Tool review: Benchtop Planers
Here's what we'd buy
Two planers stood out from the field in this test: The 13" DeWalt DW735 and 12" Makita 2012NB. Both produced exceptional cut quality that needed little sanding, and both left boards nearly snipe-free, although the DW735 needed its optional infeed and outfeed tables (an extra $50) to do this. The DW735 features two feed speeds, easy-to-use depth stops, a depth-of-cut gauge, and a built-in chip blower powerful enough to clear nearly all chips and inflate the bags on a dust collector by itself. The Makita offers few frills, but exhibited the second-longest knife wear and lowest noise level; however, a dust hood will cost an extra $25.
If you can't pay $500 or more for a planer, we recommend the Ridgid R4330. Although not the lowest-priced unit in the test, it delivers nice cut quality with manageable snipe, with accurate and easy-to-use scales and gauges. If that's still too steep, consider the Craftsman 21758. It's a bare-bones unit that thicknesses wood accurately with respectable knife wear, although you will have to sand a little more to clean up board surfaces.