Planer vs Sander: Know Which Makes Your Woodworking Task Easy

Many people, especially newbies of woodworking, get confused between operations of the planer and sander. Both tools work quite similarly and involve only a piece of wood for flattening or leveling. However, when you get a project where you either have to slice a wood or varnish from a surface, you may feel lost when you have to make a choice between a belt sander vs planer. Not only that, but there is also a fantastic tool named drum sander! 

Any large company may have both tools readily available and also have people who can guide you. But, if you are a worker at your own workplace, then you may need to choose between the planer or sander. Well, not to worry! This article will surely solve your queries regarding the drum planer, belt planer, and sander. Let’s start with the basics. 

Planer vs Sander

Being a beginner to woodworking, you might assume that it doesn’t make any difference if you use one tool on behalf of the other. Well, that is a common misconception, and choosing the wrong one could make a big difference to your final product. Whether you need a planer or sander depends on what kinds of projects you will be associated with! If you need power, then you can opt for a planer. If you are more concerned about precision, then a sander will work the best for you.

Talking about the differences, a planer does jobs related to the refining of lumber or other similar materials that are more likely to the base form of the wood. On the flip side, if you are handling some delicate stuff such as well-finished furniture or wooden art-pieces, then you should consider using a sander. 


Various Types: Handheld planer, Electric planer, Stationary planer, etc.

The handheld planer is a type of old-school planer. The expert woodworkers use it to shave the pieces of wood to give them the desired thickness. While using the handheld planer, it is easy to adjust the blade, and eventually to take off big bumps or chucks. This way, it becomes ideal for coarse work. You can also use it a bit more aggressively to get better output and more details.

Image of a Planer

The other types of planers, such as the electric planer, operate in quite a similar way but have a series of blades mounted to a drum. The standard handheld planer or manual planer contains a static-mounted blade that can be pushed to shave the piece of wood while the edges of an electric planer spin at speeds of up to 20,000 rpm to get the desired output.


Various Types: Drum sander, Belt sander, etc.

You can also achieve quite a similar output like a planer with a drum sander just by wrapping sandpaper around the drum and close it off. The intensity will depend on two things that are the type of wood and the grit of the sandpaper. However, it still will be a bit less than a planer, and even if it helps you to get the right thickness of wood, it will be very time-consuming. So, use a drum sander is just for providing the final finishing. 

Image of a Sander

Running the sander over the same piece of wood may also build up the heat that can damage the machine. If not the tool, it can ruin the sandpaper strips used on the drum. You may not know that such strips are quite expensive. So, it may become the second reason for not using the drum sander as a planer. Drum sanders are specifically designed to finish wood, while a planer is specially designed to get the correct thickness. 

What to choose – Planer or Sander?

  • Planers are made with hardened and rugged knives. These knives are made of steel and are able to spin at very high speeds while sanders complete their tasks by turning belts with motorized rollers.
  • Planers can remove surfaces as thick as ⅛ inches in a single pass. A sander is sensitive if compared to planers and can only remove 1/32 inches of regular wood in one pass.
  • If you are expecting a smooth surface and a fantastic finish, then you will have to take the need for sanders. Planers are for the initial and quick jobs, such as shaving, while sanders can be used to give a professional touch and best finishing. 
  • No matter how hard you try, you will surely get an uneven surface while using the planers. If there is even a bit more aggression than needed, you can also ruin your entire piece of wood because of the planer. The sander is safe to use. It is perfect for getting a smooth surface.
  • If you have a wood that has an extremely rough surface, then nothing can help you better than a planer. If you try to use a sander to make a rough surface smoother, then there is a risk of ruining the tool, the belt, as well as your entire project.

The Bottom Line

Choosing between a sander vs planer is not that complicated. You just have to get an idea of what your project is, which type of material/wood you are using, and what you want to make from that material. Once you know the purpose, it will help you to choose the right tool. Both tools are excellent for different tasks. Once you start using both the tools for various works, it is a great idea to consider investing in both – planer and sander.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button