Wood smoothers come in different shapes and sizes. These machines are mostly responsible for shaving your wood at a consistent and uniform manner. Before wood planers came into existence, there was a lot of trial and error in woodworking industries.
But, you need to understand that getting the thickness of a wood panel can be tough without any help from a machine like a wood planer. You’ll have to resort to the filing, cutting, and other laborious work. On the flip side, the best wood planer will get the job done in less than five minutes!
Last update on 2019-06-20 at 08:27 PST - Details
How Does a Wood Planer Work?
Wood smoother is an essential tool in your workshop, especially if you’re dealing with woodworking. Every woodworker knows that bars and panels of wood don’t come ready-made to suit your preferences. That is why it needs to undergo several changes before you can use it for sculpting or commercial purposes.
One of the things that most wood panels need is thickness adjustment. Dozens of projects require thinner panels of wood, which are commonly not available to be bought right away. That is why you have a wood planer to act as either a tool to smoothen the surface or a thickness planer.
If you’re planning to use the wood planer as a thickness planer, then everything will be simple. A wood planer works by having a set of jagged teeth inside. If you’re using a hand wood smoother, then the teeth will be visible from the bottom. However, it should still be somewhat covered.
These set of steel teeth are what “eats” the thickness of the wood panel. When using industrial wood planers, the bar or panel of wood should go inside the printer-like machine. It then juts out to the opposite side, allowing the steel blades to shave off the wood in one pass completely.
For Hand Electric Planers
For the hand electric planer, the mechanism is a lot different. Instead of jagged teeth, this tool usually has around three to four rolling blades beneath it. Imagine an iron that you can use for clothes having this set of teeth.
These teeth continuously roll and scrape off the surface of the wood as you press it. For you to create even surfacing, all portable planers have a flat surface called a “base plate” which works similarly with the iron.
There are two ways to use this portable planer. The first one is known as the freehand. As the name implies, you just use the tool to your liking. Your hand dictates where it goes, and what angle it’s used.
The second one makes use of a fence that comes with the tool. The barrier is attached on the wood planer and is used as a guide or stopper upon operation While connected; this component aligns the wood planer to keep it straight. The principle of this tool is no different from a T-square in technical drafting.
Keep in mind that the fence’ distance with the edge of the wood is possible for changes via screwing. It gives you more freedom on how to dictate the area that you want to cover.
The neat trick with a wood planer is that it’s easy to adjust. That is because you’ll only need to focus on the height of the steel blades. Typically, the tool will give you an option to customise it to meet cutting standards such as 1/16 inch to a quarter of an inch.
For industrial tools, you can adjust a crank that connects towards the steel blades. The crank has a handle in which you simply turn to adjust the height. Along with the crank, there is also a depth adjustment knob.
The depth adjustment knob is tasked to lock-in the crank handle to prevent you from misjudging the height of the device. For example, if you’re only looking to scrape an eighth of an inch, you can set the adjustment knob to prevent from going any further.
It is also evident in the handheld type. However, instead of a crank handle, it makes use of a twisting knob to adjust the height of the rolling blades. Hand electric smoothers also have a depth adjustment knob. It is typically the biggest button in the tool, and lifts and lowers the blade by twisting it.
Any woodworker would know that shaving wood or at least removing its entire outer surface would mean tons of sawdust. That’s precisely the case when you’re using a wood planer, which can be a problem.
If you’re using the portable one, you’re going to need a vacuum to clean up all that sawdust. Hand electric smoothers usually don’t have any sawdust collector. Instead, it has a wide rectangular gap built in its body which shoots out sawdust away from you and the tool.
However, industrial types are compatible with sawdust collectors. You have to connect these machines to the port of the planer which directly shoots out the dust towards the collector. Thus, it safely and quickly catches all sawdust, preventing any laborious cleaning.
Types of Wood Planers
Wood smoothers, as previously mentioned, can be manufactured in more ways and one. Typically, these machines can fall into two categories. Particularly, you’ll have an electronic handheld wood planer and a technical wood planer.
Industrial vs. Hand Electric Planers
Both act as a sort of wood shaver in the workplace. Despite the two machines’ appearance being different, they work similarly. It’s just a matter of preference. Of course, the handheld wood smoother will provide more convenience in usage and storage.
However, it is also convenient to use this wood planer. Although it’s a lot bigger and consumes a lot more electricity, it’s way more efficient. With an efficient equipment, the work you do will be quicker and better.
The reason for this is because this wood planer eats up the wood completely in one pass. That means that the only thing you’ll need to do is place the wood and align it towards the teeth. Afterwards, it will just simply take in the wood for shaving. It’s no different from putting the paper on a printer.
Although it might limit what you want to do, it does the work faster. On the flipside, the handheld version of a wood planer will be harder to operate. The fact that you’ll be guiding this machine with your hands will mean that its precision is dependent on you.
Of course, seasoned professionals won’t have this problem. That is why it’s a good idea to have an electric hand wood smoother if you’re more advanced on woodworking. It’s a great way to make intricate and accurate shavings that an industrial planer can't.
However, there’s no doubt that the industrial one is more apt for mass thickness adjustments that most wood industries need.
Safety is Just the Same
Although the industrial and hand electric planers have distinct characteristics that separate them, safety measures are the same. Always remember that you need three essential equipment before operating either of the two.
These are your safety glasses, hearing protection, and face mask. It is crucial most especially when using the hand electric planer. Given that it does not have a sawdust collector, you’ll need extra protection to prevent inhaling or eye contact with the dust.
Moreover, the sheer noise and loudness of the machine, especially the industrial type, can be harmful to your hearing. Be sure that you have a good set of earplugs when you’re about to run the wood inside the machine.
Our Top 5 Picks
Planers should not only do the job smoothly and efficiently. They should also have safety features for its users. With this said, Dewalt might be a good option. It is particularly the case because you can be “insured” through its warranty package. Also, it also has safety features that can come in very handy when the product is in use.
Bosch might also be a good option, especially if you are not planning to use it for heavy commercial projects. However, the nature of your project, needs and budget will determine which product is the best for you.
Thomas is a Pro himself, who has been in the business of home renovation & construction, working with various tools. He used to be the owner of 2 local construction companies with over 18 years experience. His works also include writing inspiring Do IT Yourself Tips & Tricks.