Woodworking Tool Reviews

What Does A Wood Planer Do?

what does a wood planer do

If you are a woodworker, or just want to get into woodworking, you will eventually hear about a wood planer. Wood planers are by far one of the most useful woodworking tools in the arsenal of a woodworker. But many people don’t know what they are and end up missing out on all the benefits that come with them. To save you time and money, you need a wood planer.

What Is A Wood Planer?

A wood planer is essentially a large, durable razor used to shave pieces of wood down. Much like a table saw cuts the length of the wood, a planer takes care of the width. It can reduce the thickness planer of a piece of wood, while leaving any rough surfaces smooth.

Why Do You Need One?

Wood projects very rarely call for a random width measurement. They want something even and smooth the fast majority of the time. Whether it is leveling wood to make it one flat piece, cutting it to make it even to another piece by the cutter head tool, or just making it look nicer, you need a planer. This type of hand plane will allow you to start with any piece of wood, and save an insane amount of time and money on ordering specificity measured pieces of wood to work with.

What to Look for When Buying A Wood Planer

There is more than one model of wood planer on the market, with their own advantages and disadvantages. It also depends on whether you’re using it occasionally for a hobby project or if it’s woodworkers or cabinet makers who are using it. To help you choose which wood planer is best for you, you need to know what to look for.

Types of Planers

There are over 19 different types of planers you can utilize in your work. We will be focusing here on just some of the more unique and commonly used planers. The different types of planers include:

Bench Planer

The most basic model of wood planer is the bench. It is a handheld model with the capability of moving through wood to create flat, smooth surfaces. The blade sits in the middle of the planer with a handle for more even strokes. You should consider this to be the most basic model, but also something you want to have in your kit. If you are new to woodworking, a bench planer is a must.

Rabbit Planer

Also referred to as a rebate planers, you use this model to create shoulders and steps in the wood you are working on. The blade on a rabbit sits right on the edge, and works to help mold the wood for more intricate movements and designs. This is ideal for projects like window and picture frames especially.

Block Planer

Designed to be small and used one handed, these are a great tool for the do-it-yourselfers. They can cut end grain like a pro, while also shaping and chamfering.

Bull-Nose Planer

The bull-nose utilizes a blade that is slightly wider than the body of the planer. This allows it to rough cut both end grain and the main body of the wood with the grain. This tool is also great for detail work.  

Chisel Planer

The chisel is unique in its design because there is no guard over the blade. This allows the chisel planers to reach areas that the other planers cannot, getting far more detailed results. They also provide very clean cuts.

Circular Plane

Also known as a compass planers, the circular planers is used to get in curves to smooth them out. This is perfect for more circular frames or anything with rounded angles.

Combination Planer

If you cannot afford to purchase multiple planers, you can also consider just getting one combination of it. This will allow you to interchange blades and get multiple tools in one.

Handheld Electric Planer

The handheld electric planer is a lot like the bench planer, while providing more muscle power behind each movement. This is great for wider curves, or pieces that are less intricate. You will need to hold onto the handle to keep the planer in place, but you can more easily make mistakes if your hand is not under control of the planers. You can get both corded and cordless options, depending on your workspace and projects.

Table Top Planers

These wood planers are designed to sit on a workbench and are used for much larger pieces of wood. You feed the piece of wood through, guiding it and leaving a smooth surface on the other side. This is ideal for cutting down the width of pieces of wood quickly, while also providing you with a super flat and even surface. If you want more intricate lines and curves, this is not for you.

Power Planers vs Manual Planers

Another thing you need to consider is whether or not you want to go with a manual or electric model of wood planer.

Manual planers are great for smaller projects and touch ups. But because it relies on your own technique and momentum to do the job, it is easy to mess up or get exhausted. For large projects, you can expect to spend hours, days or even months depending on just how big the project is, smoothing out your wood.

Electrical wood planers are going to allow you a lot more freedom to plane the wood quickly. That means you can make quick work of woodworking projects of any size. You also will get a smoother, more calculated result than the manual model of planers. However, you do not get as much freedom to move with your electric planers, meaning you cannot do any curves or rounded edges. You will also pay more in upfront costs and maintenance in the long term than with a manual option.

How Do You Use A Manual Planer?

There are several steps you must complete to use hand planers accurately and successfully.

Firstly, you need to identify what the task is at hand and make sure you have the right planer for the job. Consider angles, shapes and the overall size of the wood you are working on.

Next, you need to sharpen the blades and make sure they are properly installed back into the planer. There should be no dust or pieces of wood in the planer. You should also sweep the surface of the wood you are working on to make sure there is nothing that is going to get caught in the planer and impact your results.

Finally, you want to place the planer on the surface of the wood as flat and evenly as possible. Keep your fingers out of the way of the blade. You should apply pressure, but not too much. It is best to start out with a tester piece of wood to test out what you need to use for power before going on to the final project.

The pressure should remain even and you should always go with the grain. Move from one end to the other, with no stops in the middle. This will give you the smoothest, most even results. Continue to plane the wood until the width and smoothness is what you want.


Don’t spend any more money on customized wood sizes. Save money and materials by utilizing the best wood planers. You will be amazed how much time you save, the final result, how much money you can put into other projects, and how much better you feel doing the work yourself.