So What Exactly Is a Wood Planer?

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new manual Hand Planer picture

If your one of those people that are thinking of getting into woodworking but you have no idea where to start, then you really must get an understanding of the types of woodworking tools. One of the most important and necessary tools in woodworking is a wood planer. But what exactly is a wood planer?

A Wood planer is a tool that reduces the thickness levels of all kinds of wood surfaces, whether it be a large cut of wood (slab) or a simple board for a timber deck. A wood planer will do the perfect prep work for the job. It can also be used to flatten and smooth wood depending on the project it is being used for.

Just so you know though, there actually are a number of different types of planers available for different types of jobs. There are even a few special types like the rabbet plane or bullnose plane that are used in certain situations and projects.

These Types of specialty planes have their own features, functions, and ways to be used to improve a carpenter’s or furniture maker’s work. For a little example, a grooving plane (plough plane) cuts grooves into a piece of wood and is used for projects where a person will need to join two pieces of wood together.

However, I want to just focus on the most common type of wood planes for the time being as I want you, to try and get a full understanding of what a basic plane is used for. If I head off in a different direction and start rambling on about Random types of planes, I’m more than likely going to totally confuse you, so let’s just continue on with the basic wood planes for now.

I will, of course, give a link to a resource page that will give you the entire list and uses of planers further down the page but for now, let me give you the rundown.

Look to put it in the easiest way I can and for you to quickly understand is- a wood planer is the one of the most important tools available and is is why so many workshops and woodworkers own one. The fact they reduce the thickness, feel and shape of a piece of wood faster and more effective than any other wood tool is really why you should have not one!! But a number of different planers in your work shop.

The better you get at it, the less work you need to do at the end of the projects. You know those little touch-up jobs (Filling and sanding) just to get that perfect finish? Well, the wood plane is going to get you to that point a lot faster than your traditional wood chisel so you can imagine the time a person can save when incorporating a wood plane into their woodworking.

If you think about it, this is great for novices and home woodworkers that have a home project and the boards they are working with are just too thick and have a really rough surface. Instead of having to take it to their local hardware shop to have it done, they can simply whip out there trusty electric wood planer and do the job themselves in a matter of minutes.

Come to think about it let me just get to the main types now so I don’t confuse you as I said above. These are basically the most common types of wood planers you will come across in a woodworkers workshop. At some point in time, you may also wish to purchase one of these tools for yourself so you can start your very own woodworking venture.

Let’s get to it…

What are the most common types of wood planers Available?

Like many other tools, there are many different types of wood planers. The following list does not include any specialty wood planers but I’m just going to lists the 5 most common types. I don’t personally own all of these but I can guarantee most professionals will have at least 3 of the planers on the list below.

• Manual
• Electric hand planers
• Stationary
• 2-in-1
• Benchtop

The Manual Planer

The WoodRiver 5 Bench Plane on a white background

The trusty old manual planers are hand-held and powered by hand movement and pure muscle power. This is the original and earliest type of wood planer and it is very portable as it doesn’t require any power source at all. This type of hand plane has been around for thousands of years and archaeologists have found them at multiple dig sites from medieval times in Europe and Asia.

These are the perfect tool when comes to those little woodworking projects that just need a little bit of wood taken off here and there.

Price Range: $25- $500
Who’s it for? For anyone that is into woodworking pro or novice.

The Power Hand Planer

Photo of a Green electric planer

Now we’re getting to the good stuff as the power planers are real time savers and make short work out of a lot of wood projects.

Power hand planers have two sources of energy. You can either plug them into an outlet or they can be battery operated as with the cordless Makita planer (which I highly recommend by the way). Just like a manual planer, power hand planers are highly portable, but they have a hell of a lot more power than your standard manual hand-held ones.

I think nearly every woodworker in the industry will have some type of an electric hand planer in their workshop so you definitely need to pick one of these up when you get a chance. If you are interested in one, make sure you drop by our best electric hand planner page HERE as there’s something for any level of woodworker on any budget.

Price Range: $30- $2000.00
Who’s it for? From the home woodworker to the professionals.

The Benchtop Planer

Close up A man with work clothes and a cap carpenter scouring a wooden board on an thicknessing machine in a light workshop

Benchtop planers sit on benchtops (as the name suggest) and are a stationary piece of machinery. These types of planers are just awesome for the middle sized projects, but because of its stationary nature, benchtop planers are not best for on the go projects. Personally, I think it’s always great to have on lying around just in case you need access to one.

While they’re not easily moved by yourself, getting a friend to help you move it to a job site is still a real option and would make sense to have it set up somewhere on-site just in case.

If you would like to add one to your workshop feel free to take a look at our benchtop planer reviews!!

At the end of the day, these types of planers really can save you a lot of time and money if you do have a lot of timber that needs to be planed to the right thickness.

If you’re a builder and you do find yourself building a lot of decks, one of these planers will more than likely pay for itself on the very first job. Of course, that depends on where you get your decking timber.

Price Range: $300- $700 depending on where you purchase.
Who’s it for? Again for the home workshop, business workshop and the home builder on the go.

The Stationary Planer

Jet Helical Head Planer photo

Stationary planers are the more powerful versions of the benchtop planers and these are definitely not a portable item. They are basically the industrial planer and not too many home hobbyists will have one lying around in their home workshop.

Don’t get me wrong I know of guy’s that actually do own them at home, but they do turn over a nice profit on their woodwork so I guess they’re able to justify buying one for the price that they ask. I’m lucky to be able to have access if needed but I’m just not at their level of woodworking (and definitely don’t sell as much woodwork as they do), so I definitely won’t be buying one anytime soon.

Price Range: $1000.00 and UP!
Who’s it for? For anyone serious about woodworking and in an Industrial woodworking business and environment.

The 2-in-1 planers

Photo of a large yellow Jointer

Last on the list is the 2-in-1 planers. These are a combination of two tools, usually a planer with a jointer. Truth be known I’d love to have one sitting in my workshop but these are just as expensive the stationary planers so I won’t be buying one anytime soon.

Price Range: $1000.00 and UP!!
Who’s it for? Someone who would like to have both tools combined. Again more for a pro or woodworking business.

Ok, those are some of the more traditional planers but I did say I would point you in the right direction if you are interested in learning more about all planers available. So the best place I would say at this point is Wikipedia. Take a look at this page to see all the types of planers and what they’re used for.

Hand planers have a lot uses around the home and workshop so I hope this article has helped you understand what a wood planer is and what it does. I wish you all the best in your woodworking projects and if you have any questions or feedback don’t be afraid to contact us or drop a comment below.

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