Electric hand planers

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Forum topic by Jeff posted 07-23-2010 03:07 PM 4335 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3 posts in 3070 days

07-23-2010 03:07 PM

Never was interested in them before but have a job coming up to build a 10 seat table and chairs. Will be starting with 5/4 rough cut pecan planks 20-23” wide aiming for true 4/4. Without a large capacity planer or drum sander I wondered if an electric hand planer would work to rough dimension the planks and level any twisting, cupping, etc. I expect it would only get me roughly where I want and require further work with hand planes, belt sander, etc.

Anyone had experience using one in that kind of situation? How did it work for you?

-- Jeff, Conroe, TX

9 replies so far

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2718 posts in 3492 days

#1 posted 07-23-2010 03:27 PM

Theoretically, it can be done. I would think it would be extremely tedious and frustrating to do it that way.
Very hard to achieve any accuracy.

I would find a shop with a planer willing to do that for you


View PurpLev's profile


8547 posts in 3854 days

#2 posted 07-23-2010 03:35 PM

the risk of a hand powered tool like that taking too big of a bite is quite high.

Kent has a good suggestion – try to find a shop around you that might be able to mill it for you. otherwise personally I would go the SCRUB (high spots) → JOINTER (#6/#7/#8) → SMOOTHER (#3/#4/#5) to mill it by hand.

Edit: These powered hand planers are really aimed at narrower materials like doors/etc and are supposed to bring things down in size in one pass (as in no overlapping passes over wider materials) from what I’ve seen.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View thiel's profile


394 posts in 3498 days

#3 posted 07-23-2010 03:41 PM

I don’t know where you’re located (checked your profile) ... but I’m wondering if there might be a helpful lumberjob with a planer near you?

-- --Thiel

View SnowyRiver's profile


51457 posts in 3686 days

#4 posted 07-23-2010 03:53 PM

I agree with everyone. I have a portable planer that I use on doors etc, but like everyone has said, its a carpenters tool, and it would be difficult to use it for fine woodworking. I would talk to your local hardwood lumber company….they often have folks that do milling that could help you.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View BertFlores58's profile


1698 posts in 3128 days

#5 posted 07-23-2010 04:17 PM

I tried it once on the dresser and also other hardwoods for my jewelry boxes. See my projects and also on tables. But it needs a lot of techniques to level up. I am using a longer electric handplaner and heavy. It is just like a router plane, the sole is 16 inches. In final leveling, I set the cut to .5 mm and plane from one end and swing around checking the rear part of the plane is flat. Be careful when you do this one side can be flat but there is no guarantee whether you have the right thickness troughout. You can try but don’t force yourself.

-- Bert

View deeznutz's profile


33 posts in 3226 days

#6 posted 07-23-2010 04:31 PM

It can be done but takes a bit of work to get it anywhere even reasonably close to what you want. Just like a jointer, you need to make sure the knives in these little planers are all set properly and even with the rear bed of the planer (like an outfeed table on a jointer).

I actually used one to clean up a rough cut 3” slab i used to make a coffee table top…it was my first real woodworking project and it got the job done but required A TON of sanding to clean it all.

Now that I think of it…probably not worth the hassle!

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3280 days

#7 posted 07-23-2010 04:39 PM

I use a handheld electric planer on some carpentry jobs – usually fitting doors and/or door frames. I don’t see it working very well for what you have in mind.

If you are anywhere near where I live, I’d invite you to run your boards through my planer. I’m sure many other LJs would do the same.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Jeff's profile


3 posts in 3070 days

#8 posted 07-23-2010 06:52 PM

Thanks, everyone. Seems to be a consensus.

Since I posted this morning I’ve talked to the guys at Woodcraft and they put me onto a couple places I can job it to. I’m convinced now that’s the way to go.

-- Jeff, Conroe, TX

View NewPickeringWdWrkr's profile


338 posts in 3219 days

#9 posted 07-23-2010 07:28 PM

I would say if you have the experience using them, go for it, but if not, follow the above advice. In the latest Popular WW magazine, there’s an article where they flattened a slab table top using a power hand planer, so it can be done, but you probably have to have that familiarity factor.

-- Mike - Antero's Urban Wood Designs

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