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The plain truth about woodworking planers

No woodworking shop is complete without a planer. When you're looking to adjust the thickness of a piece of lumber or get rid of rough spots so you can start with silky-smooth pieces, choose one of our many models.

As you use a planer, you push a piece of wood under a spinning cutter head. Cutter heads include straight or curved blades and staggered carbide cutter bits. There are three types of planers: bench-top, stationary and handheld. Bench-top planers will work for most woodworkers. They're inexpensive, compact and portable. A stationary planer can handle bigger pieces of wood, but uses more voltage. If you need to work with a piece of lumber that's too big for a stationary planner, use a jointer instead. While a planer and a jointer are often talked about together, there are differences. A planer is just for making rough wood smooth and reducing the board's thickness. A jointer straightens wood.

A handheld planer is the machine of choice for small pieces of lumber. You can find combos, too. A combo planer/jointer or planer/molder. A stationary planer has an induction motor. They're durable. Sturdy. But they're also heavy, which is why they're not in bench-top or handheld planers. You'll find universal motors in bench-tops and handhelds.

You'll notice Sears has planers from a number of trusted manufacturers, such as DeWalt, Powertec and Craftsman, America's most trusted brand. Overall, you'll want to look for a couple of features. One is to choose a model that'll handle the size of lumber you typically use: stationary for up to large pieces, bench-top for up to medium and handheld for small. Also compare the feed rate, which is noted in feet per minute. A spiral cutter head will give you the smoothest of finishes. To reduce cleanup, look for a planer with a rear dust chute.

The Craftsman Professional 13-inch planer ticks all of the items on that list, so it's a great option. It has a granite table so you'll have a smooth, flat surface to work on. It makes cuts up to 13 inches wide and will automatically feed wood through. The steel cutterhead rotates at 10,000 rotations per minute (RPM), while the double-edged blades make 30,000 cuts per minute (CPM). Because it has an index pin alignment, blade changes are quick and easy. The thickness scales are graduated in 1/16 of an inch and 1 millimeter increments. You can even place the rear-mounted dust collection chute on the left or right.

If you have a small woodworking workshop, check out the combination planer/jointer. You'll have two machines in one space. You'll also save some money. The only drawback is you can't work with wide widths of wood. Craftsman offers a jointer/planer combo. With it, you can surface the edge or face of boards that are up to 4 1/8 inches wide. The granite table and fence provide a smooth, hard surface so you'll end up with more accurate cuts.

Regardless of what DIY woodworking project you have on your to-do list, Sears has the machines, supplies and tools you need, including woodworking lathes, woodworking plans and kits, and woodworking tool sets. Sears is a woodworker's best friend.

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