Looking for a way to smooth out your woodwork but don’t have a planer on hand? No worries, I’ve got you covered! When it comes to getting the job done without a planer, there are a few creative alternatives that can save the day. Whether you’re a DIY enthusiast or just starting out, let’s explore some handy tools and techniques to achieve that smooth finish you desire.

So, what can you use if you don’t have a planer? Well, one option is a trusty hand plane. This versatile tool allows you to shave off thin layers of wood to achieve a flat and even surface. Don’t underestimate the power of a well-adjusted hand plane in your woodworking arsenal!

Another tool you can turn to is a belt sander. With its abrasive belt spinning rapidly, a belt sander can quickly remove excess material and level out any imperfections. Just be sure to maintain a steady hand and keep the sander moving smoothly for an even result.

But wait, there’s more! In a pinch, you can even use a router with a flattening bit or a thickness planer attachment. These handy contraptions can help you achieve a smooth finish by removing material gradually. Just remember to take it slow and steady, ensuring your woodwork is even and consistent.

Now that you know a few alternatives to a planer, you’re all set to tackle your woodworking projects with confidence. Whether you opt for a hand plane, belt sander, or router, rest assured that you can achieve that professional-looking finish without breaking the bank. So get ready to unleash your creativity and make those woodworking dreams a reality!

what to use if you don't have a planer?

What to Use If You Don’t Have a Planer? A Guide to Alternatives

When it comes to woodworking and creating smooth, even surfaces, a planer is an essential tool. However, not everyone has access to a planer or wants to invest in one. In this guide, we will explore several alternatives to a planer that you can use to achieve similar results. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced woodworker, these alternatives will help you transform rough lumber into beautifully finished pieces.

Hand Planes: The Traditional Approach

1. Block Planes: Block planes are small, handheld planes that are perfect for smoothing rough surfaces and removing imperfections. They are easy to maneuver and can be used for a variety of tasks, such as chamfering edges, trimming end grain, and fitting joints. Block planes are an affordable and versatile alternative to a planer.

2. Jack Planes: Jack planes are larger and more powerful than block planes. They are designed to tackle larger surfaces and can remove material quickly. Jack planes are ideal for leveling the faces of rough boards and preparing stock for joinery. With the right technique, a jack plane can provide results similar to a planer.

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3. Scrub Planes: Scrub planes are specialized hand planes with a curved, heavily cambered iron. They excel at removing large amounts of material quickly, making them perfect for rough stock preparation. While scrub planes won’t leave as smooth of a surface as a planer, they are incredibly efficient at hogging off material and leveling uneven surfaces.

Electric Power Tools: Speed and Efficiency

1. Belt Sanders: Belt sanders are powerful tools that use a continuous abrasive belt to quickly remove material and smooth rough surfaces. They are versatile and can be used for both stock removal and finishing. Belt sanders come in different sizes and are effective for flattening large surfaces, such as tabletops and wide boards.

2. Handheld Power Planers: If you’re looking for a more portable and efficient alternative to a planer, handheld power planers are a great option. These electric tools have a rotating blade that removes material as you guide the planer along the surface of the wood. Handheld power planers are ideal for flattening doors, leveling subfloors, and dimensioning rough lumber.

3. Router Sled: If you have a router and a sturdy base, you can build a router sled to turn your router into a makeshift planer. A router sled consists of a flat base and a pair of rails that guide the router across the surface of the wood. By making multiple passes with the router sled, you can achieve a flat and smooth surface similar to that of a planer.

Sanding: the Classic Finishing Touch

1. Random Orbital Sanders: Random orbital sanders are handheld power tools that combine rotating and vibrating motions to provide a swirl-free finish. They are perfect for removing scratches, blemishes, and imperfections left by other tools. Random orbital sanders come in different sizes and use sandpaper discs of various grits.

2. Hand Sanding: While it may be more time-consuming, hand sanding can achieve excellent results. Start with a coarse grit sandpaper to remove any major imperfections, then work your way up to finer grits for a smooth finish. Sanding by hand allows you to have more control over the surface and ensure a uniform result.

3. Drum Sanders: If you have access to a drum sander, you’ll be able to achieve results similar to a planer with less effort. Drum sanders feature a rotating drum covered in abrasive paper that efficiently removes material. They are especially useful for sanding wide boards and thicknessing stock.

The Benefits of Using Alternatives

1. Cost-Effective: Investing in alternative tools can be more budget-friendly than purchasing a planer, especially if you only occasionally need to smooth rough surfaces.

2. Versatility: Many of the alternatives mentioned can be used for various woodworking tasks, making them versatile additions to your toolkit.

3. Portability: Handheld power tools and hand planes are generally more portable than traditional planers, allowing you to work in different locations or on-site.

Tips for Success

1. Sharpen Your Blades: Keep your hand planes, router bits, and power tool blades sharp to ensure optimal performance and smooth results.

2. Take Small Passes: When using any of the alternatives, remember to take small, shallow passes to avoid tear-out and achieve a smoother surface.

