Harbor Freight Hercules Planer Review [Worth It?🤔]

The Hercules Benchtop Planer is the newest addition to Harbor Freight’s good, better, best lineup of tools. This portable planer packs a surprising amount of power and precision into a compact, easy-to-use package. With its strong motor, triple blade system, and accurate depth gauges, it’s built to deliver smooth, consistent results on a variety of materials.

In this in-depth review, we’ll take a close look at the key features and performance of this budget-friendly planer to see if it’s a worthwhile investment for woodworkers, DIYers, and hobbyists. We’ll compare it to other popular models to help you determine if the Hercules is the right planer for your needs and budget.

Let’s dive in!

Hercules Planer Review
Harbor Freight Hercules Planer

Key Specs and Features

Before we dig into the details, let’s look at some of the vital specs and features of the Hercules Benchtop Planer:

  • Powerful 15Amp motor provides ample power for smooth planing
  • 3-knife cutterhead with 10,000 RPM delivers precise, clean cuts
  • Maximum depth of cut: 1/8″ per pass, 6″ total
  • Feed speed: 26 feet per minute
  • Cutting width: 12-1/2″
  • Integrated worktable for material support and portability
  • Tool-less dust collection with 2-1/2″ port
  • Foldable handle for easy storage and transport
  • Inch and metric measurement on depth gauge

Check Hercules Planer Complete Review! 👇👇

In-Depth Review of the Hercules Planer

Now, let’s take a deeper look at how this planer performs where it really counts – in the workshop! We’ll examine key factors like power, cut quality, dust collection, usability and more.

Powerful 15 Amp Motor

The 15 amp motor in the Hercules Benchtop Planer provides substantial power in a compact footprint. During testing, it handled various hard and soft woods with ease. The power enabled smooth, efficient planing even on denser materials like oak or walnut. This level of performance rivals many full-size planers.

Triple Knife Cutterhead

The three knife cutterhead is an upgrade from Harbor Freight’s previous two-knife design. The addition of a third knife provides more consistent planing across the width of the workpiece. Spinning at 10,000 RPM, the carbide-tipped blades produce clean, smooth cuts. Their double-edged design also maximizes longevity.

Maximum Depth of Cut

With a maximum depth of 1/8″ per pass, the Hercules planer can handle moderate stock removal jobs. At full capacity, it can plane up to 6″ thick material in incremental steps. This gives flexibility for dimensioning thicker workpieces. The depth stop can be easily adjusted in precise 1/128″ increments.

Feed Speed

At 26 feet per minute, the feed speed provides a good balance of control and efficiency. It’s slow enough for careful material removal yet fast enough for good productivity. The serrated infeed roller has a solid grip to pull workpieces through smoothly.

Cutting Width

The 12-1/2″ cutting width handles full-size workpieces up to 13″ wide. This allows you to plane boards, panels, tabletops and other medium sized projects. For wider pieces, a jointer is recommended prior to finish planing. Overall, the width strikes a nice balance for a portable benchtop planer.

Integrated Worktable

The integrated worktable provides sturdy support for feeding stock through the planer. It extends the full cutting width and folds up/down easily. Having built-in tables makes the planer much more portable and space-efficient since you don’t need additional infeed or outfeed stands.

Tool-Less Dust Collection

Connecting dust collection is a cinch with the tool-less dust port. Just attach your shop vac or dust collector hose and you’re good to go. The port diameter measures 2-1/2″, which is suitable for most collection systems. Keeping chips and dust under control is key for surface quality and your lungs!

Foldable Handle

The retractable handle offers a few benefits. First, it gets the planer up off the table for easy mobility. Second, folding it down minimizes the footprint for compact storage. The handle feels sturdy enough for regular use. Just don’t try lifting or carrying anything too heavy with it.

Inch & Metric Depth Gauge

Woodworkers will appreciate the dual inch and metric measurements on the depth gauge. This type of flexibility caters nicely to hobbyists who work with material from various sources. You can zero out and plane in either standard without the hassle of conversions.

Smooth Operation

In general usage, the Hercules planer exhibited smooth, consistent performance. The feed rollers pulled boards through steadily without lags or snags. With shallow passes, the planer left surfaces smooth and ripple-free. Odd-shaped workpieces required a bit more assistance feeding through. But the planer handled them as well as can be expected.

