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What is a Thickness Planer Used For?

What is a Thickness Planer Used For?

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A modern thickness planer is an indispensable tool for woodworkers when it comes to converting a rough and uneven plank into a precisely dimensioned and smoothly surfaced piece of lumber. A thickness planer is used to establish a uniform thickness across the entire length of the board, one side of which is already flattened on a jointer. It plays a crucial role in preparing the wood for furniture or cabinet projects by ensuring uniform thickness and a refined finish. With its advanced capabilities, a thickness planer excels at achieving precise dimensions, smooth surfaces, and consistent thickness throughout the entire length of the lumber, making it ideal for further cutting and assembling into various woodworking projects. In this blog, we will show you what the thickness planer is, what this tool is used for, and how it works.

What is a Thickness Planer?

thickness planer

A thickness planer, also known as a planer in North America or as a thicknesser in the UK and Australia, is a woodworking machine for planing boards, beams, or planks to a uniform thickness using the downside as a reference. It consists of a rotating cutterhead with sharp blades or knives which are used for removing material from the surface of the wood, while a flat bed or table provides support and ensures uniform thickness. The height of the adjustable table can be adjusted to control the final thickness of the board being planed.

The primary purpose of a thickness planer is to achieve smooth and even surfaces on boards or planks by shaving off thin layers of wood from an uneven surface, accurate thicknesses, and impeccable finishes. This process, known as planing, results in boards with consistent thickness and parallel surfaces, making them suitable for various woodworking applications, such as furniture making, cabinetry, flooring installation, and other woodworking tasks that require precise dimensions and smooth surfaces.

To use a thickness planer effectively, it is important to note a few considerations. The wood must be fed with the grain to avoid the chipping and splintering of the wood surface. It is also crucial to mention that a thickness planer does not straighten or remove natural twisting or warping from a board—thats the job of the jointer. If a board has twisting or warping, it will retain those imperfections after being planed.

Typically, the wood that goes through a thickness planer has already undergone preliminary planing through a jointer. Jointing the wood with a jointer creates a flat reference surface on one side of a board which is essential for creating square and straight edges, and then the planer is used to establish a consistent thickness relative to that surface.

How Does a Thickness Planer Work?

The operation of a thickness planer is relatively straightforward. The board to be planed is fed through the machine, where the cutterhead, positioned above, removes material from the upper surface, effectively reducing its thickness to the desired level. Subsequently, the planed board emerges from the opposite end of the machine, often onto an outfeed table or roller conveyor.

boards feed

During the planing process, the workpiece is manually presented to the machine, with one face resting against the feed bed. Two rollers, positioned at the front and rear of the machine, propel the stock at a consistent pace. Between the rollers lies the cutterhead, equipped with multiple knives that execute the planing action. Assisting the knives are two bars: the pressure bar, which maintains the stock flush against the feed bed; and the chip breaker, which minimizes grain tear-out.  

boars planed

Proper setup and adjustment of the thickness planer are crucial to optimize the planing process. The feed bed height must be adjusted to limit the depth of each pass, typically no more than 1/16 of an inch, to avoid tear-out or uneven surfaces. Most modern planers also feature a feed control wheel, which enables the operator to precisely regulate the speed for the particular stock being processed.  

While the planing process can be time-consuming, especially with quantities of rough-cut lumber, benchtop planers offer significant time savings compared to hand tools. Acquiring proficiency in using a benchtop planer not only helps to prevent costly mistakes but also saves time and money. Boards must be cleared of any extraneous objects, such as nails and staples, which could harm the machine.

Choose an Ideal Thickness Planer for Your Woodworking Projects

The thickness planer serves as an essential tool for woodworkers who need a significant volume of planed stock and choose to purchase it in a rough-cut form. This tool facilitates the efficient processing of rough lumber into smooth, uniformly dimensioned boards, catering to the needs of woodworking projects requiring precision and time-saving.

With a wide range of thickness planers available on the market, it can be daunting for first-time buyers. However, conducting a thorough review of the available choices can help you make an informed decision. While budget considerations are important, it’s equally crucial to ensure that the thickness planer possesses the features necessary for your intended tasks.

Findbuytool wood planers offer you board thickness with precise measurements. Our thickness planers offer options for both HSS blades and the helical cutter head, which cater to the varying requirements of our customers. There are two cost-effective thickness planers available to you: FindBuyTool FB131H and FindBuyTool FB131.

The FB131H 13" helical planer, equipped with 40 premium tungsten carbide insert knives and a 4-row helical cutterhead, delivers superior cutting performance. Findbuytool has been supplying the helical/spiral cutter heads to upgrade planers and jointers. With the FB131H 13" benchtop wood planer, you can benefit from a pre-installed helical cutter head, ensuring optimal performance and superior outcomes for your woodworking projects.

helical cutterhead in thickness planer

FindBuyTool FB131 13" bench planer features three high-speed steel (HSS) blades and is driven by a powerful 15-amp motor, achieving speeds of up to 10,000 RPM with a feed rate of 27.5 feet per minute. This portable thickness planer provides a flawless finish on a variety of materials, including hardwoods, weathered wood, and artificial wood. These precision-ground HSS blades facilitate fast, clean cuts and extended use.

findbuytool thickness planer