Planers find their origin in the ancient city of Rome and have been in use ever since. At the inception, planers were made of mere wooden blocks with a rectangular shaped opening in the centre to fit in the metal blade, which was clamped with another wooden block. However, with time and technology, of course, planers have undergone several enhancements and development. Historical excavations around the world have revealed comparatively more modern planers, especially at Roman sites. For instance, an iron wrapped around wooden blocks or planers made of bronze have been discovered.
In the mid 1800s, hand planers made of iron cast body were first manufactured by Leonard Bailey, who subsequently transferred the patent of the same to Stanley. The latter continues to manufacture planers in the line of Bailey designs. Contemporary hand planers continue to use the same combination of materials, that is wood and iron with occasional use of bronze, to manufacture different types of planers.
Kinds of Hand Planers
- Block Planers: This consists of the blade at a considerably low angle with an upward inclination. The low angle of the blade helps these block planers in pruning end grains, effecting better fitting and trimming. Block planers specialize in smoothening uneven wooden surfaces and also flattening twisted pieces of wood.
- Bench Planers: These planers, also known as finishing planers, are quite similar to block planers. However, the only difference being the angle of the blade is slightly steeper fitted at a downward inclination, unlike the one in block planer. The function, nevertheless, remains the same although it is mostly used for larger projects.
- Pocket Planers: As the name suggests, these planers are small enough to fit into pockets. Pocket planers are used for smaller or lighter tasks like fast trimming and cutting with the use of simply one hand. Such planers are provided with a knob for easy adjustment and replacement of the blade, by simply turning it.
- Spoke Planers: Spoke planers, also known as shavers, are mostly used for giving a round shape to wooden logs. Woodworkers use these planers to cut and shape legs and seats of chairs as well as curved templates. The cutters provided in these planers are replaceable and can also be adjusted to suit your desired cutting depth and thickness of shaving.
- Trimming Planers: These planers are slightly bigger in size than pocket planers and are usually used on small pieces of wood. If you want fine detailing, smoothening and flattening the surface of small chunks of wood, then trimming planers are the ideal choice.
Kinds of Power Planers
- Hand Power Planers: These are also known as door or edge planers and as the name implies, they are mostly used for modification of door edges. Additionally, they can also be used on flat surfaces like tabletops, floors, etc. to trim the same.
- Cordless Hand Power Planers: With 14-18 volts of power output, cordless hand power planers are becoming the most preferred planers. They are extremely convenient, handy and light weight, making it all the more easy to use.
- Bench Top Planers: They come in two variations- the first kind being thickness planers, which are used to decrease the thickness of timbers or smoothening uneven timber boards. The second kind is jointers, which are used for leveling the edges of wooden boards or straightening them.
- Combination Planers: As the name suggests, a combination planer is an amalgamation of a jointer and a planer. Being a combination of two kinds it performs dual functions and is a great tool for those who perform small woodworking at home.
Surface Planers: Surface planers find use mostly in industries and professional woodworking workshops rather than at homes for amateur or leisure woodworking. They are used on larger surfaces like floors, decks, etc.