So, you need to make some adjustments to pieces of wood and level them out to suit your project’s requirements. A planer is the ideal woodworking tool for this task. However, if your wood is coated with a thick layer of paint, you may want to get rid of it. On the other hand, you may like the paint and are worried about the planer taking off this layer as you cut the wood into shape.
Well, paints can be taken off by a planer but this sometimes depends on the type of paint on the wooden surface. You must be careful when using a planer with painted surfaces that are not latex based as these could cause severe damage to a planer’s blades. It is recommended that you use an old set of blades at the smallest cut if you intend to remove any paint.
If you want to remove paint using a planer, then it is possible. However, your main goal should be to skim off as much paint but as little wood as possible. If you are not careful, you could skim off too many layers of wood and end up ruining your wooden project.
As we mentioned, older blades should be used at first as painted wood can easily dull the cutters of a planer. Of course, everything you put through a planer will eventually dull the cutters but paint, lead-based especially, can dull the blades in one instance.
Older blades can also save your newer blades against possible metal pieces lurking beneath the layers. Once you have run through the paint once and the coast is clear of metal pieces, you can run through with your newer, sharper blades for a cleaner, more precise cut.
It is recommended that you hook your planer up to a dust collection system beforehand. The dust from the paint can spread easily through the air and create a mess as well as potential health hazards. You should wear a high-quality dust mask too, even if the paint is not lead-based so you do not inhale any harmful particles.
While you can use a planer to take off paint, it must be done with extreme caution as your wood can easily be left with an abrasive surface. If the wood has any kind of ornament such as a bevelled edge or veneer over the edges, this can become damaged by the planer. Furthermore, any kind of plywood can easily become damaged beyond repair if the top layer is removed.
Sometimes, a plain old manual sanding block with 60-grain sandpaper can do the job just as well, if not better.
Can you use a planer to remove an old finish?
Yes, it is possible to run wood with an old finish through your planer and, yes, it can remove the finish. Nonetheless, it is probably not worth the risk to your woodworking tool.
Finishes such as polyurethane can easily gum up the blades of a planer as their blades generate enough friction to soften finishes like this up significantly. Although it is possible to remove the finish with a planer, it is recommended that you try using a belt sander instead. Adjust it to around half of its maximum speed and use an 80-grit or 100-grit belt to efficiently remove the old film finish.
Before you use your planer to remove the finish, inspect the wood for hidden nails. Also, have a backup set of blades, just in case you come across something lurking under the finished surface. It is recommended that you strip the finish off first with a thickness sander and then use a planer to clean up the wood.
You should also have a collection system in place to gather any chips that come off the wood. If you are recycling old boards or ones from an unknown source, always take added safety precautions. You should always expect old painted finishes to contain lead.
Therefore, remove with a chemical stripper first. Always wear a respirator that is rated for lead dust, work in a well-ventilated space, and cover any exposed skin. Keep others away from the space as you work because the inhalation of lead-based substances can be extremely harmful to your health.
There are other methods of removing paint and varnish from boards but there is nothing like a planer to trim your boards into an even thickness.
Check out our page on the Best Planer Thicknesser in the UK here to see the best models available on the market today. Even with these top planers, it is not advised to use their new blades on removing an old finish as they will dull very quickly. You should sharpen your planer blades regularly but they should last a while before needing too much maintenance.