How To Use a Power Hand Planer (Also on Wide Boards)

Last Updated on August 28, 2022 by Barry Gray

No doubt, the process of using a power hand planer on wide boards is tricky. It even gets more complex if you’re new to woodworking or a passionate DIYer who loves building projects in your home.

But it doesn’t have to be that way!

You can even do MORE than planing wide boards with your electric hand planer.

That’s why I created this article—to show you the best ways to use your electric hand planer on wide boards and handle other key woodworking projects.

I’ll also take you through a comprehensive step-by-step procedure and show you the tools required to handle the job.

Are you ready?

Let’s dive in! 

Electric Hand Planer: How Do You Use One?

electric hand planer on wide board

If you’re familiar with a hand plane, an electric planer won’t be a tough nut to crack. The tool rides on a sole plate. Plus, it comes with blades on a cutterhead like a jointer at 20,000 rpm.

So, the difference in elevation between the shoes (front and rear) equals removing wood. The front hand grip is another interesting feature considering that it doubles as a depth-adjustment gauge. 

Also, it’s easy to set the depth of cut thanks to the tool’s built-in scale settings that turns back and forth—to move the front planer shoe up or down.

To get the best results from an electric hand planer it’s crucial to master the right way to handle it and balance your body. In addition, the final smoothness of your work depends on your depth setting and the speed you use to push the tool. 

For instance, you can get the smoothest results when you use a 1/32” or 1/64” depth setting to plane hardwood boards slowly with more passes. 

How Do You Use a Power Hand Planer on Wide Boards

using electric hand planer

An electric hand planer can save you some stress and time. So, it’s an excellent addition for any kind of project—especially smoothing out edges or framing lumber. Plus, this tool can handle handrail chamfering conveniently.

What’s more?

The power hand planer can handle door edges—if you have a lot of experience with the tool. The electric hand planer works like a stationary or handheld machine—it depends on your project. That said, it’s an excellent option for dealing with a wide board since the process is tricky.

electric hand planer wide board

Here are simple steps that will get you started with using an electric hand planer on wide boards: 

1. Flatten Big Slabs of Wood

Do this in several steps to give the best result. Place the monster board on a flat surface and make it steady with shims.

2. Shave off the high spots

First, mark all the high areas on the high board with a lumber crayon. After that, use the power hand planer to shave off the high areas you marked. While you’re at it, always cut along the wood grain. That way, your wood won’t have a tearout or damage. Also, remember to use a straightedge to check your progress.

3. Fine-tune the Flatness of the Wood

Get two winding sticks to help you get the perfect flatness for your board. When the two ends of the sticks are parallel or equal, use another stick to check the middle for high areas. If there’s any, mark them and shave them off with light cuts.

4. Flatten the Board Again

If the board is wider than your jointer, flatten it further by removing the guard.

5. Use a Manual Hand Plane

The uncut strip always looks different from the rest of the wood. So, you can use a hand-plane to even the uncut strip. A power hand planer will also work here.

6. Rip a Wide Board

Divide the board into several jointer-sized pieces. Afterward, ensure the board has a straight edge and cut along the grain so it will be less visible when you join them back.

7. Use Glue to join the board pieces

Once you’ve jointed and planed the wide board, use some glue to bring it back to one piece. You can plan the board after the glue dries to get the perfect thickness. Also, sanding can help blend the joint with the board and make it less visible.

5+ Tips on How to Get Better Results Using Electric Hand Planer on Wide Boards

It’s easy to follow procedures–unfortunately, this does not guarantee the best results. Here are some tips to help you get better woodworking results.

  1. Ensure that you’re comfortable while making a complete pass over the board. That is, your feet should be steady during this process.
  1. It’s crucial to use the same hand pressure throughout the whole process. As a result, it keeps your tool steady while in operation—especially when you’re working near the end of a piece.
  1. Avoid resting your tool’s blade on the wood. Instead, use the front soleplate or shoe when your tool is idle.
  1. Avoid overreaching. That is, you shouldn’t let your blade go through the other side of the board. If this happens, the blade may lose shape at the end of the board.
  1. The speed and depth of your cut are also vital for the final result of your woodwork. Besides, the result of your work is primarily affected by how fast you set the speed of your planer and how deep the planer moves. In other words, the right speed and depth settings will give you an excellent result.
  1. Do things gradually. That is, slowly move the board along with the tool. If you try to hasten things, you may have issues.

