Bosch Hand Plane | Best Power Hand Plane

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I recently installed a set of French doors in my apartment. Jams were plum, trim looked great. Everything was perfect—until I closed the doors. Where they met in the middle, they actually met. I could close them, but only if I forced them.

When I consulted with PM’s Senior Home Editor Roy Berendsohn, he told me it was a common problem. Remove some wood from the edge of the offending door and I’d be good to go. The way to do it? A hand plane.

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Ah, the hand plane. The petulant god of traditional woodworking tools. A simple but terrifying cutter, a beveled blade of subtle smoothing and capricious adjustment. I’d bought a hand plane once, a long time ago, because I needed to shave down a pantry shelf that was just too tall for the spice rack I wanted to put on it. I’d brought the thing home, looked at the lever cap and the depth adjustment knob and the frog and the chipbreaker, fiddled with it a bit, gotten frustrated, and never tried it again.

Bosch 12V Max Planer (Bare Tool) GHO12V-08N

Bosch
amazon.com
$179.00

Thankfully, Roy had an ace up his sleeve. He loaned me Bosch’s new cordless 12V Max Planer. It’s identifiably a hand plane—the bottom is a smooth surface with a small window for a cutting implement. But instead of a cutting iron that the user must set up, there’s a spinning cutter whose depth is adjusted by a simple knob on the front—in the same place as the knob on a traditional hand plane.

From there, Bosch improved on the usual hand plane grip. Rather than a vertical grip at the rear of the plane (called the tote), the Max Planer has a horizontal pistol grip. It’s comfortable, and because it’s where the battery goes, it has some heft.

I brought the Bosch home and took a look at my doors. The planer is 2.2 inches wide, easily enough for this project. I got one door off the hinges, set it on edge, and squared the planer on the side that needed to lose material. Then I turned the knob on top to adjust the cutting depth. It reaches a maximum trim of only 2 millimeters, but that was enough.

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I depressed the safety with my thumb, pulled the trigger with my index finger, and made a smooth pass from one end of the door to the other. With the exception of an area with a knot, what I got was a fine, smooth edge. After a few more passes, I put the door back on its hinge.

It closed perfectly.

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Bosch

This was a hand plane I could use. This was a hand plane anyone could use. I wish chip collection was a little better, but that’s a problem with every cutting tool. At least the Max Planer allows you to choose which side the chip ejection happens on, so cleanup is a bit easier to plan for.

My only other gripe is that the battery doesn’t last longer. It’s rated for 33 feet of planing in hardwood at half the tool’s maximum depth. That’s more than enough for fixing doors, but if I were to take on more significant woodworking projects—which I might, with this thing in hand—it could go fast.

In any case, I’m going to try to avoid handing it back over to Roy.

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