Quick newbie question about what to expect with a hand planer

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Forum topic by CONSUM3R posted 02-28-2015 12:22 AM 742 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1 post in 1183 days

02-28-2015 12:22 AM

Hi guys. Let me first admit I’m not a very good wood worker. Or at least I don’t have a lot of experience. My experience is limited to making things I need or need fixed around the house. Re-trimming doors, making raised vegetable beds, small wooden gate, etc.

My next project venture is building a table for my XL big green egg. For those that don’t know it’s a ceramic grill/smoker. It weighs in at about 250 pounds so for the table I’d like to use 4×4’s for the legs. I’ve been to all the local lumber supply places and the largest they have in most woods is 8/4. I think I lack the equipment to properly rip and then glue/plane those into a 4×4 piece of material. Because cedar 4×4’s are pretty readily available I was thinking of trying a cedar table. But all the cedar 4×4’s I can find are rough cut. I was thinking about buying an electric hand planer to smooth the surface to make the cedar more presentable in a table. Is it reasonable to think I can get a good working surface from a hand planer? Honestly I don’t plan on using a planer enough in the future to justify buying a larger stationary planer. And I don’t really have the space to store one either.

I’ll probably buy some 1×6’s or 2×6’s for the table top and would probably use the planer on them as well. I’d like to be able to finish the cedar in some way – it may eventually grey over time but I’d like it to look good for a little while first. Any suggestions are appreciated. Thanks.

5 replies so far

View soob's profile


266 posts in 1206 days

#1 posted 02-28-2015 05:30 AM

Depends on the sort of table you have in mind. A handheld planer will definitely smooth the surface of the wood somewhat. But it’s going to be tough to use it by itself to make something flat or square, which is what you need it to be for fine woodworking.

View Mark Kornell's profile

Mark Kornell

1169 posts in 2529 days

#2 posted 02-28-2015 07:15 AM

Yes, a handheld electric planer can get you a nice surface. But it does take some practice.

A hand plane – the non-electric kind – will also do the same, if you have (or have access to) one.

Cedar also sands pretty easily. Depending on how rough those 4×4s are, a handheld (power) sander might be an option. Start with a pretty coarse grit, like 60, and work up.

-- Mark Kornell, Kornell Wood Design

View Woodknack's profile


11626 posts in 2378 days

#3 posted 02-28-2015 08:30 AM

Using a hand plane is like any mechanical skill, it just takes some education and practice.

-- Rick M,

View Don W's profile

Don W

18715 posts in 2566 days

#4 posted 02-28-2015 02:40 PM

the electric hand planer will only work well if the piece you’re planning is narrower than the blade. Once you get beyond that its difficult.

A hand plane will work, but as Rick said there is a learning curve. Its a skill that will come in very handy in your woodworking future though.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View bondogaposis's profile


4727 posts in 2349 days

#5 posted 02-28-2015 02:56 PM

I think you would be better served to use a hand plane, a #5 jack would a good choice. Electric planes can leave really big gouges in a hurry and are far more difficult to control than a hand plane.

-- Bondo Gaposis

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