A hand plane is a tool for shaping wood using muscle power to force the cutting blade over the wood surface. Some rotary power planers are motorized power tools used for the same types of larger...
A hand plane is a tool for shaping wood using muscle power to force the cutting blade over the wood surface. Some rotary power planers are motorized power tools used for the same types of larger tasks, but are unsuitable for fine scale planing where a miniature hand plane is used.
When powered by electricity to the breadth of a board or panel, the tool may be called a thickness planer or planer which are designed to shape, flatten, and finish larger boards or surfaces.
Generally all planes are used to flatten, reduce the thickness of, and impart a smooth surface to a rough piece of lumber or timber. Planing is also used to produce horizontal, vertical, or inclined flat surfaces on workpieces usually too large for shaping, where the integrity of the whole requires the same smooth surface. Special types of planes are designed to cut joints or decorative mouldings.
Hand planes are generally the combination of a cutting edge, such as a sharpened metal plate, attached to a firm body, that when moved over a wood surface, take up relatively uniform shavings, by nature of the body riding on the 'high spots' in the wood, and also by providing a relatively constant angle to the cutting edge, render the planed surface very smooth. A cutter which extends below the bottom surface, or sole, of the plane slices off shavings of wood. A large, flat sole on a plane guides the cutter to remove only the highest parts of an imperfect surface, until, after several passes, the surface is flat and smooth. When used for flattening, bench planes with longer soles are preferred for boards with longer longitudinal dimensions. A longer sole registers against a greater portion of the board's face or edge surface which leads to a more consistently flat surface or straighter edge. Conversely, using a smaller plane allows for more localized low or high spots to remain.
Though most planes are pushed across a piece of wood, holding it with one or both hands, Japanese planes are pulled toward the body, not pushed away.
Woodworking machinery that perform a similar function as hand planes include the jointer and the thickness planer, also called a thicknesser; the job these specialty power tools can still be done by hand planers and skilled manual labor as it was for many centuries. When rough lumber is reduced to dimensional lumber, a large electric motor or internal combustion engine will drive a thickness planer that removes a certain percentage of excess wood to create a uniform, smooth surface on all four sides of the board and in specialty woods, may also plane the cut edges.