We tested these planers on both face and edge grain, and measured them against the standard of the old greats: the and the .
LIKES: A big, strong brute of a machine that just as easily removes a dust-like thickness as it does 5/64 inch. You can select your finish—anywhere from paint-grade to perfectly smooth—and both the spare blade and blade-change screwdriver are stored on the planer itself. Convenient.
DISLIKES: The blade-retention screws were fiendishly tight, and the blade-change protocol is complex—although it is supported with large drawings and thoughtful text.
LIKES: Smooth-running and precise, the Makita is a good choice for fussy finish carpenters. And if your work is rough and ready, the Makita makes a hogging cut with the best of ’em.
DISLIKES: It’s very rare that we find a complaint with a Makita tool, but the blade-change protocol is baffling—and made worse by the tiny diagrams and opaque instructions in the owner’s manual.
LIKES: The Bosch planer is a bit shorter and lighter than the other machines. You can choose to eject chips to the left or right, depending on your project, and changing its blade is simple.
DISLIKES: This was the only planer we tested with one blade, which makes for simple maintenance, but it did not attain the glass-like surface finish of the competition
LIKES: Hitachi’s planer uses a continuous depth-adjustment knob without stops. It seems odd at first, but it works quite well and even gives you slightly more one-cut capacity than the stated 5/64 inch.
DISLIKES: Its discharge chute is not vacuum compatible. The double-edge blades are easy to swap edge for edge, but if you need to do a full blade change, it’s very complicated
LIKES: This planer gives you the ability to hog it off and leave a serviceable finish or take fine passes and leave the wood silky smooth. It has Milwaukee’s famous power, and thoughtful features including a kickstand that you can lock below the base, an onboard blade wrench, and easy blade change-out. The cutting-depth adjustment is crisp and accurate.