How to Use a Planer to Make Wood Smoother

Are you doing a renovation that includes lumber? Using a benchtop planer is the best way to make wood smoother so that your project looks well done. If you’ve never used a planer before it can seem a bit intimidating. Luckily, planers are straightforward and easy to use!

The benchtop planer we own is the Delta 22-555 Portable Planer but it’s an older model so you may choose a newer planer from another brand if you’d like. Also this planer is quite a heavy piece of equipment but definitely gets the job done.

benchtop planer

What is a benchtop planer?

A benchtop planer is a tool used to mill lumber. Simply put, a planer is a woodworking tool that helps you smooth rough edges, shave wood when you need to adjust thickness, and also can help to flatten boards that are warped. The benchtop planer is easy to use once you’ve tried it a few times.


Does a planer make wood smooth?

If you need to smooth your wood, a planer can shave off small imperfections to create a surface that is smooth to the touch. It can also be used to adjust thickness and flatten boards that are warped.


Do you need to sand after using a planer?

Most don’t find that they need to sand after using a planer. However, if you need to smooth the wood further, or if your planer blades have imperfections that leave ridges then you can quickly use a sander to fix these issues.


How to Use a Planer to Make Wood Smoother

Important– Before you start, ensure you have the proper safety equipment. Since a planer throws out a lot of sawdust and wood chips, you want to make sure that you are protected. It is recommended that you have eye protection, gloves, and hearing protection when using a benchtop planer. You may also decide to attach a hose to a shop vac or other dust collection system to prevent a sawdust mess in your work area.


Step 1- Take measurements and prepare wood

Figure out how much you plan to shave off before you get started. In addition, make sure that your wood is already cut and at the stage it needs to be before you use your planer to smooth it out and make minor adjustments to the thickness.


Step 2 – Prepare your planer

Make sure that your planer is ready to be used and is free of any debris from previous projects. Once you’ve done that, you’ll need to set your planer to make the cuts that you need. Remember that you can always take off more, but you can’t put back what you’ve removed. So plan to take off small amounts at a time. It is recommended to only take off 1/32 or 1/16 at a time and to run your wood through multiple times if needed for the best results if you need to take more off.

benchtop planer

Step 3 – Run your wood through

Once your planer is set up, you can run your first board through by setting the surface to be planed down and running it through. If you need to do additional boards, make sure that it’s meeting your expectations before you run the other boards through.


Step 4 – Make adjustments

If you have more wood to mill, take note of the results from the first board. Then make any necessary adjustments and then run the rest of your wood through.


Step 5 – Check your lumber

After planing your wood, you should inspect all pieces to make sure they are all smooth and meet your expectations. In some cases it might need to be sanded or run through the planer again.


When using a planer you can generally expect the process to be pretty straightforward regardless of what kind you’re using. However, making sure that you have your measurements correct and that you’re only taking off small amounts at a time are the keys to successfully using a benchtop planer.

Hammer & Handsaw

Hammer & Handsaw

Hey, we’re Joshua and Dejené. We’ve completed several entire home renovations and decided to share what we’ve learned in the process. Here you’ll find our favorite DIY projects, helpful resources and home renovation stories.

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