Hand Planer VS Thickness Planer: Which is Best for Your Needs

Published on: January 6, 2022
Written by David Rowan / Fact-checked by David Rowan

There are a variety of planers, including hand planer and thickness planer available in the market. Woodworkers often encounter a situation when they need to make a decision before purchasing the woodworking tool for their project from the huge list.  In fact, before deciding, they need to look at every aspect of the tools, their comparative advantages, limitations, and budget so that it becomes easier for them to pick the right tool to go with.   

hand planer vs thickness planer

I have designed this article to focus on Hand planer vs. Thickness planer, which is best for your needs to get familiar with the basic aspects of both planers, their comparative advantages, and worth before picking the right one for your project. 

Overview of Hand Planer

Hand planer is a hand-held manual tool. Operators run this tool using their both hands and physical strength. It’s a traditional handy tool. A hand-held planer is ideal for minor projects, not a heavy-duty or large-scale project. The hand planer could be power-driven or manual.  However, many woodworkers still prefer manual one rather than power-driven. 


It’s designed with a knob, a handle, and three rotating blades on its base. The hand planer comes with both corded and cordless. 

The tool comes with a removable edge guide to serve as a fence for smoothing. 


The function of the knob placed on the top of the planer rotates the front plate of the planer vertically to regulate the depth of the cut. 


Like other planers, the key function of a hand planer is to shape, flatten, and lessen the thickness of the wood. It also has the potential to convert the rough stock into a smoother surface.  

Hand planer is also recognized as a versatile tool for some unique features. It’s a great tool for chamfering, circle cut, or rabbet joints. 

Overview of Thickness Planer

Thickness planer, also known as bench planer or thicknesser is a power-driven woodworking machine to trim off the board throughout its length and surface to have a consistent thickness effortlessly. 

Thickness planer offers three unique services which other tools can’t make. Firstly, it’s able to even the rough stock. Secondly, it makes the second face of the board parallel to the other face and thirdly; it lessens the stock down to the consistent thickness as desired.     


Thickness planer or bench planer is designed to be placed on a flat surface or a bench. 

A Thickness planer is assembled with three main components, a cutter head containing the cutting knives, a set of rollers allowing the board to be fed into the machine, and a table adaptable to the cutter head for regulating the subsequent thickness of the board. 

The functions of the thickness planer and jointer are incorporated into a single version machine to have multi-service with a single thickness planer in European countries where it’s named by thicknesser or a planer.  

The maximum width of the thickness planer is 13 inches. 

Lightweight, portable thickness planer is slightly different, assembled with a fixed table and adjustable cutter head or feed roller assembly also available in the market.   


Before the operation, set the table to a suitable height and turn on the machine.  Adjust the depth of the cut to have a board with the desired thickness. Then feed the board into the machine in a way so that it can contact the in-feed-roller, which is able to grip the board and draw it into the machine to let it pass through the spinning cutter head. The cutting knives eliminate the board, and the out-feed roller pulls the board through and releases it from the machine after it is passed on. 

It’s extremely vital for the board to have at least one smooth flat reference face so that when the board is fed with the reference face on the bench, the cutter head takes away the excess amount of material from the other face to make it even and parallel to the reference face. Else, the board would get deformed by the pressure of the feed roller.    


One of the unique advantages of the thickness planer is that it can produce a board with the right thickness throughout its length and surface. It has potential to prepare raw and unprepared abrasive stock into smaller pieces as desired and make them smooth.    

Industrial thickness planer is proficient enough to accommodate very wide boards and manage a huge bulk of woods in a single shot in half of the time compared to the time a hand planer would take. 

It’s considered to be an outstanding tool for heavy-duty assignments or large-scale projects for its powerful motor and heavy construction assembly.

After trimming, the board may need to be lightly sanded in rare cases to come up with the final finish product. In fact, the thickness planer has quite potential to produce a precise board with a correct thickness. 

Besides, it also allows having a single compact sheet by bonding multi- pieces of wood while a thin flat sheet also can be created to get them bonded together. 

Hand Planer vs. Thickness Planer, Which to Pick

Before choosing, you must consider what kind of project you are going to accomplish with the planned boards. However, the following comparative advantageous aspects could be taken into account before choosing between a hand planer and a thickness planer. 


Hand planer can mainly serve the minor project while the thickness planer is for large scale and heavy-duty projects.  So while choosing, you must look at this area. 

Another aspect related to the type of wood, including their flatness, sizes, shapes, and parallel surfaces, etc. are key to consider before choosing between these two. These differences really matter to the planners due to their different comparative advantages.   

Wood type 

Type of wood is a considerable factor as it’s related to the project type.  One type of wood of which two sides are already surfaced, leaving the other two sides rough, while another type of wood having all four sides surfaced would take less time compared to the first type.  


A piece of wood may lose its flatness due to storing problems, exposure to humidity. In such a situation, the thickness planer would work well to restore its smoothness by fixing. 

Size of wood 

Some projects may need wood with the perfect size. They are too sensitive to precision. In such a case, a hand planer could offer more precise cutting with a quality finish. 

Rough surfaced or imperfect stock​ 

Hand planer is more capable of removing the stock’s roughness. 

Besides, if you want to buy and store some imperfect beards to save money, on the later hand planer can remove those imperfections, including holes, scratches and tinkles, etc.  


If you want to have enough leverage to carry outside the workshop, a hand planer is the only option. 

Faster and Consistent Thickness

Thickness planer is better between two as the thickness planer is assembled with great features for such work. 


Buying a thickness planer is worth value for money because for professional woodworking compared to hand planer features. Besides, you can customize your planer with a jointer to have double service from a single device in the future if necessary.

Safety Tips

Read the instruction manual carefully to be aware of operation, maintenance, and safety. Wear

all Personal Protection Equipment including dust musk, earmuff, appropriate jacket, goggles, etc. Take off jewelry that could accidentally come into contact with rollers or knives. You may take a look at our review article on work gloves for handling wood.

Keep your hand away from the cutting area so that your hand won’t fall under the cutter. 

Power off the planer before turning it on and keep your tool turned off while not in use. 

Keep your tool out of the reach of children.

Concluding Notes

I have tried to give you the maximum insight about hand planer and thickness planer and their comparative advantages so that you can decide to pick the right one depending on your project. Both planers are versatile in terms of their own unique assembly and woodworking professionals’ recommendations.

So, try to learn by reading other related materials to have more insight for making an informed decision. The key aspect between the hand planer and thickness planer is that the hand planer is for the light-duty project while the thickness planer for the heavy-duty large scale project.  

You are strongly advised to strictly maintain all safety protocols and train yourself on every aspect of the equipment, good practices to avoid unanticipated accidents and workplace hazards. 

Knowledge management is extremely vital to stay updated about current information and technology in the related field. Always try to get associated with the associations and professionals in the relevant field for your progressive development. If you are a beginner, it’s strongly recommended to work under professionals to be trained on operation and maintenance of the tools at the beginning. 

I would love to hear from you about your feedback and comments, as usual. Also, it would be nice if you kindly share this article with people around so that we could be able to share our expertise to serve more people through online and offline service packages.

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About This Writer

david rowan author

Hello, I am David Rowan. I am a professional contractor with 10 years of experience in home building, different tools used, construction, home remodeling, and other home improvement work. I have already built many custom homes and continued to do several woodworking projects along with how to deal with all categories of tools.

Hello, I am David Rowan. I am a professional contractor with 10 years of experience in home building, different tools used, construction, home remodeling, and other home improvement work. I have already built many custom homes and continued to do several woodworking projects along with how to deal with all categories of tools.

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