How to Use a Surface Planer | Woodworking

How to Use a Surface Planer | Woodworking

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Learn how to use a surface planer in this Howcast woodworking video featuring Makeville Studio.

Surface planer is one of several tools that you’ll need in a shop if you’re going to mill and square up rough lumber, but it also has a separate function which is just to reduce the thickness of boards so you can use it as a thickness planer and also as a surfacer.

If you use it as a thickness planer it is pretty simple to operate. The basic way this is setup is there is a set of blades in the middle of this housing and there is a couple rollers and so you pass the board in and it gets grabbed by the roller, goes under the blades, comes out on the other roller and the blades are skimming off material as its passing through. It can skim off up to an 16th or even an 8th of an inch, that’s pretty aggressive at one pass. Normally what you’re doing is passing a board through multiple times to skim off the little bits of material until you get down to the thickness that you want. The way it works is there is a crank on the side which raises and lowers this entire housing, that’s essentially changing where the blade height is. You need to setup that up first when you’re working with a board. You have to know how thick a board you have. You can measure it and set the height on this gauge here or you can measure it by feel which is what I do. I actually put it in the machine and start lowering it and I’ll feel when it starts to hit the rollers and other mechanisms underneath the housing.

When I hit the roller I will back off a little bit and then I know that I’m probably at the surface of the wood at this point. From there I will go a half turn and I know I will be taking off probably about a 16th of an inch. Now, there’s a couple of options for setting controls on here. You can go between two types of finishes. One is called finishing cut and one is called dimensioning. Essentially, switching between these two positions usually speeds up or slows down the rollers so either you’re getting more cuts per inch or fewer cuts per inch depending on the setting. More cuts per inch make a finer finish so you can use that for a finish cut.

Another control that is pretty useful on this machine is a depth stop. You can use this to set a depth you don’t want to go beyond. Lets say I have this board, its one and a quarter inches, I only want to go down to an inch. It is very easy to go past an inch sometimes if you’re not being careful with this wheel, what this does is it prevents this wheel from turning once it gets down to one inch, you can’t even turn the wheel anymore. That’s useful, if you’re not using that just put it down to some low dimension that you’ll never get to and you’ll never be stopped.

Now one thing that is really important on surface planers is dust collection. These machines make a huge amount of dust and this machine particularly ejects that dust at a high velocity. So that machine next to us, the dust collector, has to be on when this is on otherwise you get a big mess of dust in the shop. That’s it for the setup of this machine. I’m going to run this board through to see how it works. One thing you’ll want to do when you’re running a board through the planer is draw some lines on it just so you can your progress. Sometimes the top surface of the board may have some hills or valleys maybe cupped. One of the things you need to be aware of with this machine is that it only works if you have one flat face already. What happens is it references off the bottom face which is on this bed down here and it takes whatever it reads down there and does it to the top face. So if you have a bow or twist in your board as this is passing through the planer it is going to get pushed down by the roller and it’s just going to accentuate the shape of whatever board you have. It’s not a magic box. It just doesn’t make a flat piece of wood out of a twisted one. You need to actually have one flat faced before bringing your wood over here. Once you do then you’re ready to go.

This machine is extremely loud and you will want to wear ear protection when using it. Okay, that’s our finished product and I wanted to run this through to show you one other thing about the planer which is something that happens a lot. It’s called snipe. I don’t know if you can see this but there is a slight difference in height where the planer blades have chunked out a little bit extra on these last couple of inches of the wood. What happens is when passing the wood through there, the roller grabs it and actually pulls it up into the blade. So at the beginning and at the end of the cuts, the roller does that, it pulls it up into the blade. Y


  1. TOP-5 BEST. on January 21, 2022 at 9:15 pm

    Very bad video management

  2. jim strange on January 21, 2022 at 9:19 pm

    Finally! A great tutorial! Thank you!

