Thinking of purchasing a new benchtop planer but still undecided on what to buy? With so many benchtop planers to choose from, your head is probably reeling from doing all the research: quality and price comparisons, customer reviews -- the list can go on and on. Fear not, we're here to help. Because of the Dewalt DW734 popularity, we will give you a comprehensive review of this top-rating 12-1/2" benchtop planer vs. its closest contenders in the market.
Every woodworker needs a benchtop planer (also known as a portable thickness planer.) It evens out rough surfaces and reduces the wood thickness to make old, jagged or uneven lumber usable. For hobbyists and DIY people, benchtop planers are less expensive and easier to use compared to their heavy, industrial-level counterparts.
Pros & Cons
What is a Benchtop Planer?
Keep in mind though that benchtop planers are not industrial-grade -- they are meant to be used for smaller projects or DIY endeavors. A benchtop planer is still a nifty and handy woodworking tool that's nice to have. This portable device can flatten both sides of wood or leveling thickness to meet project requirements. Other functions including beveling door edges and flattening old, jagged lumber for re-purposing.
It's also good to note that not all benchtop planers are created equal. There are several factors you need to consider when shopping around and doing your research: motor power, RPM, cuts per inch, cut depth, depth and width capacity, stability, blade sharpness, and durability and of course, warranty length. Reading customer reviews would help a lot, too -- you'll be able to have a realistic set of expectations in mind before going through the buying process.
Additional nifty features would definitely make a product more enticing. If a benchtop planer comes with bells and whistles that would make your work a lot easier, it will probably be worth the extra bucks.
Now, let's take a closer look at the Dewalt DW734's features to see how it compares and contends with some of the other benchtop planers in the market.
What is the Dewalt DW734?
Powered by a 15-amp motor, the Dewalt DW734 12-1/2" Thickness Planer has a three knife cutter-head which cuts clean and deep into hardwood at a speed of 10,000 RPM (max. 20,000 RPM). Delivering a maximum cut depth of 1/8 inch, a depth capacity of 6 inches and a width capacity of 12-1/2 inches, the Dewalt DW734 can also do 96 cuts per inch and 30,000 cuts per minute -- resulting in superior-quality finishes which make it an exceptional piece of portable woodcutting equipment.
What Are the Features of the Dewalt DW734?
The Dewalt DW734 12-1/2" Thickness Planer is portable yet powerful. This benchtop planer measures 24 x17 x 21 inches and weighs a mere 80 lbs., which makes it handy while packing a lot of punch -- the 15-amp motor can reach up to 20,000 RPM.
The DW734 also comes with razor-sharp, reversible, disposable knives that are 30 percent more durable compared to others. Knives can be changed quickly and easily due to a set of pins on the cutter-head which go through the knife holes.
Making depth adjustments can be a pain but the turret depth stop makes this task easy and accurate at the same time.
The Dewalt DW734 also has extra-long infeed and outfeed tables which provide 33-1/2 inches of material support. A material-removal gauge and an extra-large thickness scale ensure that every pass is accurate. Reduce movement and material damage by using the four-column carriage lock when planing close to the end of a board.
It makes clean-up an easier task by including a dust hood which gathers dust, chips, and debris. To use, attach the dust hood to a shop vacuum or a standing dust collector (sold separately).
The Dewalt DW734 has a three-year limited warranty. With a few exceptions, Dewalt will repair any defects due to faulty materials or workmanship for three years from the date of purchase.
How Much is it Worth?
The Dewalt DW734 12-1/2" Thickness Planer has a price range between $398 (Benchtop Planer only) to $599 (with knives and Planer Stand) and can be bought in-store or online.
It is available for online purchase in Amazon, Home Depot, Lowe's Woodworker's Supply, CPO, ToolUp, Toolbarn, Fastenal, Factory Authorized Outlet, HDSupply, MSC, Zoro, Northern Tool Equipment, TylerTool, Acme Tools, Rockler, International Tool, Max Tool, AceTool, Ace Hardware, and Grainger. Prices and inclusions vary for each online store.
You can make in-store purchases at Sears, True Value, and local hardware stores, depending on your location. Check your local listings for availability.
How Does it Compare to Similar Products on the Market?
So how does the Dewalt DW734 fare with other 12-1/2" portable planer brands? We picked a couple of similar products available in the market for comparison so you can weigh the pros and cons more easily.
Ease of Use 4.1 stars
Assembly Time 4.1 stars
Design Quality 4.5 stars
Warranty 5 stars
Amazon Customer Reviews - 4.5 out of 5 stars
Grizzly G0505 12-1/2" Portable Planer
The Grizzly G0505 12-1/2" Portable Planer measures 24 x 14 x 18 and is slightly lighter than the Dewalt DW734 -- it weighs 78 lbs. This portable planer has a 2-HP motor, a 10,000-RPM cutterhead that can make 52 cuts per inch, extra-large table extensions, top-mounted return rollers (inclusive of knife setting jig and wrench) and a 32 FPM feed rate. It also has two reversible HSS knives that are 1/8" thick compared to the 1/16" knives of other portable planers.
