Wood Planer – What Is It And Why You May Need It?

If you have had any experience with woodworking projects either by way of your profession or sheer interest in the subject, then you would know how frustrating it can be trying to order boards of custom thickness from the local wood supplier. Of course, you could always use a table saw to decrease the thickness of the board and then clean its edges by employing a jointer, but the work becomes much simpler when a wood planer is used.

Also, given the glaring similarities in operation between a jointer and a planer, a lot of people tend to think that both these woodworking tools can be used for performing the same set of tasks. Sadly, that is not the case. So, this article explains the working of a wood planer and also throws light on the various woodworking applications for which it can be used.

what are wood planers

What Is A Wood Planer And How Does It Work?

Simply put, a wood planer is a woodworking tool, which can be used for producing boards of even thickness that also happen to be totally flat on either side. While the traditional wood planer was more of a handheld tool, the modern power planers come with a planing platform for quick and accurate thickness adjustments and can be controlled either manually or electronically.

Basically, what you do is first set the cut depth either by adjusting the cutter head/drum or the planing platform, and switch on the machine. Then, as you feed a board through the machine, it is carried forward by the in-feed roller and placed under the fast spinning blades of the cutter drum. From the other end, the outfeed roller systematically moves the completed section of the board out of the machine and thus a smooth and consistent reduction in thickness is achieved across the board in no time.

Where Does A Planer Prove Useful?

By using a thickness planer, you can take irregular pieces of wood and level its thickness according to your project requirement. As a result, you can buy any thickness of wood from the lumberyard and as long as it is of good quality, you could always put it through a wood planer and achieve the required thickness. In fact, experts use small rough cut blocks and gang feed them into the planer to achieve perfect deck spindles in little time.

For projects that require two edges to be adjoined to each other, a planer can be quite handy. With enough practice, you could easily bevel a door edge accurately up to 5 degrees by integrating an adjustable fence onto the machine. This process of beveling the hinge-less door edges allows the doors to open and close smoothly without clicking or jamming.

Even old wood can be reclaimed and used again in new projects by making use of the flattening qualities of a wood planer. Of course, woodwork purists will be quick to tell you that doing so can nick the blades and kill their sharpness. However, given the growing cost of quality lumber, recycling old wood presents itself as a cost-effective solution. And if it means replacing a set of carbide tipped blades every once in a while, well then you only losing $30-$40 in the process!

Proper Training

Though a wood planer proves to be a handy tool for woodworks, it is not something that you can start working with right away. When planers are operated by inexperienced personnel, they result in tear outs, snipes and inclined planes on the board’s surface, all of which will only increase the work duration and at to the total cost of a project. Therefore, take the time to properly understand the operational aspects of this machine and practice what you have learned with unused boards in your workshop before you actually start using it for a new woodworking project.

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