How to Plane Wood Without a Planer

The wood that is directly obtained from tree trunks is different from the type in furniture workshops. The luster and smoothness of such boards hide a great deal of effort spent to obtain this result. To transform rough timber into a usable plank of wood, you’ll need a planer.

A planer is a must-have tool in any woodshop. It is mainly used to smoothen wood by trimming the excess surface. Also, the tool helps maintain a consistent thickness on the board by smoothening out unequal surface sections.

Planing is an essential step that enhances the appearance of roughly hewn lumber, which attracts potential buyers. It is a vital step when making furniture as the finishing process represents 5-30% of manufacturing costs.

But what if you don’t have a wood planer? While the planer is integral in providing efficiency with minimum effort, there are alternative options. Nevertheless, other leveling tools require you to significantly exert yourself before you can get decent wood finishes.

This article will guide you to understand how to plane wood without a planer.

4 Ways to Plane Wood Without a Planer

Getting a smooth surface on timber is essential before making any furniture items and completing DIY wood projects. Nevertheless, you should expect a fair amount of physical exertion if you don’t have a planer or jointer to get the perfect surface.

1. Using a Sandpaper

Planing wood with sandpaper is one of the oldest methods. This technique is highly efficient when working on large wood pieces. However, you’re better off skipping this option if you’ve got smaller chunks of wood.

You will need: A coercive sandpaper and a small wooden box

Step 1: Wrap the Sandpaper

Take the small wooden box and wrap the sandpaper around it. This will ensure that you have a tight grip on the sandpaper and can press strongly onto the wood.

Step 2: Start Grinding

Repeatedly rub your sandpaper in the direction of the wood grain and apply adequate force. While this procedure is time-consuming, it is a functional alternative if you don’t have a planer.

You can also use a hand-held sander but keep in mind that aggressive rubbing may cause plate damage. Therefore, gently press the sanding plate against the wood to get the job done.

Precautions: Breathing in the sawdust poses a health risk and you should wear a face mask to avoid the dust.

Fandeli Assorted Grit Sandpaper


Usage: Wood & Furniture Finishing, Metal Sanding, Automotive Polishing
Sanding: Dry & Wet
Size: 9 x 3.6 Inches
Includes:  Assorted Grains: 120 (3 pcs), 220 (3 pcs), 280 (3 pcs), 360 (3 pcs), 400 (3 pcs), 800 (3 pcs), 1000 (3 pcs), 1200 (3 pcs), 1500 (4 pcs), 2000 (4 pcs), 2500 (4 pcs) – 36 pcs
Perks: Waterproof, Anti-Slip Properties, Quick Sanding, Long Service Life

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2. Table Saw

You can use a table saw to trim the surface of the wood that is at least 6 inches. The process consumes less time than grinding with sandpaper for long periods.

You will need: A table saw with a riving blade, a jig, an engineering square (optional)

Step 1: Construct a Jig

You will need to construct a jig that prevents the wooden board from rocking while you are working. This step takes a significant amount of time but once you get it done, it’ll be smooth sailing to the end.

Step 2: Adjust the Blade

For a smooth and perfectly level surface, the angle of the blade should be a straight 90 degrees. You can still adjust it using an engineering square.

Step 3: Start Planing

Once you set the angle of the blade and the board, you are now ready to start the job. Start pushing the board back and forth against the saw blade and keep at it until you get the desired surface.

For beginners, it is better to first practice on some old wood. Any inconsistent movement on the board will result in burn marks.

Precautions: This technique exposes you to sharp blades on the tabletop. You should go for the sandpaper option if you are unfamiliar with this machine.

Rockwell BladeRunner X2 Portable Tabletop Saw


Dimensions: 16.1 x 17.5 x 8.3 Inches
Power Source: Corded Electric
Weight: 17 Pounds
Miter Cuts: 0-60°
Perks: Sets up in Seconds, Cuts Like a Full-Size, on-Board Accessory Storage, Safety Switch

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3. Drum Sander

A drum sander is a large sander used for wood finishing. The tool can also be used to shave off wood layers from an uneven surface.

The method is relatively slow and it may be ineffective if you are looking for a quick result.

You will need: a drum sander and a jig (optional)

Step 1: Prepare the Jig

Construct a jig that will support the drum sander to help complete your task faster.

Step 2: Choose the Right Sandpaper

The sander’s result is based on the grit of sandpaper you use. Ideally, you should select the sandpaper according to your desired end result. Low-grit sandpaper will cause the sander to run more abrasively.

Step 3: Start Sanding

Based on your choice of sandpaper, you can level and still finish the wood. You should select the height of the wooden plank and set the machine to fit it, feed into the sander, and then start sanding.

Precautions: During the sanding process, a lot of heat is produced and even the wooden board tends to significantly heat up. Also, since the machine runs at a high frequency, you should avoid loose clothes or objects.

JET JWDS-1632 Drum Sander With Stand


Dimensions: 39 x 22.5 x 25 Inches
Power Source: Corded Electric
Grit Type: Coarse
Material: Aluminum Die Casting and Steel
Perks: Warranty, Separate Feed, and Drum Motors, Compact, Sandsmart Control

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4. Router

The router can be used like a table saw.

You will need: A router, a jig, and a sandpaper

Step 1: Set up the Jig

Just like a table saw, you will need to construct a jig. The jig is a rigid frame of plywood. The center of the jig must be spacious enough to fix the router base. This will keep things stable when you start planing.

Step 2: Start Planing in the Grain Direction

Position the board and start pushing it against the router to start planing the face of the wood. Once you’ve completed one side, flip the board and start trimming the other section.

Step 3: Finishing

The router might not give your wood an extra smooth surface. Consequently, you will require sandpaper for a perfect finish, and then your wood will be ready to craft.

Precautions: You must take preventive measures to prevent sawdust from getting into your eyes, nose, and mouth.

Makita RT0701C 1-1/4 HP Compact Router


Dimensions: 10 x 8 x 6 Inches
Power Source: Corded Electric
Weight: 3.9 Pounds
Horsepower: 1.25
Includes: 1/4″ Collet, Straight Guide, Spanner Wrench x 2
Perks: Electronic Speed Control, Fixed Base, 10,000 to 30,000 RPM, Warranty

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Undoubtedly, planers are the best tools you can use to get a smooth surface. However, with a little more effort, the other options can equally get the job done. The hacks mentioned in this guide, though time-consuming, are worthy substitutes.

DEWALT Thickness Planer


Dimensions: 24 x 22 x 19 Inches
Power Source: Corded Electric
Weight: 90 Pounds
Includes: DW735 DEWALT 13-Inch Thickness Two-Speed Planer With Three-Knife Cutterhead, Dust-Hose Adapter, and Dust-Ejection Chute
Perks: Powerful 15 Amp Motor, Reversible & Disposable Knives, Large Capacity, Accurate Depth Adjustment, Dust Management

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