Trying to choose a planer? Read our plain-talking guide

Originally a mediaeval tool, a planer cuts wood to the desired thickness, while at the same time creating perfectly parallel surfaces and beautifully bevelled edges. Whether you’re levelling floor joists, smoothing rough surfaces, or ensuring accuracy in cabinet-making, a reliable planer is an essential component of any woodworker’s toolbox. It’s therefore worth taking the time to decide which features are most important to you when you’re looking to buy one.

What to look out for

Electric power planers can dramatically cut task times, while providing a professional, clean finish. Key aspects to consider when selecting an electric planer include: power, cutterhead quality, cutting widths, weight, dust collection, and portability.

Selecting a tool that has enough power to drive the motor, no matter what type of wood is being cut, is essential. One measure of power is the speed (in revolutions per minute) at which the motor turns. Anything less than 8000 rpm isn’t going to provide the drive needed.

We’ve picked out three of our most popular models across the varying price ranges, all with impressive durability and performance, to demonstrate the versatility of the tool and to point you in the right direction on your hunt for the ideal planer.

Our top picks

At the value end of the range, the Bosch GHO 26-82 Planer 110V provides plenty of power for a small machine. Its compact size makes this tool perfect for transporting on-site. For a competitive price, you’ll get the fastest and best value blade changes on the market, and it also comes with parking rest, and lock-off switch, and chip clearance suitable for both right and left handed users.

At the other end of the market, the Festool EHL65EQ One Handed Planer 240V should be on your shortlist. This machine is designed with comfort in mind. Complete with a soft-grip handle and weighing only 2.4kg, it’s a versatile and portable addition to your power tool collection.

The Festool Planer works to a planing depth of 4mm, and 23mm rebate, with a spiral blade that reduces noise levels while working. As you would expect with a Festool product, the dust extraction at the left or right hand side means the dust is taken away immediately so you can clearly see what you’re working on, and you won’t need to clean up afterwards. With infinitely variable chip depths, this planer has the advantage of a quick blade change thanks to its automatic adjustment for greater speed and efficiency.

Another respected name in the market – DeWalt – offers a powerful model that copes with even the hardest wood. The DeWalt D26500K 4mm Planer 240V has left and right chip rejection, front handle depth control and a large planer blade drum which rotates at high speed to provide an excellent finish.

If you’re looking for a planer, we’ll point you in the right direction – matching your requirements with the ideal model. Give us a call or pop into the store for one-to-one advice.

Dust from power tools: are you using the right level of filtration?

More than simply an irritation, dust generated during construction can be extremely dangerous. The Health and Safety Executive states that ‘regularly breathing in dust can cause diseases like lung cancer, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease’. In fact, silica – commonly found in building materials – is the second biggest killer after asbestos.

If you work in the industry, you need to be aware of the dangers posed to your health, and the effective ways to minimise your exposure to harm. Modern-day power tools create much higher levels of dust, so common-place items like saws, sanders and grinders present a greater risk than non-electric hand tools.

The material that you’re cutting also plays a part in the nature of the risk, as some substances are more hazardous than others. For example, silica is classed as posing a ‘serious’ risk. Even wood dust can be carcinogenic according to health experts and therefore precautions must be taken.

Reducing the risk from construction dust

One of the biggest changes to the industry is the tightening of Health and Safety regulations around protecting workers and creating a safe work environment. To improve air quality, sites must use vacuums and dust extractors to trap the dust and safeguard the health of those around.

The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (2002) introduced different levels of filtration needed to combat dust found on most modern construction sites. There are three levels, or standards, which determine the maximum amount of dust that can pass through the filter and into the atmosphere – thereby limiting exposure.

Dust filter levels include:

L-class for light hazards (e.g. household dust)

M-class for medium hazards (e.g. wood, filler and concrete)

H-class for high hazards (e.g. asbestos or pathogens)

Designed to meet the needs of these different filter classes, most modern extractor units will clearly state this classification. Some of our customers are surprised to hear that construction sites have been known to turn away tradespeople with anything less than an M-class model.

With a wealth of dust extractors and vacuums on the market now, here are some of our top recommendations, including trusted brand names and key features to look out for:

Festool is one of the biggest and most highly-regarded producers of mobile dust extractors in the market. If you’re thinking of investing, and work in the trade, we would recommend an M-class product like Festool’s 574825 Mobile Dust Extractor CTM MIDI I 10V Cleantec, which will cover all bases.

Lightweight and compact, this model uses innovative Bluetooth technology which remotely activates when using cordless power tools. With a manual suction hose and a filter that can be changed from the outside, this product is easy to maintain and robust in design.

The Dewalt DWV902m Construction Dust Extractor 110V contains a duel filter cleaning system for tough construction applications. The filter is cleaned every 30 seconds to reduce clogging and power tools can be connected.

One cost-effective worksite system is the Nilfisk Alton Aero 26-21 Wet & Dry Vacuum. This unit can be easily transported to site and features a power tool adapter to suck up dust at the source, which means it’s easier to see what you’re working on.

Recommended dust extraction features

Approximately 95% of the dust extractors on the market have universal extensions which can be fitted to most power tools. However, it’s worth checking compatibility with your equipment and whether additional couplings can be bought. Another useful feature is auto start, which runs as soon as you start working and continues for a short time after you stop.

Regardless of which brand you choose, this is one piece of kit that you shouldn’t do without. Our customers repeatedly tell us these products have a huge impact on their work – saving time and energy on the clean-up process, as well as their health.

If you’re unsure which dust extractor or vacuum is best for you, give us a call or pop into our Redhill store and we’ll be happy to guide you in the right direction.