When I first developed an interest in woodwork, one of my major fears was planing. Why? It is intimidating. The machinery is loud and quite dangerous when you use it. There was always the thought in my mind that I would hurt myself.
I was so very wrong. Once I got some basic planing skills, I was able to plane wood smoothly and I found it so satisfying. A rough piece of wood moving through a machine to become as smooth as glass on the other side is so satisfying.
I decided to buy my own planer. There were a lot of reasons I wanted to get my own planer. One of those was that I did not want to have to make adjustments after someone else had used my machine. Also, I wanted to acquaint myself with one machine that I felt comfortable with.
I had a lot of choices presented to me and I was sitting on the fence. So, I compiled a list of the best wood planers out there. I wish I had a list like this when I was in the market.
Wood Planer: Buying Guide
The most heavy duty metal planers are durable, including cast iron. Consider a more durable material if your planer is going to have to handle a lot of bumps and shaking.
2. Power and Motor
The ideal amount of power you need is dependent on the type of wood you work with. You need to consider the amount of rotations the blade does per minute. Harder wood requires a higher amount of rotations.
3. Depth of Cut
Thickness planers allow you to set the depth at which you would like to cut on a single pass. You must take this into consideration if you want to remove large amounts of material.
The allowance is the amount of width of wood that you can feed into the planer. If you are working on bigger projects, then a planer with a larger allowance should be your choice. You can handle smaller projects with handheld planers.
5. Cuts Per Inch
The CPI represents the amount of times that blades will cut the wood per inch. Planers with a higher CPI are better at reducing the risk of a rougher surface.
Consider the workload of your projects when you decide what planer to buy. You also need to think about how often you need to move your machine around. Consider portable options if you travel with your equipment on a regular basis.
7. Planer Capacity
This refers to how big a piece of wood can be for a certain planer. The general specification is about 11 inches wide and 6 inches thick. This is dependent on the type of planer that you want to buy.
Planers that feature rollers on either end are less likely to produce snipe. You should consider this when working with larger, heavier pieces of wood. Heavier wood can increase the risk of snipe.
9. Snipe Handling
Some planers have extra precautions set in place to further reduce the risk of snipe. Buy a planer that has extra precautions in place to limit snipe.
10. Self-Indexing Knives
You will prefer this type of planer if you have less experience with these machines. It is easier and faster to change these blades.
11. Ease of Depth Adjustment
It should be easy for you to adjust the cutting depth on the planer that you buy. This means considering whether it has depth gauges and depth stops or not.
Better quality cutterheads will produce a smoother finish. The cutterhead also determines how noisy the machine is.
13. Part Replacement
Planers will likely need part replacements after many years of use. When you are deciding which planer to buy, it is a good idea to order one that has parts you can find anywhere.
14. Gauges and Stops
Most planers will feature that allows you to set the depth at which the blades will cut. This is great if you need precise work done as the stops can be preset to cut at the same depth for more than one board.
15. Dust Collection
Planers make a lot of mess when cutting if they are not attached to a shop vacuum or a dust collector. A few planers have a fan built into the unit. The main function of this fan is diverting wood chips away from the cutterhead.
The planer that you choose should perform well in the sense that it should produce smooth pieces of wood. The smoother the end production, the better. If a planer does not perform well it means you will likely have to spend extra time sanding the wood afterwards.
Cheaper machines may cost you more in the future. You might need to replace defective parts more. This money could be better used on buying a good quality machine. They range from as little as $40 to $5000.
Consider the warranty of the machine.The longer the better in this case.
Why Use a Wood Planer?
If you struggle to afford expensive wood, then a planer can be quite a big advantage for you. This is because planers allow you to cut and shape any rough wood you may come across. This will save you a lot of money and you can also recycle wood to use on another project.
Planers come in a variety of sizes and styles which gives you plenty of options to choose from. You can make this decision by considering the size and amount of work you would like to do. You save time finishing pieces by passing it through a machine once or twice.
Care & Maintenance Tips
- Beware of rust: Rust can make many parts of your machine weak and brittle, causing them to bend or break when it’s in use. Proper storage of your machine is how you can either delay or combat rust. You can also use a penetrating oil or scrape away rust with an abrasive material.
- Sharpen your blades: To smoothen out the surface of the wood when using a planer, the blades should be sharp. This means that you need to sharpen your blades on a regular basis.
- Lubricate your planer. There are many moving parts on a planer which are in constant need of lubrication. This is to reduce the amount of friction between parts which lessens the risk of damage or sticking.
- Maintain your planer table: Clean your table using mineral spirits. After this, use a soft cloth to apply wax to keep boards moving smoothly across the table.
Wood Planer Usage and Safety Tips
- Do not wear gloves. Gloves could get caught on the wood or blades of the planer which could cause serious injury. Working without gloves also makes your work more accurate.
- Do not use your planer on painted or dirty wood. This can dull the blades of the planer which is costly. It can also clog the dust catcher. This means that you would have to stop your work to replace any defective components.
- Do not use a planer on wood that has any metallic objects in it. Not only could these objects damage your planer, they could also cause serious injury. Objects could dislodge causing shrapnel.
- Do not look into the planer when it’s in use. Wooden projectiles can cause injury. Any other objects that you might not have removed before planing might also be dangerous.
It’s Time to Wrap Up
Any one of the planers on this list would be a good addition to your workshop. They are quite simple to use and even DIYers or hobbyists can enjoy them.
They can save you from spending too much money on expensive wood and help you recycle old pieces as well. These planers are the best for the job at hand.
There are so many choices that today’s market has to offer, but these are the best wood planers. There is a choice to suit every need you might have.
1. Will a planer flatten wood?
Ans. It is possible to flatten wood with a planer if you use a jointer first. The jointer will make one side of the wood flat. After one side is flat, you can place it face down and then run it through a planer. The planer will make the other side of the wood flat and parallel to the first side.
2. What is the difference between a planer and a jointer?
Ans. You use jointers to flatten surfaces of wood so it smooths out any warped edges. You use planers to cut thicker boards lengthwise to make them thinner. They can also cut one side to make it smooth and parallel to the other.
3. When would you use a planer?
Ans. Planers are generally used to manufacture wooden furniture. You can use them to correct dimensions and when milling wood.
4. Do you have to sand after using planer?
Ans. If you’re aiming for a smoother surface, sanding the wood after using a planer is a good idea. You can also scrape the surface or use a hand planer to go over the surface to smoothen it.
5. What does a thickness planer do?
Ans. Thickness planers can cut boards into a uniform thickness. You can cut wood this way for the entire length of the wood and both surfaces are parallel.
6. Can you joint with a planer?
Ans. A planer can perform the same function as a jointer, but it is not as precise. Planers are more versatile whereas jointers are specific to one function. So, the answer is, yes. Planers can joint wood if you use the right technique.
7. Can you run plywood through a planer?
Ans. It is possible, but there is a risk of damaging your machine. You can dull the knives on a planer faster because of the adhesive that holds the plywood together. Stringy fibers are also created when running a piece of plywood through a planer. These fibers cause clogging of the dust port.
8. How do you clean a planer?
Ans. You can use mineral spirits on a clean cloth to clean the knives of dust as pitch. You need to do this after working on wood with a high content of sap, oil, or tar.