3. Test on Scrap Wood: Before using any alternative tool on your project piece, test it on scrap wood to familiarize yourself with the technique and avoid potential mistakes.


Not having a planer doesn’t mean you can’t achieve smooth, even surfaces in your woodworking projects. With a variety of hand planes, electric power tools, and sanding techniques, you can transform rough lumber into beautifully finished pieces. Explore these alternatives and find the methods that work best for you. Remember to practice, be patient, and enjoy the process of creating something with your own hands.

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Key Takeaways: What to Use if You Don’t Have a Planer?

1. Use a Hand Plane – A hand plane is a manual tool that can be used to smooth and shape wood surfaces.
2. Try a Belt Sander – A belt sander can remove material quickly and efficiently, making it a good alternative to a planer.
3. Consider a Router – A router with a planing bit can be used to flatten wood surfaces and remove imperfections.
4. Utilize a Planing Jig – A planing jig can help you achieve straight and even surfaces without a planer.
5. Opt for Sanding – Although it may take longer, sanding can be a viable option for smoothing and leveling wood.

Frequently Asked Questions

Welcome to our Q&A section where we answer your questions on what to use if you don’t have a planer. Whether you’re a DIY enthusiast or have a woodworking project, we’ve got you covered with some alternative options.

What can I use instead of a planer?

If you don’t have a planer, you can use a hand plane as an alternative. A hand plane is a versatile tool that can help you achieve smooth and even surfaces on your wood. They come in different sizes and types, such as block planes or bench planes, each suitable for different woodworking tasks. With a bit of practice and patience, a hand plane can deliver excellent results.

Another option is to use a jointer. While a jointer is typically used for edge-jointing boards, it can also be used to flatten surfaces. By adjusting the depth of cut and properly aligning the wood, you can achieve a flat and smooth surface similar to what a planer would achieve.

Is sanding an alternative to using a planer?

Yes, sanding can be an alternative to using a planer. By using various grits of sandpaper and a sanding block or an orbital sander, you can gradually remove material and achieve a smooth finish. However, sanding can be time-consuming, especially when dealing with larger pieces or a significant amount of material that needs to be removed. Additionally, keep in mind that sanding may not give you the same level of precision and consistency as using a planer.

If you choose to use sanding as an alternative to a planer, make sure to start with a coarse grit sandpaper to remove material quickly, and then progress to finer grits for a smoother finish. Take your time, keep the sandpaper flat, and be patient, as it may take multiple passes and sandpaper changes to achieve the desired results.

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Can I use a router instead of a planer?

Yes, you can use a router as an alternative to a planer. By attaching a straight-cutting bit and using a router sled or jig, you can remove material from the wood surface and achieve a flat and smooth result. This method is particularly useful when planning large or irregularly shaped pieces that may be difficult to handle on a planer.

Keep in mind that using a router as a planer alternative requires setting up a stable and level work surface to ensure accurate results. Additionally, using a router can be noisy, and the cutting depth may need to be adjusted carefully to avoid removing too much material at once.

Are there any alternatives to a planer for removing rough saw marks?

A great alternative for removing rough saw marks is by using a hand scraper. A hand scraper is a simple and effective tool made of a hardened steel blade that can be used to scrape away high spots and roughness on the wood’s surface. With proper technique and sharpening, a hand scraper can produce excellent results and leave a smooth finish.

Another option is using a belt sander with a coarse grit sandpaper to quickly remove the saw marks and level the surface. However, be cautious as a belt sander can be aggressive and may remove more material than desired if not handled carefully. It’s recommended to practice on scrap wood before working on your project.

Can I achieve a planed surface by hand planing?

Absolutely! Hand planing is a tried-and-true method of achieving a planed surface without using a power tool. With a properly sharpened hand plane and some practice, you can achieve smooth and even surfaces on your wood projects. It requires patience, attention to detail, and the right technique, but it can be incredibly satisfying to see the results you can achieve with a hand plane.

Start by setting up the hand plane properly, adjusting the blade depth, and making sure the plane is positioned correctly relative to the wood grain. Use smooth and consistent strokes, applying equal pressure across the wood’s surface. With practice and some fine-tuning, you’ll be able to create beautiful, planed surfaces by hand planing.

what to use if you don't have a planer? 2

How to flatten a board without a planer / jointer / thicknesser


If you don’t have a planer, there are a few alternatives you can try. First, you can use a hand plane, which requires more effort but can still get the job done. Another option is to use a belt sander or a handheld power planer. These tools are more convenient but may not provide as precise results. Lastly, you can also try using a jointer, if available, to achieve a smooth, even surface. Remember to take safety precautions and go slow when using these alternatives. Experiment and find what works best for your project!

In conclusion, if you don’t have a planer, don’t worry! There are several options you can explore, including hand planes, belt sanders, handheld power planers, and jointers. Each of these alternatives has its pros and cons, but with some practice, you can still achieve a satisfactory result. Just remember to take your time, work safely, and have fun experimenting with different tools and methods. Happy woodworking!

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