Benefits of a Wood Planer

If you want to undertake woodworking projects, you need to know how to use a wood planer. As the name implies, it is used to plane boards to make them of even thickness.

Many people believe that they don’t need a wood planer since a jointer can do the same work. In this tutorial, I will explain the importance of a wood planer and how to use it for various tasks.

What is a Wood Planer?

A wood planer not only produces boards of equal thickness but also makes their surfaces totally flat. They are used with a platform that allows you to adjust thickness accurately and quickly.

You can also use the planer to create boards with parallel faces. This means that, for example, you can create doors that perfectly fit the frame without jamming or sticking.

The difference between a jointer and a planer is that the former flattens the face of warped or twisted boards. It also ensures faces are even so that two pieces can be perfectly joined.

Why Use a Wood Planer?

A wood planer saves you a lot of hassle when buying wood for your projects. Instead of spending time looking for boards with similar thickness, you can simply buy rough wood and process them to produce what you need.

You can also save money by using your planer to recycle old wood that is still of good quality. You can reclaim the boards by simply flattening the surface so they can be reused.

How to Use a Wood Planer

The basic way it works is you adjust the cutter head to the desired cut depth. Then feed the board to the machine and the cutter head’s blades will plane it.

Generally, however, one side of the board has to be flat. If the bottom has imperfections when the board goes through the planer, the upper surface will also have the same problems.

In order to avoid over-cutting, set the depth stop so the planer is prevented from cutting beyond a particular depth. If the depth stop is set to 1 inch, the planer will not be able to plane less than this.

To prevent snipe, in which the planer cuts slightly deeper at the edges, pull up on the back end of the board slightly as it goes through the feeder. When it emerges, pull up the front side slightly.

How to Avoid Tearout

Tearout refers to the splintering that happens when wood is cut improperly. These make boards unusable since the surface is not only damaged but the integrity of the wood has been compromised.

To avoid tearout, make sure that the cutter head is in the direction of the grain when you feed the board into the planer. If the head is against the grain, it will tear the wood fibers.

Reclaiming Old Wood Using a Planer

Remove all nails, screws and other things embedded in the wood before you feed it to the planer. Your cutter will be damaged when it hits a nail.

Set the cutter head to make shallow passes, then send the boards through multiple times until you get the desired thickness. Each pass should remove no more than 1/16th or 1/32th inch of wood.

Getting the Most From Your Planer

If you need to surface a large slab that is not big enough to fit in the planer’s feed, cut it into sections big enough to fit. Then glue the sections together, carefully ensuring the joints are perfectly flush.

It will be easier to hide joints if you cut small pieces on either side of the board rather than straight down the middle. The straight grain pattern at the ends is more forgiving than middle arched grain pattern.

Wood Planer Safety Precautions

When working with a planer always wear safety goggles with side shields to protect your eyes against sawdust and other debris. Hearing protection should also be worn to protect operators against the noise of the machine.

Make sure the boards you use have solid knots or are free of foreign objects to avoid kickback. You should also stand to one side of the planer, away from the feed, in case the wood splinters or kickback happens.

Don’t plane boards less than 10mm since the wood may become damaged. You can plane these boards by placing them on top of a thicker boards and running them through together.

The board should not be too long and allow for adequate allowance at the outfeed end. The ideal distance is the length between the infeed and outfeed plus a two-inch allowance.

The width of the boards should not be too wide since it may catch on the feed and result in the motor overheating. If the motor stalls, turn off the planer and lower the bed before you restart the machine.

Maintaining Your Planer

After using your planer, blow away debris from the rollers, surface and cutter head using compressed air. You should also clean the guideposts and head elevation screws in the same way.

When the cutter knives start to become dull, replace them at once. If you use disposable, double-edged planer knives, keep a spare set for replacement rather than trying to sharpen them.


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