We’ve spoken previously about the difference between a sander and a planer. But do you have to sand after using a planer?
The answer to this ultimately depends on what you’re making. If you’re creating something for your home or a product that you want to sell, then it’s always a good idea to give your planed pieces of wood a good going over with a sander afterwards. This will give you a beautiful, smooth finish, remove imperfections, and expose the grain better.
If you’re simply cutting pieces of wood to size and reducing their thickness to sell as they are, sanding isn’t always necessary. However, there is one thing to keep an eye out for; chatter and tear-out.
Chatter and tear-out occur when the grain direction slopes upwards into the blades of a planer thicknesser, rather than away from them. This doesn’t always happen, and some woods are more prone to chatter and tear-out than others.
If this does happen, and depending on the severity of it, you can use a sander to buff away chatter-marks and tear-out. Likewise, you can also pass the wood back through the planer to try and shave off a few extra millimetres and take the marks away with it. But, if it keeps, happening sanding afterwards is your best option.
See also our Best Planer Thicknesser here to see what fits your needs
Does a planer make wood smooth?
The ultimate purpose of a planer, whether it be stationary or handheld, is to reduce the thickness of the wood. But does it make the wood smooth in the process?
There isn’t a simple “yes” or “no” answer to this question. A planer will give wood a certain level of smoothness as it shaves through it. However, it only works on one side of the wood. This means it will often slightly soften either the top face as it pulls it through, while the bottom and the sides of the wood will remain rough.
Bear in mind, also, that a planer isn’t designed to smooth wood. Achieving a slightly smoother top surface is just a happy, accidental byproduct of shaving the thickness of the wood.
If you want to get super smooth, professional results then a sander will need to be used. With this, you’ll be able to get a perfect finish, remove splinters, expose the grain of the wood, and fix any unevenness.
So, while a piece of wood may be smoother than it was after you’ve run it through a planer, there’s no doubt that a sander is required to get it looking as good as possible. It’s also important to note that there’s very little point in sanding wood before running it through a planer. If you do, you’ll just be undoing all of your hard work as the smooth surface will be cut away.
Is planing better than sanding?
While both planing and sanding are ways of smoothing wood and removing material, each of them is quite different. Planing is better if you’re looking to reduce the overall thickness of a piece of wood. Sanding is better when you want to smooth something out.
There’s a little more to it than that, though. Below, we’ll take a look at what circumstances would be best for planing and which you should use a sander for. This will help you choose the best tool for the job every time!
When to use a planer:
- Use a planer when you want to produce a wooden board with a flat surface and crisp edges
- Use a planer when you are working with wood that has varying densities, but you want it to feel flat and even
- Use a planer if the wood is quickly dulling your sandpaper, making it pretty much impossible to do
- Use a planer when you want the flattest possible surface
When to use a sander:
- Use a sander when you want to blend and curve the edges of your wood with the surface
- Use a sander if the material is too soft, or isn’t appropriate for a planer (such as plywood)
- Use a sander when you want to buff away any splinters and leave the entire surface and edges of your wood completely smooth
- Use a sander when you want to achieve a highly polished, bare wood surface with the grain visible
So, there you have it. You don’t always have to use a sander after using a planer, but it’s often a good idea, especially if you’re creating a piece of furniture or something else that you’d like to sell.
However, if you’re simply cutting wooden boards to a certain thickness to sell as they are, there isn’t much of a need to sand them after you run them through a planer.
It is worth noting, however, that you don’t avoid sanding in the belief that a planer will smooth the wood for you. It will to some extent, but only on the top surface and nowhere near as effectively as a sander would.