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Tool and Workshop Report: Planer, Jointer, Drill

Last Edited: 2023-04-13

In this entry of the Tool and Workshop Report, I'll do brief reviews on some power tools I tried during my workbench build. You can check the post about my workbench here. I have Amazon links in this document, they are NOT AFFILIATE LINKS. They are only provided for reference.

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Craftsman Planer, 15 Amp, For Benchtops, Two Knife Solid Steel Cutter Head CMEW320


I would not recommend this machine. It's fiddly and annoying in two extremely important ways. First, adjusting the depth of the machine is marked in 64ths, but there are 5 divisions in the wheel. Second, it is a pain in the ass to level the infeed and outfeed tables.

Painful Depth Adjustment

When using a planer, my understanding is that you aren't shooting for perfect accuracy of depth using the graduations in the machine alone. That is fine. I found that the marked gradations on the depth adjustment wheel to be pretty accurate, which is good. It means if you turn the depth knob down 1/64th an inch, you get a very light pass that a quick check with a 6" rule confirms is about 1/64" reduction in thickness. This is a very good thing.

However, having 5 sections on the wheel means that turning a full rotation gives you 5/64" change in your depth. Is this standard on planers? If so, maybe I'll commission a cheap factory to make a planer that uses 4 sections of graduation on the wheel. It's insane to me that you have to keep track of rotations in 5's.

As a quick example, imagine you have a 2 1/2" thick board that you're trying to get down to 2". You plane it down 1/64" at a time, so you turn the wheel 1/5 of the way down. You do this 5 times to go one full rotation on the knob. Do you know how thick your board is now?

4/64" is equal to 1/16", which is a very understandable and easy to remember value in imperial units. 5/64" is a fraction that cannot be reduced, so now you better convert your 2 1/2" thickness to 2 32/64", and subtract 5, to get 2 27/64". How many more rotations of the wheel do you need to get to your desired thickness? Does this sound like a word problem in math class yet?

It's even more annoying if you want to go faster than 1/64" at a time. Suppose you want to do 2/64" (equal to 1/32") at a time. Now you move 2 sections at a time, which means you have to keep track when you get 4/5 of the way through the wheel that the next turn will take you to the second gradation on the wheel, which is labeled "1/64"" on the dial. Then you go to 3/64", then back to the 0 position. Am I painting a clear picture of how annoying this is?

If you're really smart, you can do a simple modulo operation to figure out that you need 12 full rotations of the wheel, plus another 4/5 a rotation to get to your desired thickness. Have fun keeping track of that. If, instead, the wheel was made to work with 1/4 rotation equal to 1/64" of change in depth, you could very easily calculate full turns of the wheel to change in depth. Half an inch is equal to 8/16", a full turn is 1/16", which means 8 turns of the wheel gets you home. Much less confusing.

The good news is that the planer works, though it leaves some pretty bad snipe on the ends which I was never able to figure out (but also I didn't try that hard to fix). If you end up buying this thing or you already have one, you don't have a faulty machine that will fail to do the job. It's just annoying to use, which sucks for a $350 purchase. My advice is to look for a different cheap planer that will work just as adequately as this one, but with a more sensible depth adjustment. Or save up an extra couple hundred dollars and get the DeWalt DW735X planer every Youtuber has in their setup, which just has a flywheel that takes a full rotation to achieve a 1/16" cut, which is all I ask for.

Painful Leveling

This issue is much more straightforward. The infeed and outfeed tables are not perfectly flat themselves, at least on my machine. There is a slight cup in the middle. This is not the end of the world, I certainly can't notice an issue if there is one. However, adjusting the flatness requires a couple wrenches to loosen the locking nuts that set the depth stop on the table. There is one depth stop on each side, which is good. But adjusting the depth requires small, imprecise turns of these nuts, which then move a little when you tighten them down. Perhaps my technique is bad, but if your flattening mechanism requires some special technique that is not obvious to a new user, it's a bad design.


If you can help it, find a different planer to use. I'm guessing most of the dirt cheap ones all have issues like this, but I only have 1 planer so I can't confirm or deny this. Probably, if you intend to have a planer for all your work, invest in a good one. You can get buy with cheap drills, cheap saws, cheap clamps, but the difference between a great planer and an annoying one is a lot of time wasted on shitty adjustments before you can actually get work done. Get a different machine.

Wen Benchtop Jointer 8"


Not a ton to say, this jointer is fine. Obviously it's not the biggest as it's a benchtop unit. Because it's cheap, the fench adjustment is fiddly and not good. There are YouTube videos of people building nicer ones that bolt into the existing frame, but it's not worth doing in my opinion. This jointer was not so amazing that I am thinking of using it more now that I have a setup that allows me to joint and true up boards by hand. If you get this jointer for small projects, it is sufficient, and for the price, that's good enough.

Black and Decker Hammer Drill


This drill is trash! Don't bother! It's not powerful enough to do anything heavy duty despite its label as a hammer drill. In fairness, it probably wasn't the right tool for the job I was trying to do, which was drilling holes into 5" thick wood, but I replaced it with the Kobalt power drill below and that tool is much, much better. Also, the handle does not attach very securely at all, and it ended up causing friction burns on the rubber chuck as it slipped without me noticing. Terrible product and a waste of money.

Kobalt Corded Power Drill


This drill was powerful enough to drill my dog holes in my 5" thick workbench so it was a total success, and more affordable than the equivalent DeWalt brand drill. The worst/most annoying part of the drill is that it uses a keyed chuck, but it does come with a tool and a little strap to hold it in the cord. It adds an extra 30-60 seconds to replacing the bit in the drill, but if you are fine with that, and are attentive enough to just make sure you put the key back in the strap holder thing, this is a functional tool that has met all my needs so far.