Wood planers are very common tools in the world of carpentry and woodworking. That said, you may not be familiar with them. So, what do wood planers do exactly? Does a planer make wood smooth?
What is a Planer?
A wood planer is a common wood working tool used to change the thickness of a piece of wood, usually always a board. A planer features, a basic benchtop or cabinet model, will feature an infeed and outfeed table for the wood to rest on. There are then sets of rollers which pull the wood through the planer.
The planer features cutting heads with knives which shave small amounts of wood off the top. These usually always come with some kind of dust removal or collection capability to keep the workspace as clean as can be.
What Does a Planer Do?
The job of a wood planer is to make boards flat and even. They are used to ensure that pieces of wood, one side specifically, feature a completely flat and even surface, so they are totally straight, even, and ready for use.
Planers are also known as “thicknessers” or thickness planers. The point of these is to make wood just a little thinner, or in other words, to shave off a small amount of wood from a board to achieve the required thickness.
Does a Planer Make Wood Smooth?
So, the question of the say is whether or not planers make wood smooth, and the answer here is both yes and no. First off, these tools are used to make wood thinner and even out or flatten wood. However, what you really need to know is that planers only work on one side of the wood, the top face, but not the bottom face. So, just be aware of that.
In terms of making wood smooth, yes, a wood planer will make wood smooth on the top face, at least to a certain extent. Depending on the type and speed of wood planer, they will go a fairly long way in making wood smooth.
However, although these tools will smoothen wood a bit, they are not like sanders. Sure, they will get rid of glaring imperfections, some splinters, and unevenness, but they cannot achieve a super smooth finish like a real sander can.
So, when you have planed a piece of wood, it will be smoother than it was before. There is no doubt about that, and no, there is no point in planing a piece of wood before sanding it, but you still probably want to sand it after planing it. If you are working on a fairly small piece, a plain old rotary sander or box sander should do just fine.
Planer vs. Jointer
Something very important to keep in mind is that you generally cannot use a wood planer before using a jointer, or in other words, you will usually always have to use a wood jointer before feeding a piece of wood through a planer. A jointer is another common woodworking tool which is used to make the face of a warped, twisted, or bowed piece of wood straight and flat.
This is important to do on one side of the wood before putting it through a planer. The reason for this is because if you put a piece of wood through a planer, one that is uneven on both sides, it just won’t work.
When an uneven piece of wood, uneven on both sides, goes through a planer, the depth differences from one spot to another will cause the top face of the wood, the face which the planer is working on, to come out unevenly.
If the bottom surface is uneven in any way, a planer will not be able to make the top face even. Therefore, before using a wood planer, you have to treat the bottom side with a jointer to achieve that flat base, which will then allow the wood planer to properly do its job.
So, when all is said and done, a wood planer will make wood smooth to a certain extent, but no, not as much as a sander. So, when looking to make wood flat and even, you will first need to use a jointer, then the planer, and to finish it all off, you will also want to use a sander.