What Does a Planer Do Woodworking

Woodworking is a craft that requires precision, attention to detail, and the right tools. One such tool that plays a crucial role in achieving professional-level results is the planer. Whether you’re a seasoned woodworker or just starting out, understanding what a planer does and how it contributes to your projects is essential.

In this article, we will delve into the world of planers and explore their significance in woodworking. We will start by defining what planers are and discussing the different types available in woodworking. From there, we will take a closer look at how planers work, understanding the mechanics behind them and how they function in various woodworking projects.

Using a planer offers numerous benefits that can elevate your woodworking game. Improved precision, increased efficiency, and cost-effectiveness are just a few advantages of incorporating a planer into your workflow. We will highlight these benefits and explain why using a planer should be an integral part of your woodworking routine.

Whether you’re looking to enhance your skills or embark on new woodworking projects, understanding what a planer does and how it can benefit you is essential. So let’s dive deep into the world of planers and discover how these tools can help you achieve professional-level results in your woodworking endeavors.

Understanding Planers

A planer is a versatile woodworking tool that is essential for achieving smooth and even surfaces on wooden boards and planks. It works by removing very thin layers of wood from the surface, resulting in a uniform thickness and a polished finish. Planers are widely used in the woodworking industry, as well as by hobbyists and DIY enthusiasts, due to their ability to produce professional-level results.

There are several types of planers available, each designed to meet specific woodworking needs:

  1. Benchtop Planer: This type of planer is compact and portable, making it suitable for small to medium-sized woodworking projects. It is typically placed on a workbench or table for stability.
  2. Thickness Planer: Also known as a thicknesser, this planer is specifically designed to achieve consistent thickness throughout a wooden board. It is ideal for creating smooth, flat surfaces for joining pieces together.
  3. Jointer Planer Combo: This type of planer combines the functionality of both a jointer and a thickness planer in one machine. It can be used to straighten and flatten rough lumber before achieving an even thickness.
  4. Handheld Planer: As the name suggests, handheld planers are lightweight and operated by hand. They are suitable for smaller woodworking tasks or projects that require more flexibility and maneuverability.

Each type of planer has its advantages and may be more suitable for certain projects than others. When choosing a planer, consider factors such as the size of your workspace, the scale of your projects, and your budget constraints.

A Closer Look at How Planers Work

A planer is a powerful woodworking tool that is used for shaping and smoothing wooden surfaces to achieve the desired thickness and levelness. Understanding how planers work is crucial in order to effectively utilize them in woodworking projects and achieve professional-level results.

The basic mechanics of a planer involve a set of rotating blades that remove material from the surface of the wood. As the wood is passed through the planer, the blades spin rapidly, making small, precise cuts to even out any imperfections or inconsistencies in the surface. The depth of cut can be adjusted based on the desired thickness, allowing for customization and precision in shaping and smoothing the wood.

In addition to removing material, a planer also helps in creating parallel surfaces on wooden boards. This is accomplished by utilizing adjustable tables within the planer that support the wood on both ends as it passes through the cutting blades. These tables ensure that the wood remains level throughout the process, resulting in consistent thickness across its entire length.

Planers can also be equipped with additional features such as dust collection systems to minimize cleanup, feed speed controls for increased efficiency, and automatic thickness control for precise measurements. These features enhance the overall functionality of a planer while making it easier to use and achieve desired results.

By understanding these mechanics behind planers, woodworkers can effectively utilize this essential tool to shape and smooth their wood pieces with precision and efficiency. Whether it’s leveling rough lumber or reducing board thickness, a planer plays a crucial role in achieving professional-level results in woodworking projects.

The Benefits of Using a Planer in Woodworking

Using a planer in woodworking projects offers several benefits that contribute to improved precision, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness. Whether you are a professional woodworker or a hobbyist, incorporating a planer into your workflow can greatly enhance the quality of your finished products.

Improved Precision

One of the primary advantages of using a planer is the ability to achieve precise and consistent thickness throughout your wood pieces. The planer’s adjustable cutting depth allows you to remove just the right amount of material, ensuring uniformity across the entire surface. This level of precision is crucial when creating furniture pieces or joining boards together for seamless projects.

Furthermore, planers also help in surfacing rough lumber by flattening and smoothing uneven surfaces. By removing imperfections such as knots, warps, or cupping, planers enable you to work with straight and level wood pieces that result in clean and professional-looking finishes.

Increased Efficiency

Another significant benefit of using a planer is the time-saving aspect it offers in both initial milling and subsequent machining processes. Instead of relying solely on hand planes or sanding to achieve desired thicknesses, using a planer speeds up the process considerably. It effortlessly removes larger amounts of material from wood surfaces, significantly reducing manual labor.

