consider how much power you need.
If your handheld planer offers around 5 Amps, then that’s viewed as a lightweight planer suitable for small jobs around the home. However, if you require something more heavy-duty, I suggest opting for a handheld planer with more than 7 Amps of power.
By boosting that power, it does mean you stand a better chance of your planer being capable of working through those tougher materials and not struggling to do so.
The Cutting Capacity
I also recommend checking out the cutting capacity of your handheld planer before buying. In this instance, most will measure around 3 ¼”, but some handheld planers have a larger capacity of 6”. However, most people would not require a planer of this size, so I’d stick with the 3 ¼” capacity.
The Cutting Depth
The cutting depth refers to how much material will be removed in a single pass, and even though some handheld planers can remove as much as ⅛”, I wouldn’t recommend that.
By removing ⅛”, you are being far too aggressive, and it’s less likely to deliver the smooth result you want. Instead, I would go for something smaller than this and also opt for a model that makes it easy for me to adjust the depth. This will be done either via set increments or by a dial that allows you to change everything yourself.
Try to get a handheld planer with two blades. It leads to a smoother end result and also means it finishes the job quicker. Most blades are carbide-tipped, so that should mean they remain sharp for an extended period.
The good news is that most handheld planers should make it easy for you to change the blades and replace them with new ones.
When talking about a handheld planer, you will often discover two different sets of numbers. The first will be the RPM, while the other is the number of cuts per minute. However, the cuts per minute is the RPM multiplied by the blade count.
Generally, the higher the speed, the smoother the end result. One thing you will notice though is that corded versions often deliver better speeds than cordless.
I feel those are the key areas to focus on with a handheld planer. However, double-check if the model you want to buy comes with a dust bag. Not every model does so, and you need to get that fixed before using it, or you will make a serious mess.
That’s my list of the five best handheld planers on the market, and I know any one of the five will perform well and provide you with that end result you are hoping for.
As I said at the outset, my handheld planer is not the tool I use most of all out of my collection, but I know I would struggle to finish various projects without one. I know you will find yourself in the same position with your own woodworking projects, and that’s why owning a handheld planer could be so important.
If you still feel unsure which option to go for, then check out my tips and guide to help you narrow things down. I know at least one of the planers on my list will fit your needs, and you can then look forward to discovering just how big a difference it can make to your project.