  3. magnumtrooper17 on January 21, 2022 at 9:22 pm

    This was a great video, I wonder if the dislikes were just sexists…? The only fault to the video I can find (as someone who has never used a thickness planer) was how the presenter seemed out of breath at times, but that seems more like a normal level of nervousness.

  4. Smolex on January 21, 2022 at 9:26 pm

    So if this machine can make only 1 side flat and she needs another side to be flat before I even use this machine how the hell I’m going to make that first side flat??

  5. George VanderLaan on January 21, 2022 at 9:28 pm

    Wow, I can’t tell you how thankful I am for this video. I’m so grateful you took time away from your godlike perfection to educate us mouth breathers that this isn’t a magic box. It’s a really good thing you said that, because I was fully under the impression that this box literally ran on magic and would basically do all of my woodworking for me. Imagine my surprise when I couldn’t find where the magic tank was on this machine!!! I figured I’d be able to pour the magic directly into it, or at least mix up some sort of magic dust and smear the magic all over that machine to make it do the cuts. I so appreciate the education and your dedication to helping out the simple folk. Now, one last thing: Does this jigsaw I have automatically saw jigs for me, or do I need to buy the accessory kit for that???

  6. moussa diallo on January 21, 2022 at 9:28 pm

    Hello dear i need i link

  7. Jack Healy on January 21, 2022 at 9:28 pm

    Outstanding presentation! I have this planer and you explained some things I did not understand. Thank you!

  8. Rebecca G on January 21, 2022 at 9:29 pm

    Wish she spoke louder

  9. harry clod on January 21, 2022 at 9:29 pm

    I purchased some excellent plans from the Woodglut website.

  10. Starstone Silvermoon on January 21, 2022 at 9:29 pm

    I see that the in feed table is not level with the planer. That is why you are having to lift and getting snipe

  11. Riley Briggs on January 21, 2022 at 9:29 pm

    How do you get one side flat first

  12. Charlie Hilbrant on January 21, 2022 at 9:30 pm

    Anyone else here wanna be friends with Robin?

  13. Romaine Athey on January 21, 2022 at 9:32 pm

    Just go to Stodoys if you want to know how to do it yourself.

  14. N2 Guthrie on January 21, 2022 at 9:32 pm

    Excellent how to. Very well done

  15. SalmoTheFirst on January 21, 2022 at 9:32 pm

    not sure but someone said be careful how you insert the wood as it might come flying out the other side fast enough to hurt you. read it on some fb woodworking group but never found it again to understand it

  16. Rose Ringer on January 21, 2022 at 9:38 pm

    Every time a man steps into my shop, he admires my power tools and asks, “Whose are these?” I always sigh and say, “they’re mine.”

    What a joy to find such an informative and interesting video on a planer (my next acquisition) done by a capable and competent woman.

    Mega bonus points that she’s not a size 2 model that just got handed a script and has no clue what she’s talking about.

  17. Sarah Walker on January 21, 2022 at 9:38 pm

    Who is this instructor? I’d love to see more woodworking videos from her.

  18. Arroyo Five on January 21, 2022 at 9:39 pm


  19. Wigg1y Scott on January 21, 2022 at 9:41 pm

    I found the answer I was looking for. Is it a magic box? No, no it isn’t. 😞 So is there a machine that will make a flat piece of wood from a piece that’s wonky both sides? ie Pallet wood?

  20. Chris Pennington on January 21, 2022 at 9:43 pm

    Thank you so much for not asking me to "smash the like button". Great vid. Right to the point with some good tips. p.s. I did hit the thumbs up 🙂

  21. Richard Jefferson on January 21, 2022 at 9:43 pm


  22. Urban Stuff on January 21, 2022 at 9:45 pm

    Complete and right to the point; great, thank you!

  23. Brad C on January 21, 2022 at 9:49 pm

    The host was really great! So easy to listen to!

  24. Ahmed Siddiqui on January 21, 2022 at 9:49 pm

    Loved the last tip to lift it up to avoid the snaps.
    Thank you Ma’am!

