An electric hand planer is a tool that you can use to smooth a wooden surface. A hand planer isn’t a perfect alternative to jointers or wood planers/thicknessers, but they can be used on furniture or fixtures without having to disassemble them first. Essentially, an electric hand planer is a versatile tool that can be used for a number of different applications, including sanding, shaping, restoring lumber, and preparing surfaces for painting.
There are hundreds of different electric hand planer models out there, but what many people seem to agree is that the WEN 6530 and PORTER-CABLE PC60THP are among the best mid-amp planers for home and light-duty sanding and finishing jobs. They may not be the best sanding tool for professional workshops, especially considering the tool’s natural inefficiency in smoothing out long, decayed boards, but both of these tools are efficient when it comes to smoothing out bumps, uneven surfaces, and getting rid of minor blemishes from lumber. Let’s jump into our comparison of the WEN and PORTER-CABLE.
Motor Power and Speed
WEN 6530 and PORTER-CABLE PC60THP
The most important specs to consider when purchasing any corded power tool are the power of the motor and its maximum cutting speed. When it comes to the WEN and PORTER-CABLE, the power and speed behind the motor are identical. They both come equipped with 6.0-amp motors that generate up to 17,000 RPM delivering 34,000 cuts-per-minute. The quick cutting speed essentially translates into super-fine sanding and finishing capabilities, making these tools great alternatives for both initial sandings of rough stock and final smoothing for applying paint.
Convenience is key when working with hand planers. We generally want as many added features as possible that make planing more convenient to do. The WEN has all the bells and whistles you’d want on an electric planer, such as a trigger lock, adjustable front shoe, V-shaped groove, rabbeting depth gauge, dust extraction ports (left and right) and bag, and a kickstand.
The PORTER-CABLE also has its fair share of convenience features like dust bag, dust extract ports (left and right), edge guide, kit bag, lock-on button, and three different chamfering grooves.
Conclusion: The PORTER-CABLE’s added features aren’t bad – in fact, we love the fact that the tool helps with making chamfers – but the WEN’s range of added features makes it the better option in our opinion. However, you’ll have to decide which of these two tool’s different features add more value to your own unique projects.
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The cutting depth of power planers can usually be adjusted by twisting a knob found at the front of the unit. You’ll want to make repeated passes over your stock while removing very thin layers of it with each pass. The WEN’s cutting depth can be adjusted to up to 1/8 of an inch.
As for the PORTER-CABLE, it has a cutting depth range of between 0 and 5/64 of an inch. This may not seem like a significant difference, but the slightly shallower cutting capacity means more work in the long run, especially when trying to clear ingrained knots from your lumber.
Conclusion:We feel that the WEN’s superior cutting depth – up to 1/8 of an inch – is preferable to PORTER-CABLE’s marginally shallower 5/64-of-an-inch capacity. In practicality, there isn’t going to be much of a difference in time and effort when clearing knots of bug holes out of rough stock, and you’ll most likely be using a jointer and/or thicknesser to remove the nastiest defects in large boards.
The weight of a power planer is one of the most crucial aspects since handheld power tools are designed to be light enough to reduce the risk of fatigue. The WEN weighs only 6.5 pounds, making overhead sanding jobs easy to do one-handed. Just be sure that the dust bag is installed to prevent dust from dropping onto your hair.
One thing that many people consider a drawback of the PORTER-CABLE is the weight. Fully assembled, the tool weighs 8.8 pounds, which may not seem too out of the ordinary, but when sanding overhead, this could pose a problem.
Conclusion:You’ll have to decide whether a 6.5-pound model is more comfortable to lift and maneuver along the surfaces of boards compared to an 8.8-pound one. In our opinion, we feel that the PORTER-CABLE’s weight could play a role in applying pressure when sanding horizontally and downwards, but the WEN’s lightweight helps in every other sanding orientation. Oddly enough, lightweight planers outweigh heavier planers.
Dust Port and Dust Bag
We mentioned earlier that both of these units come with left- and right-facing ports. You can use either one depending on your position in respect to the unit while operating it. However, what you should note about the WEN is that when wanting to connect a standard shop vac to this unit, you’ll more than likely need to have an adapter due to the oddly sized ports. If you want to use the included dust bag, you should also exercise patience since they’re rather small and fill up way too quickly.
Likewise, the dust bag that comes with the PORTER-CABLE is too small and fills up quickly. Emptying the dust bag out can be a pain. The good thing is that this tool will likely not require an adapter to connect to your shop vac, though be sure that your vac’s hose can be fitted to the port before purchasing this unit.
Conclusion:There’s a consensus that the dust bags that come with the WEN and PORTER-CABLE are much too small to be taken seriously. However, the PORTER-CABLE wins the battle of the dust ports since the WEN requires that you purchase an adapter to connect it to your shop vac.
Between these two highly regarded power planers, we feel that the WEN is the marginally superior choice. First of all, these two tools are identical in power and cutting speeds – the two most important aspects to consider when purchasing a planer – so neither model can actually outperform the other.
However, in regards to WEN’s added convenience features, weight, and maximum cutting depth, we feel that it outclasses the PORTER-CABLE, albeit very slightly. The PORTER-CABLE’s weight is one of the biggest issues since it can be a little inconvenient to handle overhead and vertically.
Keep in mind that neither of these 6.0-amp tools is designed for heavy-duty rough or virgin stock prepping, and they won’t be a perfect replacement for your wood planers/thicknessers and jointers. However, for light shaping and sanding jobs, either of these models will do just fine.