How important is a thickness planer?

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Forum topic by Pyro posted 01-24-2018 02:57 AM 1508 views 1 time favorited 36 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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90 posts in 1006 days

01-24-2018 02:57 AM

Hi guys,

I just framed out my workbench. Used KD 2×4’s. Couldn’t help but notice how much easier it would have been if all that 2x was perfectly flat and even, especially for a beginner like me. So I wonder if I should move the planer higher up on my list of tools to buy? What do you guys think it belongs in terms of importance? Thanks.

36 replies so far

View Loren's profile


10565 posts in 4493 days

#1 posted 01-24-2018 03:12 AM

Having a planer considerably simplifies and
saves labor in building furniture finer than
stuff like adirondack chairs and picnic tables.

View fuigb's profile


583 posts in 3802 days

#2 posted 01-24-2018 03:44 AM

You’re a beginner? Don’t bother with a planer or anyother signature tool until your (1) have an epiphany (“cripes, my life would soooo much easier if I had an X”) and (2) you money that won’t be missed for other things.

I went 19 years without a planer and made plenty of fine-looking and functional items for the home, basement, garage, and yard: loft beds, end tables, shelves, more shelves, etc. I was damned persistent when I needed to be and bought high-end lumber when my skills and meagre collection were not up to the task. I only bought my first powered planer when Sears put a Dewalt on sale after Thanksgiving. Two montha later i got a big bonus at work, treated myself to a Rigid jointer and only then stepped up my furniture-making game.

-- - Crud. Go tell your mother that I need a Band-aid.

View johnstoneb's profile


3154 posts in 3018 days

#3 posted 01-24-2018 03:46 AM

Only you can decide when a tool becomes necessary to your wood working.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View YesHaveSome's profile


176 posts in 1103 days

#4 posted 01-24-2018 03:55 AM

I couldn’t wait to get a planer when I started for a couple of reasons 1) I don’t have the patience for hand tools and 2) I didn’t want to buy s4s lumber because it was either pine or poplar or whatever you could get at your local home center or it was crazy expensive for species like walnut, maple, exotics, etc.

More than anything, I am lazy and impatient and if I have to spend too long on one step I’ll get bored.

So if you’re anything like me, I’d put a planer near the top of your list.

-- But where does the meat go?

View John_'s profile


251 posts in 2551 days

#5 posted 01-24-2018 03:59 AM

How easy/expensive is it for you to get hardwood lumber that is surfaced on all four sides (S4S)

It would have been a lot easier to build your workbench out of Poplar, Doug Fir or some other hardwood – but your going to pay more for it. Factor in the cost of the planer, probably a dedicated electrical circuit and some type of dust extractor to help keep the wood chips from getting embedded in your newly planed lumber

For me, the biggest advantage of having a planer was consistency. When you ran a bunch of lumber through all the pieces should be consistent in thickness

View AlaskaGuy's profile


5969 posts in 3154 days

#6 posted 01-24-2018 04:12 AM

Why would you not want one? Jointer and planer right after tables saw for me.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View robscastle's profile


7308 posts in 3049 days

#7 posted 01-24-2018 04:22 AM

How do you think I went from rough sawn timber to this

Here is the Blog

-- Regards Rob

View ppg677's profile


221 posts in 1701 days

#8 posted 01-24-2018 04:23 AM

Table saw, planer, router, and hand tools can go a long long way.

View ColonelTravis's profile


1976 posts in 2739 days

#9 posted 01-24-2018 04:25 AM

I do all my dimensioning by hand, except roughing out board thickness with a bandsaw every now and then. Do I need one? No. Do I want one? Maybe. Probably going to get one down the road. But because I know of no other way than with hand tools, and I don’t do this for a living, and I enjoy/respect the perseverance (lunacy) needed to do woodworking by hand, it doesn’t bother me enough yet to not have one. But I have to admit that, the more I do, I am bothered a little by not having one.

View Rich's profile


5851 posts in 1434 days

#10 posted 01-24-2018 04:34 AM

Why would you not want one? Jointer and planer right after tables saw for me.

- AlaskaGuy

+1. I use all three on every board I mill.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

View Andre's profile


3691 posts in 2651 days

#11 posted 01-24-2018 07:08 AM

Krenov said it best, I’d would rather spend my time working with the wood than preparing it to be worked with.
Or something along that thought train?

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View knotscott's profile


8385 posts in 4220 days

#12 posted 01-24-2018 10:32 AM

For getting flat straight square lumber, a planer and a jointer in tandem are the best tools for the job IMO. Planer first because it can be coaxed into flattening with the help of a planer sled, and there are work arounds for edge jointing on the TS or with a router instead of a jointer.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View pontic's profile


801 posts in 1453 days

#13 posted 01-24-2018 11:13 AM

Consider one of the combo machines if cost and space is a problem. I used a Makita 2030N for twenty years before I moved to a larger space.

-- Illigitimii non carburundum sum

View becikeja's profile


1129 posts in 3658 days

#14 posted 01-24-2018 12:54 PM

Not sure what you currently have in your shop. I went years without a planer. Ran into an opportunity to buy a truck load of Mahogany at $1 a board foot that was in rough shape. It was then time to buy a planer and turn the load into clean lumber.

-- Don't outsmart your common sense

View gargey's profile


1013 posts in 1620 days

#15 posted 01-24-2018 02:03 PM

When I got a planer, I was super happy that I got a planer.

I don’t have a table saw, bandsaw, jointer, drill press, etc. I don’t mind doing almost all things by hand.

BUT, if you wanna make something out of 0.5” boards and you buy 4/4 rough, it sure as hell makes life easier (vs miserable).

Buying S4S doesn’t solve everything – most places will only stock 3/4”

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