How to use an electric planer?

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An electric planer or a power hand planer is a vital tool of a woodworker that enables him/her to carry out the work of a hand planer more quickly and efficiently. For a long time, hand planers where used. Though the work can be done correctly, this requires much of hand power and consumes a significant amount of time. This is where the electric planers are driven by a robust motor, thereby lessening the efforts and reducing the quantum of time required to carry out the task. For centuries, people took the aid of hand planers for working with wood pieces. Electric planers have been introduced before just thirty or forty years. Since then, its demand has risen significantly. Nowadays, it has become one of the commonly used tools in this industry.

An electric planer can be defined as a tool that can shape and shave the wood as good as a jointer, belt sander, and a hand planer all in one. The similarity between the hand planer that works manually and an electric planer is that both of them operate on a shoe. The blades are fitted to the drum or on a cutting head to facilitate the shaving of wood. These blades spin real fast to get the wood shaved.

You can even make the necessary adjustments to vary the depth of cutting. From the quantum of work to be cut concerning the purpose, this cutting depth can be determined and set. The motor-driven electric planer can be operated effectively by anyone who possesses the necessary skills. This skill comes and improves with practice and experience. Thus, it can be concluded that the electric planer can help you to work with the wood correctly, provided you have become proficient in the method of holding and pushing the equipment successfully.

Another primary concern is that of the safety of the human being that is operating the machine. By rightly balancing the body, one can accomplish the task without bringing in much danger. Ensure that your feet are positioned at a distance to strike the right balance. Before starting the work, plan well in advance. Make sure that your body is aligned in a comfortable position, and the feet are apart from each other. Ensuring these things enables you to progress the task on the workpiece conveniently.

If you want to gain a clearer picture of all aspects of a table saw, be sure to read my complete guide here.

Why are electric planers used?

The primary purpose of an electric planer similar to every other power planer is to smoothen the wood surface. A smooth wood surface is the prerequisite of many operations involving wood. It is this requirement that can be realized with the id of an electric planer.

The end grain of wood tends to be rough, many a time. A capable electric planer can be used to smoothen it as well. Another use to which the electric planer is put to use commonly is the wood tapering. Power planers like electric planers have been used typically in instances to resolve the issues with a large door. In such cases, allow the planer to make a slide through the door’s side. Make efforts to adjust the depth gauge as desired so that it yields a perfect cut with the required depth.

Electric planers can even be used for finesse work, provided the operator to possess the necessary skill, and all the required accessories are available. A few instances of such practices are door edges beveling, scribing countertops and cabinets, tapering and shaping wooden articles, etc.

What is an electric planer good for?

How to use an electric planer
How to use an electric planer

From ancient times, the scrub planes were employed to perform the task of an electric planer. The most common purpose for which these power-driven tools are put to use is for the fitment of plane doors. The advantage one gets while working with this tool is that they are much quicker than equipment like sanding. At the same time, these machines do not demand the exact set up that is required while performing the trimming operation with a circular saw.

However, do bear in mind that the finish that they give away is not magnificent. But, they are neither too bad to be pitied. Thus, to conclude, one can confidently say that it yields a satisfactorily excellent finish.

Read also: Best Jointer Planer Combos in 2020

Proper ways to use an electric planer

An electric planer or a power hand planer has a sole plate or a shoe over which it rides, similar to an ordinary hand planer. These types of planers also possess a drum or cutter head that is capable of rotating at a speed of even twenty thousand rpm. It is over this cutter head that the blades used for the cutting are positioned at a specific spacing. This is similar to the construction of the jointer. These correctly positioned blades all over the drum enable the wood to be removed or skimmed off equally. The amount of timber removed shall be equal to the elevation difference between rear and front shoes.

The best results from the tool can be brought in by grasping the correct means of holding the planer and pushing it. One of the essential concerns while working with such a tool is striking the right balance of the operator. One will be able to get the most out of the device as well as ensure enough safety by getting your position right while working or balancing your body correctly.

So, now the question that arises is how to land on the right posture or to balance properly. The answer is simple. The proper balance is that position of your body with the feet placed at a distance away and, at the same time, enables you to work comfortably throughout the process as your tool slides over the workpiece. You can see that a particular rhythm exists between the hand pressure and the body balance exists while an experienced operator works effortlessly on the wooden workpiece. The procedure of working is explained in detail in the following excerpts.

  • The initial step is to lay the planer’s first shoe straight on the wood. Ensure that in this step, there exists no physical connection between the workpiece and the blade.  
  • Plugin the supply and start the equipment. Wait till the motor attains its full speed. Once the maximum desired speed is achieved by the tool, slowly establish the connection between the workpiece and the place. Further on, push the machine forward steadily to perform the function.
  • As the planer goes in for the workpiece, ensure that the front grip experiences your initial pressure. The hand pressure that exists between the front knob and the tool handle as the soles of the planer get in contact with the work has to be balanced for smooth working.
  • Once the work has been completed up to the desired level, switch OFF the equipment so that the power supply can be cut off. While putting the machine to a stop, intentional efforts have to be put in so that the rear handle can be “caught.” For this, apply more control to this rear handle. Avoid reaching out too far while encountering the end of the workpiece. From the wood, the front end shall be dropped off. Then allow the blades of the planer to finish off at the wood end by an uneven bite. This is termed as snipe.
  • The smoothness of the work that you finally get depends on two main parameters. These deciding factors are the depth of cutting that you have set and the speed that you used to push the tool along the workpiece. Use a 1/8 inch per pass bite is satisfactory for power shaving. On the contrary, to achieve the smoothest results, a depth setting of 1/64 inch or even a 1/32 inch and subsequent slow pushing of the tool and more passes can yield optimal results. This is particularly required when hardwood boards are being edge-planed. 

