If you are a beginner in the world of woodwork, you will find it interesting, but also have many questions. There are many tools you will find out about as you go along, and some of them may sound like they have very similar functions, even when they do not.
One of these tools is a wood planer, which gets confused easily with a jointer (even though they are vastly different from each other). As you work with wood, you will realize how frustrating it is when you are dealing with boards that have different thicknesses from a local supplier, and you are trying to make items such as furniture.
You can turn to a table saw and reduce the thickness of the board you are working on, but it is a hard task to do it accurately – and that is where a wood planer comes in.
What are wood planers?
Wood planers, simply put, are wood working tools that you can use to produce boards that have even thickness, and also happen to be completely flat on both sides. The traditional wood planer was a handheld tool, but modern ones have a platform where you can make very precise and quick adjustments, which you can control either electronically or manually.
When using one, you must first set out the depth. You can do this in two ways – changing the cutter head, or the platform itself. Once you do this, you switch on the wood planer. As you feed the board you are working on, the in-feed roller will carry it through to the cutter drum, which will then cut the wood according to your specifications. The wood then moves to the out feed roller, and this process achieves a consistently smooth reduction in thickness within no time.
When does the tool prove to be useful?
When you are using a thickness planer, you can take even irregular planks of wood and level their thickness and smoothness, depending on the results you want to achieve. The good news is you can vary the blocks you are cutting out – most experts tend to cut small blocks at a time and feed them into the planer as a test.
You can even reclaim older wood in new projects, thanks to the flattening ability of a wood planer. This is particularly helpful these days, since the cost of new wood of high quality is rising, so it can be good when you are on a budget.
How different wood planers work
- Stationary wood planer
When you want to use this type, simply place a flat board on the planer work surface. Do all the necessary precautions for your safety, and also adjust the cutter head according to what you want to remove, then turn the machine on.
Start pushing the board into the machine – the feed roller immediately starts working and pulls the board for the rest of the way. The cutter head will then remove the amount of wood you already set. Note that you will likely need more than one pass to get the board thickness you want, since all wood planers are limited in what they can remove at once.
- Handheld planers
These are the portable variety, which is mainly traditional – you may have seen them at an antiques store or shows. You also cannot feed wood into them, unlike stationary planers, as you will need to clamp the wood into a specific position before you start manipulating the planer.
Many handheld ones today use electricity as a power source, while older models require arm pressure from the user.
How to avoid tear outs
This is the annoying splintering that occurs when the wood is cut incorrectly. The board not only becomes unusable because of damage to the surface, but also compromises the integrity of the wood itself.
In order to avoid this from happening, make sure that the cutter head remains in the direction of the grain – otherwise, it will tear at the fibers of the wood.
Wood planers are very useful as long as you know how to use them well – and they can make your wood sourcing job easier. They are an investment worth having, even though they may be expensive at first.