A portable planer, sometimes known as a benchtop planer, is usually much lighter than a large planer and it can be moved from one surface to another quickly and easily. The drawback to such a planer is also one of its advantages: its size. While the smaller planer is easy to move and store, it may not be able to handle planing of larger boards or pieces of wood, so before going shopping for a portable planer, be sure to carefully consider how you are likely to use the unit on a regular basis.
Take note of the maximum board size the portable planer is designed to handle. Compare this to your performance needs and make your decision accordingly. You can narrow down your search by eliminating models that are too small for your needs, but remember that the size of the portable planer is not the only important consideration. You will also need to consider adjustability and power output, as both of these considerations can affect how accurately a board can be planed. The unit should be easily adjustable, and if possible, a visual display of the height of the table or the thickness of the cut should be included.
The stability of the portable planer is also important, as excess movement can affect the accuracy of the cut. The base of the planer should be made from sturdy, durable materials that will not warp or bend after use. In some cases, the portable planer is designed for use with a planer table, which provides stability and ease of movement. The table can be moved because casters or wheels are often mounted at the base, and these wheels can be locked into place when the planer is in position. Consider a planer table for stability and convenience.
Avoid portable planer models made with too many plastic parts, especially if these plastic parts are structural elements of the unit. Metal should be used instead, as metal will be more durable and will dampen more vibration, leading to a more accurate cut. While knobs and switches can certainly be made of plastic, be sure other parts are made of metal for durability and accuracy. Adjustment handles can also be made from plastic, though metal is still a far better choice. Look for models with table extensions that will support the board as it enters and exits the cutting chamber. This will prevent uneven cuts due to the weight of the board affecting the depth of the cut.