Additionally, planers can handle multiple boards simultaneously, making them valuable for batch processing or working with larger quantities of raw materials. This increased productivity enables you to complete projects faster without compromising on quality.


Incorporating a planer into your woodworking setup can also lead to cost savings in various ways. Firstly, it allows you to maximize the use of raw materials by transforming irregular or thicker stock into uniformly sized pieces. By carefully planning your cuts with a planer’s assistance, you reduce wastage and make more efficient use of your available wood.

Furthermore, the precision and efficiency offered by planers contribute to a higher quality output with fewer errors. This reduces the need for rework or investing in additional materials to compensate for mistakes, ultimately saving money.

Overall, using a planer in woodworking projects provides numerous advantages that elevate the quality of your work while saving time and resources. From achieving precise thicknesses to increasing productivity and minimizing costs, incorporating a planer into your workflow is an investment that pays off both in terms of craftsmanship and efficiency.

Step-by-Step Guide

The use of a planer in woodworking projects is essential for achieving professional-level results. With its ability to smooth and flatten wood surfaces, a planer is a versatile tool that can greatly enhance the quality and precision of your woodworking projects. In this section, we will provide a detailed step-by-step guide on how to use a planer correctly, from setting up the machine to handling different types of wood.

  1. Set Up the Planer: Before using a planer, it’s important to ensure that it is properly set up for optimal performance. Start by adjusting the cutting depth according to the thickness of the wood you are working with. This can be done by lowering or raising the planer’s cutter head. Additionally, check that the feed rollers are adjusted correctly to grip the wood securely during the planing process.
  2. Prepare Your Wood: Next, prepare your wood for planing by ensuring that it is flat and has one straight edge. This allows for stable feeding through the planer and consistent results. If needed, use a jointer to flatten one side of the board before sending it through the planer.
  3. Feed Your Wood Through the Planer: When feeding your wood through the planer, remember to always feed with the grain direction to prevent tear-outs and rough finishes. Start by placing your wood on the feed table with its straight edge against the fence or guide rail. Hold down firmly and push it steadily through the machine. Ensure that you maintain an even pressure throughout to achieve an even thickness across your piece.
  4. Repeat as Needed: Depending on your desired thickness or surface finish, you may need to run your wood through multiple times, gradually reducing its thickness with each pass until you reach your desired result. Each time you pass your wood through, make sure to adjust the cutting depth accordingly to remove material consistently.
Woodworking Multi Function Table

5 Handle Different Types of Wood: It’s important to note that different types of wood may require different techniques and considerations when using a planer. Softer woods may need a slower feed rate to prevent tear-outs, while harder woods may require sharper blades or multiple passes for smooth results. Take the time to understand the characteristics of the wood you are working with and adjust your planing technique accordingly.

By following this step-by-step guide, you can effectively use a planer in your woodworking projects. Remember to always prioritize safety by wearing appropriate personal protective equipment and following manufacturer guidelines. With practice and experience, you will be able to achieve precise and professional results with your planer.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using a Planer

Using a planer in woodworking projects can greatly enhance the precision and efficiency of the process. However, for beginner woodworkers, there are common mistakes that can easily be made when using a planer. By being aware of these pitfalls and errors, you can avoid them and achieve professional-level results with your woodworking projects.

One common mistake that beginners make when using a planer is failing to properly adjust the depth of cut. The depth of cut refers to the amount of material that is removed by each pass of the planer blades. If the depth of cut is set too deep, it can result in rough or uneven surfaces on the wood.

On the other hand, if it is set too shallow, it may not effectively remove enough material, leading to wasted time and inefficient results. To avoid this mistake, take the time to carefully adjust the depth of cut according to the thickness and hardness of the wood being planed.

Another mistake that beginners often make when using a planer is neglecting to properly secure the wood before running it through the machine. If the wood is not held firmly and securely in place, it can shift or move during planing, resulting in uneven cuts or even accidents.

It’s important to use clamps or other securing methods to firmly hold down the wood before feeding it into the planer. Additionally, ensure that you are feeding the wood evenly and consistently through the machine to maintain a smooth and uniform surface.

One more common mistake is ignoring proper blade maintenance. Planers have sharp blades that require regular maintenance in order to ensure optimal performance. Dull or damaged blades can lead to rough cuts and tear-outs in your woodwork.

It’s important to regularly inspect your planer blades for any signs of wear or damage, such as nicks or chips. Replace any dull or damaged blades promptly and ensure they are correctly installed before using your planer. Additionally, take the time to clean and lubricate the blades regularly to prevent rust and prolong their lifespan.

