Terms of the Trade: Hand Plane Versus Power Planer Tools

A carpenter using an electric plane.

Both hand planes and power planes can be used to complete many carpentry projects. However, there may be times when you prefer to use one over the other for a particular project, either because of personal preference, efficiency, or ease of use.

There are several different types of hand planes. Among the most popular are jack planes, block planes, smoothing planes, and rabbit planes. Smoothing planes are used on almost all wood projects and rabbit planes are used to create rabbits in wood projects. Hand planes are good for smaller projects where only a few strokes of the plane are needed to create a smooth, even surface. Hand planes are also good for applications with tight areas where a power planer cannot be easily accommodated.

Power planes, on the other hand, are definite time savers. They can be used in almost all of the same applications as a hand plane, except where the space is too tight for the power plane. A power plane can also provide a smoother, more even cut, including an evenly controlled depth.