Hand Planer vs. Bench Planer: Which One to Choose?

Sanding can be a pretty intimidating task, even for the average carpenter. That is when the choice of choosing between the hand planer and a bench planer becomes apparent.

Both tools are exceptional at what they do and can be very effective in certain situations. However, they are not the same and function in absolutely two different ways.

Hence, keeping a fine amount of knowledge about the two tools could prove to be very beneficial. There are many options even between these two to choose from, and categories within them, as well.

Knowing which is perfect for you is not that difficult to understand, especially with our article here to guide you through it.

What Is a Planer?

A planer is a specific sort of tool used to shape wood. The planer can be of many types and categories, but mainly they can be divided into two: a manual planer and a power planer.

With both having the capability to get the job done, it all depends on the craftsman’s choice. Even to this day, there are some craftsmen who believe this work is an art form, and prefer the manual planer.

A power planer can get the job done easily, and there are a lot of functionalities available with most units on the market. It makes it possible to apply pressure and work on surfaces that could be difficult with a manual planer.

Difference Between Hand Planer and Bench Planer

Hand Planer

Best Hand Planer

A hand planer is one of the most basic types of planers available. With the availability of both power and manual, it can be a very viable option.

Since the key is to flatten a piece of wood, a hand planer can perform aptly. However, when dealing with larger pieces of wood, a hand planer might not be as efficient.

Possibilities of mistakes are higher when using a manual planer. Since functionalities aren’t as versatile, manual tools can be a bit difficult to work with for a beginner.

With time, however, using it can easily be mastered. Since in this day and age, power planers are so advanced, using one for your work might not be a bad idea. But maintaining and learning to control them is a challenge in itself.

These tools tend to save a lot of time, but they also perfect your work giving you the desired finish you want. It can be a bit daunting to understand and utilize the perfect tool needed for your job, but not impossible.


A hand planer, which is primarily used for smoothing a wooden plane surface, can be used for sanding as well.

Not to mention, they can be perfect for smoothing the edges of your woodwork, getting rid of discrepancies, and cutting grooves and geodes.

They can also prove useful when leveling floor joists or door edges. Since a hand planer is so compact, it can even be very effective when smoothing out filler boards.


  • Can be very cost-effective for woodwork.
  • Compact and lightweight models can be great for versatile work.
  • Certain models and units can be used on both wood as well as other materials.


  • Power hand planers can be difficult to manage.
  • Some units can create a messy work environment.
  • It’s not perfect when dealing with larger pieces of wood

Bench Planer

Best Benchtop Planer

A bench planer does not do the exact same job as that of a hand planer. However, the bench planer is aptly named for its size and use. The bench planer is perfect for handling larger pieces of woodwork, which can be difficult for a smaller tool.

They can be very intricate and precise when at work. Since it’s mostly machine work, possibilities of human error are very bleak in comparison. When using a bench planer, you simply push the piece of wood you want to work with, through it.

Most bench planers are very easy to use and can be perfect for the novice craftsmen, as well. Simply adjust the settings accordingly to your work and watch the magic happen.

Also, there are multiple types of bench planers available for use. There are models and units made so you can simply adjust them to your work station, and begin crafting.

Even on some machines, there are contraptions and mechanisms built into the tool to collect sawdust. This gives you the perfect clean workspace you always wanted. However, the noise level increase is very large and can cause disruptions in a work environment.


These planers can be perfect for thinning or scraping larger pieces of wood. Specifically, those that will, later on, be turned into furniture or larger boards for other purposes. It’s also particularly beneficial for places such as lumber mills.


  • Can smoothen and sand larger pieces of wood.
  • Is very efficient.
  • Saves a lot of time for finer polishing as well as other woodwork.
  • Collects sawdust and creates a cleaner work environment.


  • Can be very expensive.
  • Can be very loud.
  • Tends to take up a lot of space.
  • Not a portable tool to have at your disposal.

Hand Planer vs Bench Planer: Which One to Choose

With everything said and done, this should become very apparent to you that both don’t convey the same sort of functionality. If you require a good finishing in an intricate manner, then perhaps the hand planer is perfect for you.

Whereas if you are dealing with large pieces of lumber, then perhaps the bench planer could seem more beneficial. The choice is easier to make when the task at hand is understood better.

Keeping all the pros and cons in mind, you should choose carefully. For both these products, the cost is always an issue.

A bench planer alone can cost you roughly $500. One of the biggest deciding factors is the finished product. Sometimes keeping in mind what kind of finish you are hoping to achieve can make your choice between the two easier. 

In addition, you have to consider the tenacity of the surface and what you want from it. Perhaps you want your woodwork to be smoother along the edges that only a hand planer can provide.

Or you might want to eradicate the imperfections left on all surfaces of lumber, something that a bench planer can handle a tad bit faster. Nevertheless, in the end, it all boils down to your preference and the nature of your task.


Craftsmen find this choice easy to make after having a good amount of knowledge on the work ahead. You will, as well, and our article here should help you through this process.

Simply avoid being irrational, consider the work ahead of you, and buy your tools accordingly.

A good craftsman is often a patient one, studying his work and task. Regardless of everything being said, you should start your work immediately.

Study the woodwork and decide the tool you want for the job, and afterwards. Simply be amazed at your own craftsmanship.

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