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Electric hand planers, or belt sanders how useful are they?

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Forum topic by KenBry posted 12-23-2011 06:39 AM 29140 views 0 times favorited 36 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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KenBry

471 posts in 1912 days


12-23-2011 06:39 AM

I have been considering an electric hand plane or belt sander. I would use it to flatten large surfaces. I presenty don’t have anything other than a palm sander. I know I need something to do the job. Just not sure which one to go with. Any help is appreciated.

-- Ken, USAF MSgt, Ret.


36 replies so far

View live4ever's profile

live4ever

983 posts in 2475 days


#1 posted 12-23-2011 07:02 AM

Personally I’d go with the belt sander. You can take material off pretty fast with lower grits. Sanding is always better than cutting (on the wood) if you don’t mind the dust and it potentially taking a little longer. You will find lots of uses for your belt sander.

I’d also recommend not getting a small one (like I did). The smaller belt sanders (e.g. 3×18) tend to be more jumpy and difficult to control, while the larger ones give you more control by virtue of their weighty and solid stance.

-- Optimists are usually disappointed. Pessimists are either right or pleasantly surprised. I tend to be a disappointed pessimist.

View David Grimes's profile

David Grimes

2078 posts in 2104 days


#2 posted 12-23-2011 07:17 AM

When I need to shave a door bottom, I grab either (battery or corded) of the electric planes. Fast, accurate and done. For removing a lot of material, yes the belt sander is really aggressive, but it would be hard for me to get a large area (say a door face or rough 4×8 sheet of BC plywood planed truly flat with a belt sander. It is pretty easy to go from rough and flat to smooth and not flat. The random orbital sanders have a place as well.

Hand planes are best admired from a distance IMO. I sometimes look at them on the wall as I practice scary fast instead of scary sharp. My own primitive tool exhibit. ;=)

-- If you're going to stir the pot, think BIG spoon or SMALL boat paddle. David Grimes, Georgia

View longgone's profile

longgone

5688 posts in 2773 days


#3 posted 12-23-2011 07:44 AM

I have both and they both have their place and benefits. I guess i am a tool nut who purchases tools when I need them. Might not use them frequently but I like having them there when the need arises.

View TCCcabinetmaker's profile

TCCcabinetmaker

930 posts in 1819 days


#4 posted 12-23-2011 08:03 AM

Live4ever is actually wrong, even with a belt sander you only remove like .03 of an inch per pass, where as you take .07 with a hand plane, powered planes can actually take up to an 8th in a pass.

Either way, you are goign to end up sanding with the random orbit to get the scratches out.

I did a pair of twin book cases for an entry way not too long ago, I used both on them, the panels were something like 32” wide by 42 tall, was easiest to hit with the power plane then the belt sander to kinda level it, It’s going in a 100 year old house remodel, so a bit of imperfection was needed more than perfect flat, For a piece in the Kitchen however I chose to break out the 18” jack plane instead, took about the same amount of time prior to me swapping to the random orbit.

-- The mark of a good carpenter is not how few mistakes he makes, but rather how well he fixes them.

View jeth's profile

jeth

249 posts in 2303 days


#5 posted 12-23-2011 08:12 AM

I know I won’t be the first to say it but if you want to really flatten large surfaces then I would think handplanes. By the time you have belt sanded a board down to half its intended thickness trying to get it flat and track mark free the handplane is quicker. Planing by hand does take more physical effoirt, but you would be surprised how quick it is to get a panel properly flat.

As David says, the electric plane is useful for trimming doors and suchlike though I have never found many other uses for mine. I only ever tried a couple of times to get a surface flat with it then realised it wasn’t the tool for the job. The knives are quite thin and get nicked very easily. You can use it to knock down high spots or take off the rough but again, little time difference over a handplane.

If you want to flatten with power tools then I would say identify and belt sand down the high spots then a half sheet Orbital Sander to follow up, taking a lot of care to keep the surface even.

View live4ever's profile

live4ever

983 posts in 2475 days


#6 posted 12-23-2011 09:06 AM

TCC – I wasn’t suggesting the belt sander takes off more material than the power planer. I was saying that it takes off material faster than you might think for being a sander. Perhaps I should have been clearer.

