Planer vs Sander – Your Go-To Guide


Planer vs sander are two of the most common woodworking tools, but you may find it hard to understand when to use each. Fortunately, similarities and differences can help you decide what to use in different circumstances. This article will guide you with everything you need. 

Planer vs Sander: Definition


An electric, handheld planer

An electric, handheld planer

Planers are handheld woodworking tools that are either manual or electric. You can use a planer to wear away large amounts of material and thin a timber board. There are a variety of planer types that you can use to achieve different results.

The most common type is an electric planer. You use them similarly to a manual planer, but they have much more power and force, making the process significantly quicker and easier. Another popular option is a benchtop planer, which involves you passing the timber through the machine to achieve an even thickness.

Stationary planers are also popular, but you’ll see them a lot less in the home, as they’re large and industrial. They take a lot of effort to move around, so they are better off in factories or other commercial projects.


A common handheld sander

A common handheld sander

A sander is a powerful tool that allows you to smooth surfaces using sandpaper more easily and effectively. Several types of sanders are available on the market, each serving a slightly different purpose.

This handheld tool has a flat, rectangular base that holds the item you’re sanding. A continuous loop of sandpaper moves around like a conveyer belt at a high rate of speed to smooth out surfaces as quickly as possible.

Another common type is a drum sander. Due to their large size, you’ll usually only find them in commercial environments. They have big, round bases that help you maintain a high degree of control while sanding. Due to their high power output, they are very effective but also dangerous.

Some other, slightly less common types include spindle, random orbital, and rotary sanders. They’re small, affordable, and relatively easy to use. You’ll tend to use these far more often as a DIY woodworker.

Planer vs Sander: Similarities and Differences


One of the most obvious similarities between planers and sanders is that they can be either handheld or stationary. They’re extremely cheap, highly portable, and easy to use without experience. You’re probably better off using handheld variants for small, DIY woodworking projects.

A stationary sander in action

A stationary sander in action

Another major similarity between these tools is generality. You use both planers and sanders when you need to remove or wear away wood at a high rate of speed. A planer will do the trick if you’re trying to shape a piece of wood. You should use a sander if you’re trying to achieve a smoother finish.


When you pick up these tools for the first time, the first difference you notice is likely to be the abrasive surfaces. Planers wear away wood using large blades that cut at a certain depth in the wood. Sanders uses sandpaper which consists of small, abrasive bumps that smoothen out surfaces at a much slower rate. 

The sharp blade of a planer

The sharp blade of a planer

Another difference is the purpose and standard applications for which you use each tool. You’ll tend to use planers to flatten the wood so that the surface becomes more uniform and symmetrical. On the other hand, sanders are better when you need to smoothen out the surface at a smaller scale.

The small abrasions of sandpaper

The small abrasions of sandpaper

Another difference you may notice is how easily you can use each tool. Most people tend to find that they make fewer errors with a planner. It is because they do a lot of the work for you. Sandpaper requires a bit of trial and error to get right and is a slow process. It can test your patience, so you may often overdo sanding and remove too much material.


In this article, you’ve learned about some of the similarities and differences between planers and sanders. This knowledge can help you decide which to use in varying circumstances. If you want to expand your knowledge of sanding and planning, please contact us today!

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