Woodworking Tool Tips: Thickness Planer

Once you have the basics in place in your wood shop and you are looking for the frills, the tools that would be nice to own, but are not necessary, you may want to take a look at a thickness planer.

Most people leave a thickness planer to one of the last tools they purchase, because unlike many of the other tools in the shop, a planer really only has one major function. And if you are going to spend money on quality tools, people will typically choose versatile tools first.

However, a thickness planer is a very welcome addition to most wood shops because once you have a thickness planer you can use this fancy little tool to take rough, old wood and plane it down into beautiful pieces of lumber that are useable to create beautiful projects.

The purpose of a planer is just what the name implies; it takes a rough piece of material and will plane it down into the exact thickness that you require for your project leaving you with a smooth, milled board.

This is an important tool for a number of reasons. The first reason is that even if you purchase all of your boards milled from the lumber shop, there are always discrepancies in the exact sizes. This is not a big deal unless you are working on furniture that needs to have precise sizes, which is pretty much all furniture projects. A thickness planer will take the wood you have purchased from the lumber yard and plane it down into perfectly uniform boards so that you do not have to worry about their being any size discrepancies in your project.

The other reason that many people purchase a planer is because it is far cheaper to purchase rough stock from the lumber yard than already milled wood. If you purchase rough stock, you can run it through the thickness planer and create perfect boards to use in your projects. Also, if you need a non-standard size for a project that you are working on, a thickness planer can easily create that size for you and save you the search through the lumber yard.

If you are looking for a planer for your home shop, a 12” model will suit the needs of most home shops quite well. Thickness planers are fairly transportable now, and they do not cost as much as they once did, making them an affordable choice for many home wood shops now.