Craftsman’s 21702 planer is affordably priced, yet it comes nicely equipped. Its two-speed gearbox provides a 25 foot-per-minute (FPM) setting for quicker “dimensional” planing as well as a 16 FPM “finish” setting. The cast-iron support tables create an overall bed length of 42", and it will plane thicker material than other test units, up to a full eight inches.
Craftsman outfits this planer with a digital depth gauge, which can be calibrated to display overall stock thickness, the relative stock you will remove on the next pass or both. If you prefer decimal accuracy, you’ll love this kind of control. The planer powers down with an oversized kill button, and the switch locks off with keys — both good safety measures. I wish it were mounted topside instead of on the base, where it would be easier to reach in an emergency.
During the planing test, I noticed milling marks at both speed settings, and the conventional straight knives seemed to scrape the wood surface, which left it rougher than I would like. Still, it was nothing a bit of ordinary cleanup work couldn’t remedy. The chip chute was also slightly undersized, so a few chips blew out of a gap now and then.
The tool comes with a knife-setting jig, which you’ll need when the three steel knives dull. They must be manually indexed in the cutterhead with jack screws.
All in all, this is a decent planer. A set of casters in the stand would make this tool more enticing, but you can always mount it on a rolling base as I did for testing.