When it comes to woodworking, it's essential to be able to surface your wood so you have good reference sides for glueing up wood and making joinery. For hobbyists, DIY enthusiasts, and even professional carpenters, finding a reliable thickness sander that doesn't break the bank is important. While these benchtop planers may not pack the same punch as their industrial counterparts, they are more than capable of getting the job done efficiently. Let's explore the top three thickness sanders under $600, comparing their features, performance, and suitability for various woodworking projects.
The DEWALT Thickness Planer is a standout choice, known for its robust construction and exceptional performance. Its 15-amp motor, powering up to 20,000 RPM, can handle even the toughest woods with ease. The two-speed gearbox allows you to optimize cuts per inch, making it versatile for different materials and finishes. This planer's 13-inch width capacity is ample for a variety of projects, from crafting furniture to shaping smaller wooden pieces. Its ease of use, combined with a dust-ejection system that keeps your work area clean, makes it a top pick for those who need efficiency and precision without the high cost of industrial equipment.
At the Cambridge Center for Adult Education, a school I used to teach at, they had this model. The standout feature was it's ease of use and that its robust. The wheel adjustment it has on the side of the machine is well suited for raising and lower the blades. Its more familar, like that of an industrial planer and helps with micro adjusting. The ruler on the side was accurate, although it's always best to take your own measurements on each passing, regardless of what Planer you are using. One minor drawback was the dust port needed some adjustment when connecting it to the dust collection system but it wasn't that big an issue. Another standout feature of the Dewalt Thicknesser is that it has four 1" thick threaded rodes that move the blades up and down smoothly, this allows for extra stability and precision when milling.
Delta's 22-590X Bench Top Planer is another excellent option for those looking for quality and affordability. It features a three-knife cutter head that delivers a remarkably smooth finish, reducing the need for sanding after planning. The snipe control is particularly noteworthy, ensuring minimal wood waste and consistent thickness across the board. Additionally, the planer's adjustable depth stop allows for quick and easy setting of standard board thicknesses, making repetitive tasks simpler and more efficient. It’s a reliable tool for both beginners and experienced woodworkers who require precision and control in their projects.
The Shop Fox W1877 brings something different to the table with its spiral-style cutter head. This design offers a quieter operation and smoother finish, making it ideal for fine woodworking projects. The 13-inch width and adjustable feed rate provide flexibility for various types of wood and desired finishes. The spiral cutter head also means less tear-out and a superior finish on figured woods. Compact and easy to move around, this planer is perfect for those with limited space or who need a portable solution.
While these benchtop planers may not rival the power of industrial machines, they are excellent options for a wide range of woodworking tasks. Each model offers unique features: the DEWALT's power and speed, the Delta's precision and minimal snipe, and the Shop Fox's quiet operation and smooth finish. Depending on your specific needs, whether for a home workshop, a DIY project, or professional carpentry, these thickness sanders provide great value and performance for a price under $600.