Master the Art of Hand Planing Wood With These Tips and Tricks

by Anvika aryaJanuary 7, 2023
Flattening wood with a hand planer starting at one end of the board and moving towards the other. Be sure to keep the board against the fence at all times, or you will end up with a crooked board.

Imagine that you're a carpenter, and you've just finished constructing a beautiful piece of furniture. The next step is to make sure it's all nice and level, so you take out your hand planer and get to work.

With a few smooth strokes, the job is done. No problem, right? Well, not exactly. There's a bit more to using a hand planer than meets the eye. In fact, there's an art to it.

In this article, we'll teach you the basics of using a hand planer—including how to adjust the depth of cut, how to hold the tool, and how to get the right results. With a little practice, you'll be able to smoothly flatten any piece of wood with ease.

Table Of Contents

What Is a Hand Planer and How to Use It

A hand planer is a simple woodworking tool that is used to flatten wood boards. It is a handheld tool that has a blade on one end and a handle on the other. The blade is what cuts into the wood and the handle is what you hold onto while you glide the blade over the surface of the wood.

To use a hand planer, you first need to set it up on the piece of wood that you want to flatten. Make sure that the blade is lined up in the middle of the board and that the board is held securely against the fence. You then need to push down on the handle to cut into the wood. Be careful not to push too hard, or you will end up with a gouge in your board.

You should move the hand plane in a smooth motion, Flattening wood with a hand planer starting at one end of the board and moving towards the other. Be sure to keep the board against the fence at all times, or you will end up with a crooked board.

The Best Blades for a Hand Planer

There are a few things you should consider when choosing the best blades for your hand planer. First, you'll want to think about the type of wood you'll be working with. For example, softer woods like pine require a blade with more teeth, while harder woods like oak can handle a blade with fewer teeth.

You'll also want to consider the width of the blade. A narrower blade is good for tight spaces, while a wider blade is better for larger surfaces. Finally, consider the type of material the blade is made of. blades made from high-speed steel (HSS) are durable and can handle a wide variety of woods, while carbon steel blades are better for harder woods.

Setting Up the Tool for Planing Wood

Now that you have the tool, you need to set it up for planing wood.

First, make sure that the blade is sharp. You can test this by running your thumb against the edge of the blade. If it cuts into your skin, it's sharp enough. If not, you'll need to sharpen it.

Next, adjust the depth of cut. This is the distance between the blade and the wood. You'll want to set it so that the blade just barely touches the wood when you run it across.

Finally, adjust the fence. This is the part of the tool that guides the wood as you're planing it. You'll want to make sure that it's parallel with the blade and at a 90-degree angle to it.

Tips to Get the Perfect Finish

For the perfect finish with hand planes, there are a few tips that can make all the difference. First and foremost, always sharpen your blades before using them. It may seem obvious, but a dull blade won't be able to cut through the wood without leaving behind marks. And if there's one thing you want to avoid when trying to get a perfect finish, it's marks!

Second, use a light touch when pushing the plane against the wood. If you push too hard, you'll end up digging into the wood more than necessary, which will result in more shallow cuts that aren't evenly distributed across the surface. Finally, take your time and move slowly so that the cuts are even and consistent—speed can cause an uneven thickness in the wood and won't give you those perfectly flat results you're aiming for.

How to Properly Sharpen the Blades

Now that you understand some of the basics of how to use a hand planer, it's time to talk about how to keep the blades sharp. This is key, as dull blades will not be able to efficiently shave away the wood surface and can actually cause more harm than good.

Sharpening your blades doesn't have to be hard but you'll need a few tools, specifically a whetstone or straight edge honing guide. Don’t forget your safety gear too—goggles and thick gloves are essential.

The sharpening process itself is fairly straightforward. Place the blade on the stone and make sure it's completely flat against the surface before you start pushing back and forth with light pressure. Use long strokes when possible and make sure that each side gets an equal amount of attention. Once both sides have been sharpened, best sander for refinishing wood doors you can use the honing guide to help sharpen any nicks or imperfections in the blade surface.

Once both sides have been sharpened properly, it's time for a test—check for nicks along the blade’s edge and if there are any, go back in with your stone or honing guide until everything is smooth again.


In conclusion, if you take the time to learn how to use your hand planer correctly, you'll be able to get great results when flattening and leveling your wood boards. Just make sure you're patient and take your time with each pass, and you'll be able to achieve a smooth, even finish in no time!


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