Sander VS Planer

Beginners get confused about a lot of things at the start. There’s no shame in this. As time goes by, they learn all the things. 

I’ve seen many beginners get confused about which tool they should choose to finish a woodworking project. They mix up between sander & planer & think that these are the same machine. 

And it mostly happens in the case of Drum Sander & planer. There’s a reason why it happens. Both machines are used for almost similar purposes. Also, they are very similar to look.

Many think that both tools are the same. But that’s not the case. Although they are both used for quite similar purposes, they both have different functionality & used for different causes.

By the end of this article, you’ll get to know all the things about sander & planer. You’ll also get a clear view of their work process.

Short Overview

A sander is a tool that is designed for making a surface smooth. It removes materials from a surface & makes it smooth. They are normally used in woodworking, auto bodywork. Sanders are finishing tools.

On the other hand, the planer is mainly used for reducing the thickness of a wood piece by removing the wood materials & making it smooth. It reduces the thickness of any kind of wood pieces. This is why they are also known as a thickness planer.

Now if we learn about what both machines are & what are they used for, we hope you will get a clear understanding. So let’s start.


What is Sander?

A sander is an electric or air-powered tool that makes a surface smooth. By using a different number of grits, it removes the rough materials from a surface. 

They are used for paint removal, polishing, shaping flat surfaces or edges. Mostly they are used before applying primer to make the surface prepare for painting. Sander is probably the most used tool in a workshop. They are also preferred by home users & hobbyists.

There are different types of sanders available for different sanding jobs. Some of the popular sanders are 


As the drum sander has similarities to a planer, we are going to discuss how a drum sander works. Using da sander & the operating process of an orbital sander is almost the same.

How does a drum Sander work?

A rotating drum does the sanding here. It can be easily assumed by its name also. After turning on the sander when it goes up to full speed, you need to hold the workpiece & make contact with the rotating drum.



What is Planer?

A planer is an electric-powered tool that trims a wood piece & makes it thick. It is mostly used at the starting of a project. 

Planers are unbeatable when it comes to shaping large wood pieces. It provides precise thickness to a wood surface.

 Smoothing rough lumber or cleaning sawn edges are also done by a planer. When you are going for milling works, a planer is the best choice for you. You can’t imagine how much power they generate. A Sander doesn’t even come near to it.

There are different types of planers available, such as 

  • manual, 
  • electric 
  • benchtop planers.


How does the planer work?

Multiple cutter heads of a planer do the shaving of a wood piece. In a horizontal workbench, you have to put a wood piece where the cutter heads remove layers & come through the other end. And the shaving the layer gets done in between this process. With each pass, the planer removes nearly an inch layer. 


Sander Vs Planer: What are the Differences?

As they both remove surface materials, it is quite normal to get confused about whether they serve the same way. Now, we know they are used in the same field & there is a certain similarity between them. But they also have some significant differences.

Normally, a planer removes the material more quickly. It is also quite accurate in slicing wood pieces. If we compare a planer with a drum sander, a drum sander requires 25 passes to make it equal to 1 pass of a planer. You can see the difference, right?  

The surface looks better when it is hand planed. There is not much difference between the sanded & planed surface. 

If you compare two surfaces after sanding & planing, then you’ll notice a slight difference in the result. The sanded one will look much smoother. 

Also after putting a finish to the surface, the sanded one will look better. Because a planer can’t give the smoothness that a sander provides. There will always be big scratch marks when you plane a surface.

What’s Better: Sander or Planer?

You can’t just decide which one is better. They are both useful & both provide excellent performance in any project. 

So there’s no meaning in using a sander in large wood pieces, which needs thickeners to be used. Also, using thickeners on surfaces that require a little material-removing is unnecessary. So use a machine appropriate for your job.

Can You Use a Planer for Removing the Old Finish?

Yes, you can use a planer for that. But it will be a risky move. As it slices the wood piece, there will be a chance of creating a deep removal.

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