You may be wondering where a planer is used, and where a sander is most effective in. While larger companies may have both tools readily available to them, you may need to make a choice between the two for your own workshop.

Simply put, you would need a planer for jobs which involve production and refining of lumber and similar material closer to its base form. If you’re more of the type that works with more delicate items such as furniture, then you should consider using a sander.


  • Planers are armed with hardened, rugged knives made of steel; These knives spin at very high speeds and are able to remove surfaces as thick as 1/8” in a single pass.
  • Sanders do the job by spinning belts with motorized rollers. They are much more delicate, only being able to remove 1/32” of regular wood in one pass.


  • If you’re looking to do some finer finishing for tables and cabinets, then you definitely will need to use a sander instead of a planer. In fact, woodworkers run material through a planer for quick, initial jobs, and then they run it through a sander for a smooth, professional finish.
  • The sheer strength of planers could leave your wood with an uneven surface, no matter how precise you try to make things. You could not just ruin a finish, but damage the wood if you force a finish with a planer.

Handling Rougher Wood And Lumber

  • Nothing beats a planer in handling wood and other material with very prominent rough surfaces. Lumber from a yard is not necessarily smooth, as it is all usually processed with a saw which leaves ugly and obvious scars and marks; these imperfections can only be handled by a planer.
  • If you try to run rough lumber through a sander, then you could ruin the belt and the machine. Loss of property and injury are big possibilities.

Handling Plywood And Similar Material

  • Since sanders only take out so much in a single pass, they are ideal for more sensitive and delicate materials such as plywood. The way sanders are built allow a woodworker to create veneer by working on lumber with thinner layers.
  • Planers would literally burn through plywood, ruining the material in seconds. You definitely want a sander when handling this and other familiar woods.


Whether you need a planer or sander boils down to what projects you will be working with. For power, you can opt for a planer. For precision, a sander will do the job for you.

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