Types of planers and uses
Planers are used to adjust the thickness of wood by shaving off thin portions from the top. When buying a planer, consider how you're going to use it. Choose one based on the maximum width of the cutterhead, range of cutting depths and total number of board feet that can be accommodated in one pass.
- Manual hand planer—The most basic model, the manual hand planer consists of a cutting blade that's attached to a piece of wood with a hand grip. Use it when you have no power source and need to cut or smooth a door edge.
- Power hand planer—This tool performs the same as a manual planer, but it can be used on harder woods or for bigger jobs.
- Bench-top planer—This planer can be attached to a workbench to feed long pieces of timber through for cutting or surface smoothing. Standard bench-top planers have a 6-inch cutting head.
- Stationary planer—A stationary planer works like a bench-top planer but with more power and flexibility. It is a freestanding unit that is permanently attached to its base.
- 2-in-1 planer tool—Used mostly for furniture making, this offers two of the most common wood-shaping tools in one, usually a planer/molder or planer/jointer. Each component can be used separately.
Common planer problems
Occasionally, you might experience a missing screw or a burnt-out motor. This is usually due to extended use or age and can be avoided by proper maintenance. More common is lack of uniform cutting or surface marring. This can take several forms.
- Nicks in the wood surface—Replace the cutting blade or have it sharpened.
- Poor feed—If the wood isn't being fed properly through the mechanism, one common problem involves the belts. Inspect your belts and determine if they're slipping. If they are, try adjusting the tension. If that doesn't work, you may need to replace the belts.
- Snipe—Common in bench-top or stationary models, snipe happens when there is a lack of support for wood coming out of the feed. The lumber will tilt slightly, causing a banded cut at the end. A bed extension or other support mechanism will help, or you can over-measure the length and cut the snipe out of the end after planing. It's also important to check your rollers as they may not be feeding properly. If your rollers are warped or revealing deep grooves, consider replacing them.
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