Experienced woodworkers might well and truly have their favorite wood planes.
But, what if you’re a complete beginner…how do you know which to get?
Below we’ve outlined for you the following to make things a little easier:
The 5 Different Types Of Planes/Planers
What Each Planer Is Used For
What might be the best wood planer for you
(Note that this is a general information guide. Also carry out your own research before buying to figure out what type of wood planer in best for you)
5 Different Types Of Wood Planes/Planers – And Which To Get?
The most general explanation of a planer is a tool that thinly cuts (also referred to as thickness) the surface of wood, from the top of the wood (it doesn’t cut from the bottom like a jointer).
A handheld planer can be used to smooth, shape and surface cut many different forms of wood.
A benchtop or stationary planer is designed to make a flat piece of wood the same thickness, or be parallel, from end to end.
All types of planers at their core are designed to be a thicknesser.
To create a truly straight, flat, square and parallel/even piece of wood – put one face and one edge of the timber through a power jointer first (although buying pre-milled/flattened wood can also work).
Probably the three biggest things to look out for with a planer (among other important features) are the following:
Maximum width of cut (usually the width of the cutterhead)
Range of depths of cut
Length of wood that can be planed in one feed or pass, and in total feet that can be planed in one day
Without further ado, here are the 5 wood planer tools:
1. Manual Hand Planer
What Is A Manual Hand Planer?
A manual handplaner is a hand plane that is powered purely by your hand movement i.e. you running the blade over the wood you’re working on.
They comprise of the hand plane unit and a blade setup.
There are various hand planes such as jack planers, smooth planers and block planers.
Hand planes are the smallest and lightest of the wood plane tools.
What Is A Manual Hand Planer Used For?
Manual hand planers are used to smooth, shape and straighten wood without a power source.
An example of this may be smoothing or surface cutting a door edge.
Anyone can use them.
Why You Might Get A Manual Hand Planer…
A manual hand planer has the following advantages over a power hand planer:
Costs less money
Don’t need a power source – highly portable
Older woodworkers may be more comfortable using one
May be better for some tasks like fine planing or thicknessing where a power hand planer may be too powerful
2. Power Hand Planer
What Is A Power Hand Planer?
A power hand planer is either – an electric hand planer which is corded, or a battery operated cordless hand planer.
Because they are powered, they can save alot of time and effort over a manual hand planer, as well as being able to thickness or surface cut different types of wood that manual hand planes cannot.
Power hand planes can be either straight based, or curved based.
Most standard power hand planes are 3-1/4-Inch wide at the cutter.
They operate with either a powered carbide or high speed blade system cutting, that you run over the wood at a pre set depth.
What Is A Power Hand Planer Used For?
Straight Base Power Hand Planers:
Anyone can use a power hand planer.
Homeowners, and professionals like timber framers, carpenters, log home manufacturers, boat fabricators and more use straight based hand planers.
They can be used for cutting, shaping and levelling the surfaces of doors, frames, furniture, cabinets and more.
Curved Base Power Hand Planers:
Designed for creating arches and arcs in timbers and working on scarfs in logs – Timber Framers and Log Home builders can use them.
Why You Might Get A Power Hand Planer…
You might need a portable hand planer with more power, performance and speed than a manual hand planer
You might be a professional or be working on demanding tasks which demand alot of planing in a short period of time
You might need a curved base planer
You might need the capability for a 6-3/4 inch wide OR 12-1/4 inch wide cutterhead, which the power hand planers have
Where To Read More…
3. Benchtop Planer
What Is A Benchtop Planer?
A benchtop planer is a machine that rests on a benchtop and planes boards of wood of different widths and lengths.
A standard benchtop planer usually has a 6 inch wide cutterhead, tables on either side, and a fence to reference the boards.
Benchtop planers are smaller and lighter than stationary planers.
They operate by passing/feeding the board through the cutterhead and rollers while going in on the infeed table, and coming out on the outfeed table.
What Is A Benchtop Planer Used For?
Benchtop planers are used to thickness (make even and parallel from end to end) a piece of flat and square wood that has usually been in a jointer beforehand.
Standard benchtop planers can usually thickness lumber that is up to 6 inches wide and about 4 feet long.
Why You Might Get A Benchtop Planer…
If you are generally thicknessing boards that are shorter and thinner
If you have a lesser total feet of wood to thickness in any one session or day than say 50-100 feet
If you want a lighter planer than a stationary planer
Benchtop planers are much cheaper than stationary planers
Where To Read More…
4. Stationary Planer
What Is A Stationary Planer?
A stationary planer is a benchtop planer on steroids – but still planes a board of wood of different widths and lengths.
They are free standing on their own base and don’t need a bench do be set up on.
They are much bigger, heavier, more expensive than benchtop planers.
They have much wider cutterheads than benchtop planers, and have much longer tables to thickness much wider and longer pieces of wood, and more total feet of wood.
What Is A Stationary Planer Used For?
Stationary planers are used more as production planers for thicknessing i.e. used to thickness all types of wood, all widths of wood, long lengths of wood, and most importantly MANY feet of wood quickly.
They are good for large workshops and people who want a powerful planer to thickness wood to a high quality and in little time.
Why You Might Get A Stationary Planer…
If you regularly thickness wood
If you want to cut widths of wood up to 20 inches, and upwards of 200+ feet a day
If you want the option for a helical cutterhead
If you need higher horsepower and performance out of you planer than what a benchtop planer provides
Where To Read More…
5. 2 in 1 Planer Tool
What Is A 2 in 1 Planer Tool?
A 2 in 1 planer tool is a tool that you buy as one, but the two tools function separately from one another int he one setup.
Examples of 2 in 1 planer tools are –
What Is A 2 in 1 Planer Tool Used For?
2 in 1 planer tools are used for different purposes.
A planer/jointer for example will create a flat, straight and square piece of wood with the jointer, and make that piece of wood an even thickness with the planer.
A planer/molder will help you create even thickness pieces of wood with high quality molding like a cabinet door for example.
Why You Might Get A 2 in 1 Planer Tool…
If you are a furniture maker
If you are a cabinet maker
If it’s cheaper to get a 2 in 1 planer tool
If it’s more convenient to get a 2 in 1 planer tool
Where To Read More…
Best Benchtop Planer Thicknesser & Stationary Planer: Buyer’s Guide & Reviews (for Planer/Molder)
Best Benchtop Jointer & Wood Jointer: Buyer’s Guide & Reviews (for Jointer/Planer)