Are Electric Hand Planers Any Good?

What Is An Electric Planer (Hand Tool) Good For?

Power hand planers do have a place in the workshop and are useful in various woodworking projects. They can remove wood very quickly and work out twists and cupping of boards. Power hand planer also work well for getting out dips on edges of wood.

Electric hand planers are kind of like an aggressive belt sander. They work well on boards that have cupping and twist issues. The electric hand planer isn’t as exact as the traditional hand planers. But they do get you a lot closer and faster to where you want to be so that you can give the boards their final touches with a hand plane.

They’re good for taking out low lying spots in floor joists. They can also be used for taper-cutting filler boards so cabinets fit nice and tight against the wall. They’re handy for just smoothing out a rough spot on boards.

It does a nice job on doors that don’t close easily, by removing material from the door edge. Power hand planers can also be used on the door casing if there is something not right with that as well. It can be used for chamfering an edge or beveling as some like to call it.

Will A Hand Power Planer Work To Joint Boards?

The power hand planer can be used to join edges of boards with the help from an edge guide, if you decide to buy a hand powered planer make sure it comes with this attachment. The attachment works very well for any length of lumber. Now the thing to keep in mind is that it will give you a nice straight and crisp edge but it won’t be smooth. 

Once you get your edge or edges down to where you want them, you can use a No. 4 smoothing plane and give them the final touches before gluing and clamping them up. 

If you don’t have or want to buy a benchtop planer, this is the next best option.

Are Electric Hand Planers Any Good?

That all depends on the brand you buy, the cheap power planers aren’t really suited for woodworking. It also depends on what you plan to do with it, for example, construction workers use this tool a lot for trimming up doors to make them fit correctly.

So if you want a decent power hand plane, plan on spending just a little more so that you get one that’ll do the job that you want. The high end ones have a more accurate depth setup for precise material removal.

Electric Hand Planer Gouges

Electric hand planer gouges normally happen when the planer doesn’t engage the edge of the wood at a ninety degree angle. That’s one way, the other happens when the hand planer isn’t slightly lifted up as you approach the other end. No matter how it happens it almost always leaves an uneven cut that you now have to work on getting gone.  

Something else to mention is it doesn’t matter how fine of a cut the hand planer makes, it’s going to leave lines in the wood. It’s not made for fine woodworking.

How To Joint With A Power Handheld Planer

Edge jointing with an electric hand planer is pretty easy to learn and if you’re new to this power tool, it’s best to practice on a scrap piece of wood such as a 2X4 that’s a couple feet long. Always plane with the grain no matter what kind of hand plane you use.

You can practice on both the face and the edge. The adjustment knob is the place to start. Put it on the lowest setting. Press the trigger and let the planer come to full speed.

Next engage the wood by placing the front of the planer or also called the toe on top of the surface with a little downward pressure to keep the toe flat on the board. Don’t let the planer rock to either side or you’ll have a diagonal cut all the way across. Then start moving the planer across the wood.

When the back of the plane or the heel comes into contact apply equal amounts of pressure on the toe and heel. As you get close to the other end, slightly lift up on the front of the plane so that you don’t get a gouge. If you didn’t get any shaving on the first pass, then take it down to the next adjustment. Keep doing this until you see results.

If you’ve done it right, the end result should be a flat surface from one end to the other. If the electric hand planer came with an edge guide, use it and if it didn’t get one, it will help.

Electric Hand Planer On End Grain

It’s highly recommended that you don’t use an electric hand planer on end grain. The planer can be way too aggressive and cause tear out or blow out faster than a traditional hand plane.

An alternative is to use a belt sander with 80 grit sandpaper. This approach is also aggressive but not nearly as bad as an electric hand planer. It might take a little more time but at least your project won’t get ruined. It would be a shame to ruin that end grain cutting board that you’ve put a lot of time into.

As much as I hate sanding it does give a smoother surface than the electric hand planer without the risk of ruining the project.

Advantages Of Electric Planers Over Hand Planer

I like that the electric hand planer has an adjustment knob so that you can set the depth of your cut. The adjustment knob allows you to pick the thickness that’s best for the situation.

The most that the hand planer will take off is an 1/8” which is a lot of material at one time and the benefit of that is you can plane or joint to the desired thickness very quickly. As far as speed it by far beats the traditional hand plane.

The least amount of material that you can take off is 1/64” which is handy when something only needs to be taken down just a slight bit. Something to point out, the more shallow cuts you take, the smoother the surface will be in the end.

Hand power planes have a good amount of power to help get through some of the toughest grains of wood. They go through it like a hot knife through butter. With traditional hand planes you notice that you have to push harder to get through harder wood.

Electric Hand Planer Pros And Cons

Pro: Powered hand planers are great if you don’t have much room in a small workshop. They also don’t cost a lot of money like a benchtop planer if you’re on a budget.

Con: Like any power tool, they are loud so hearing protection should be worn.

Pro: The skill level for this power tool is low where it takes skill to use a traditional hand plane.

Con: They can leave mill marks on the surface of the wood if too much is taken off in one pass.

References

This person does a very good job of demonstrating the power hand plane.