If you like DIY woodworking projects, then it’s likely you have a planer in your inventory. The planer is crucial since you need to use one to get your wood to a particular uniform thickness. However, a planer can be a hand planer or a bench planer which is also called a table planer, and these have their own sets of advantages.
Hand Planer vs Bench Planer
What’s a Bench Planer?
These are huge machines, especially when you compare it to a hand planer. Some are too big and they might not be suitable for very small woodshops. These come with a motor, which gets the job done faster when you have lots of work pieces to deal with.
With a bench planer, you can size your boards to the proper thickness very easily and very accurately. All you need to do is to adjust the depth of the cut to size the board to the thickness you want. You then pass the boards through the infeed rollers, and they all come out at the other end with the thickness you specified.
After that, you don’t need to do a lot of sanding for the end products. In fact, with the best high end bench planers you can end up with wood surfaces that are virtually perfect.
They’re fairly expensive, but they can be a good investment if you plan to use it a lot. You can buy lots of unfinished lumber, and then you can use your bench planer to cut them all down to your desired specs.
You also save a lot of time, and that’s especially true when you’ve laminated or joined several pieces of wood to make a single surface.
It’s also a great investment if you’re considering starting a side business making your own furniture. It’s very efficient for making sure your boards are in the thickness you need, and you’re also able to create perfectly flat wood surfaces for laminating or joining. Besides, prices have been dropping a lot, and many affordable ones are terrific.
What are Hand Planers?
Hand planers are the planers that you use by hand. While some are large enough that you need 2 hands to use, others are small enough that you only need a single hand. Some hand planers work manually, so you don’t need to plug them into an electrical socket or power them with a battery. These manual planers are very popular, as they’re much more affordable than the electric versions. They’re mechanical marvels that are virtually able to work until the end of time.
With hand planers, it’s not really all about maintaining precise thicknesses for numerous boards. It’s hard to use hand planers and end up with boards with consistent results.
Instead, you use hand planers for maintaining the right thickness of your wood. Sometimes you might find that a wooden cabinet drawer sometimes sticks when you’re pushing it closed.
Or maybe a door sticks to the casing or the threshold when you close the door. This often happens with doors, because they can swell up when exposed to high levels of moisture.
When you see that kind of problem, you won’t have to take out the door and then lug it down for your bench planer to shave off a little bit of the wood. That’s just plain overkill, and it takes too much time and effort. Instead, you can take out the hand planer and shave off a bit of the door right there and then. It’s quick and easy.
That’s the main advantage of the hand planer. You don’t need to bring the wood to the bench planer to make your custom changes. Instead, you can bring your hand planer to the wood wherever it may be installed.
It’s an accepted fact that if you have a wood shop, having a hand planer is essential. Even with a bench planer, you may want to add a final touch with the hand planer to finish up on the wood.
Hand planers are also very versatile. You can use them for chamfering. These also work great for making radius cuts and rabbet joints.
So Which One to Get?
That most sensible answer to this question is to get both. However, you probably will want to start with the hand planer first. They’re more affordable and more versatile, and you can find lots of different uses even for a solitary hand planer. You can also get different kinds for specialized tasks.
In fact, you can prepare a board with a hand planer too, even though a bench planer is clearly better suited for this task. It’s just that with a hand planer, you go about things more slowly. You’re also less likely to get perfectly consistent results when it comes to thickness.
So buy a few hand planers and if you’re serious about woodworking you can save up for a bench planer.
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