Just about the first implement many of us used in woodworking class back in school was a hand planer; a basic tool that trims, levels, and smooths wooden surfaces. Now it is easier to use than it was, thanks to affordable electric and cordless planers.
—Turn the adjusting nut or knob to adjust the depth of the cut, carefully estimating the gap between the shoe and blade vis-a-vis the required degree of trim. Put the planer on the wooden surface. Grasp firmly, exert downward force, and use some muscle to push all the way to the end. Drag back and repeat.
That’s what you did back in the days of mechanical planers. But no more – now we have electric planers, both corded and cordless.
First, you don’t even need to fiddle with any nut nor do you need any acquired powers of estimation. Merely set the depth adjustment knob to the desired setting – which you can do at stops of even 0.1 millimetres!
Moreover, no need to exert yourself; switch on the planer, push it so as to simply guide it, and let it exert itself! Electric planers make the job not only easy; because they free you from some of the manual labour they allow you to focus on precision and finesse.
Among hand-operated implements, the planer is one of the more ingenious tools, yet it has been with us since the Bronze Age. In its simplest form it comprises of a handle, a shoe or plate, and a slightly angled strip of cutting blade. Such a planer slices off wafer-thin, even hair-thin, slivers and strips of wood from a wooden surface, thereby trimming, levelling, and/or smoothing the surface. More complex planers can be used for fine woodworking tasks such as bevelling the edge of a dressing-table, chamfering a door-post, or scribing a window panel.
Last update on 2021-04-16 / All Pricing & Imagery from Amazon Product Advertising API
Let’s start with our breakdown of the Makita DKP180Z LXT:
Though this kit is heavy, it manages to combine pro-level power with a surprisingly smooth and quiet operation to land another feather in Makita’s cap.
Makita’s DKP180Z LXT, an 18-volt Li-Ion battery cordless planer, is as powerful and efficient as many a corded kit. It has a planing width of 82 millimetres and planing depth from zero to 2 millimetres. The maximum rebate depth is 9 millimetres.
It features double carbide blades that are driven at 14,000 RPMs no-load.
This cordless kit is smooth, and planes effortlessly and exceedingly well. It is also pretty quiet and is even very low on vibrations.
A lock button allows the user to keep the planer on continuously, and with buttons on each side of the handle, both righties and lefties are accommodated.
Although a fence and a wrench are included, a dust-extraction bag is not; however, if you buy one it works a treat. Batteries are not included either.
This planer’s build quality is self-evidently really good but this unit is definitely on the heavy side at 3.7 kilos – and that’s without the Li-Ion battery.
Amazon’s top-selling planer, the DKP180Z LXT is one of those superb kits that tend to convert newcomers to the Makita Religion.
Makita provides a three-year warranty provided the purchase is registered within 30 days.
- Combines smooth and efficient planing with gorilla power.
- With its A-1 build quality, this kit is built to last.
- Very good planing depth along with equally fine adjustability.
- Neither a dust-extraction bag nor batteries are included.
- Definitely on the heavy side.
No frills and no-nonsense – Wolf’s corded kit may be lacking in elegance but it is an adjustable, functional planer that is easy on the pocket.
Operating on 720 watts of power, Wolf’s corded kit has a no-load speed of 32,000 RPMs and the drum rotates at 16,000 RPMs. The cutting width is 82 millimetres and the depth is adjustable from zero to 2 millimetres. The rebate depth guide allows precise rebates up to 18 millimetres.
A clear and present plus point is the two chamfering grooves along the adjustable base plate and the capability to cut at 45° around a corner.
This planer has a useful safety switch which can be set to ‘Off’ to preclude accidental starts.
It has dust-collection ports on both the left and the right side so you can choose the most convenient side, and so as to accommodate both southpaws as well as right-handers.
This Wolf kit is a good solid electric planer but it is not the smoothest or the most well-designed. However, it is eminently functional and for the knockdown price it sells at, it’s a real deal. Consider that it comes with a parallel guide and a dust-collection bag, and we have to call it a real steal.
The power cord is 2 metres. The planer weighs 2.8 kilogrammes.
- At the price, this kit is a real steal.
- Two chamfering grooves along the base plate.
- Both the maximum depth and depth adjustability are very good.
- Not the smoothest planer.
