Do I Need a Planer for Woodworking

Do I Need a Planer for Woodworking?

Woodworking can be highly challenging, especially for woodworking beginners still learning the craft's basics. Not only is it difficult to cut the wood, but it is also challenging to learn how to operate all the woodworking tools. One of those tools that you will need is the planer, which comes in various types and sizes.

A planer is a woodworking tool that you would use to cut rough lumber and turn it into a flat board that you can use to build furniture or finish other woodworking projects. A planer is a significant investment, so it is not the first tool on a newbie woodworker's list. It can be beneficial, but much thought needs to go into the purchase decision before the actual investment.

If you are wondering if you need a planer for woodworking, you have come to the right place. In today's guide, I will tell you about this tool, its advantages and disadvantages, and the main features that should be considered before buying a planer. So, if you want to learn more about wood planers, stick around for the entire guide!

Pros of using a planer for Woodworking

Suppose you decide to buy a wood planer for all your future woodworking projects. In that case, you will get a beneficial tool to help you work quickly, easily, and consistently throughout the projects. But describing this woodworking tool in only a few words does not do it any justice. So, here is a bit more on all the advantages that will come from this tool once you start using it:

Time and money-saving purchase

The best thing about planers is that they can save you time and money. Let's talk about time first.

Using a planer, especially a quality benchtop or stationary planer, will allow you to cut through a thick wood plank within seconds. To get uniform thickness, you must work on the plank more. Still, at least the final thickness will have professional-grade quality. Whatever woodworking project you work on, you can rest assured that the planer will give you quick results of excellent quality.

As for money, the thickness planer will save a ton of money as you can use it on all kinds of wood. You will never have to buy those expensive pre-cut planks ever again. Instead, you can get rough-cut lumber and shape it according to your needs.

Consistent thickness

Another great thing about thickness planers is that they can cut the exact thickness you want while allowing you to create parallel surfaces with little effort. Most planers are adjustable, so you can set them to the desired thickness, no matter the size of the lumber.

There are various types of planers on the market. Still, stationary and benchtop planers are best for getting the perfect thickness at great consistency. You might have to work more to get good consistency with a handheld planer, but that is also possible.

Unique finishes

The finishes you can get with a thickness planer are unlimited, so I recommend the woodworking planer for any woodworking project. Whether it is old wood, thick, flat surface wood, or colored wood, you can put it through the cutter and get a unique plank you can use for whatever you want.

Another great thing about the tool is that you can create different types of surfaces on the two sides of the plank. You can make one flat while keeping the other with its natural shape, which will allow you to make unique furniture. The options are endless; you can adjust all wood surfaces using the same machine!

Great customization

Apart from the unique finishes, you can also use the wood planer to customize any piece of wood or furniture you have in your home. You can easily take apart wooden cabinets, run them through the tool, color them, and assemble them to look brand new! This is the perfect tool for people interested in repurposing old furniture or just old wood.

Removing all metal parts from the wood before using it with the wood planer is the only thing to remember. The metal can easily damage the blade and cause it to chip, so you must remove every nail and anchor before repurposing the wood.

Wood inclusiveness

Finally, I recommend wood planers to woodworkers because they allow you to use whatever type of wood you want. Whether it is rough-cut lumber, some planks, or even wood you have cut on your own, you can use the tool to get a smooth surface on both sides. It is the best thing you can use to get smooth boards at the desired thickness while using quality lumber of any size and shape.

Cons of using a planer for Woodworking

Cons of using a planer for Woodworking

While wood planers are an excellent investment for anyone interested in doing woodworking projects, there are some downsides to buying this woodworking machine. I recommend it only to people serious about their career as woodworkers, especially when it comes to stationary and benchtop planers. The handheld, smaller planers are better for people who are beginners and would use the tool only occasionally. Here is why they would not need to invest in the bigger wood planers:

Big investment

First of all, the thickness planer is a costly tool. There are some cheap options, but the price is directly connected to the quality of the tool. Thus, the cheaper the tool, the lower the quality.

That said, getting the most expensive variant is unnecessary for beginners. This tool can be a great investment opportunity but only for those who plan to use thickness planers daily. Suppose you are not sure you need this type of planer at the moment. In that case, you are better off getting a smaller one and practicing on it to see if you should get a larger one for the more demanding projects.

