Smooth Operator – Milwaukee 18V Planer

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Smooth is the word that comes to mind when talking planers, and the new Milwaukee 18 volt cordless planer is smooth in more ways than one. As with Milwaukee’s other recent cordless offerings, this 3 ¼” planer is compact, light, and packed with interesting features. Most of all, it is really easy to use.

Milwaukee’s new M18™ REDLITHIUM™ batteries give this cordless planer plenty of power and run-time in a small package. Weighing in at just 7.4 lbs., it features 2 reversible carbide blades and delivers 14,000 RPMs. I tried it out on the job, trimming and re-fitting some old doors, and it gave an impressively smooth finish. And wow, it is nice not to have that cord trailing behind you when you are working on a door!

It will cut up to 5/64” in one pass, which is pretty impressive! It doesn’t even really bog down terribly when you go for a deeper cut, which I found surprising, although you will run the battery down pretty fast if you try to hog away that much wood for an extended period of time. But the beauty of this tool is its portability – it is really great for those quick trims that come up in the course of a trim job or cabinet installation.

The M18 planer features a nice, accurate depth adjustment knob.
The M18 planer features a nice, accurate depth adjustment knob.

I really liked the depth adjustment as well. It has 20 locking positions going up in 1/256″ increments. The depth adjustment dial locks at 0” and 5/64″ settings, eliminating the need to re-zero the dial like on older planers.

One of the standout features is Milwaukee’s really well designed edge guide. The edge guides that are included with some tools generally seem like sort of an afterthought, and are of somewhat limited usefulness. The edge guide included with the M18 planer is clearly an exception to that rule. The beefy, well-designed edge guide bevels to 45º. It also works well for cutting up to 27/64” rabbets. Or, as the famous carpenter Elmer Fudd called them, “Wabbets.”

Edge guide makes bevels and "wabbets" easy.
Edge guide makes bevels and “wabbets” easy.

The last two features of the Milwaukee 18 volt cordless features I want to cover are the spring-loaded kickstand, and the adjustable chip diverter. The kickstand is a little plastic stand that pops out of the shoe of the planer, allowing you to set it down on without running the risk of marring the surface that you are setting it down on. I know that a lot of new planers offer this feature, and I appreciate it as a safety precaution.

The kickstand is nice, but not my favorite feature.
The kickstand is nice, but not my favorite feature.

However, I’m just not crazy about it. As with a handplane, I just prefer to set a planer down on its side, so both the tool and the workpiece remain out of harm’s way. On the other hand, I love the adjustable chip ejector. It has a flip switch on the front that ports the chips out to either the right or left, and connects to a standard vacuum hose. As a south-paw, I say, “Thank you, Milwaukee!” A few other companies are including this feature now, but it is really nice not to get a face full of shavings or wrestling a dust collector hose when using this tool in my left hand.

All-in-all, I have to say, I like where Milwaukee is headed these days with their cordless gear. It is great to see nice, cordless versions of pro specialty tools. The Milwaukee M18 3 1/4″ Cordless planer sells for around $299 with battery, charger and edge guide or $199 for the tool-only version.

Buy Now - via Home Depot

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About Rich

Rich Dana loves to build things, to tinker on things, and to grow things. After more than a decade as a historic building remodeler in Brooklyn, New York, he and his wife Ericka moved to their back-to-the-land dream home (and fixer-uper nightmare), an 1870s farmhouse on 15 acres in eastern Iowa that they call “Catnip Farm.” For the last 18 years, Rich has specialized in super-efficient historical renovations and solar PV installation. He is working to convert much of the farm into perennial food crops like nut trees and berries, and he helps Ericka out with her heirloom seed project. His latest passion is learning to sew.

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