- Though functional, it is not exactly ergonomic.
Though definitely expensive, Bosch ‘pro’ planer is exactly that as it combines power with unusual lightness and perfect balance – an outright winner.
Bosch’s rechargeable cordless planer operates on 12 volts of power but feels distinctly more powerful than that, possibly because of the brushless motor and perfect balance. It has a no-load speed of 14,500 RPMs. This pro model has a planing depth of zero to 2 millimetres and a planing width of 56 millimetres.
The spring-loaded support keeps the front of the plate elevated to protect the blade. Also at the plate is a machined groove for chamfering.
A lock and release button is in easy reach on each side of the handle; in locked position it precludes accidental starts.
The battery and charger must be bought separately but two micrograin carbide planer blades, wrench, dust-collection bag, and vacuum hose are included.
This is a hardy bit of kit and the build quality does not leave anything to be desired as is more often the case than not with a Bosch. It is super-portable and therefore super-convenient for itinerant tradesmen. Not only is it compact and superlight at 1.5 kilogrammes, it has excellent balance which turns all manner of tough jobs – vertical planing, tight spaces, or stepladder headaches – into easy-peasy affairs.
- Just about the most well-balanced of planers, corded or cordless.
- For a powerful, pro-level tool, this kit is astonishingly light.
- Although lightweight and portable, it has an excellent build quality and is durable.
- This pro tool has a sticker price to make the DIYer’s eyes water.
- No fence is included.
Ergonomic, rugged, extra cutting depth, and more – Jellas has made so much planer for such little money that it is essentially an alternate value pick.
Jellas’s economical planer has 850 watts of power driving its blades at 16,000 RPMs and features a carbon brush. It has cutting width up to 82 millimetres and a cutting depth from zero to 3 millimetres, adjustable through 31 stops. The depth-control knob is especially easy to set.
The plate is made of aluminium and has 3 grooves for angled chamfering.
This planer features an unusual style of lock-on button to facilitate continuous operation.
Jellas’s corded kit is inexpensive but quite rugged. Most importantly, it provides a consistent and easy planing experience as it feels comfortable to hold and operate, and is very ergonomic.
It has dust-collection ports on each side with a switch to control the port from which dust is expelled.
Jellas generously throws in a lot of extras. These include a pair of carbon brushes, a rubber belt, a dust-collection bag, a rabetting guide, a parallel fence bracket, and a wrench.
This kit weighs 2.3 kilogrammes and has a 3-metre power cord. It is an excellent value buy that gives stiff competition to our Value Pick.
Jellas provides a two-year warranty.
- For the price point, not only is this planer itself a great deal, it comes with an array of accessories.
- Especially ergonomic, it is easy to hold and ‘feels right’ in the hand.
- The cutting depth goes down to 3 millimetres.
- The helpful design of the dust-collection direction can be a pitfall: accidentally pressing the yellow button midstream can suddenly cause dust to be expelled from an open vent.
Tops in usability and loaded with accessories but the cutting depth is shallow; still, for a quality cordless planer Ryobi’s kit has a can’t-resist price.
Ryobi’s cordless planer operates on an 18-volt battery and has 200 watts of power. The cutting width is 82 millimetres but the cutting depth goes from zero to only 1.6 millimetres.
The front of the steel plate has a chamfering groove and also a spring kickstand to protect the blade.
The positive depth adjustment and knob are especially easy to use and well designed.
This kit has one of the best dust-collection systems; Ryobi has designed a sawdust prison!
The build quality is very good and feels rugged, and the planer ‘feels right’ and is a treat to operate.
The kit comes with a side fence, dust bag, wrench, and 2 reversible TCT blades, which is quite a generous helping of accessories.
The R18PL-0 is part of Ryobi’s ONE+ system; thus, this tool is compatible with all ONE+ chargers and batteries. It does consume battery power faster than other cordless planers.
For a late-model cordless planer, this baby retails at an irresistible price.
It weighs 2.52 kilogrammes.
Ryobi provides a two-year warranty extendable to three years upon prompt registration of the purchase.
- For a cordless planer, the price is very attractive.
- Comes with quite an array of accessories in view of the economical price.
- Excellent dust-collection system means next to no post-job clean-up.
- Cutting depth limited to only 1.6 millimetres.
