Do Electric Hand Planers Work?

Depending on what you’re creating, you may need to use a planer thicknesser to trim boards into even thicknesses and get that professional, smooth finish. However, one issue that many keen DIYers come across is that some pieces of wood are simply too large to fit into a planer thicknesser.

This is where an electric hand planer is your best tool for the job. These are much like the planers that have been used for centuries to smooth wood and shave off some thickness. The only difference is that they are electric, which means they are much easier to use.

But do electric hand planers work? In a word, yes. They are the absolute best alternative to planer thicknessers when you’re working on a particularly large project. This could be taking some thickness of a door or making rebates in your piece of wood.

How does a handheld planer work?

An electric handheld planer works much like a traditional handheld planer, only it has the power of electricity behind it! This means you’ll get perfect results in a short amount of time.

Inside an electric hand planer, you’ll find a blade that rotates at a high speed when the planer is pushed against the wood. This could be as much as 10,000 – 20,000 RPM.

While the blade is spinning, it will shave off small amounts of wood to leave you with a smooth cut edge.

You can also adjust an electric handheld planer to cut at different speeds and depths to get the best finish for the project you’re working on.

How do you use an electric planer?

Using an electric planer is all about preparation. Everything needs to be perfectly in place before you take a pass at your wood. If it isn’t, you don’t only risk ruining your project, but you could be putting yourself in harm’s way.

The first thing to do is check that the blade is sharp enough to shave the wood without catching it. If not, take the time to resharpen it using a whetstone, or change it for a new blade if necessary.

Most electric hand planers come with blades that can be resharpened. Some even come with kickstands that protect the blade while it’s in use. If your electric hand planer does have a kickstand, make sure it’s elevated and positioned.

Next, select the correct settings for your project. For example, if you’re looking to achieve a smooth finish on hardwood, setting the electric planer to 1/64” or 1/32” will give you the best results.

You now need to make sure your body is properly balanced. Stand with your feet spaced apart in a comfortable position. This keeps you solidly locked to the ground and gives you more control over the planer.

Start by positioning the front shoe so that it is flat on the surface of the wood. As you do this, you need to make sure that the blade doesn’t come in direct contact with the wood, as this could cause unintended damage.

Now, switch the electric hand planer on and keep it running until you’ve reached the desired speed. Once you’re there, steadily move the planer until it comes into contact with the wood and push it forward slowly using the handle.

Make sure you keep an even amount of pressure on the electric planer at all times and, once you reach the end of the wood, push the planer over the end of the wood. If you don’t, you could end up making uneven cuts.

When would you use an electric hand planer?

As we’ve mentioned before, eclectic hand planers are a great alternative to planer thicknessers when you’re dealing with a particularly large piece of wood. But they can also be used for a variety of other projects too!

Here are a few things you can do with an electric hand planer:

  • Level-off floor joists: If you notice any irregularities in your floor joists, an electric hand planer can help you level them off by shaving them until they are flat. This is much easier than having to prize them up and pass them through a thicknesser.
  • Smooth swollen door edges: If excessive rainfall has caused your doors to swell, you can use an electric hand planer to smooth them out until they fit the door frame perfectly again. This is much more convenient than removing the entire door, and it’s certainly cheaper than having to replace them!
  • Smooth filler boards to fit cabinets: Renovating your kitchen cabinets? You may need to taper-cut the filler boards to get that perfect fit. Again, an electric handheld planer is a perfect tool for doing this.


As you can see, an electric hand planer is a pretty essential tool for anybody that loves woodwork and DIY. Not only is it a great alternative to a planer thicknesser, but its portability gives you the power to tackle jobs around the house with ultimate convenience.

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