By being aware of these common mistakes and taking steps to avoid them, you can make the most out of your planer in woodworking projects. Remember to adjust the depth of cut appropriately, secure the wood firmly before planing, and maintain your planer blades regularly for optimal performance. This will help you achieve professional-level results and ensure a smooth and efficient woodworking experience.

Tips and Tricks for Maximizing Planer Performance

Considering Grain Direction

One important tip for maximizing planer performance is to carefully consider the grain direction of the wood you are working with. The grain direction refers to the orientation of the wood fibers, and it can greatly impact the quality of your planing results. When feeding the wood into the planer, it is generally recommended to go against the grain. This helps prevent tear-out and ensures a smoother finish.

However, there may be instances where going against the grain is not feasible or desirable. In such cases, it is crucial to adjust the depth of cut on your planer accordingly. Taking lighter passes and adjusting the settings can help minimize tear-out when planing with the grain. Additionally, pay attention to any knots or irregularities in the wood, as they can also affect how smoothly the planer operates.

Blade Maintenance

Regular blade maintenance is essential for maximizing planer performance. Dull blades can lead to poor results, including rough surfaces and uneven thicknesses. To maintain sharp blades, it is recommended to periodically inspect them for any signs of wear or damage. If necessary, replace them with new ones or have them professionally sharpened.

In addition to keeping your blades sharp, it is also important to clean them regularly. Wood residues and debris can build up on the blades over time, affecting their cutting ability. Use a brush or compressed air to remove any buildup from both sides of the blade. Taking these simple steps will not only ensure optimal cutting performance but also extend the lifespan of your blades.

Achieving Desired Thicknesses

Another aspect of maximizing planer performance is achieving desired thicknesses consistently across your woodworking projects. The adjustment mechanism on most modern planers allows you to control the depth of cut accurately. However, it’s important to measure and adjust this setting carefully before starting each pass.

To achieve an even thickness, it is recommended to remove material gradually rather than attempting to take off too much at once. Taking lighter passes not only helps maintain control over the planer but also reduces the likelihood of tear-out or other surface imperfections. Remember to make incremental adjustments and measure the thickness periodically throughout your project to ensure accuracy.

By considering grain direction, maintaining sharp blades, and accurately adjusting the depth of cut, you can optimize the performance of your planer and achieve professional-level results in your woodworking projects. Taking these tips and techniques into account will enhance precision, efficiency, and overall satisfaction with using a planer in your woodworking endeavors.

Planer Safety and Maintenance

In order to safely operate a planer and ensure its optimal performance, there are some essential safety precautions that should be followed. First and foremost, it is important to wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) such as safety glasses or goggles to protect the eyes from flying wood chips or debris.

Additionally, wearing hearing protection is recommended due to the loud noise generated by the machine. It’s also crucial to avoid loose-fitting clothing or jewelry that could potentially get caught in the machine.

When operating a planer, it is important to have a clear workspace and maintain good lighting conditions. This will help prevent accidents and ensure accuracy in woodworking projects. Before starting the machine, it is advisable to thoroughly inspect the planer for any signs of damage or defects. Check if all parts are securely attached and if there are any loose screws or bolts that need tightening.

Which Gray Oak Woodwork

Regular maintenance is key to extending the lifespan of a planer and ensuring its optimal performance. One of the most important maintenance steps is keeping the blades sharp. Dull blades not only result in poor-quality cuts but may also increase the risk of accidents as they require more force to push through the wood. To maintain sharp blades, it is recommended to regularly check their condition and sharpen them as needed using a sharpening stone or other appropriate tool.

Aside from blade maintenance, cleaning and oiling the planer regularly also play an important role in its upkeep. Dust can accumulate in various parts of the machine over time, affecting its performance and accuracy. Therefore, it is crucial to clean out any dust or debris buildup regularly. Additionally, lubricating moving parts with appropriate oil helps reduce friction and ensures smooth operation.

Following these safety precautions and implementing regular maintenance practices will not only contribute to safe operation but will also maximize your planer’s longevity and optimize its performance.

Safety PrecautionsMaintenance Steps
Wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE)Keep the blades sharp
Maintain a clear workspace and good lighting conditionsClean out dust or debris buildup regularly
Thoroughly inspect the planer for any signs of damage or defects before starting the machineLubricate moving parts with appropriate oil

Choosing the Right Planer for Your Woodworking Needs

When it comes to woodworking, having the right tools is essential for achieving professional-level results. One such tool that plays a crucial role in woodworking projects is a planer. Planers are designed to smooth and level wood surfaces, making them an indispensable asset for any woodworker.