How to Use an Electric Hand Planer for Other Projects

using planer

An Electric Hand Planer is not for woodworking alone. Several projects also require the tool—while some projects are easier with the tool. Here are other projects that the electric hand planer handles with ease:

Table Tops Projects

electric planer table tops projects

When you start planing it’s almost impossible to have a clean workshop. Sadly, hand planers don’t make it easier. But, with an electric hand planer the mess is less and it removes surface-level stains, protective coatings, and paints. Plus, you can use the tool to smoothen out dents, cuts, or gouges.

While you’re at it, remove all loose debris and residues that can damage the blades or foot of the planer.

Also, confirm that there’s no hardware on the planer’s path before you start cleaning– remove all metal fasteners in the wood before cutting into the surface.

Also, pay close attention to the grain direction.

For Door Trimming Projects

electric hand planer door trimming

Is your door sticking? It may be as a result of poorly trimmed edges. The good news is: electric hand planers can handle this job with ease– saving you time and money.

When you notice that your door is hanging, find the source.

Next, remove the door and draw markings on the wood with your pencil—then, proceed to trim sections of the marked wood. You can easily focus on the sections that need work while avoiding the areas without issues.

Although it might be tempting, avoid using the power hand planer to trim installed doors. It is not safe to run the machine on this type of surface. Plus, it gets difficult to control when you use it vertically.

For Floor Projects

wood planer floor project

With Electric hand planers, you can level or resurface floors. Most woodworkers prefer using this tool for floors because of the size of the debris. That is, the debris isn’t as small as the dust generated from sanding.

Before you start, make sure there are no metal fasteners to avoid damage. Also, your blade could clog due to the protective coating on the floorboard. To prevent this, clean the residues from the edges to keep your blade running.

For Ceiling Joists Projects

electric hand planer ceiling joists

With this tool, you can trim and balance the joists in your ceiling.

The critical aspect of this project is proper footing. So, you need a ladder with a steady base.

Another thing to consider is the debris collection. That is, you should stick to a planer that sends debris away from you so you can focus on the job.

For Exterior Wood Surface Projects

planer wood surface project

The Exterior wood surface is another project that the electric planer handles effectively. With the tool, you can clean or modify outdoor furniture, fences, and decks exposed to different conditions.

Before reclaiming such woods, it’s essential to clean them first as the dust and debris on it can damage your planer.

Some woods may have fasteners that are hard to find. So, you can scan the surface with a metal detector before cutting into it to ensure your safety.

Also, ensure the wood is dry before using the electric hand planer. Green or wet woods can split in two and damage the planer. No doubt, the process is demanding. But, outdoor maintenance with a power hand planer is rewarding.

As a Jointer

Electric hand planers can serve as jointers if there’s no access to one. It applies to small businesses with limited space—that can’t afford a jointer.

To use an electric hand planer as a jointer, you’ll need an edge guide to position the planer correctly—or use your hands. As a result, it will produce an edge that intersects with the face of your board. Also, allow the planer run, so you don’t force it to move on one side of the edge.

To make the planing easy, clamp the boards horizontally to keep them in place.

Tips for Using a Power Hand Planer

Power Hand planers are effective tools that can be dangerous if poorly handled. Thankfully, there are some safety precautions in place to keep you safe. Here are some tips you need to know before using an electric hand planer.

  • When you run a planer through the surface of a board, it ejects shavings into the air. These shavings can cause serious eye injuries, so wear quality safety goggles to protect your eyes
  • Wear a dust mask to avoid inhaling dangerous chemicals from the board
  • Unplug the power before changing the blades to prevent electrocution
  • Make sure you screw blades tightly before switching on the tool
  • Ensure you’re in a comfortable position before working
  • Avoid operating the planer with one hand. Always use both hands
  • Don’t put down the planer with the blades still spinning

Final Words

Electric hand planers are versatile tools that can save you a lot of stress and time. The best part is, it gives your work a smooth finish.

But the tool can be dangerous if you don’t handle it with caution. So, it’s vital to follow the guidelines in this article to ensure safety while using the power hand planers.

Interestingly, this tool is affordable and readily available. Plus, you can trust the tool to always cut down the beastly wide board to any size you want. 

Photo of author

Barry Gray

Hi, I’m Barry. I’ve loved woodworking and bringing things back to life for more years than I care to remember. I hope my passion for tools comes across loud and clear in everything you read here on The Tool Square.

Leave a Comment