Do You Need a Planer for Woodworking?

Every woodworker is going to have tools that they absolutely cannot live without. From specific planes to the perfect saw, they use these tools day-in and day-out.

For your woodworking shop though, you might be wondering if a planer is a nicety or a necessary requirement. 

When woodworking, if you want consistent board sizes, to smooth rough lumber, or to have complete control over the thickness of your wood, then you need a planner. Planers are unmatched in their precision, speed, and ability to create identical results over and over again. 

Although a planer is one of the more expensive tools on the market, they are well worth the investment to ensure that every piece of wood you craft with is smooth, of the right thickness, and perfectly matches any duplicates that might be needed.

This is especially the case if you are someone who performs these types of woodworking tasks regularly.

Continue reading to understand the functions of a planer and why you need this tool in your woodworking shop. 

What is the Purpose of a Planer? 

Before we dive into why you need a planer for woodworking, it is important to understand what a planer’s purpose is in the first place.

With this understanding, you can see how this tool will fit into your woodworking needs (or why it might not). So, what does a planer do?

A planer is a modern tool that has made old-world practices an absolutely easy task.

Gone are the days of having to plane out a board inch by inch with hand tools and come are the days of being able to put a rough cut board into a machine and pull a perfectly smooth and level piece out.

It is a luxury that the 20th century afforded woodworkers and has changed the dynamic of shops all around the world, but how do they work? 

A planer is designed to flatten wood in a level and precise end from one end to the next. It is able to take a rough cut and make it perfectly smooth within a matter of seconds.

The board is placed on the bed of the planer table and is fed into the machine.

The piece is then taken hold of and pulled through the center as the rotating cutter headset removes the wood to the specifications that you set prior to feeding the piece. 

The result is a piece of wood that is the exact thickness you set, has a smooth surface, and is perfectly level.

If this were to be done by hand (which is completely possible), the time spent on each board would be significantly longer and may not result in a piece that is as consistent all around compared to the product of a planer.

Consistent results, as well as rapid production, are two major pros for planers and why you need one in your woodworking shop. 

Why Do You Need a Planer for Woodworking? 

If you have finally gotten most of your woodshop together you might be thinking “What more could I need?”

This would be a trick question though because, in the woodworking world, there is always something more you could use.

This is the danger of woodworking, especially for your wallet. 

However, if you are looking around and there is no planer in sight, this is one item you do not want to keep from your shop’s tool line up.

Of course, if you are doing woodworking on very small projects that take more time for diligent carving than it does for using even planks of wood, then a planer might not be as necessary. 

Still, if you are performing anything other than this type of woodworking task, and you want consistently smooth and even planks of wood, then you will likely see the benefits of a planer in your woodworking shop including the following reasons:

Owning a Planer Saves You Time 

It is no secret that many people wish there were just a few more hours in the day.

Time seems to be a commodity that is often out of stock and one that everyone is in constant need of.

When it comes to woodworking, time is something that dictates how long a project is going to take you, how much work you are going to have to put into a specific area of that project, and when the project is going to be completed. 

Even more, many woodworkers are enjoying this craft as a hobby.

A hobby, in its nature, is something that people do not spend the majority of their time on, but more of their leisure time.

Due to leisure time likely being a bit shorter, it is essential that you have tools within your shop that are going to maximize the time you have by not taking ages to complete one simple task over hours when another tool could get it done in minutes. 

This is one of the biggest appeals for a planer: it is going to save you time.

Instead of using hand tools to get the exact thickness and smoothness on a rough piece of wood, throw the item into your planer and have it completed within seconds. 

You no longer have to plane for hours and measure again and again, a planer is able to get your wood pieces perfectly smooth, straight, and to the exact thickness that you need saving you gobs of time.

This is time that you can dedicate to basically anything else in your woodworking shop including adding fine details, allowing a finish to set, or researching your next project.

Whatever you use the extra time for, it will be of more value than sanding by hand.

Owning a Planer Means Customization 

There are standard board measurements out there that are used regularly in a variety of different projects.

However, not every project requires the same board width, so what do you do when you have an odd measurement but the hardware store has nothing in stock even close to that number?

This is where a planer is especially handy.

You are able to make a board any width you need without ever having to worry about availability. 

A planer makes it completely possible to customize any board that you need.

That then rolls over to the ability to customize any project no matter how thin or how thick the pieces are required to be.

This gives you the ability to be more creative with your work, to be more particular about the pieces you create, but also gives you the chance to create things that mass markets are not producing. 

Customization is your secret weapon with a planer.

So, whether you are someone who is working on one custom project or is shuffling out woodworking projects like a madman (or madwoman), having a planer will allow you to customize your work and make your woodworking personality truly shine.

Owning a Planer Saves You Money 

If you find a rough cut of lumber, but need it to be nice and smooth without a planer, you are out of luck (that is, if you are only using electric tools).

Of course, you could opt for a plane, but smoothing a surface with this hand tool could take more time than you are willing to give up.

Without a planer, you will have to choose a board that has already been finished.

This means that it is perfectly smooth and flat. 

This may sound like the easier option, but it is going to cost you.

With the wood being finished, there was more work put into it, therefore the cost to you will be much higher than if you were to purchase the rough-cut lumber that was available directly next to it. 

Owning a planer affords you the ability to grab a rough cut piece of wood and plane it exactly the way that you need without having to pay extra for the end result.

Along with that, you will also save money on any pieces that you could have otherwise messed up if trying to sand by hand.

With a planer in your woodworking shop, you get the predictability that saves you money in the long run.

Owning a Planer Gives You More Consistent Results 

There was a time in which planers were only a figment of someone’s imagination.

Lucky for us, this invention was put down on paper and produced in masses to get to every woodworking shop in desperate need to save time, money, and produce more consistent pieces.

The operations of a planer can be done with hand tools, but it is a matter of if you desire to take such time and risk inconsistency. 

If you were only in need of one small board, it would not be a problem to level the board by hand.

However, if you are in need of 5 or even 15 of those boards, doing this by hand could take weeks.

Even more than time, leveling them on your own could result in boards that are inconsistent when compared to one another.

A planer is going to give you the same result every single time, ensuring that no inconsistencies ever arise. 

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