- Eats up battery charge very quickly.
How To Use An Electric Planer
If you have to or want to learn how to use tools – manual or electric – possibly the best way to start would be with an electric planer. Relative to other electrical tools an electric planer is a simple tool that is useful for day-to-day tasks around the home.
First put on your work gloves and goggles.
Adjust the depth control knob to the desired setting. As a beginner, opt to select two or three stops less than the desired planing depth – you can plane again but you cannot restore shaved-off wood. Thus, if you wish to plane to a depth of 1 millimetre, set the planing depth to, say, 0.94 millimetres.
If you will not be planing the length of the workpiece, mark the beginning and/or endpoints of your planned planing pass.
If you are planing a flat surface, gently place the planer on the wooden workpiece, making sure that it rests on the shoe and the blade does not come into contact with the wood.
Next, consider the workpiece and select your position beside (or behind) it. You will have to maintain your balance and stance through the planing pass. Stand with feet somewhat apart and, if you are right-handed, with the right foot a little behind the left.
Turn on the planer and wait until it hits its max RPMs. Now bring the planer to the leading edge of the workpiece or to the marked start point. Grip the planer’s handle with your right hand and the front knob-handle with the left (southpaws should reverse the hand positions).
Exert gentle but firm downward pressure on the planer and simultaneously start to push it forward, without rushing the planing pass, until the trailing edge of the workpiece or the marked endpoint. What is of critical importance is to maintain your pressure on, and balance of, the planer, and your pushing speed throughout the planing pass, and not to vary them.
Simply push the planer to the trailing edge or endpoint and do not make a ‘take-off’ motion or complete the planing pass with greater force or a swooping action.
Last but not least, as even seasoned pros wear goggles and gloves when using an electric planer, beginners should make sure they do so too!
How To Plane A Door
First, you need to determine which part of the door is sticking or binding in the frame or casing – is it the top edge (in the head), side edge (in the jamb), or bottom edge (in the cill)? You can find out by using the tried-and-tested chalk technique. Use a B+ pencil or copying pencil to mark the length to be planed.
If it is the bottom edge, the door will have to come off the hinges (which is not a job for one person) and placed in a specialised vice or clamp at an angle. If the trouble spot is on the side of the door, it may have to come off the hinges but you may be able to plane the side without removing the door. If the trouble spot is on the top and it is not extensive, and you have a platform to stand on that is high, wide, and stable enough, then you may be able to plane the door without removing it from its hinges. The advantage of planing a hinged door as-is is that you can plane the barest amount of wood, check the door by closing it, and do so repeatedly, which you cannot do if the door is taken off its hinges.
Assume the trouble spot is a matter of several centimetres along the side edge, i.e. the vertical edge, of the door.
Now before you plane a door, practice vertical planing several times along the side of a stabilised plank.
Before you begin planing, the door must be made absolutely stationary. Open it at a midway point, say at 45 degrees, and immobilise it by sliding and jamming a sheet of thin rubber, wetted jute or hemp sacking, or damped newspapers between the bottom of the door and the floor. You could also use a clamping door-holder stand, jam upright wedges between door and jamb on both sides at ground level, or use the old trick of jamming and taping coins over a hinge between door and jamb.
Usually sticking doors need only very slight planing so set the depth adjustment knob to the minimum setting. You can plane again as necessary.
You will be planing with a vertical planing pass. If the trouble spot is near the middle or toward the top of the side edge, plane with an upward planing pass; if it is lower down, then with a downward pass.
Rest the planer with one hand on the handle at the start position of the planing pass so that only the shoe is in contact with the door, turn on the planer, and wait for it to hit its max RPMs. Grip the knob with the other hand, press, and plane as described above in How To Use An Electric Planer, except that the pass will be vertical. This will be more difficult than planing a horizontal surface as you will have to support the weight of the planer as well as exert lateral force.
Remove the immobilising jammed material from the bottom of the door and close it to check whether or not it still sticks. Repeat the planing as necessary.
After you are done you may want to lightly sand the planed spot or apply a coat of varnish or sealant on it.
Kersie learnt the basics of gardening as a toddler, courtesy of his grandfather. In his youth he was an active gardener with a preference for flowering plants. He is a professional and vocational writer and his freelance projects have spanned various kinds of writing.