How to Use a Power Hand Planer on Wide Boards

How to Use a Power Hand Planer on Wide Boards

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Before you start working on any wooden project, it is very important that your boards are completely flat. How flat your boards are is going to affect the overall results of your project.

There are a lot of tools out there for flattening boards, however, when it comes to wide boards, a power hand planer is going to be one of your best bets. Today we are going to go over exactly how to use a power hand planer on wide boards.

Is the Power Hand Planer the Best Tool for Planing Wide Boards?

Generally speaking, yes, a power hand planer is actually the best way to go for planing very wide boards. One of the reasons for this is because this specific tool does not really have any size restrictions in terms of material length or width. This tool is a relatively small handheld device with a set of planning blades that you run over top of the material. This is unlike a stationary planer that has a frame.

With a stationary planer, the frame on the left- and right-hand side of the machine dictates how wide the wood can be. This is also true in terms of the blades, especially due to their design. With a stationary planer, it can only handle boards that are under a certain width.

However, with a power hand planer, the width and length of the material are not issues at all. Keep in mind, however, that you do have to ensure that you use a power hand planer properly in order to create a flat board from one side to the other. This can be rather daunting, but this is what we are going to teach you today.

On a side note, if you don’t have a power hand planer, another tool that you may use to plane very wide boards is a belt sander. The functionality is a bit different, but in a worst-case scenario, it may still work.

Power Hand Planer

How to Use a Power Hand Planer on Wide Boards

Right now, we want to go through a step by step tutorial on how to use a hand planer on wide boards. It might sound a bit complicated, but it’s actually relatively simple once you know what to do.

Step 1: Gather Your Materials

You are going to need a few different materials to complete this task. First and foremost, you are of course going to need that electric hand planer. You are also going to need some kind of marker or pen that is able to make markings on wood, as well as safety goggles, and some sandpaper or a belt sander.

On a side note, some people may choose to rip an extremely wide board into thinner pieces to make it more manageable when using a power hand planer. If you plan on doing this, you are going to need a saw capable of ripping wood, such as a table saw or circular saw, as well as wood glue to reattach the separate pieces once they have been ripped and planed.

However, personally, we really don’t recommend doing this, as it’s just going to make more work for you. Yes, it is a good thing to do if you are a pro, especially at ripping wood and then gluing together individual pieces, because it can make the planing process a bit easier, but it does require some skill and extra work.

Step 2: Set Up Your Board

You now need to set up your board properly, preferably on a very large and flat table. Remember that you want the surface that the board is resting on to be larger than the board itself.

This is to allow for the highest degree of stability when planing your board. This is especially important if the board is cupped. Also, remember that if there is a cup in the board, you want the bend to be facing upwards.

In terms of safety, before you start planing, always remember to put on your safety goggles.

Step 3: Identify and Mark the High Spots

Before you can start planing the board, you are going to need to identify the high spots. Using your best judgment, you are now going to identify all of the high spots on the board, and use some kind of pen, pencil, or wood crayon to mark all of the sections that need to be planed away.

If the board is far too wide for you to do this all at once, you can always divide the board into several sections in terms of length. This will allow you to focus on specific sections so you don’t get confused in terms of what you have already worked on and what you haven’t.

As mentioned above, some people may even choose to rip the board into narrower pieces, to make the planing process easier, although remember that you will then also need to reattach the boards together using glue.

Personally, we recommend just planing the whole thing at once without ripping it into narrower pieces. In the grand scheme of things, it’s less work. Once you have identified and marked the high spots, you can move on to the next step.

Step 4: Plane the Wood

Following the markings that you made in the previous step, you are now going to use your power hand planer to plane the board so that it ends up being flat and even on one side. Remember that you do want to work in stages here, so you don’t end up putting too much tension on the board, or else it may change its shape.

Simply start at one end of the board and remove all of the high spots as needed. If you divided your board into several sections, focus on one section at a time, and then ensure that each section is completely flush with the rest.

Step 5: Let the Board Settle

Once you have planed the board for the first time, you will then want to let it settle for a day or two. This allows the board to release any built-up tension and go back to its natural shape. This will therefore allow you to see if there is any further planing required due to any existing high spots.

Step 6: Repeat Steps Three, Four, and Five if Necessary

If you do see that there are some high spots left on the board, repeat steps three, four, and five. You need to mark all of the high spots and then plane them away. Once the board is completely flat, you can move on to the final step.

Step 7: Sand the Board

An electric hand planer is not always going to leave the smoothest result, so you will definitely want to sand the board once planing has been completed. If your board is very wide, using a belt sander is going to be ideal, as you can cover large areas at once.

Mistakes to Avoid, Tips and Tricks

Let’s go over some quick tricks and tips on how to achieve the best results when using a hand planer to plane wide boards:

  • If working on the whole board at once is too intimidating for you, we do recommend dividing it into various sections that you can focus on individually.
  • Always wear safety glasses when using an electric hand planer, as you need to protect your eyes.
  • Never put the planer down and release your grip on it if it is still moving.
  • To ensure optimal safety, always hold the planer with both hands.
  • The best result is always going to happen when you can make one straight pass from one end of the board to another.
  • For the best results, you always want to apply the same amount of pressure on all parts of the wood.


You should now know exactly how to use a power hand planer to plane a wide board. As you can see, it’s really not all that difficult, and can help you get some great results.