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Thickness planers

Thickness planers (also known as "bench planers" or "finishing planers") are becoming increasingly popular among homeowners and woodworking hobbyists. Traditionally, a power tool found only in professional woodworking shops, bench planers are now available in portable, compact, inexpensive models that give amateur woodworkers professional results.

When looking to buy a bench planer, here are some considerations:

  • cuts per inch refers to the number of times the cutting blades slice through the wood, which is a function of the number of blades on the cutting head, the rotating speed of the cutting head, and the speed at which the board is fed through the planer
  • width of the bed--current models now handle 12-13" widths, which is ample for most home use
  • power of the motor - typical planner motors draw 15 amps, which allows you to plane most hard woods
  • number of cutting blades-- traditionally, cutter heads have two blades, but the latest planer design is to have three blades, which give a smoother finish because the number of cuts is increased by 50%
  • feed speeds - although many planers still have only one feed speed, better planers now offer both a high speed for roughing to dimension and a low speed for smooth finishing

It's better to buy a planer with disposable knives because the blades will dull with use and simply replacing the blades is easier than removing and sharpening them.

Leading manufacturers of bench planers include Dewalt, Delta, Craftsman, RIgid, and Ryobi.

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