Using the Planer

The planer is used for reducing the thickness of stock. There are abrasive type planers and knife type, which can be single or double-headed. The planer in the USM laboratory is single-headed knife type which can surface one side of stock at a pass.

Controls: The controls on the planer in the materials processing laboratory consist of the following:

  • On / off switch
  • Height adjustment of bed is controlled with a height adjustment hand wheel
  • Height of bed is read on the depth scale
  • Speed of the feed is adjusted with the feed control knob on the right side of the machine.

Operation: Planing will remove material reducing the thickness of a piece of lumber. Refer to the following illustrations.

  • Use the height adjustment hand wheel to raise or lower the height of the bed to 1/16" less than the thickness of the stock (see illustration below).
  • Turn on dust collection system.
  • Feed the stock into the planer. The infeed roller will grip the stock, clamping it down against the bed, and feeding it through the planer.
  • Support the trailing end of the stock.
  • As the stock leaves the planer, support the end or work with an assistant who will support the opposite end of the stock.
  • Return to feed side of planer, but do not place stock on bed until adjustments are made for the next pass..
  • Adjust the bed height by turning the hand wheel. One full turn is approximately 3/32 ".
  • Feed the stock with the opposite side up, to remove material from the opposite surface.
  • Repeat these steps, turning stock over at each pass, until the stock reaches the desired thickness.

The planer is being adjusted for the thickness of the stock so that the stock just slips under the black guide. That setting will allow a cut of approximately 1/16 ".

The stock is being fed into the planer. Notice that the workers fingers are not beneath the stock where they could get caught between the stock and the rollers, and the operator is standing to the side.

Potential hazards: The following hazards exist:

  • The stock and particles can be thrown from the machine.
  • Moving parts can entangle loose clothing.
  • The planer creates a loud noise when running. Hearing damage could occur.
  • As the infeed roller clamps the stock to the planer bed, fingers could get pinched beneath the stock.
  • Fingers can possibly be caught between the stock and the rollers on the outfeed extension table (metal plates have been added between the rollers to reduce this hazard).
  • Keep foreign objects off the planer bed to avoid their contact with planer blades.

Safety practices: Because of those potential hazards the following safety rules must be followed:

  • Safety glasses are required.
  • Hearing protection is required.
  • Do not wear dangling or loose clothing such as neck ties or necklaces or long sleeves, which could become entangled in the machinery. 
  • Roll up long sleeves.
  • Tie back long hair which could become entangled.
  • Never reach into the planer.
  • Keep fingers from under the stock while feeding or retrieving so as not to be pinched between rollers and planer bed and stock.
  • Stand to one side to avoid kickback of stock.
  • Be sure stock is free of foreign materials, nails or other hardware, grit, dirt, loose knots.
  • Do not plane stock shorter than 8" 
  • Use a backer board when planing stock thinner than 1/2"


Spence, William and L. Duane Griffiths. (1981). Woodworking Principles and Practices. Alsip, Illinios: American Technical Publishers. p.312-319.

Wright, R Thomas. (1990). Processes of Manufacturing. South Holland, Illinios: Goodheart-Willcox Company, Inc.  p.234-235.

ITT 252 - Materials Processing
Department of Technology
University of Southern Maine
Prepared by Joanne Gauley, 9/25/2001
Revised for new machine by John Zaner, 8/27/02