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How Does A Bench Top Planer Work? - A Beginner's Guide

Brandon Carter
  May 30, 2023 8:07 PM

The top item on many woodworkers' wish lists is a benchtop planer, a box-shaped power tool that reduces board thickness while smoothing the surface. Due to their speed and ease of use, they have replaced traditional hand planes in fine-tuning wood used to make cabinets, bookshelves, and other items. Place a board in the intake hole, and the internal rollers of the benchtop planer will drag it through the device to quickly remove the surface.

Finding the best benchtop planer that can meet specific wood-planing needs is crucial because it can be expensive. Like our readers, we tested current popular models to see which ones operate well in workshop settings. We started preparing hundreds of boards using benchtop planers that were highly regarded. We shaved boards made of hardwood, softwood, and recycled wood. All the while, we kept track of each benchtop planer's strengths (and weaknesses).

Find out why the following models made this list of the finest planers for novice and experienced woodworkers by understanding the most crucial qualities to look for while shopping.

1. How Does A Bechtop Planer Work?

Your woodworking shop contains several large and expensive tools. However, one of your shop's most important and versatile tools is the benchtop planer. A benchtop planer is a small, lightweight, portable machine used to plane or smooth wood.

A bench top planer is a versatile tool that can be used for a variety of tasks, including:

  • Smoothing rough or uneven lumber

  • Shaping wood for molding or carving

  • Trimming door and window jambs

  • Flattening warped or cupped boards

If you're new to woodworking or have never used a bench-top planer, you may wonder how this tool works. This post will give you a quick overview of how a bench top planer works, as well as some tips for using this tool effectively.

Benchtop Planer

Benchtop Planer

Source: Pinterest

2. Benchtop Planer Characteristics To Look For

If you are in the market for a benchtop planer, there are a few key characteristics you'll want to look for. A good benchtop planer should be lightweight, easy to maneuver and have a powerful planing action. It should also have adjustable depth control and sturdy construction.

Self-Indexing Knives

Self-indexing, double-edged knives are present in almost all straight-knife cutter head variants. (Setting knives that don't self-index is difficult and time-consuming.) An automated cutter head lock is also beneficial since it stops the head from rotating as you take out the bolts and knives. Some portable planers are now available with (or as an option) segmented cutter heads, which are made up of 12-inch-thick segments equipped with a high-speed steel insert cutter and have four cutting edges apiece. The main benefit of this head is that if one or more cutters are damaged, you can easily replace them by rotating the afflicted inserts by a quarter-turn.

Gauges and Stops

A gauge that shows how much wood will be removed with each pass is found on many planers. These gauges aid in preventing overeating, which could lead to tear-out or deeper puncture. We particularly appreciate the adjustable preset depth stops, which come in handy when planing various project sections to the same thickness and prohibit planing a board any thinner than the desired thickness.

Finding the best Benchtop Planer for Your Work

Finding the best Benchtop Planer for Your Work

Source: Pinterest

Dust Collection

A planer produces a lot of chips, which might create a mess if a dust collection or vacuum isn't connected. Some have built-in fans that draw chips away from the cutter head and blow them out of the dust port for the best dust collection. This is helpful if your planer is distant from your dust collection and requires a boost. Most dust hoods attach to a 4" hose, a 2-12 " hose, or both; however, a few only offer hoods as extras.


We were surprised to find that power wasn't a crucial component. All the planers demonstrated enough power to handle even 1/8"-deep cuts in strong maple and wood that were 12" broad.

3. How to Setup Your Benchtop Planer for Use

Here are some crucial benchtop planer setup suggestions for effective application and use:

Setup the Benchtop Planer

Setup the Benchtop Planer

Source: Pinterest

Locate a Good Place

Finding a remote area, away from people, is excellent when planing wood. Because of the wood chips and sawdust the benchtop planer produces, it would be best if you got an enclosed workshop (that isn't too accessible to people). A smart place to start is in your garage or basement.

Setting Things Up

One of the necessary steps to follow if you want to learn how to use a benchtop planer is this one.

The steps to setup are as follows:

  • Plug the planer out.

  • Make the blade free of any material, such as wood chips or sawdust.

  • Remove the outfeed and infeed table adjustable bolts to fit the tables beneath the central table.

  • Please make sure the cutter head unit doesn't have a blade dangling from it.

  • Put the straight end firmly and precisely where it belongs.

  • Make any necessary modifications to keep the tables at the edge's bottom.

Try Out The Device

The machine must be turned on and tested after being set up with the planer. To start, you can use a pencil to make a few lines on a wooden board to see how it's coming along. Then run the board through the planer to test it out.

4. How to Use a Benchtop Planer The Right Way

Tips for Using a Benchtop Planer

Tips for Using a Benchtop Planer

Source: Pinterest

When feeding your board into your planer, prevent tearout

When you feed the wrong end of the board into your benchtop planer, tearout happens. When this occurs, the knives hook them and tear them out instead of cutting the ascending wood strands.

Check the grain's or fibers' orientation to avoid this, and you'll know which end to feed the machine.

How would you go about a plane with a large surface? Keep an eye out for the grain on the thin edge. Additionally, check for the broad face if you want to plane the edges.

You can feel the fiber in the board with your hands while feeding a rough stock. You'll detect some smoothness in one place and some roughness in another.

What do you do here, then?

Feed the benchtop planer with the smooth surfaces first.

The best course of action if you discover a tearout on both sides of the board is to feed a small amount of wood off with every pass of 1/32 inches.

Prevent Wood Snipe When Planing

Snipe is when a wooden board starts and ends up scratched when you feed and remove it from the planer.

Snipe often occurs when a wooden board moves up into the cutter head during planing. The wood ought to remain put and not rise. Therefore, it's essential to secure the board with numerous pressure rollers.

Because of this, the routers on most modern planers have a feature that locks the planer head in position after adjusting the depth. This process aids in snipe reduction.

However, lengthening the boards by an additional 5 inches while planing is the greatest approach to prevent snipes. When you trim the board to the proper size, you can then cut off the snipe. Another strategy is to give up a small portion of your board. After that, feed the following board into the machine with its end up against the end of the preceding board, and so on.

Repeat the procedure and insert a new sacrificial board. The planer keeps snipping the first and last boards because it will perceive them as a long pieces of wood.

Avoid Wood Gauging and Cutting

You can prevent the wood from gauging and cutting by not putting the rough side of the wood on the front of your planer. If you do, your planer will plow through your rough lumber along the grain, causing unnecessary gauging and cuts.

Therefore, it is desirable to have the rough side facing forward.

Clean the Rough Edges

You can stack many boards together to remove saw marks from the edges of torn boards. Additionally, using this technique will assist in keeping your board from toppling over.

Additionally, it enables you to create a stack of identically sized boards. So you can use this method to tidy up the edges of shredded shelf nosing or lumber.


A benchtop planer can be a great asset for any woodworker. However, a few things to keep in mind when using one. First, always make sure the blades are sharp and properly aligned. Second, use a push block when feeding the wood into the planer to avoid kickback. And finally, take your time and feed the wood through the planer slowly to avoid damage to the wood or the machine.

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