Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced woodworker, there are some things you need to look for in a good wood planer. Among these are power, cutting depth, dust collection, and portability.
Most portable thickness planers come with 15 amp motors turning the cutterhead at speeds ranging from 8000 rpm to 10000 rpm, allowing them to shave wood off your workpiece quickly and efficiently.
Depending on your project, you’ll need a planer with the power to remove wood efficiently without damaging it. You’ll also want one that makes a good finish cut and has a smooth operating head.
To plan wood, it’s important to identify the grain direction and slope. Generally speaking, you’ll want to plan against the grain and take light passes in each pass.
You can do this by touching the surface of the workpiece and noticing where the wood fibers feel smooth, or rough. Once you’ve identified the grain, you can use your planer to trim the grain with light passes.
A power planer is a powerful tool that’s best used with practice and patience. It can snip the wood if you’re not careful, so it’s important to practice with scrap pieces of stock before making cuts on the real thing.
2. Cutting depth
If you want to make a smooth finish with your planer, it is important to find one that has a high cutting depth. This ensures that you get a smooth surface without any burrs or other imperfections in your woodwork.
Many wood planers have a CPI, or Cuts Per Inch, number on the label. This number represents how many times the blades make a cut in an inch of time.
A higher CPI means a smaller cut every time the tool rotates, which results in a smoother surface that will require less sanding.
Another feature that can be useful is a depth stop, which is a mechanism that can limit the planer from cutting below a certain level. Setting this stop can prevent you from accidentally over-planing your workpiece.
3. Dust collection
Whether you are an experienced woodworker or a novice, you are going to kick up a lot of dust during the process of using your planer. That dust needs to be sucked away and stored for disposal later.
There are a few different ways that a wood planer can capture the wood chips and dust it generates. Cyclones, bag houses, and cartridge collectors all have varying capabilities for removing dust from a power tool before it reaches the air flow and filter.
Most large dust collectors include a cyclone separator, which is designed to separate out large chips or clumps of sticky or fibrous material before it reaches the impeller and collection bag. This type of separation is great for home shops, too, where it can also be used to collect small amounts of large chip debris that would otherwise clog a regular bag.
A portable planer is a good option for woodworkers who don’t have space for a bench planer, but want to have the versatility of planing small pieces on the go. Many portable planers have a maximum width capacity of 12 or 13 inches.
Some planers have adjustable feed speeds, an adjustment that changes how many cuts per inch (cpi) the blade makes, resulting in a smoother finish.
Most also have gauges that indicate the amount of wood that will be removed with each pass. These gauges help prevent you from taking a bite too big and ripping or sniping too much material out.
Lastly, most of these planers have some type of dust collection system. Some have built-in fans that suck chips away from the cutterhead and blow them out the dust port. These can be especially helpful if you need to plane in areas where it’s difficult to hook up a dust collector or vacuum.