What can I use instead of a planer? (TO PLANE woods)

What can I use instead of a planer

If you got a thick and rough wood to work with. To make that lumber flatten you will want to use a thickness planer. But you do not have one, and the job still needs to be done. 

Just relax. In absence of a planer, you can use alternative methods which may feel difficult to work with and take more time while not providing the result as good as what a planer provides. 

But still, to keep on moving with your project, these come in handy.

In this blog post, we’ll go over all the different methods and tools like a table saw, power sander, a router, and will also take into account hand tools like a jack planer, grit sandpaper, and review them in the context of using them as a substitute for a thickness planer.

Instead of a planer, you can use these options

These are some tools and methods you can use to plane a rough block of wood.

  • Use a table saw.
  • Use a router. 
  • Use a jack plane.
  • Use a power sander.
  • Use grit sandpaper.

The question is, which is by far the most recommended? Is that right? In order to make this choice easier for you. 

In the first place, you should know that regardless of the method you go after. Using a Jig will be helpful in this situation. 

I’ve found a good tutorial on youtube. A guy is flattening a wood board using a router and he has made a jig that makes the process much easier to accomplish. Here is the link to that video tutorial

Read on,  I’ll discuss each method in greater detail and then you can choose the method based on what you see as most beneficial.

But first, take a look at what a planner can do for us and what least we should aspect from these alternatives.

What is a thickness planer for wood?

Thickness planer - Wikipedia
source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thickness_planer

A planer is one of the essential tools for anyone getting into woodworking. With this tool, it becomes easy to flatter a board using less force and less time is spent doing so. 

If you are getting into woodworking, this is a good tool to have. In parallel with you at this point, you will be forced to deal with flattening as you progress in.

Three unique functions of a thickness planer are as follows: 

  • 1) It aligns the second face of a board with the first face; simply put, it makes either surface equally balanced. 
  • 2) The tool is sometimes used to smooth rough wood.
  • 3) The tool is also useful when reducing the thickness of a wooden block.

Can a table saw be used to flatten woods?


Actually, yes. A table saw can be used to flatten a wood board. It is ideal to work with large wood pieces which are good for you if you got a large block of wood to plane. 

However, this is not going to be an easy approach because of the fact the table saws are for cutting wood not for making a wood flat. Therefore, using them as an alternative to a planer or a jointer surely demands some creativity. In simple words, a perfect jig is all you need.

In case you don’t know what the jigs are in woodworking and why are they important? 

Jigs are kinds of wooden frames to wood pieces in a certain dimension. Repeating tasks in woodworking becomes much easier with jigs, such that you can make a jig for cutting a perfect mid of wood- this is what you normally do by taking proper measurements that take a lot of time.

The whole point is that, if you want to use a table saw for planing a wood instead of a thickness planer. You will need to make a jig or a frame in which you can adjust the wood piece to a certain dimension. Keeping the board in the same position at all times while exposing to the blade’s contact.

Without a jig, it would be difficult to get the results that we actually desired. Whenever a wood piece comes into contact with a saw blade, it is almost inevitable that it will move. Our goal is to have a perfect 90 degrees cut all over the surface. If we don’t get a perfect 90 degree, you will see a rough surface in your final product.

A final tip, if you have made your mind using your table saw as an alternative. Check the feeding rate of your table saw and the condition of the blades installed: that should be sharp. Without this precaution, the wood may become charred, which is not what any carpenter wishes for.

Can I use a router instead of a planer to plane a wood?

The answer is yes most likely a router can be substituted for a wood planer or a jointer. As long as the board is not too large in length and should not be wide. Because a router has a small flat base and a rotating blade, which can take longer to cover a large surface.

It is common for carpenters to use a router to flatten surfaces of small pieces of wood even though they have a thickness planer.

So to talk about the context, how it can be used as a substitute for a planner.

Here is the basic idea.

When using a router to flatten a wood surface the most important thing is to make sure the router flat base with a rotating blade has the same pressure all over the surface. This is kind of difficult for many. 

Imagine for a moment how you might be able to accomplish that and you’ll find yourself facing complications.

That’s where you will want a proper way off to get this done. I found a video where a guy uses a jig to work with a router. 

He made a jig of a longboard with a hole long enough that the router base, the routing blade can fit in there. By moving the router which is attached to the board he flats a wood surface easily. 

Here is the guide: https://www.instructables.com/Router-Planer/

Can I use a power sander instead of a planer?

If you have a power sander either a belt sander or an orbital sander, you can use it for making a rough wood surface smooth. 

However, belt sanders are more ideal for planning work instead of orbital sanders. It’s because the belt sanders are used for heavy sanding, thus for planing a wood you will require heavy sanding to deal with rough texturing. 

Moreover, with a belt sander, I would suggest you should use heavy-grit sandpaper if the wood you are going to flatten is thick and textured. Otherwise, as you know, there are kinds of sand grit papers that range from smooth sanding to rough sanding.

So when you have the right grit sandpaper on your machine, you can run it through the board the same way as you would if it were sanded. 

Don’t worry about spending some extra time getting your wood to the correct depth. With a power sander, it takes a little longer to smooth a surface, as grits are used rather than blades or knives. Thus, it’s understandable why you need more time.

Use a jack a planer: Manual and cheap way.

A jack planer is the best alternative to an electric planer. And for all the others we’ve talked about in this blog post it’s much more simple to use.

Hence, it is recommended that you use this method if you do not own any power tools such as a router, table saw, or belt sander. 

In a real sense, Jack Planners are used to planing wood, they’re not substitutes. Before when power tools come into existence. 

Woodworking tasks like making a piece thin were done by such hand tools. This is why you will find a lot of varieties in them, some are small and also large ones do exist. 

Your choice would depend upon the wood size you’re going to work.

In case of large wood to flatten with a jack planer. It would be a good idea to purchase a large one which will not only make the thickness easier but also help to avoid getting marks on the surface. This is normally true with small planners.

Lastly, using a jack planer is not going to be as comfortable as power tools. But still, spending time and effort would be worth it.

Use grit sandpaper

If you don’t have an eclectic sander. One way to go forward with your planing task is to manually sand the piece of wood. 

To be honest, such a process would be very time-consuming, and it wouldn’t work if you wanted to reduce the thickness of the material. 

So far, it absolutely can be used to flat out a piece of wood by spending a lot of time rubbing the surface with a grit paper of more textured coasters.

Sand the surface with the coarsest sandpaper, make sure to buy the rough ones because they might need to remove a lot of rough wood. You will have to apply a lot of pressure doing so, and for this, you should wear some sort of gloves or something to cover your hands. 

You will not experience any pain in your hands this way.

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