However, with various types of planers available on the market, it can be overwhelming to choose the most suitable one for specific woodworking needs. This section will provide insights into selecting the right planer, considering factors such as budget, workspace, and desired outcomes.

  • Budget: When choosing a planer, it is important to consider your budgetary constraints. Planers come in different price ranges, from affordable benchtop models to high-end industrial-grade machines. Assessing how much you are willing to invest in a planer will help narrow down your options and ensure you find one that meets both your financial capabilities and woodworking requirements.
  • Workspace: The available workspace is another critical factor to consider when selecting a planer. If you have limited space in your workshop, compact or benchtop planers may be the ideal choice as they take up less room. On the other hand, if you have ample space or work on larger woodworking projects, a larger floor-standing or stationary planer might be more practical.
  • Desired Outcomes: It is essential to identify the specific outcomes you want to achieve with a planer. Different types of planers excel at different tasks. For example, thickness planers are ideal for reducing rough lumber to precise thicknesses, while jointer-planer combo machines offer added versatility by allowing both edge-jointing and surface-planing operations. Consider your woodworking goals and projects before making a final decision on which type of planer suits your needs.

By taking into account factors such as budget, workspace limitations, and desired outcomes for specific woodworking projects, woodworkers can make informed decisions when choosing the right planer. Investing time in research and understanding different planer types will ultimately lead to improved results and greater satisfaction in woodworking endeavors.

BudgetAssess budget constraints to determine an appropriate price range.
WorkspaceEvaluate available workshop space and choose a planer size accordingly.
Desired OutcomesIdentify specific goals and tasks that need to be accomplished with the planer.


In conclusion, planers are an essential tool in woodworking projects, playing a crucial role in achieving professional-level results. They offer precision, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness, making them a valuable asset for both beginner woodworkers and seasoned professionals. By using a planer correctly, woodworkers can achieve smooth surfaces, consistent thicknesses, and precisely flattened boards.

Throughout this article, we have explored the different types of planers available in woodworking and delved into the mechanics behind how they work. We have also discussed the numerous benefits of using a planer in woodworking projects, such as improved precision and efficiency. Planers can also help save costs by reducing material waste and minimizing the need for sanding or additional smoothing.

Furthermore, we provided a step-by-step guide on how to use a planer correctly and covered common mistakes to avoid when operating this tool. Additionally, we offered expert tips and tricks for maximizing planer performance through considerations such as grain direction and blade maintenance.

Lastly, we addressed the crucial aspect of planer safety and maintenance. It is vital to prioritize safety when operating any power tool to prevent accidents or injuries. Regular maintenance is also essential to ensure optimal performance from your planer over time.

In summary, incorporating a planer into your woodworking projects is highly recommended due to the numerous benefits it offers. From achieving precise dimensions to saving time and money on smoothing processes, a planer is an invaluable tool for every woodworker. By understanding their functionality, utilizing proper techniques, and prioritizing safety and maintenance measures, you can take full advantage of all that these powerful machines have to offer in your woodworking endeavors.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you need a planer for woodworking?

Yes, a planer is an essential tool for woodworking. It is used to smooth and level the surface of rough lumber or wooden boards. Wood often has imperfections, such as knots, unevenness, or irregularities, and a planer helps to remove these flaws and create a flat and uniform surface.

Additionally, a planer can be used to thickness boards to the desired size by removing excess material evenly across the entire surface. This not only enhances the appearance of the wood but also ensures that joints fit properly when assembling pieces together.

Can I use a planer instead of sanding?

While both a planer and sanding can be used to achieve smooth surfaces on wood, they are not interchangeable tools. A planer removes larger amounts of material under controlled depth settings, primarily focusing on flattening and thicknessing tasks. On the other hand, sanding complements the work done by a planer by further refining or finishing the surface texture or removing minor imperfections left behind after planing.

By using progressively finer grit sandpaper, you can achieve a smoothness that is difficult to accomplish solely with a planer. Therefore, while a planer is helpful in preparing wood for final surfacing, sanding is still necessary for achieving excellent results.

What is planer tool for?

A planer tool is primarily used for two main purposes in woodworking: surface preparation and thicknessing of wood stock. As mentioned earlier, it helps in flattening uneven surfaces of rough lumber by removing high spots or irregularities effectively. This ability allows carpenters and woodworkers to work with straight boards that fit precisely together during construction projects such as building furniture or cabinetry.

Additionally, a planer allows them to control and adjust the thickness of boards accurately according to their requirements by shaving off material from one side uniformly across its entire length. This process is particularly useful when creating parts with consistent dimensions or matching existing woodwork elements in repairs or restorations.

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