Whether you are setting up a woodworking shop or just need to dimension trim on a jobsite, a thickness planer is one of the first tools you should buy. Planers come in many sizes, however; the 24-inch width model we use in our shop weighs close to 700 pounds–not a real portable tool. Smaller 12- to 13-inch capacity planers have become popular as machines that can be used in the shop or taken out to a job. And while they won't replace a massive stationary shop planer for capacity or stability, these truly portable tools make quality wood planing available on the go or in smaller work spaces.
With so many of these tools including a hammerdrill function, which we use all the time on our trim and cabinet installations, we took the models into the field and focused on this feature. Most of these hammerdrill models switch functions by dialing in the hammer symbol on the clutch setting ring, but the Bosch, Milwaukee, and Ridgid all have a second ring for this and the Makita has a top-mounted sliding switch. These are nice because they keep you from losing your clutch setting every time you hammerdrill.