Using An Electric Hand Planer In The Woodworking Shop

I can remember opening the box for my first electric hand planer and asking myself, “What is an electric hand planer used for?” My woodworking hobby was starting to switch gears in that I was contemplating milling my lumber to save some cash while also getting access to woods I had not worked with before.

An electric hand planer can mill the wood you are trying to use for woodworking projects. It allows you to take a rough piece of timber and smooth the faces and edges. You can turn rough-sawn logs into something that resembles the pre-dimensioned lumber you buy at the big-box stores.

Do electric hand planers work for creating flat surfaces? Yes, they do. The back portion of the base allows the electric hand planer to rest on the surface you just cut through.

Do electric hand planers work for jointing an edge, squaring it with the face of a board? Yes, they can. Adding an edge guide (which you will find with the various models) will keep the tool supported at a proper angle while you cut.

Do electric hand planers work for thinning pieces of lumber? Yes, they do. You can take off approximately 1/8-inch of thickness with each pass of the planer. A benefit to the hand-held design is that you can make several passes on wide lumber, whereas a full-sized electric planer is limited to timber that can fit between its support columns.

The power tool consists of a rotating cutter head that moves by an electric motor. These hand-held designs use two blades (sometimes three) set at a shallow angle to make light cuts with each pass.

The front portion of the base moves up and down to expose the cutting head. You can adjust the height by the front knob that also serves as a handhold for two-handed control.

So, what is an electric hand planer used for in most woodshops?

For beginning woodworkers, it is an affordable alternative to a larger jointer or thickness planer. While it might not produce the precise results that either full-sized power tool can, the results are nearly as good. That makes it a handy back-up should your jointer or thickness planer break down.

What is an electric hand planer used for that a jointer or thickness planer can not do? It mills oversized lumber, no matter how thick or wide that lumber is.

Board thickness is limited on a planer by the maximum cutting head height. Blade width determines the maximum board width a jointer can handle. The electric hand planer has a set cutting width, but I can make several passes to cover the entire board.

What are some of the features that I feel are important for an electric hand planer? It all begins with power. The more amps a motor is rated at, the more torque and speed it can produce with the cutter head.

I would recommend a model that allows you to make the smallest height adjustments possible. That can be especially important if you use the tool to create a specific thickness on your lumber. You can slowly sneak up on the desired board thickness, but you can not add material back onto the board if you go too far.

Another nice feature on an electric hand planer is dual-sided debris chutes. These will allow you to connect a shop vac or shop dust extraction hose to either side of the planer. That will keep the hose out of your way and allow all of that debris to be picked up!