The Grizzly G0505 has a maximum cutting width of 12-1/2" and a maximum cutting height of 6 inches. The maximum depth of cut is at 3/32" and minimum board thickness is at 13/64". It also features an On/Off toggle switch with a safety lock, and thermal overload protection.
Ease of Use - II 4.5 stars
Assembly Time 4.1 stars
Design Quality 4 stars
Warranty 3 stars
Amazon Customer Reviews - 3.9 out of 5 stars
More affordable compared to other portable planers
Durable metal construction
Solid and vibration-free
Lightweight and portable
Fine cuts and smooth finishes
Knives stay sharp even after long operations
Thermal overload protection prevents overheating
Able to cut through all kinds of hardwood
Optimal cutting width
Safety lock prevents accidental starts
Makes loud noises when operating
Risk of shorting
The blade-changing mechanism is burdensome
Not stable enough; may shift during planing
WEN 6552 Benchtop Thickness Planer
The WEN 6552 Benchtop Thickness Planer comes in 12.5" and 13" sizes, weighs 66 lbs., and measures 25.2 x 21.8 x 16 inches. It has a 15-amp motor that is capable of doing 25,500 cuts per minute with 26 FPM feed rate. Its three-blade design cuts through even the toughest of hardwoods. Boards up to 6-inch in thickness and 13 inches in width can be planed easily.
This benchtop planer is ideal for use in a garage or a job site -- whether smoothing out or cutting lumber into equal thickness. A fan-assisted dust port conveniently removes chips and sawdust from the piece. An onboard planing gauge lets you know the cutting depth of each pass.
Its heavy-duty cast-iron base makes the WEN 6552 stable and sturdy during operation. The infeed and outfeed tables are adjustable heightwise and limits snipe while giving you the support you need during planing. Pre-drilled base holes make mounting easy on a stand or a work surface.
The WEN 6552 has a two-year warranty, a reliable customer helpline and a vast network of service technicians across the United States.
Ease of Use 4.5 stars
Assembly Time 4.5 stars
Design Quality 4.3 stars
Warranty 4.5 stars
Amazon Customer Reviews - 4.3 out of 5 stars
Fan-assisted dust ejection
Can handle boards up to 13 inches
Noise when in operation
Powertec PL1251 12-1/2" 15-Amp Benchtop Planer
Weighing 63.6 lbs. and with dimensions measuring 24 x 18 x 14 inches, the Powertec PL1251 is the lightest among the four in this list. It has a 15-amp, 2 HP-motor with a cutterhead speed of 9,400 RPM can do 18,800 cuts per minute. The maximum cutting depth is 3/32 for boards that are less than 5 inches and 1/32 for boards between 5-12.5 inches.
An index pin set-up allows for easy blade replacement with no blade gauge requirement, while a spindle lock prevents blade movement for added safety when changing blades.
The Powertec also has side-mounted carrying handles and a return roller which helps when you're planing extra-long boards. It also has a four-column design which maximizes stability and a precision scale for accuracy.
Ease of Use 4.1 stars
Assembly Time 4.5 stars
Design Quality 4.5 stars
Warranty 3 stars
Amazon Customer Reviews - 4.1 out of 5 stars
Budget-friendly and affordable
Useful for light and middle-grade DIY projects
A minimum amount of snipe
Smooth finish with precise results
Not for large heavy-duty projects
Dust port not included
Cutterhead locks during blade change
Overall, based on most individual user and institutional reviews, the Dewalt DW734 still ranks the highest (at 5-stars) compared to its competitors. Amazon customer reviews also gave it the highest in its 5-star rating system at 4.5, as compared to Grizzly's 3.9, WEN's 4.3, and Powertec's 4.1 ratings respectively.
This high-rating is due to its several advantages over competitors: the capability to deliver superior power and performance, stability, the ability to cut 13" boards, highest RPM as compared to its competitors (10,000-20,000 RPM), highest number of cuts per inch, the extra length provided by infeed and outfeed tables, and its disposable, reversible knife blades.
Unique features such as the turret depth stop and material removal gauge also add to its superiority over its contenders.
The Dewalt DW734 provides the longest warranty compared to the others on this list. This is a critical deciding factor for consumers, especially when they're buying premium-priced products. A longer warranty usually means the manufacturer stands by its product regarding quality, performance, and durability.
Cost-wise, the Dewalt DW734 may not be for everyone. But if you can afford to buy one, the added features and distinctly powerful RPM will be worth splurging extra bucks on. These convenient features still make the Dewalt DW734 cost-effective overall.
Admittedly, this benchtop planer also has its share of weak points -- but the advantages outweigh its deficiencies. However, you also have to take into consideration that replacing parts for the Dewalt DW734 might be costly in the long run.
Before making a purchase, weigh the pros and cons to see if they meet your expectations and if this product suits your needs, albeit with a few shortcomings.
Because the Dewalt DW734 is a lot pricier than most of its counterparts, we'll give it 4.5 stars. For a bench-top planer, it still packs a lot of punch, and it's something you need in your tool collection.
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