Benchtop thickness planer vs handheld electric planer

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Forum topic by Horus posted 06-20-2019 03:11 AM 671 views 1 time favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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60 posts in 551 days

06-20-2019 03:11 AM

Im looking for thoughts on using a handheld planer vs a thickness planer.

I mainly want to flatten small pieces for boxes and such. I know it’s giving up a lot of precision for lower cost and storage space.

I currently don’t have either, so looking to get some input for a weekend warrior.


10 replies so far

View fly2low's profile


88 posts in 980 days

#1 posted 06-20-2019 03:36 AM

If I were considering work on small pieces, cost, and storage, I would get a couple of different hand planes. A combination of a #6 and either a #3 or #4, or a #5 by itself would work. I would not be looking at hand held powered planers

-- Rich Gig Harbor, WA

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60 posts in 551 days

#2 posted 06-20-2019 04:02 AM

I’ve considered that but I seem to be completely inept with hand planes. Constant chipout and gouging. Yes I’m doing it wrong… I thought it might be an option to avoid wasting more wood. Maybe I’ll have to visit YouTube for tutorials.


View fly2low's profile


88 posts in 980 days

#3 posted 06-20-2019 04:06 AM

Not sure where you are located, but in my location there are several options for evening or weekend classes for using planes. It is a skill worth having

-- Rich Gig Harbor, WA

View CWWoodworking's profile


1092 posts in 1062 days

#4 posted 06-20-2019 04:06 AM

Get a lunch box type planer. It will work fine.

View Andre's profile


3744 posts in 2689 days

#5 posted 06-20-2019 05:43 AM

Not sure where you are located, but in my location there are several options for evening or weekend classes for using planes. It is a skill worth having

- fly2low

Think what you are looking for is a table top jointer, to flatten surface, same as a hand plane will, but you still need to be able to read wood grain to pervent tear out and chips. Normally you flatten one side then run it through the thickness planner. Decent table top jointers are 3 to 5 hundred depending on straight blades or carbide inserts.
Even with hand planes you will still need the ability to sharpen the blades which will be another cost dependant on what level you wish to obtain!

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View Kirk650's profile


680 posts in 1631 days

#6 posted 06-20-2019 01:08 PM

I have, and use, a handheld planer for certain wood removal tasks, but it isn’t good for anything other than crude wood removal. Even a HF planer would be a better option, and even better if used with a jointer.

View EdDantes's profile


74 posts in 794 days

#7 posted 06-20-2019 01:13 PM

Consider that it s not safe to use a thickness planer with stock shorter than about 12”. There are ways to get around that, but it requires extra work. In this setting, a drum sander would be the more appropriate tool…but also a fairly substantial investment for a hobbyist.

Another option is to build a jointer/planer jig (video) for your router. Easy to do and can be scaled to any size piece. Also doesn t require purchase of an extra tool…though buying an wide cutter with inserts would be a good move if you will use it frequently.

View JayT's profile


6413 posts in 3094 days

#8 posted 06-20-2019 01:40 PM

If you have a drill press and are working with small pieces, you might look at the StewMac Safe-T-Planer

A benchtop planer would be the best choice, IMHO, for a lot of stock thicknessing or learn to use hand planes, but for limited space and for pieces shorter than are safe to run through a powered planer, this might be an option. I have one that I use on a small milling machine to precisely square off pieces of wood too small to run through my lunchbox planer and it works well. You do have to take some serious safety precautions, however, especially if using in a drill press.

-- - In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.

View farmfromkansas's profile


220 posts in 497 days

#9 posted 06-21-2019 01:16 AM

A hand held planer is a tool for the construction trade. I have used one to even up floor joists before laying plywood, and cutting off the high rafter on a board with a double crown. Something where you can help by removing 1/4” in a short area.

View pottz's profile


11711 posts in 1867 days

#10 posted 06-21-2019 05:33 PM

as stated a hand held planer is not what you want for small pieces,and could be invest in a decent lunch box planer,you’ll be glad you did.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

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