What Does a Planer Do?

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If you have experience in woodworking either as a hobby or profession, then you know how difficult it can get when looking for quality boards of custom thickness from a local supplier. Fortunately, a wood planer helps you address this problem and it is a woodworking tool that is used to create uniform thickness across several boards. However, every board you place of the planer needs to be flat on both its faces.

​Additionally, the classic wood planers popular in the past were hand-held equipment, whereas the modern models are fixed onto tables or workbenches plus feature platforms where you receive and feed your boards. To adjust the thickness of your boards, you need to change these machines manually or place electronic sensors to alter the thickness of the material passing through it automatically.

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The use of wood planers has gained popularity over the traditional method of using a table saw to trim the thickness of boards that required multiple tools plus was time-consuming. Therefore, the use of a wood planer is undoubtedly the simpler and more practical way of achieving the desired thickness.

What scenarios does a planer become useful?

So, What Does It Do?

A planer helps you make adjustments to irregular pieces of wood and levels its thickness to fit your project requirement. Therefore, thanks to this woodworking tool, you can purchase wood straight from the lumberyard provided it is of excellent quality and place it on the planer to achieve your preferred thickness. Professionals usually make use of tiny rough-cut blocks, which they subsequently feed to the planer to achieve deck spindles of perfect size in the shortest possible duration.

Thanks to the flattening qualities of a planer, you can reclaim and use old wood to carry out new projects. A wood planer can achieve this despite the criticisms by wood purists arguing that doing this can kill its sharpness as well as nick the blades. Nevertheless, the rising cost of quality wood makes recycling old timber provide you with a cost-effective solution. Additionally, replacing the set of carbide tipped every so often will still be way cheaper.

Wood planers can also be reasonably useful in projects where you need to join two edges together. By carrying out enough practice, you will be in a position to quickly bevel a door’s edge up to five degrees correctly by incorporating an adaptable on the machine. Thanks to this beveling process, hinge-less doors can close and open smoothly without jamming or clicking.

How do wood planers work?

If you do not have enough woodworking experience, understanding how to use a wood planer can be somewhat intimidating. However, using this machine is not difficult, and how to use a planer properly depends on which type you choose. Therefore, you need first to compare how the table and benchtop models operate compared to the hand-held models to know which type will serve you best.

Incorporated into the design of benchtop models are knives as well as a cutting surface situated on the machine’s base. When setting up one of these, you should make use of knobs that resemble screws located at the top to change the cutting depth. Moreover, you will see some kind of marker showing you the depth that you need to choose. Once everything is set, place the board flat on the table or cabinet before turn switch on the power. The power-on button on some models is a knob which you turn in one direction while others have a bright green button or switch. Consequently, push the board through the machine and below the knives by applying adequate pressure.

Table and cabinet models also operate comparably. Nevertheless, these wooden planers have extension tables that enable you to make even and shallow cuts, which are more level despite having tables that are quite small.

Table planers feature a knob which is used as a safety stop to stop the motor and change the maximum depth. Moreover, some table models are considerably taller compared to benchtop models plus are designed to assist you in working without having to bend over. However, there are instances where manufacturers install cabinets on benchtop models and then call them table planers.

Additionally, you can decide to use the hand-held model or power model. Integrated into the rear of these tools is an ergonomic handle that assists you in moving this model through the wood board without causing you any hand cramping or discomfort. There is a knob or dial at the front, which provides you with a second handhold to have a firm grip on this tool and states how quick you need the motor to operate.

The hand-held models are popular among some individuals as it provides you with more control. With other types of wood planers, you will need to pass the board through before you get a chance to see the appearance of the finished product, thereby making it hard to know the required depth. Nonetheless, hand-held models allow you to see your work while doing it, thus allowing you to know whether to make any modifications with every pass.

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Whereas it is vital to decide which wood planer is ideal for your projects and needs, you also need to look at the thickness and surface of the planer. With this in mind, you will have a better idea of what each tool can do.

Thickness Model vs. Surface Model

The terms thickness and surface are used interchangeably by many companies and manufacturers when selling wood planers since both these tools work on the wood’s surface. The primary difference between these two is that one planer works on thickness, whereas another works on all surfaces.

Incorporated in the thickness model is a cutting head pr cutter head, which makes use of numerous sharp knives, but the precise number differs across different manufacturers. Moreover, it features rollers that allow the smooth movement of wood across the cutting head while you are pushing it. Other models incorporate an automatic feeder which pulls the board inside and then automatically pushes it out without needing you to apply any pressure.

The third component integrated into this machine is some kind of base or tray. The table mode provides you with a table where you can place the wood on, but other metal trays necessitate you to position the wood on metal. Furthermore, these trays can extend outwards to offer you with additional working space. When using a tool that has a board, the board moves below one roller and across the cutting head, which makes use of knives to get rid of wood down to the set depth. Subsequently, a second roller pulls the board and then pushes it out, with this tool more reliable compared to a surface planer since it removes with every pass one piece from the surface.

Surface models, on the other hand, work on small areas of the wood surface every single time. These products may include an electric model that features a motor that exerts the needed pressure and the manual models which you need to exert pressure on for it to cut across the wood surface. Surface models usually are hand-held models that allow you to remove a specific part of the wood while passing the tool over the surface. Whereas most have sharp knives incorporated on the in-built head, the machines may fail to go deeper compared to thickness models.

Why you should avoid the manual wood planer

Manual wood planers are only ideal if you are carrying out basic projects as well as if you prefer to work with old-fashioned tools. These designs are also known as hand planes and feature a single cutting area, which you will first need to sharpen for you to use to carry out any future projects. Moreover, with this tool, you must use a lot of pressure, which might hurt your hand or make it start cramping after using it for a while. It is because of this that many woodworkers nowadays opt for the power or electric wood planers instead of the hand planer.

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Proper Training

As a woodworker, a wood planer is a handy tool. Nevertheless, this tool is not something you can start using straight away because a lack of experience on how to use it properly leads to snipes, tear-outs, and inclined planes on the surface of the board. Subsequently, these errors will increase the project’s total cost as well as prolong the work duration. Therefore, you need first to take enough time to properly understand this tool’s operational aspect and practice everything you have been taught with unused boards inside your workshop. Once you have understood how to use this machine correctly, you can then commence on your new woodworking project.


If you are a woodworker, owning a wood planer is essential, as this is an investment for the future. Having an excellent planer ensures you never have to go buy processed woods for whatever woodworking tasks you are planning to undertake. Instead, this tool allows you to use cheap wooden slabs from the lumberyard or any extra old piece of old wood drying out in your shop. Therefore, you get to save money you would have spent processed woods and invest it in other critical areas.

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