Take a look at this video whereas it gives you a more visual tutorial.

When to change the blades of the electric planer?

For a planer to be fully functionally and to yield the best results possible, the edges of the leaves should be as sharp as possible. The right time for replacing or changing the leaves is you start seeing the signs of inefficiency or dullness. Once the blades have become dull or nicked, the result is that the equipment can no more be pushed quickly and conveniently. Consequently, a hard push is required for the smooth operation that requires higher energy. Also, the debris is disposed of in a sawdust form. The result is that the room is filled up with smoke.

Another drawback of working with dull blades is that the shaved wood will have in it, some groves. It is to note here that once you find such signs developing, switch of the electric planer and unplug it. Then carefully read the instructions manual. You must take efforts to ensure that the machine is turned off before any actions like changing the blades or sharpening it, making any adjustments in the device, or carrying out any repair work.

It is advisable to resharpen or replace the blades or perform both these tasks before beginning the work to ensure the best cuts while working with a power planer.

How to change the blades on an electric planer?

The sharpness of the leaves will not last long. The consequence of a blunt edge possessing planer is that the more effort you put in, the more frustrated you become as you witness poor results. Once you feel that the leaves of the planer are no longer sharp or that they are dull, you should resharpen it or get the blades replaced. In this way, you can ensure that your efforts are paid off. You will be able to finally look at a neatly done wooden workpiece with minimal efforts.

Now, the relevant question is how to change these blades of the planer to achieve the optimum results. The procedure is simple, and you can do it all by yourself. You need not take up external support unless you are not at all confident. Also, the simple procedure can be completed within the comfort and privacy of your home. The process for replacing the blades are as described below.

Step 1: The fastening bolts are to be loosened

The dull blades are fastened and all fixed up to the sole of the planes. The initial step is to loosen up these blades. For performing this task, you have to take the aid of necessary tools that can help you in the loosening process. Using these, loosen up the blades, which would usually be three in numbers.

Step 2: The leaves are to be removed

The next task is to slide out or move away from the loosened blades from its position. Tools like screwdrivers can help a lot in this procedure. By using a suitable apparatus, the module can be moved out of its slot. Then grab the leaf, and for the remaining removal, just slide it out carefully.

Step 3: Change the side and repeat the process

The above steps have to be carried out on the reverse side also. Hence, entire blades come out of the sole or shoe of the planer. Once this is completed, you can see the planer’s drum is free of modules.

Step 4: The new modules are to be installed

Once all the previously fixed leaves are removed, the next step is to install the new ones that are sharp enough. While attaching the new ones, ensure that the notch on the blade aligns with the slot present in the drum. Align them correctly and then slide the leaf into the right position. Once the modules have pushed in the place precisely, tighten the two outer nuts loosely. Make sure that you have not tightened it completely, and there is still some path to go further.

Step 5: The newly fixed blades are to be aligned

The blades have to be in the right position to make sure that these will not rub against each other when under operation. For this, ensure that the leaves are correctly centered. If this is done, complete tightening or fastening of the two outer nuts shall be done.

Step 6: Change the side and repeat the process

The next step is to reverse the planer by rotating the drum so that you can adjust the other side of the planer. The steps explained above shall be repeated on the other side for installing the new blades over there.

As you might be now aware, replacing the blades of a planer is no big task. By being a bit careful, the job can be completed all by yourselves in the comfort of your home. The thing is that give due concern to safety and take precautionary measures, especially for your fingers.

Also, note that the right replacement parts that suit your planer are used for the purpose. Else, the opposite results can come in with undesirable consequences. Thus, within about fifteen minutes, you will be able to readjust your planer to its best possible working condition. Yes, there lies the electric planer in your front with amazingly sharp blades all set to cut down even the most robust wood as per your need and requirement.

Tips to consider while replacing or resharpening the modules in the electric planer

The replacement of the leaves of the electric planer shall be done, as mentioned above. As you might be now aware, the procedure for this is not tedious and can be done by yourself in your home. However, if you are not careful enough, dangerous outcomes are not far. Hence, while dealing with these power tools, it is better that you know well and practice safety or precautionary measures. Some of the things that are to be noted and should be given due consideration are listed below. Please go through it and put it in action to put away with any inevitable hazards due to carelessness.

