Knowing how to use the benchtop planer is the most important skill you will learn from an experienced artisan or woodworker. The manual planer is among the first planing tool many woodworkers start with before moving on to other more advanced tools.
Typically, the benchtop planer is a great example of the advanced planing tools that the woodworkers should learn. It is a unique tool that can make the planing lumber quickly and easily. You will learn ways to avoid common problems like tear outs, ridges, and snipes if you have this tool.
In addition, it assists you in managing the following activities, which include cleaning coarsely sawn lumbers, reclaiming old wood, and creating custom thicknesses for the boards.
What tools and materials are needed to use the benchtop planer?
Before you begin to know how to use a benchtop planer, you are required to understand the materials and tools you require to get started. Also, if you want to save time and prevent frustration when using the benchtop planer, here’s what you need:
- Dust mask
- Safety glasses
- Hearing protection
- Top-quality hardwood or softwood lumber
How to use a benchtop planer: A step by step process
- Choose a right benchtop planer
Your top choice can be the right benchtop planer and a full-size planer designed for large materials. If you wantthe planer for basic use, the smaller model will work well as it can typically hold the boards up to 12 inches or even about 15 inches wide. All the function of the planer is the same, and the only difference is the size of material they can cut. After selecting the planer, you can set it in the workshop.
- Set up the tool
Once you have chosen the benchtop planer, you have to install set it in the right place in your workshop. First, choose the right location near the power point, so you do not have to run the extension cord through the shops, which can be embarrassing. Then select an area where you have enough space to get in and out to remove and insert the wood without hitting the wall.
Then be sure to place the planer on a secure table that will not vibrate or move when planing the wood. Attach the plane wood to the table following the instructions from the manufacturer on how your machine work. This is usually done with screws or clamps.
- Select the material that can be planed
Once the benchtop planer has been set up, you can now select the specific wood you need to plane. Be sure to keep an eye on your machine’s limitations. Typically, it would be best to plan for lumber that is at least 12 inches or 14 inches long and at least 3/4 inch thick.
The exact length and thickness of the workpiece before planing depends on the machine. However, workarounds can help you design too short or too thin pieces. However, we’ll talk about that later.
Another important thing to know is that the benchtop planer needs one side of the wood flat, as the planer can only flatten the other side of the wood surface. This actually means if the underside of the plane wood that makes contact with a table or bed is not flat, the planer can maintain that unevenness as planned. You can make the wood to be more uneven.
So, before planing a wood piece, you must first ensure that the other side is effortlessly flat so that it rests evenly on a table or bed to allow the plane to match the level of the board. To smoothen the other side of a wood enough for planing, you can use the jointer. Since most boards must go through the jointer first before they are planed, if you’re serious about the woodworking, you are required to have a jointer and a benchtop planer.
- Set the depth and the thickness stop
The most crucial step is to set the depth and thickness of the cut correctly. This shows how much is expected. Some planes allow you to determine the depth based on the amount of planed off. In the same case, some planers can let you adjust the depth of a cut.
Nevertheless, this method is a bit complicated; therefore, it is not recommended to buy a planer, which works this way. In most cases, thicknesses are used to determine the depth concerning the thickness of the wood to be planed.
For example, you may set a thickness to 1 to 1/2 inches, and a planer will flatten the wood to that size. Some models have a lever, a slide lever, and others have a crank, which can be turned. Regardless of the method used to adjust the machine, now it’s time to set the result’s depth.
If you have the benchtop planer, which has a deep stop feature, now is a time to set up the depth stop. Typically, this will prevent a benchtop planer from sliding deeper than the specified depth stop. Always you can set a depth stop to a low level to make it useless. Remember that you do not need to use the depth stop.
Also, you do not want to buy one, which will wear out very quickly on you. The benchtop planers have various maximum board sizes they can tackle before they are dull. The one which are less powerful can go to about two inches and the ones, which are more powerful go to about four inches. Therefore, make sure you select one, which will fit your desire.
- Pass the board through a planer
If everything is set up correctly, you can now switch on the planer. Wait for sometimes to accelerate. Typically, this should only take a few milliseconds. When the machine is on and moving parts (cutters and rollers), you can feed the wood.
Make sure the plank corresponds to the left and right sides of a planer, and then feed it in a controlled and slow motion. Remember that the machine always cuts the wood along the grain and not against it; otherwise, it is risk breaking it. You may require making some passes and making minor changes to get the results you want.
Also, avoid sniping when the ends of the wood are to some extent deeper than the middle. To prevent this, raise or pull up slightly from the back when feeding the wood and slightly pull from the front edge when outfeed. This allows the cutter head to cut evenly in the center and along the edges of aboard.
Benchtop planer safety basics
To keep you safe as possible, we’ll walk you through all the safety tips for the benchtop planer you need to consider, and this includes:
- Never put your fingers near the cutters or rollers. If the fingers, arms, and hands get trapped, they can be pulled in the planer. If you want to push something through a planer, continuously use the push stick to the distance between the fingers and the blades.
- Never let long hair, which is not tied, never wear long jewelry and sleeves, never wear gloves or something like that. Anything which hangs out of the body will put you at risk of being pulled in the planer.
- You need to wear safety goggles, a respirator mask, and earplugs when wearing a benchtop planer.
- Never lower or raise the table or make adjustments while the material is on a table or the tool is running.
- Always use a proper dust extraction tool to remove the sawdust from that particular area. It can be very dangerous when sawdust clogs up your planer, and the flying sawdust obscures the vision.
- Don’t try to smooth it too much at once, especially more than 1/8-inch each time, as this can be dangerous.
The mistakes you need to avoid
- Finally, let’s briefly talk about the major mistakes you are required to avoid when using the benchtop planer:
- Never plane the wood against the ground, or it will crack.
- Never straighten more than the 1/8-inch at each time, as this can cause cracks or worse.
- When planing a short workpiece, never do it without pinning it to another workpiece so that the machine can work properly.
- Don’t plane wood below 3/4 inch thick unless your machine tells you otherwise.
- Never place wood on the machine until it has been switched on.
Know you know everything you require to know about the benchtop planer. Keep in mind all the safety tips to avoid injury, and you will be fine. Also, the process of planning is quite simple. The only thing you are required to consider is that the planer mirrors the shape of the other side of the board.
If you run the board, which is uneven at the bottom of the planer, the top will also be rough. To avoid this, you must first ensure the base is completely flat. The easiest way of doing this isthe use of a joiner. Indeed, even planer machines can do both jobs without spending money or taking up space on two separate devices.