Time-consuming projects

Even the best woodworking machines take a while to cut wood properly. If you try to rush things, you risk getting a low-quality plank that looks unprofessionally done and can deteriorate over time. Using such wood planks is a no-no, especially for demanding projects where you must create furniture that looks good and lasts long.

So, you should be prepared to spend much time getting perfectly flat surfaces on your planks. If you get a better quality wood planer, you can cut faster. But if you get an affordable wood planer with a simple straight knife cutter, you will spend quite a while working on the wood surface.

Bulky build

Apart from handheld wood planners, which are smaller, the benchtop and stationary planers are quite larger and can take up much space in your workshop. Suppose you do not have the option to put a bulky machine in the middle of your workshop. In that case, the benchtop and stationary planers will immediately go out the window. You must get a handheld, small planer, or wood jointer.

Difficult to master

Another problem with the wood planer is that you cannot get it and start using it immediately. You must spend time trying to master the tool, getting used to the high cutter speed, the wood movement, etc. Depending on how long you have been working with wood, you might need a couple of weeks or months to get used to the machine.

Suppose you cannot afford to spend so much time mastering the tool. In that case, I recommend using a handheld wood planer that is easy to use and not difficult to master. You can choose between manual or electric planers, with the former being easier to use for beginners.

Not for all types of planks

Finally, I have to tell you about the type of plank you can make with the tool and the type of plank you will never be able to create. I already mentioned that you can use all types of wood on the machine, even rough-cut wood. But you can only use the wood to make straight, flat surface boards with simple edges. That's it!

One of the most significant downsides to this tool is that it cannot square edges or remove defects from the boards. It can only produce boards that have smooth, parallel surfaces, but it cannot do anything for the sides.

Factors to consider before buying a planer

Factors to consider before buying a planer

Now that you know the pros and cons of wood planers, you might have a rough idea of whether this tool is for you. But making the final purchase decision is not easy, and you might not even be aware of all the factors you must consider before making the decision. I want to play a part in your decision-making process and guide you through it, so here are the factors I would recommend you focus on at this time:

Project requirements

The first thing to consider is whether your project requires a thickness planer. If you need to work with rough-cut lumber or more demanding pieces of wood, you must use a wood planer to save time and effort. But if the project is rather small and you think you will not work on larger projects in the future, you should consider working with a handheld planer.

Wood availability

The wood availability is also something to consider. Suppose you have wood and do not want to pay a lumber mill to process it. In that case, you can always use a stationary or benchtop wood planer to process your wood and turn it into perfect boards for furniture.

If there is no wood you can cut yourself and you have to rely on the lumber mill, you might not need to invest in a large benchtop jointer or planer. You can save money and get a small handheld wood planer.


Your budget will also play a significant role in your decision. When looking at thickness planers, you will find electric and manual planers, with the former being more expensive.

Then, different types of cutter head knives come at various prices. Straight knife cutters are the least expensive but also the least durable. Spiral cutters with carbide inserts are a much better option. In contrast, helical cutters are the best in quality and durability but are also the most expensive.

You can decide which type is best for you depending on your budget.

Available space

If you have a large workshop where you can fit wood jointers of all kinds and some power planers, I recommend getting as many of the tools as possible and putting them to good use. The stationary or benchtop planer is quite bulky, so it requires space that will be fully dedicated to it. The handheld planer might be your better option if you have a small workshop with limited space.

Woodworking skills

Finally, consider your woodworking skills and experience with tools such as jointers and planers. If you have much experience using woodworking tools, you should not dread investing in a wood planer, as you will surely put it to good use. But if you do not have any experience with such tools, it will be difficult for you to get started. So, you should invest in a handheld wood planer before getting into the more demanding tools.


So, is the thickness planer something you want to invest in soon?

Now that you know all about the thickness planer, its advantages, disadvantages, and use cases, you should be able to decide whether investing in one is something you want to do. It is a reliable and helpful tool for flattening boards but not the best for working on sides and edges. That said, it can be an excellent investment for people who often work with their own lumber.

If you have any experience working with this tool, please share it with me and the other readers in the comments below. Also, let me know if you have a thickness planer you would recommend. Your input is much appreciated!

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