Best Hand Planer For Smoothing Rough Boards
Any serious woodworker knows they’re as good as their tools. When it comes to being the best craftsman, you have to use a hand planer.
Why Use Hand Planers?
Hand planers, not including the power planer or electric planer in this article, allow you to shave off the excess thickness of woodwork with precision. Say you have a door that’s sticking because it’s been painted too thickly or it has swollen due to damp conditions. You can’t run that door through an electric, stationary Planer so you’ll need something manual and maneuverable. That’s one great way a hand Planer comes in handy.
Another useful purpose for the hand Planer is smoothing down a rough surface. This is where the length of the Planer is important. Shorter planers move along the bumps and rough spots of wood much more closely than a longer piece. Longer planers let you move over those bumps much quicker and shave down boards faster.
There are dozens of handheld planers out there that can’t be described in one article. For a quick run-down on the different types of planers and how to use them, check out this short YouTube video from This Old House.
Hand wood planers change the texture of wood in ways other tools can’t. If you want to do really high quality craftsmanship and have the time and patient to dedicate to a unique piece then a hand planer is an important tool. But how do you know which planer is the best for you?
How to Choose a Planer
Well, first take stock of what your needs and abilities are. Planers can be heavy depending on the width and length of the planer, in addition to the material the Planer is made out of. Iron tends to be the most standard and lightest option but bronze planers are available too at a heavier weight.
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Once you’ve done that, understand Planer sizing. Planers go from the tiny size 1 to behemoth size 8. Each additional size increases width, length and, the weight of your Planer.
The length and width of the Planer will obviously be able to shave off more wood more quickly. If you’re hoping to cover much more surface area faster, as well as muscle through a heavier weight, then the larger Planer is for you. If you don’t really care for faster speed or heavier weight, then a smaller Planer, say around a size 4 (from the 1–8 scale) is right for you.
Again, your needs will be different depending on what your projects are, but you don’t need all the planers you see. One or two handheld planers will be able to do the trick. Watch this video to see what planers will be the most beneficial for you.
What Hand Planers Are Out There?
As with power tools, there are many different styles of hand planes, which offer a different depth or width of cut.
The Bench (aka Jack) planer ,also known as the benchtop planer (read more on what is the best benchtop planer) ,is a large, typically two-handed tool used to shave down large portions of wood, smooth the grain, or cut edges.
Joinery planers. There are two types of joinery planers, router planers and shoulder planers:
Router planers. Good for clearing out the small sections needed for door hinges.
Shoulder planers. Because of their small blades and size, they can shave down wood to a seemingly infinite degree. Good for—as the name suggests—trimming shoulders of wood.
Block planers.They fit in your hand and work much like a sanding block (which is probably where the “block planer” name comes from). Good for slicing down end grain and keeping pressure on one area of your wood.
Specialty planers. They’re just what they sound like so there’s no need to go out buying them as a beginner. Most specialty tools are only good for one purpose such as a cabinet scraper. You’ll gravitate toward these naturally as your woodworking skills advance and you need finer tools for a variety of tasks.
Which Hand Planers Are the Best?
We’ve picked out a variety of the best bench to block planers.
1. Stanley 12-136 No. 4 Smoothing Bench Plane
Number 4 planes appear to be the most versatile planes so it’s good to have one in your toolbox. With a trusted brand like Stanley, you know you’ll be in good hands.
The base and frog cast are built for accuracy so you can be sure to have the ultimate control over where the blade goes. Each Planer has a patented lateral adjustment locking feature. Set the blade as high or low as you want it and know it’s going to slip while you work.
Have a comfortable grip with the cherry wood handle and knob, holding the iron casting’s hefty weight and durability. It’s a well-constructed product for high-quality work—a great tool for excellent craftsman.
- Iron of the hand planer for woodworking is made from extra-thick 1/8-inch (3.18 mm) A2 steel for excellent edge retention
- One-piece base and frog of the wood plane virtually eliminate chatter
- The bench plane has a cherry wood handle and knob for comfort
- Norris-type adjuster with lateral locking feature
- Adjustable throat plate for different types of wood
2. Stanley 12-139 Bailey No.60-1/2 Low Angle Block Plane
Just like the be bench Planer, this block angle is sure to get any job done efficiently and quickly. The heavy body takes off some of the pressure you’ll have to provide yourself and the machine is made for high precision. A block plane is a cheap tool that can fit in your tool belt—always handy for a quick smoothing.
- Base and frog cast as one for accuracy
- Precision machined base for accuracy
- Heavier body for increased performance
- Iron casting for weight and durability. Replacement Blade 12-143
- Mouth adjustment for different types of wood
3. Bench Plane No. 5 – Iron Jack Plane – Fully Adjustable Wood Hand Planer, 14Inches Long with 2-Inch Cutter, Includes 2 blades
A bigger Planer for bigger projects. This one from Caliastro even comes with its own replacement blade, so you can be using this tool for years to come.
The Planer is a bit long at 14 inches long and 2 inches wide. The high carbon steel blade is so sharp that the manufacturer warns that you don’t use your finger to test it—use some paper instead.
The smooth bottom will let you guide the blade long knotted and unsmooth surfaces, giving you a natural gloss finish on any wood project. You can’t go wrong with a Caliastro hand Planer.
- No. 5 bench plane (aka jack plane) with two blades (one pre-mounted and one spare included)
- 14-inch long, 2-inch wide Iron body with smooth bottom
- 2-inch High Carbon Steel blade manufactured from selected steel - fully hardened and tempered to take and hold a razor sharp edge even on hardest woods - Do not test the sharpness of the pre-mounted blade with your finger, use a piece of paper instead
- Solid brass blade attachment nut offers a longer life over the clamp on some competitor models
- Solid wood handle and knob with high gloss finish showcases attractive and functional design as well as a traditional solid brass cutter-adjustment knob
4. Taytools 469225 3-in-1 Shoulder Plane, Bullnose and Chisel Plane, Ductile Cast Iron, Precision Machined, 1" Wide Blade
Cut shoulders in wood nicely and evenly with a Taytools shoulder plane. It’s made from ductile cast iron with highly precise ground sides and soles. It even comes with a little replacement blade when yours gets too dull to function. It’s another tool that handy to have and will hardly take up space in your toolbox.
- This shoulder plane combines the features of a traditional shoulder plane, chisel plane and bull-nose plane
- Body made from ductile cast iron with precision ground sides and sole
- 0.110" thick tool steel blade, hardened and tempered to 55-60 RHC. Blade has a lapped bevel and back.
- Sole precision ground to within British Standard of 0.002” over the entire length
- Overall length 7-1/2”, 1” wide iron, weight 2 pounds
5. Cowryman Router Plane Handheld Woodworking Tool
For those who want to build their own perfect doors, you’ll have to make space in the wood for the hinges somehow. This is where the router Planer comes in. This high-quality product from Cowryman is sure to get the job done. The stainless-steel body is only 4 inches long and almost 3 inches wide, with an adjustable blade with a screw. Easily get the job done with the comfortable wooden handles. While it’s not as easy as a power tool, the Cowryman router Planer will give you a sense of accomplishment no other tool can do.
As you can see, a lot goes into choosing the right hand Planer for your needs. However, we’ve picked out some of the best advice and tools on the market. Get yours today!