Have you ever dealt with a sagging or uneven wood trim on a project? This can be a common problem as wood pieces age, or as a result of mishandling the wood while it was being trimmed and sanded. Traditionally, this would be solved with a handsaw, followed by a sanding machine, but this approach can cost more time and money if you don’t have both tools. Thanks to a wood planer though, you can now hit two birds with one stone – both trimming and refining the surface. But what exactly is a wood planer, and how does a planer work? Learn more about this handy carpentry tool in our Ultimate Guide on How Does a Planer Work.
Types of Planers
Planers are either manual or electric, the latter being more popular nowadays. Though both a manual and electric planer have the same purpose, electric planers nowadays have a built-in jointer – to help create an even cut across the surface, plus anti-snipe blades to prevent deep, sharp cuts that could further deform the wood. There are also two types of electric planers in the market:
- Surface Planer: As its name implies, a surface planer is suitable for refining most surfaces that have less prominent curves and sagging, requiring a thinner trim.
- Thickness Planer: The thickness planer is designed to trim off thicker pieces of wood off the plane, ideal for larger, more noticeable curves and sagging around the edges.
Parts of the Planer
To fully understand how a planer works, knowing its parts is the key in order to use it properly, and easily troubleshoot your equipment or wood plane. A wood planer has 3 main parts that cut through the wood called a tri-roller system:
- In-feed. This is the first roller in the planer where the wood first enters. The in-feed grips onto the plane and work like a conveyor belt for the rest of the wood to go through the blades.
- Middle Roller. Also called the cutter-feed, this is where the blades are installed that will plane the surface.
- Out-feed. Like the in-feed, this is the end of the conveyor where the planed wood is ejected from the device.
Proceed with Caution
Before using a planer or any heavy-duty woodworking device, you need to wear the appropriate safety equipment to prevent accidents and injuries. The following accessories you should wear include:
- Safety Goggles
- Earplugs or Earmuffs
- Dust Mask
- Cut-resistant Gloves
How Does A Planer Work: The Ultimate Step-by-step Guide
To use a planer, make sure you are working on a flat, even surface for the best results.
- Start by setting the depth or height of the cut on your planer. An adjustable height gauge on the planer will help measure how deep will your cut be on the exact point of the surface. Press the height gauge to lock on the point once you have determined the depth of the trim.
- Turn on the machine and slowly feed it into the in-feed. Keep steady pressure on your hand as you push the wood through the planer. This will prevent misalignment and sniping in case your planer is prone to making snipes.
- Next, the wood rolls onto the cutter-feed to begin trimming. Follow the depth you set on the height gauge, and cut in an even direction. Trim off the excess until you achieve your desired result.
- Let the wood eject from the outer feed to finish. Check if there needs to be more trimming, and repeat the process as needed.
For Hand Planers
While most planers are used on work tables, you can also get a hand planer. A hand planer is either manual or electric as well, ideally used for more common household repairs – on hardwood floors, ceilings, furniture, and sagging doors. Using the hand planer is similar to an industrial or heavy-duty version:
- Measure the depth of the cut with the height gauge. Set the height and lock it in.
- Turn on your hand planer and begin running it across the surface. Unlike a table planer, hand planers do not have the in-feed and out-feed, so it requires more control and coordination.
- Be mindful of the depth you set on the height gauge. Keep following this and check occasionally on the outcome of your trim. Repeat if needed.
Having a planer in your workshop is now becoming quite a necessity. Though it’s not a fairly new tool in woodworking, it’s convenient to have around to help cut and refine wood surfaces that show some deformation. Before you get your hands on a planer, knowing how you can use it will save you from making mistakes and prevent accidents while you’re at work. This Ultimate Guide on How Does a Planer Work is your beginner-friendly introduction to planers with tips to get that clean slate you’re after.