What Is a Hand Planer Used For?

Hand planers are useful pieces of equipment most often used for carpentry. They require a bit of elbow grease, but they’re often the best devices for precise woodworking. So what exactly is a hand planer used for?

A hand planer is used to shave off excess wood, and is a popular manual tool for carpentry projects to give them a smooth, polished finish. It can also be used to create decorative edges and different types of textures on your woodwork projects.

This article goes over some of the things you can do with a hand planer. It will also give tips on how to use this tool effectively.

Typical Uses of a Hand Planer

A hand planer is a tool that is used to remove small amounts of wood from a surface. It is typically used by carpenters and woodworkers to create a smooth, finished surface on their projects. It can be used to shave small details into wood and often creates a more precise finish than other tools.

Hand planers are sometimes used to shave off excess wood from things like doors, tables, and the like. It can easily level out a surface to precise measurements, making it one of the best tools in a carpentry toolbox.

There are two types of hand planers: electric and manual. Electric hand planers are more powerful and can remove more wood than manual hand planers. However, they are also more expensive and require power to work. Manual hand planers require some elbow grease but are also cheaper to purchase and maintain.

What You Can Do With a Planer

There are many different things you can do with a hand planer, but here are some of the most common uses for a hand planer:

Removing a Thin Layer of Material

Let’s say you have a piece of wood that is slightly bigger than you need it to be. You could use a hand planer to remove a thin layer of material from the surface of the wood. Using a hand planer, you can be precise with your measurements and take off a little at a time.

I have used it to trim sticking doors and make a window fit perfectly in an opening. And it’s not just for wood – you can use it on laminate, drywall, and even plastic!

Creating Decorative Edges

You can use a hand planer to create decorative edges on your woodwork projects. For example, you could create a beveled edge on a piece of furniture. This would give the piece a more finished and polished look.

I have used it to create decorative edges on picture frames, mirrors, and even table legs. The results are always beautiful, and it is a great way to add a touch of class to any project.

Shaping Wood

You can use a hand planer to shape wood. For example, you could use it to round off the edges of a piece of lumber. This would give the lumber a more finished and polished look. I have also used it to make interesting shapes in the wood, like ovals and hearts. This is the beauty of a hand planer – you can effectively use it for almost any project!

Smooth a Flat Surface

When installing a new piece of hardwood flooring, you will need to ensure the surface is completely flat. You can use a hand planer to remove any uneven spots on the floor’s surface. This will ensure that your new hardwood floor is installed correctly and looks great.

I have also used it to smooth out floor joists with a few high spots. It was a tricky job, considering that I’m not the most experienced woodworker, but the hand planer made it much more manageable.

Adding Chamfer or Beveled Edges

You can use a hand planer to add chamfer or beveled edges to your woodwork. This is a great way to add interest and detail to your projects.

As you can see, there are many different things that you can do with a hand planer. Whether you are looking to remove a thin layer of material, create decorative edges, add texture to a surface, or shape wood, a hand planer can be an invaluable tool to have in your workshop.

How to Use a Hand Planer

Here are a few steps on how to set and use a hand planer:

  1. You will first need to adjust the depth of the blade. This depth determines how much wood is removed with each pass. This is done by adjusting the knob on the side of the hand planer. Depending on your needs, you can adjust this as you see fit.
  2. Once the depth of the blade is set, you can begin running the hand planer over the surface of your project. As you do this, it will remove small wood shavings. These shavings will accumulate on the surface of the hand planer.
  3. Some hand planers have a built-in dust collector. This helps to collect the wood shavings as you work. If yours doesn’t have this, you will need to clean off the hand planer frequently to prevent the shavings from clogging up the tool.
  4. Once you have finished running the hand planer over the surface of your project, you will need to sand the area. This is necessary to remove any remaining wood shavings and to create a smooth, finished surface.

What Are the Limits of Your Planer?

Although a hand planer is a great tool, there are limits to what it can do. For example, you would not want to use a hand planer to remove a large amount of material from your project. This would take forever, and you would probably ruin it – as well as waste your time.

Additionally, a planer is heavily dependent on your skill level. It is easy to mess up your project if you don’t know what you’re doing.

This is why I only recommend using a hand planer if you have some experience with woodworking. If you’re a beginner, I recommend using a different setup to remove material from your project. This could be a jointer or router and jig combination.

You also shouldn’t try to use a hand planer on very hard wood. This is because the blades on a hand planer are not designed to cut through tough surfaces. It will also need more effort to push the hand planer through the hardwood. In this case, a jointer would be a better option.

Can a Hand Planer Be Used as a Jointer?

You can use a power planer as a jointer. However, I would not recommend doing it. This is because keeping the hand planer consistently level as you cut through the wood is quite challenging.

You will have to be very careful not to ruin your project. And I would only recommend doing this if you’re experienced with using a hand planer and are very confident in your abilities.

The best way to do this would be to use a piece of scrap wood to practice on. This way, you can ensure you’re doing it right before attempting it on your final project.

How To Sharpen the Planer Blade

If you want your hand planer to work its best, you need to keep the blades sharp. The good news is that sharpening the blades on a hand planer is very easy once you get the hang of it.

All you need is a sharpening stone and some honing oil. Follow the steps below to sharpen your hand planer: 

  1. You will need to remove the blade from the hand planer.
  2. Once the blade has been removed,, put a few drops of honing oil on the sharpening stone. 
  3. Then hold the blade at a 20-degree angle to the stone and sharpen it in a back-and-forth motion. 
  4. Continue until the blade is nice and sharp, then put it back on the hand planer.

That’s all there is to it!

When To Replace the Blade

Although it’s easy to sharpen the blade on a hand planer, there will come a time when you need to replace it. Over time, the blade will eventually dull, and it won’t be able to cut through wood as efficiently as before.

If you find that your hand planer is not cutting as well as it used to after sharpening, it’s probably time to replace the blade. You can buy replacement blades at your local hardware store.

How often you need to replace the blades on your hand planer will depend on how often you use it. For example, people who work with hardwoods need to replace their blades more often than those who work with softer woods. This is because hardwoods will dull the blade faster.

As a general rule, you should replace the blades on your hand planer at least once a year.

Final Thoughts

A hand planer is a great tool to have in your woodworking arsenal. It can help you create a smooth, finished surface on your projects. However, there are limits to what a hand planer can do. Knowing these limits is important so you don’t ruin your project.

I recommend using a hand planer if you’re experienced with woodworking because this tool is not very friendly to beginners. You should also avoid working on aged hardwoods as they will be harder to work on and will eat up your blade quickly.

Damien Madeira

Damien has been doing woodworking for the last 5 years. He began as a hobbyist with hand tools and slowly worked his way up to own larger machines and mill rough wood into beautiful creations. While still considering himself a hobbyist, he has a passion for woodworking and enjoys working with epoxy as well.

Recent Posts