Have you ever seen the rough-hewn lumber in the home improvement store and wondered how you can convert it to workable hunks of lumber? It's actually not too hard if you have a couple simple tools in your shop. Rough lumber is cheaper and less treated than the stock two by fours you find in the aisles, and it could save you a lot of money to do all of the cutting down on your own.
A planer is a device that has a saw blade that cuts the rough parts of your board down to size. This is a great tool to get your pieces roughly cut down to shape. This size of planer you need will be entirely dependent on what you are cutting, but it is best to go with a versatile machine that you can use on any project. The last thing you want to do is spend more money on extra power tools to fit a different size when you could just invest in a quality piece that will get all of your work done right in the first place. Remember, a planer is only going to get half of the job done. A planer is great for rough cuts, but won't give your board the beautiful smooth finish you need for detailed projects.
Once you have your lumber cut down to a workable size, then you will need to sand it down to an even surface. There is some debate out there on whether or not to use a drum sander versus a belt sander for this purpose. Drum sanders are going to be a little bit easier to use since it allows you to feed your lumber through for an even cut. Only a small part of the drum is in contact with the lumber at any given moment, which means you will be able to control your sanding just a little bit more. Additionally, the drum consists of an endless loop of sandpaper, so you know it will wear down your board evenly as you feed it through.