What Do Wood Planers Do?

Photo of a man with a large old manual hand planeWorking on wood projects can be a fun, satisfying and a rewarding job depending on the project you’re working on. We all know you are going to need certain tools to finish the job in a professional manner, so tools like drills, jointers, and saws are going to be a big time saver.

But one of the most important tool’s you’re going to need is a planer. Planers are a simple tool that may seem like just another one of your power tools, but in actual fact, it is the most important tool in the woodworking shop.

Despite its importance though, people are still sometimes confused on what an actual planer does and why it’s important to own one if you’re into woodworking.

All About The Planer

For all those who do not know, a wood planer is a woodworking tool that is used to reduce the thickness of a board but while doing so, it also smooths out the surface of the wood to give a professional look. This tool is one of the most used tools when it comes to any woodworking projects. Just to quickly inform you, there are quite a few different planers used in woodworking so let’s take a look at a few for the sake of this article.

There are electrical and non-electrical planers and it is first important to understand the basic types. The basic types of planers you can use include manual hand planers, stationary planers, and hand-held power planers.

There are also special planers used for specific purposes. An example of one is the rabbet plane that lets you cut such things like steps into your piece of wood. For the purposes of this article, we are only focusing on the basic wood planer as to not get too complicated.

What Does a Planer Do?

As mentioned above, a wood planer functions as a tool that flattens and smooths a surface. The most important function of a planer is that it is able to reduce the thickness of a board.

There many ways to use a planer and all these ways depend on what kind of planer you choose to use. Electrical planers come with instruction manuals for you to read up on, so make sure you take your time to read them. Not only will they keep you from injuring your-self they will also give you the rundown on how to use the planer in the right manner.

Manual hand planers are powered by your own hand movements, which means you are in complete control of the tool. These planers are the most portable, but they are also the least powerful and they require some elbow grease of your own to get your project done. There are many tutorials online that will show you how to use these planers. By watching or reading these tutorials, you will learn how to use these planers properly.

While the specialty types of planers have their own types of functions and features and need to be used in certain directions, it is important to read the instructions and watch tutorials on how to use these planers properly.

But all planers basically do the same job as they function the same way. Specialty planers only differ from regular planer as they have more functions. Certain types of specialty planers can make steps or make it easier to join pieces of wood together.

The Difference Between Planers and Jointers

People tend to confuse planers with jointers, but the two tools are different. Jointers may share some functions with planers such as flattening and smoothing, but jointers are far more limited.

Jointers are for the lengths of a board or other wood surface while planers are for the faces of a piece of wood. It is the lack of multiple functions that make a jointer limited.

For example, jointers are generally better for smoothing edges on the lengths on a piece of wood better than planers. But a planer is better at extracting a board thickness than a jointer.

This is why the two similar tools are different as they have different functions.

 What Are Planers Used for?

There many projects that involve the use of different types of wood planers. These projects include door installation and recycling wood. And some projects might need a specialty planer such as projects that require you to join two wood pieces.

Remember before you start any project, make sure that you actually need a planer and not a jointer. While there are some projects that involve the use of both tools, most do not.

For example, furniture makers need both to produce their products. While furniture makers could use two separate tools, most use a 2 in 1 tool that combines a plane with a jointer.

This tool helps furniture makers build his or her products as both the length and face of the wood’s surface need to be smoothed, flattened, and not too thick. A 2 in 1 plane helps these tradespeople with their projects.

Planer tips

    • Always wear eye protection when working with a planer, especially the electrical ones. Goggles and protection glasses help protect your eyes from any small wood shavings from injuring your eyes.


    • All planers have blades, so be careful when you are using the tool. You can injure yourself with this tool


    • Always remember to check your planer every once in a while, to ensure that its clean and the blades are sharp. Remember you will need to replace or sharpen your hand planer blades from time to time and you will also need to adjust a planer as well. Wood shavings and different hardness of woods can affect the blade and make it very blunt and difficult to work with. So it’s a good idea to keep up with the maintenance of your planer.

Specialty vs. Basic planers

Since there are a lot of different types of planers for you to use, it may seem like they all have different purposes. It may also seem like every type of planner are completely different from each other which in some cases they are.

You see specialty planers differ from basic planers since they are made for specific purposes and job. To not sound too confusing, specialty planers still do the same things as a basic planer (Remove wood very thinly). It’s just more specific with its usage due to its specific nature and the job type.

It is always better to use the basic planers as in most cases you will not need a special planer if you are just thinking a piece of wood or board.

Planers have many functions but these functions allow you to use the right planer for the right job which in turn allows you to finish your project with a sense of pride and joy. So whether you are using the tool to smooth or flatten a piece of wood, it is important to use the right planner for the job. And it is always important to know a tool’s function, especially if you are using the tool.

Hopefully, you now understand a planer’s role and function in the woodworking industry and we hope you have enjoyed this article. Please feel free to drop a comment below if you have a question or feedback as we would love to hear your thoughts 🙂










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