Electric Planer Tips

Written by wilhelm schnotz
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Electric Planer Tips
Spare the elbow grease and use an electric planer instead. (wood planes from another era image by monamakela.com from Fotolia.com)

An electric planer is a handheld power tool similar in shape to a belt sander. Instead of sandpaper, however, it uses a series of rotating blades to make precisely level cuts in pieces of wood. It's best used to shape wood when the piece that needs removed is too thin to be cut away using a saw, but too thick to be quickly shaped by a belt sander.

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Rough Cuts

Builders use electric planers to remove large portions of material in a single pass by adjusting the depth of the blades using the knob on the front of the tool to the appropriate measurement. Tungsten carbide tipped blades work best when roughly forming material, as they're hard enough to withstand repeated use without wearing down. Woodworkers may cut quickly, moving the planer as fast as it will cut timber, while planning rough cuts.

Fine Planing

After rough planning, adjust the depth of the blade for finer planning. If available, swap tungsten carbide tipped blades for a set of recently polished steel blades. Steel blades are capable of smoother planning than that of tungsten blades if they're recently sharpened. When fine planning a piece of wood, move the planer slowly, letting the blades gently plane off material rather than forcing it.

Attack From an Angle

Proper planing technique is easiest to achieve when the material you work is set at a slight downward angle away from you. Start the pass of the planer by putting the majority of the pressure on the front end of the tool. As you work your way along the surface, gradually rock pressure back to the rear edge, so that by the time you complete a pass of the planer, the majority of the pressure is applied to the rear of the tool.

Bevelling and Rebating

Although your best option to bevel or rebate edges is by using a router, electric planers may be fitted with fences that allow operators to cut edges at angles and with a rebate. When using the rebate stop or routing fence, work the cut twice, once as a quick, rough cut and another to fine-tune the cut.

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