Planers: 5 Fast Facts

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Fact #1. A 21st Century carpenter should be thankful they’re working today and not in centuries past. Modern tools make shaping wood easier than ever. Traditionally, planing wood was one of the most intense, thankless tasks a woodworker undertook. It began with the laborious process of hewing the raw wood with an axe. It would then be smoothed using a hand plane.

Fact #2. Powered planers that used pressured air or electric motors to move blades were not seen until the early 20th Century. For most of human history, wood was smoothed thanks to the effort of a person leaning into their plane. They would haul it back and forth across the wood surface.

Fact #3. The more you pay for one of these tools, the more durability and versatility you can expect. That latter point is the more operative. A great handheld model can be used with a variety of attachments. It can create a patterned look on a floor or wall, enhancing the aesthetics of a space or even a piece of furniture.

Fact #4. Lower priced handheld models are more than adequate for simple projects. This can be something like smoothing lumber before building a porch or treehouse. They also come in handy for resizing a few boards you’ll use to repair an old piece of furniture or to reframe a door.

Fact #5. Ultimately, the choice of which planer is right for you is predicated on the projects for which you will use it. If you work on professional jobs, spend the cash on a tool that will let you work quickly and will minimize the risk of damaging wood. If you’re shaping lumber before a recreational project, there’s no real reason to go out and spend top dollar on a unit.


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