  • Before making any adjustments or repairs to the tool, make sure that you have unplugged the planer.
  • The blades of the planer have to be changed before they get dull. Do not wait after so long to the extent that as you work through it, it results in the formation of fine powder. In that case, the room seems to be filled with smoke.
  • Both the blades have to be subjected to replacing or resharpening as per the requirement, at the same time. This can ensure the balance of the drum or the cutter head. This can also yield quality cuts.
  • The blades have to be squarely mounted on the cutter head. In the other case, the tools likely to start vibrating. Thus, to avoid any disturbances, before running the planer over the workpiece, check twice the tightness of the mounting bolts.

Benefits of using an electric planer

The demand for Electric planers is progressively shooting up in the modern world in comparison with hand planers due to many benefits it has over the latter. Some of these are listed and detailed below.

  • Quick progression and completion of work
    An electric planer runs more quickly as an electrically powered motor drives it. Thus, the work progresses at a faster pace than what is possible with a hand planer. Therefore, work can be completed in lesser time, comparatively.
  • Wider sole
    Electric planers usually possess a broader shoe when compared with the hand planer. The advantage is that the blades can be fixed to it conveniently at the required spacing.
  • The lesser skill is required compared with a hand planer
    The electric planer comparatively requires lower skill to be operated with than what is demanded by a hand planer. One must be well-experienced and qualified while working with a hand planer. Though the correct operation of an electric planer also demands some practice and experience to yield optimum outputs, the skill required is more in the case of hand planer.
  • Depth-adjustment
    The adjusting of depth settings is also more straightforward with the electric planer.

Things to note while working with electrical planers

There are a few things to be taken care of while working with electric planers. Though they can be put to efficient use when compared with hand planers, it has to be worked with carefully. The reasons for this are that they are relatively shorter in length. Another concerning parameter is the amount of wood that can be shaved within a period. The drawback of the shorter length is that the extent of control that is experienced by the operator working to flatten up board is less.

Mainly when the blades are fixed at low depth, there can be more harm than good while working with the wood items. It is evident from these instances that due attention has to be paid while working with the electric planers. Some of the measures to be taken are listed in the following excerpts.

Set the planer such that at a time, it just takes off a small amount of wood. This ensures to have better control over the workpiece. Also, most of the wood is saved, in case of any damage.
Make sure that the plane of the timber, which is to be worked, is free of notches or bumps. A clear plane path for working is required to ensure convenience and smoothness while operating the electric planer. If there are bumps on the plane, the consequence is that the smooth transition of the planer from one end to the other is negatively impacted. Thus, any such interventions have to be prevented. This can be done by skimming off these undesirable incomings initially before the onset of the work.

Electric planers are just machines that can help you straighten your boards, make it flat or other purposes as required. It is essential to understand here that they are mere equipment that can play its part in assisting you in carrying out the work. Never expect them to finish the task for you. What they do for you is that they follow the wood’s contour with which you are working. It is you who have to possess the necessary information and expertise to skim off the board manually, thereby making it straight and flat.

As you start the planning process, transfer the pressure on the equipment to the plane’s back part. Then, allow the blade to do the cutting, smoothly. Clearly understand that electric planers cannot be made to substitute a thick stationary planer nor a jointer. 

Safety tips to be considered while working with electric planers

Wear suitable safety gear so that it can protect you from any likely harm caused while working with a power tool. The most vulnerable body parts are eyes and ears. Make sure to take the necessary precautions to safeguard them well before starting the work.

As you switch off the supply to the electric planer, cutter head spins for a while before it is completely stopped. During this period, any careless action can prove hazardous. So, watch out the safety of yourself, protect your work from any possible damage and the blades also. The modules shall be safeguarded by setting the electric planer’s first shoe high up on the block of wood.

The walk planks shall be placed conveniently in the middle of two ladders and then work above your head to ensure safety. The two ladders mentioned have to be laid in the line that is parallel to the direction of the cut you are trying to make.

How electric planers save time?

Electric planers run when supplied with electrical power. The consequence is that the operator needs to take lesser effort to operate the equipment when compared with the amount of energy he has to take up in the case of hand planers. The motion of the machine progresses with the aid of the power supplied. However, the direction and speed of movement of the planer are as per decided by the operator.

The blades rotate along with the drum or the cutter head. The motion of these blades aids in shaving or skimming off the wooden article. Thus, by merely assisting the equipment, the machine can be put to cut down or smoothen the wood piece in less time and effort. It is important to note here that though the device plays a significant role in the cutting process, the expertise of the operator does matter well. The degree of smoothness is dependant on all the factors.

Concluding Note

Indeed, electric planers are a brilliant and useful innovation that has been invented and extensively used for the past thirty to forty years. These power-driven machines can, in no doubt, work wonders for those who have been working with hand planers for long. When they are used correctly, it is sure that the operator can save a lot of his/her effort and time. Greater efficiency can be guaranteed with the involvement of electric planers are the works are completed correctly within a shorter period of time.

Don’t forget to read the rest of my Best Electric Hand Planer Guide Here as well.

John Graham

John Graham

I am a 35-year old avid DIY-er. Ever since I was young, my father used to prompt me to help fix things around the house or even building my own cupboards and shelves.
That’s why I developed the habit of doing everything on my own. And since this is the only way to reach the unique results I really want, I don’t like depending on any services.

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