Using a Hand Power Planer on Wide Boards

Power planers can be amazing timesavers on almost any project. They can level out framing lumber, smooth out edges, or they can chamfer handrails for instance. With experience, you might even be able to use one to do things like bevel door edges.

A power planer is very similar to a jointer in how it is used. There are power planers that are handheld and others that are a stationary machine. But if you are looking to use it on wide boards, a handheld power planer is probably the best one to use. A board could be too wide for a stationary power planer but can’t be too wide for a handheld version.

Now that we have discussed the type of tool you’ll need and a brief mention on what it is, let’s get into how you would use it.

How a Hand Power Planer Works?

A power planer runs on a sole plate, just like a hand planer does, but it has blades attached to a cutter head, just like a jointer. The hand grip of the tool is also a depth-adjustment instrument as you can turn it backward and forward to move the front sole plate up and down. The cutter head can rotate up to 20,000 rpm and removes wood that equals the difference in elevation between the front and rear shoe plates of the tool.

There are a few more things you need to know about how to use your tool before moving forward with your project, such as:

  • This is very important as you will not only need to be steady on your feet but also comfortable as you make the full pass over the piece.
  • Rest the front sole plate, or shoe, on the wood. Don’t let the blade rest on the wood yet. You should start the device, let the motor reach to its full speed, and then relieve the plane into the wood.
  • Keep the same amount of hand pressure on the tool throughout the pass. This will help keep the tool steady but also help you when you come near the end of a piece. Having even pressure throughout will ensure that it is evenly cut throughout that pass and in other passes as well, if you can keep up the same amount of pressure.
  • Avoid overreaching. Overreaching means letting the blade go out through the other side of the wood, but it also means it will take a snipe at the end of the wood as the front show drops off the end. That’s also why you need to maintain the same amount of hand pressure and being conscious of what you are doing.
  • Speed and depth are key factors in your final product. How fast you push the device along and how deep you set the setting to be will impact how smooth the work ends up being. I would recommend moving the tool along the board slowly and making more passes over moving quickly or making few passes.

Setting Up Your Board

To begin planning your board, you need to make sure it is set up correctly. This is done by first finding a flat surface that is much larger than the board itself. Make sure the board is supported under the higher spots or else the wood will rock as you are cutting into it. If the board is cupped, set it so it is convex, or that the bend is facing upwards to percent any rocking.

Also be sure to make all four edges of the board with a marking gauge to show its high spots. This will help you make sure that the board is actually even from end to end and that one part of it isn’t higher than another.

Power Plane the Board

This is another incredibly obvious step to follow. In this step, you are power planing the board down to the marks you made in the previous step. You should also use winding sticks to fine-tune how flat you intend to make your board.

It’s best to flatten these wider boards in stages as removing wood releases tension within it and causes it to slightly change shape. It would be best to remove something closer to 75 percent of the wood you want to remove off of each side.

Wait a Day or Two

Waiting a day or two to go back to your board again is best to let the board settle before you finish flattening it. I made sure to include this as its own large step as people can be impatient and want to skip ahead.

You definitely could if you wanted to – you are building something on your own, after all – but this lets it settle into its shape fully. It also makes you leave the workshop for at least a little bit so you don’t keep breathing in those small wood shavings all day long. Make sure you’re keeping up with other responsibilities in addition to your personal projects!

Sand It Down

And of course, to finish flattening the board, you’ll need to sand it. Well, I suppose you don’t have to, but it’s a nice touch.

If you have the opportunity, use a wide-belt sanding machine to get a very nice finished sanding for your piece. If you don’t have access to one, use a regular belt sander. It still does the job well and will still make the board very smooth.

Conclusion

This was a very simple and shorter article, but these steps should help easily guide you through the process of using your handheld power planer on a wide board. There are other ways of going about this, such as continuing to using a stationary machine you have but removing the guard, although they may not work as well as simply using a handheld tool. In the case of removing the guard, there is a higher risk of injury.

Let us know if this was helpful and if you have any other suggestions on what a person could use to flatten wider boards.

If your interested in buying a new electric planer be sure to take a look at our Top 5 Power Planer Reviews!

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