  25. Frank Sulka on January 21, 2022 at 9:50 pm

    Great video.

  26. Lobselvith_Black on January 21, 2022 at 9:51 pm

    I need one of these Planers! it would make building furniture so much easier!

  27. kdogtv on January 21, 2022 at 9:52 pm

    At first I thought she was going to make a sandwich.

  28. 0000 0000 on January 21, 2022 at 9:53 pm

    Good instruction video but you mist the most important info of all. Reading the grain and making sure those blades are not going against the grain but with the grain. Blades do not stay sharp long going against the grain. Just a thought.

  29. Daniel Dawson on January 21, 2022 at 9:57 pm


  30. Marc Arr on January 21, 2022 at 9:57 pm

    mine wont feed on setting #2 – have you ran in to that? i just bought it the other day

  31. William Jones on January 21, 2022 at 9:57 pm

    So how do you make a flat face then to not further bow the wood?

  32. Don Southern on January 21, 2022 at 9:57 pm

    Just bought this exact planer…..and having viewed 10 plus videos, this is the BEST explanation yet….concise and to the point. Well done! Any advice on a dust collection system?

  33. Jo Johnsen on January 21, 2022 at 9:57 pm

    One question though: The whole point is getting a smooth and straigth piece of wood, right? But you’re saying you can’t do this without having one side already smooth and straight… so how do you make the first side straigth? Do you need another machine for that?

  34. Duca Schoenberg on January 21, 2022 at 10:02 pm

    Woodglut is full of amazing tips. It helped me a lot.

  35. Thomas Ralfenson on January 21, 2022 at 10:02 pm

    It’s that simple, just go to the Woodglut website and enter the world of woodworkers.

  36. Mark Howie on January 21, 2022 at 10:04 pm

    Just saw this 8 yrs. after it was posted. Great video, clear and concise. Thank you for a great "how-to".

  37. saboor saboor on January 21, 2022 at 10:04 pm

    no music while talking please, music so annoying.

  38. John on January 21, 2022 at 10:04 pm

    I saw on the machine the label that said "11 inches minimum length". This seems to be a huge drawback to me. Is there a way to work around this?

  39. Kurt C on January 21, 2022 at 10:04 pm

    Great video! Just the info I needed without all the fluff.

  40. Marym rr on January 21, 2022 at 10:06 pm

    فى من الخانه دى فى مصر

  41. Louiesa Malicdem on January 21, 2022 at 10:09 pm

    am here on youtube just trying to watch videos about planers and these are all so helpful!

    glad i was able to rent one from, the owner said he’ll teach us but thought we learn on our own too for safety

    watching this video has me excited for our home project!!

  42. SamSamSam on January 21, 2022 at 10:09 pm

    Great video. To the point. Simple.

  43. Puryear Eaker on January 21, 2022 at 10:09 pm

    Find out how to do it yourself with all the details. Just look for Woodprix 🙂

  44. theyear2525 on January 21, 2022 at 10:10 pm

    Excellent excellent video.

  45. Danushka Prabath on January 21, 2022 at 10:11 pm

    How much in this

  46. I Borrowm on January 21, 2022 at 10:12 pm

    Super helpful, well explained.

  47. Shane J. Stever on January 21, 2022 at 10:12 pm

    REALLY good video. Clearly you have a ton of experience, and also do a great job at speaking plainly and to the point.

  48. Jesse Meyer on January 21, 2022 at 10:13 pm

    Such a thorough explanation.. thank you so much. Very useful and easy to follow. New sub!!!!

  49. taskbar enhancer on January 21, 2022 at 10:13 pm

    good video. except she didn’t say the price of the machine

  50. First Last on January 21, 2022 at 10:14 pm

    Awesome video, definitely convinced me not to buy one of these hahaha I was actually hoping for a magic box, this sounds like it has a lot of ways for me to make things worse