Can You Use a Planer to Remove Paint? (A Quick Guide)

Last Updated on August 28, 2022 by Barry Gray

When removing paint from any piece of wood, you will quickly find yourself pulling your hair out, trying to find something that is consistent. Many people grab their hand planer or their machine planer to try and get rid of as much paint as possible. 

You can use your planer to remove paint from wood, but it is not recommended to do this as the planer’s blade will be significantly damaged. Hand planers will need to be regularly sharpened, while machine planers will require that you strip them to remove any paint that may gum them up. 

There are several reasons that people recommend never using a planer to remove paint from anything, with many people making a mistake only once. I always recommend that you use everything else you can to remove paint before resorting to using your planer. 

can you use a planer to remove paint

Why Should You Not Use An Automatic Planer To Remove Paint?

A hand planer is usually fine to remove paint if you are willing to damage the tool and regularly replace the blade that you are using. However, it is not recommended to use a machine planer of any kind to remove the paint from surfaces to ensure the machine lasts. 

The paint will dull the blades of a planer much faster than normal, with the blades requiring to be replaced almost constantly. Further, if the paint you are removing is oil-based, it can go into the deeper parts of the machine cause a lot of problems. 

The oil-based paints will often start to melt once it starts touching the hotter parts of the machine, causing the paint to leak into moving parts. If the paint does get into moving parts, it will cause the machine’s moving parts to seize and cause the entire machine to become unusable effectively. 

Can You Use A Manual Planer To Remove Paint?

A hand planer can easily remove almost any layer of paint from your wood, as the blade will either scrape the paint off or cut into the wood. However, the planer will need to have the blade sharpened or replaced almost constantly. 

The paint easily eats into the blade as it may be much harder than the wood that would normally be planed. Many types of paints cause the blade to be junked up and have trouble easily cutting through more paint or for the planer to cut into the wood. 

While removing paint using a hand planer is possible, I always recommend using something else that won’t be too expensive to fix or replace. I would also warn that if you are using a hand planer to remove paint, you don’t show too many artisans as many see it as the worst thing you can do. 

Which Kinds Of Paint Can Be Removed With A Planer?

painted wood

Now that you know whether or not your planer will work through paint, we recommend that you stick to only three kinds of paint if you dos. These paints react the best when planed, instead of becoming a problem, the planer starts to scrape it off, or the blades start moving. 

Overall, three types of paint react controllably when you are using the planer on it. These paints react in a specific way that allows you to get a completely smooth finish once all of the paint has been removed, with the wood being almost entirely unblemished. 

Removing PVA Paint 

Because PVS is water-based paint, it is naturally absorbed into any wood painted on, making the paint the best paint to remove by planing. This is because when planning this type of paint off from the wood, you will be removing a small layer of the wood.

This means that overall, the paint will behave in the same way that normal wood will react when you are planing it. However, the paint will harden the wood and naturally cause the planer’s blade to become much duller when used, which makes removing PVA paint in this manner, not the most efficient. 

Heating Enamel Paint

Enamel paint is considered one of the easiest paints to remove from almost any surface; this is because the paint melts when heated properly. When the paint is heated up, you can usually scrape it off with a tool, with a planer easily allowing you to remove the paint once heated up.

However, as you are removing the heated paint, it will cause the paint to stick to the tool that you are using. Possibly staining the color of the planer permanently and causing irreparable damage to the planer that you cannot remove without replacing a significant part of the tool. 

Clogging Oil Paints

The only way to remove oil paints from a piece of wood is to remove a layer of the wood as the oil will usually be absorbed into the wood. When removing oil paint, it is always recommended that you remove the paint first and then plane the surface to remove any traces left. 

When using a planer to remove the oil paint directly, you will have the same problem as when removing heated enamel paint. The paint can react by chipping but can also be rather sticky, causing the planer to be filled with a lot of paint that can affect how well it is cutting. 

When Is It Necessary To Remove Paint With A Planer?

electric hand planer

Many paints will be absorbed by wood when they are painted instead of just creating a top layer of paint the same way that varnish may. This means that you can sand or scrape the paint off for the first few layers, but there will be a thin layer of paint that will need to be removed. 

The planer can help you reach the clean wood underneath the paint, usually protected and ready for anything else that you may need to do. Many people remove paint to fix a few problems that may have appeared with the current layers of paint on the wood. 

I always recommend that you sand down any piece of wood you are working with, and only once the paint has been mostly removed, you use a planer. This will ensure that the paint is not damaging your planer and that you can have a piece that looks almost brand new. 


Your planer can easily remove several layers of paint on almost any surface; however, it will damage the blade and the machine’s internal parts. Even when using a hand planer, you will be damaging the blade and require that you constantly be sharpened or replaced. 

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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.

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