Electric Hand Planer vs. Bench Planer: The Differences You Should Know

May 11, 2021

Comparing the functions of hand planer and electric hand planer.

If you’re looking to adjust the thickness of a plank of wood, various tools can help you achieve this. Two of the most popular options among woodworkers are the electric hand planer and the bench planer. But, what is the difference between these two tools? And how should you pick one over the other?

The electric hand planer vs. bench planer argument is one that has consistently recurred over the years. This is primarily due to the controversy on when to use to which and the advantages each has over the other. 

However, these arguments are understandable, if anything. After all, the electric hand planer and the bench planer are two very similar tools. Indeed, they perform similar functions and work on the same technological principle. Considering all these, it’s no wonder many woodworkers have questions about which planer to use in specific situations and when to use it.

No to worry, this article will help clear the air on the electric hand planer vs. bench planer controversy. In the following paragraphs, we’ll highlight the key differences between the electric hand planer and the bench planer. We’ll also give you some tips on how to choose which planer to use for particular projects.

That said, let’s jump right into it!

Introducing the Electric Hand Planer

An electric hand planer is a powerful tool that you can use to reduce wood thickness by shaving it off. The hand planer typically has two or three blades and can remove up to ⅛ inch off wood in one pass. However, the most distinctive feature of the electric hand planer is how portable it is.

Indeed, you can take an electric planer just about anywhere as it relatively handy and light. Moreover, you can use this tool in several scenarios that the bench planer may not be possible. You can even use an electric hand planer to reduce the thickness of pre-installed woodwork!

You see, with a hand planer, you pass the tool over the workpiece. This is quite unlike the table planer, where you have to push the workpiece through the machine. However, this also means that the electric hand planer is ideal for trimming small wood pieces and minor correction projects.

What is a Bench Planer?

The bench planer can be quite an instrumental tool if you’re working on a large-scale project where you need large wood planks with consistent thickness. This innovative tool allows to even out the surface of relatively large wooden boards very conveniently. It even allows you to set the depth of cut that you need to achieve your desired wood thickness!

However, unlike the electric hand planer, you’d have to push your workpiece through the bench planer’s infeed rollers. Then, it comes out on the opposite side of the machine in the thickness you’ve set. As you can probably already tell, the bench is much larger than a hand planer and considerably less portable.

But, on the bright side, the bench planer can save you a lot of time and energy, especially when you’re working on particularly large wood boards.

The Key Differences Between the Electric Hand Planer and the Bench Planer

Undoubtedly, you already know the most obvious difference between the electric hand planer ad the bench planer (hint: it’s in their names). However, some other significant differences between both tools can help you put things in perspective. Keep reading to find out the details that make these two planers so different.

Power Output

The bench planer is no doubt a powerful tool for reducing the thickness of wood pieces. But, the electric hand planer may just take the cake in terms of power output. Considering the size of a hand planer, it’s power output is considerably more impressive. Indeed, this tool can help you achieve the thickness you need effortlessly in almost any situation.

Motor Construction & Power

More often than not, an electric hand planer will have a 6-amp engine, which is an impressive addition. To give you an idea of what this means, the engine of an electric hand planer can handle 34,000 wood slices at a velocity of approximately 17,000 rpm. On the other hand, bench planers motors can have ratings as 15-amp, translating to an impressive 25,000 cuts per minute. So, in terms of motor construction, bench planers undoubtedly win.

How to Choose Between a Hand Planer vs. Bench Planer

There is no doubt that both electric hand planers and bench planers have their unique advantages. But, when it comes down to it, the planer you use depends on the specifics of the project you have at hand. As a rule of thumb, an electric hand planer is usually best for intricate projects where you’d like to maintain more control. Conversely, bench planers will be more useful for larger projects.

However, there are some more factors you should consider when attempting to choose between an electric hand planer and a bench planer. Below, we explore some of these factors:

Wood Surfaces

If you’re working on a wood piece with a particularly rough and uneven surface, a bench planer may be your best best. This is because using a hand planer may be too energy-intensive and time-consuming.

Wood Flatness

The flatness of your workpiece can also influence your choice of a planer. If the wood piece you’re working with is warped, a bench planer is typically the ideal choice to handle such a project.

Scale of Project

Does your project require you to focus on finer, more intricate details? Are you working on smaller wood sizes? An electric hand planer can help you achieve the level of precision you need for a neater finish in these 


Surface Imperfections 

If you’re looking to remove surface imperfections such as dings, scratches, and holes, an electric hand planer is undoubtedly the perfect choice.


Wrap Up

Hopefully, we have helped clear the air on the electric hand planer vs. bench planer controversy. By now, you should have an excellent idea about the differences between each tool and the situations where each is more appropriate. Remember, while the electric hand planer and the bench planer may have similar functions, they can offer varying results depending on the project specifics. So, take your time to weigh the pros and cons of each planer for your woodwork operation.

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