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Choosing the best benchtop planer starts with determining how you are likely to use the unit on a regular basis. The size of wood you are likely to plane will have the biggest impact on your choice, as the size of the planer itself will vary according to how large of a piece of wood needs to be planed. The benchtop planer unit should be constructed with strong materials; avoid any models that use plastic as structural materials, though plastic is okay for switches, handles, and other non-structural parts of the machine in some cases.
Adjustability is important when choosing a benchtop planer. Be sure to choose a model that will allow you to adjust the height of the cutting barrel inside the machine, and find out how accurately the adjustment can be made. Some models feature adjustment capabilities that are very fine, while others are not quite as accurate. The blades, too, should be easily accessed as well for adjustment and replacement when necessary. Some benchtop planer models feature a dust collection system, which is a good investment because it will keep saw dust from circulating into the air, causing hazardous breathing conditions.
Many woodworkers prefer a benchtop planer because it is generally smaller than other planer models, and it is usually light enough to be moved when necessary. If weight is an issue, be sure to take note of this before purchasing a unit. Many planers are designed to work in conjunction with a planer table; the planer can be mounted to the table, which very often features casters or wheels to make movement of the sometimes heavy planer unit much easier. The wheels can lock into place when the planer is ready to be used, and they can be unlocked if the planer needs to be moved from one part of the shop to another.
The most important consideration when looking fora benchtop planer is its size. The size is dictated by how large of a piece of wood the planer can effectively plane. The width of the chamber will be the determining factor in this case, so take note of how wide the opening for wood is. Choose a planer that can support long pieces of wood as well; almost all planers feature guide wheels inside the planer to help steady the wood as it passes through the machine, and larger models will feature a table on which the weight of the board can rest. This will help prevent uneven planing and damage to the ends of the boards.