Top Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Electric Hand Planer

If you’ve been relying on a manual hand planer to do most of your work up to now, investing in an electric version of your favorite tool will really open up your woodworking world to a whole host of new, bigger and faster projects.

Electric hand planers are fantastic because they are able to shape and shave the wood like a jointer, belt sander and hand plane all in one compact and easy-to-use piece of kit. They can be used for a whole variety of jobs including levelling joists, smoothing out doors that won’t close and sanding table-tops.

Tip 1: Use The Planer to Prepare for New Ceilings

If you are working on a house and need to create new ceilings, your electric planer is the perfect tool for preparing the joists ready. Make sure your planer has a chip deflector so that you don’t get all the wood ships in your face! Once you are set up, use a straight edge to mark where the joists need some work, set up your work platform and get shaving. The job will be done in no time at all, ready for the new ceiling to be laid.

Tip 2: Always Follow the Safety Code

  • When using your electric planer always protect your eyes and ears with goggles and defenders
  • When you turn the tool off, put the planer onto a wooden block until the blades stop spinning
  • If you are working above your head, make sure to place planks across two ladders, in line with where you want to start cutting

Tip 3: Make The Most of the Versatility

Power planers really do save time and can be used for a wide variety of jobs which at first might not seem obvious for such a tool, but it really is very versatile so make the most of it. You can use your power planer to shape deck post edges quickly, smooth edges, level down wood for frames and create handrails and posts.

Once you get used to handling your power planer you will also be able to use it for some really fine work including shaping wood trim, beveling edges and scribing the tops for counters. It really is a fabulous addition to your workshop! Here are even more uses for your power hand planer.

Tip 4: Always Hold the Power Plane Properly

It might sound strange but it will really help you to get the best out of your power planer by mastering how to hold it and how to push it correctly. You need to get your posture and balance right while working with it to get the best results but also to ensure your own safety.

Stand with your feet far enough apart to balance yourself and provide a steady base as you pass the tool across whatever you are working on. You also need to apply a rhythmic hand pressure as you pass the tool each time and maintain the balance and rhythm together.

Tip 5: Getting Started with Your Electric Planer

Here is a quick guide to using your electric planer for the first time:

  1. Start by lining up the front shoe onto the wood but don’t let the blade actually touch it.
  2. Turn the tool on and wait until the motor if at full speed.
  3. Gently put the planer in contact with the wood and push it forwards steadily
  4. As the planer moves forward into the wood, be sure to maintain pressure on the front grips.
  5. Maintain a balanced hand pressure between the handle and the front knob as the soles of the planer are in contact with the wood
  6. When you reach the end of the wood, apply more control to make sure you catch the back handle
  7. Try not to over reach when you are ending the pass or the front shoe will drop and the blades will take a chunk out of your wood.
  8. You will need to adjust the speed you push the tool with and the depth setting, dependent on the final smoothness you are aiming to achieve.

Tip 5: Change The Blades Regularly

It is important to make sure your planer blades are well maintained and if they become dull or nicked you need to change them safely and quickly, to avoid damaging your planer and your wood projects.

If blades become dull they cause numerous problems. The planer will become hard to push, they will start to smoke potentially, and they fill the room with sawdust rather than wood shavings. If your blades become nicked they will start to leave marks or grooves in your wood as well.

You must always switch off and unplug your planer before attempting to change or sharpen the blades and always check the manufacturer instructions before attempting anything like this, to ensure your safety.

Some models of planers have two large blades which will just need to be sharpened, however, most modern planers actually come with disposable mini-blades which just need to be replaced completely, according to the instructions:

  • Make sure you put the blades squarely into the plate and then bolt the drum tightly down – this will avoid vibrations
  • If your blades start making smoke or powder change them immediately – if you don’t you will damage the motor
  • Always sharpen or replace both blades at the same time.
  • Always double-check that you have tightened the bolts before turning the planer back on
  • Make sure you buy the right size blades for your planer – they can be 3-1/4 inches wide but some can be 6-1/8 inches or more.

Tip 6: Accessories for Your Planer

Here are a few accessories which will really help you to get the most out of your electric hand planer and allow you to do more types of job with it:

  • Pick cast metal plates over stamped ones as they don’t warp so much
  • A power cord which is more than six feet long to help in those hard to reach jobs
  • Planer fences which are adjustable and will help you to work along edges
  • A chip deflector to avoid getting a face full of wood shavings

It is possible to rent an electric hand planer although many stores are now dropping this from their hire tool list as they come back with the blades ruined, but with its versatility and speed this a tool which really should be a permanent fixture within your own woodwork toolkit.

If you are thinking of purchasing a new electric wood planer, make sure you take a look at our 5 best electric wood planers page to ensure you buy a quality product.

 

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