Pros and Cons

Let’s quickly recap some of the key pros and cons of the Harbor Freight Hercules Benchtop Planer:


  • Powerful 15 amp motor
  • Triple knife cutterhead
  • 12-1/2″ width capacity
  • Tool-less dust collection
  • Sturdy integrated tables
  • Dual inch & metric measurements
  • Affordable price point


  • Only 1 year warranty
  • No automatic thickness compensation
  • Maximum 6″ cutting depth
  • May require snipe prevention mods

Hercules Planer Vs DeWalt DW734

The Hercules planer appears to draw inspiration from other popular models on the market, particularly the DeWalt DW734. While there are similarities in design and specifications, there are also some noticeable differences:

FeatureHercules Benchtop PlanerDeWalt DW734
Blade SystemThree bladesThree blades
Integrated TopYesNo
Warranty90 daysThree years
Price (at launch)$400$490
Dust CollectionTool-lessTool-less
AvailabilityHarbor FreightVarious retailers
Hercules Planer Vs DeWalt DW734

At the time of the review, the Hercules Planer was priced at $400, but Harbor Freight has a history of adjusting prices based on demand and customer feedback. It’s worth keeping an eye out for any sales or discounts. Additionally, comparing it to competitors like the DeWalt DW734, which retails at around $490, the Hercules Planer presents a compelling option at a more competitive price point.

It’s worth noting that while the DeWalt DW734 offers a longer warranty, the Hercules planer’s price, especially when Harbor Freight runs promotions, can be more competitive.

Check in-depth comparison here: Hercules Planer vs Dewalt Planer [2023]

Ideal Uses for the Hercules Planer

With its portable design and 12-1/2” capacity, the Hercules planer works well for:

  • Dimensioning lumber – Flatten rough sawn lumber to consistent thickness
  • Squaring stock – Square up warped boards, timbers, etc
  • Smoothing boards – Refine surface after jointer for glue ready edges
  • Fine-tuning thickness -Trim to exact dimension before final sanding
  • Chamfering – Ease edges with angled light passes
  • Small workshops – Excellent choice where space is limited

The Hercules isn’t well-suited for major stock removal or super wide boards. But for moderate planning tasks under 13” width, it’s a very capable machine.

Potential Issues and How to Address Them

No machine is perfect, so here are a few potential issues and tips to optimize your planer:


The main complaint with lunchbox planers is snipe, or uneven cutting near the end of the board. Try these fixes:

  • Use infeed/outfeed support
  • Avoid deep cuts
  • Make climb passes
  • Use a planing sled

Difficulty Planing Wider Stock

For boards over 10”, adding side pressure helps keep them stable. Use spring clamps, disposable sticks, or your hands.

Chip Buildup

Poor dust collection lets chips accumulate under the cutterhead, leading to tearout. Check for clogs, maintain the dust port, and use adequate suction.

Noisy Operation

The 15 amp motor produces a high-pitched whine when running. Wear hearing protection to prevent discomfort or damage.

Accessories to Enhance the Hercules Planer

Here are some handy accessories to maximize the capabilities of your planer:

  • Infeed/outfeed stands – Provides workpiece support for smooth feeding
  • Planer sled – Minimizes snipe on small or thin workpieces
  • Side pressure rollers – Applies force against wide boards to reduce tearout
  • Zero clearance inserts – Prevent chip damage when planing exotic woods
  • Mobile base – Allows you to reposition the planer around your shop

Safety Tips When Using the Hercules Planer

While a useful tool, the Hercules planer also demands respect. Follow these tips to use it safely:

  • Wear eye and hearing protection
  • Allow only one person to operate at a time
  • Feed with the grain to prevent kickback
  • Make light passes under 1/8″ depth
  • Hold narrow stock securely when planing
  • Give the machine time to reach full speed before feeding
  • Unplug when changing blades or clearing jams

Cost Analysis – Is Hercules Planer Worth the Price?

With an MSRP of $400, the Hercules Benchtop Planer offers excellent value.

Similar planers often cost $100+ more.

By the way, do you know How Much Does A Planer Cost?

And cheaper models compromise severely on power or capacity. Given its sturdy build, smooth performance, and useful features like the integrated table and dual depth gauge, the Hercules Planer presents an attractive balance of quality and affordability.

For budget-focused hobbyists or professionals, the Hercules is a very compelling option. Typical Harbor Freight 20% off coupons can bring the price down even further. Overall, it’s absolutely worth the investment for an accurate, portable planer with professional capabilities.

Final Verdict – An Ideal Benchtop Planer for Most Woodworkers

In summary, the Harbor Freight Hercules Benchtop Planer punches far above its weight class. The powerful 15 amp motor, triple knife cutterhead, and 12-1/2” capacity equip it to handle dimensioning, flattening, and smoothing needs for most hobby or small pro workshops. Convenient features like the integrated table, tool-less dust port, and foldable handle enhance its versatility.

For the price, it would be difficult to find another lunchbox planer that offers the same performance and useful features. The Hercules planer merits strong consideration for anyone seeking an affordable, high-quality portable planer capable of delivering professional results.

So if you’re itching to add capacity to your small workshop or upgrade from an old, underpowered model, the Hercules deserves your attention. We can confidently recommend it as an excellent value that will provide years of smooth, accurate service. Add it to your arsenal and take your woodworking to the next level.

We hope this comprehensive review gave you all the details needed to determine if the Harbor Freight Hercules Benchtop Planer is right for your woodworking needs. Happy planning!