-- Optimists are usually disappointed. Pessimists are either right or pleasantly surprised. I tend to be a disappointed pessimist.

View Sawdust4Blood's profile

Sawdust4Blood

392 posts in 2486 days


#7 posted 12-23-2011 09:14 AM

I’ve owned both for years and I reach for the belt sander far more often that I do for the plane (so much so that I would make anyone a good deal on buying the plane I own). IMHO you’ll get a lot more money out of the belt sander. So unless there is something very specific you need that a belt sander just won’t do, I’d recommend the sander ahead of an electric plane.

-- Greg, Severn MD

View TCCcabinetmaker's profile

TCCcabinetmaker

930 posts in 1819 days


#8 posted 12-23-2011 09:17 AM

It just read that way :/
Either or both work, both require some finesse,

-- The mark of a good carpenter is not how few mistakes he makes, but rather how well he fixes them.

View wingate_52's profile

wingate_52

224 posts in 2034 days


#9 posted 12-23-2011 04:25 PM

The belt sander for me. My electric hand plane is probably my least used power tool.

View syenefarmer's profile

syenefarmer

432 posts in 2545 days


#10 posted 12-23-2011 05:42 PM

The belt sander would come in handy far more often than the hand held planer.

View StumpyNubs's profile

StumpyNubs

6853 posts in 2265 days


#11 posted 12-23-2011 05:55 PM

I shave with my electric plane. You have to set it really thin and be careful not to catch your lip in it. But it works much faster than the belt sander…

In the workshop I use handplanes. An electric plane in their would just be nuts…

-- Subscribe to "Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal"- One of the crafts' most unique publications: http://www.stumpynubs.com/

View DS's profile

DS

2151 posts in 1885 days


#12 posted 12-23-2011 05:56 PM

I rely heavily on my belt sander—It is most useful for scribing countertops and cabinets.

If I need to flatten a large panel, the surface planer, or, wide-belt sander is best, but those are big pieces of machinery and out of reach to many hobbiests. (Talk about scary fast though)

Fortunately, I think the Woodworkers’ Source (at least in Phoenix) has machinery set up they’ll rent by the hour if you have lots to do.

I’ve never been accused of nostalgia for the old school process of woodworking. The cutting edge machinery works too well and is readily accessable in recent years. Maybe, after I retire, I’ll look into what all the hand tool fuss is about. Nah! Probably not.

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

View jim C's profile

jim C

1467 posts in 2563 days


#13 posted 12-23-2011 06:09 PM

Stumpy
LMAO
That’s why I luv ya Man.
Hey, you know a guy in the U.P named Vitito?

-- When I was a boy, I was told "anyone can be President", now I'm beginning to believe it!

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 2463 days


#14 posted 12-23-2011 06:27 PM

I don’t find the power planers to be of much use. They are heavy, noisy, and not much less work than doing it by hand. If I was installing doors professionally on the clock, I might feel differently. Even then, I can’t say for certain that it is faster than a scrub plane followed by a jack plane. The power planer knives tend to be pretty delicate.

Belt sanders are quite useful. They handle odd materials gracefully. They don’t really care if you hit a nail or a brad. They make a pretty good sharpening station for rough shaping as long as you keep stuff cooled off. Clamp them up in a vise and you have a nice sanding station. I have never felt the need to put anything finer than a 80 grit on one.

Neither one are very good at flattening stock. If you do big stuff, you would have to spend a lot of money to get large capacity power tools. If budget is an issue, you are going to get a lot more mileage from a few hand planes.

This is not just a power tool/ hand tool opinion. I have both. I have a dinky little 8in combo jointer/planer that will handle most stuff. Anything bigger than it’s capacity gets hand tools. By the time you get much greater capacity, the price goes way up and unless you are doing it professionally, it is hard to justify the expense for the high capacity machinery.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune: http://lowbudgetwoodworker.blogspot.com/

View StumpyNubs's profile

StumpyNubs

6853 posts in 2265 days


#15 posted 12-23-2011 06:44 PM

Sure, Jim… we people here in Michigan know EVERYBODY else in Michigan… :)

-- Subscribe to "Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal"- One of the crafts' most unique publications: http://www.stumpynubs.com/

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