How To Use A Power Planer

Man showing How To Use An Electric Planer
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We have known the humble planer for quite a long time as being a woodworker’s most trusted tool. The power planers do the same job as a hand planer with just the difference that they are driven by a powerful motor which makes them super fast and highly efficient.

Similar to a manual hand planer, an power planer also operates on a sole plate or shoe. It has also blades that are mounted on a head or drum which spins incredibly fast in order to shave wood.

Grip and Gauge on Electric Planer

The grip on the front hand gets doubled as you make depth adjustments. The gauge comes with inbuilt scale settings that can be moved back and forth to shift the front planer shoe in order to adjust the cutting depth.

Based on the level of depth you set for the planer, it can remove a little or a lot of wood.

To use the power planer in the desired way, you need skills which come with practice. You can use your planer for performing a lot of woodworking by mastering the way to correctly hold and push the tool.

To ensure your safety, you must be able to balance your body perfectly and plan in advance.

Balance and Body Position

Getting the right balance is of utmost importance and you can achieve it by standing with your feet apart. You should be in a position that you feel comfortable in, which allows the planer to conveniently pass through the workpiece.

So, every pass you make on the workpiece using the planer is a proper blend of correct balance and hand pressure.

Step 1: You can start by placing the front shoe of the power planer flat on the wood. This should be done without allowing the blades to come in contact with the wood.

Step 2: Now turn the power on and allow the motor to achieve full speed. Once the tool arrives at its full speed, you can slowly bring the planer in contact with the wood and steadily push it forward.

Tip: Maintain a balance of the hand pressure.

As the planer gets into the workpiece, you must ensure to keep the initial pressure on the front grip. As both the front knob and tool handle comes in contact with the workpiece, you need to maintain a balance of the hand pressure.

Step 3: Now, push the planer off the work and apply more control to the rear handle. You must avoid putting a lot of pressure at the end of the pass or this might lead to an uneven cut on the wood, which is also known as snipe.

Man using a blue power planer on a board

The ultimate smoothness and final effect that you achieve on the workpieces after using the power planer will depend on two factors:

  • Cutting depth you choose the tool
  • Speed at which you push the planer

Depth for shaving off dimensional lumber and smoothing hardwood boards

If you are planning to shave off dimensional lumber, then 1/8 inches per pass should be enough. However, when you wish to obtain the best results while smoothing out hardwood boards, you must use 1/64 inches of 1/32 inches cutting depth setting.

Step 5: Once you have applied your desired settings, you may go on to push the power planer slowly to make more passes.

There are some power planers that come with two full-sized blades which should be re-sharpened with the help of a whetstone, before working on any project. In others, you will find two double-edged carbide mini blades.

There are several planers in the market that come with gauge bases that help you correctly position the mini blades and set the plate for elevating them on the drum.

Take a look at this video where Colin Knecht from Wood Work Web as it gives you a more visual tutorial.

When you should change the blades

The blades need to be changed or replaced when they show signs of dullness. When the blades become nicked or dull, the power tool becomes hard to push and the debris comes off in the form of sawdust that fills up the room with smoke.

The dull blades also create groves in the shaved wood. If you find any such signs, simply unplug the power hand planer and read the instructions manual carefully. Always remember to turn off the power before you change or sharpen the blades, make any repair work or adjustments to the tool.

You can re-sharpen or replace the blades both at the same time to ensure quality cuts using the power planer. There are other planer uses that will benefit you owning a planer so if you don't own own one you can pick one up on our best electric hand planer page.

How to Use a Power Planer
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