V. Ryan © 2006


When the width or thickness of a piece of wood needs reducing by a small amount, a plane is normally used. However, if a large amount of wood needs removing or the piece is very long, using a smoothing plane or jack plane is time consuming and can be inaccurate. The best option is to use a machine plane. These are relatively cheap and save time and effort.



1. Always plug power tools into a RCB (circuit breaker) as a safety measure against electrical faults.
2. Wear goggles to protect eyes from ‘chippings’ and a face/dust mask to prevent breathing in dangerous dust particles.
3. Always read the manufacturers instructions very carefully and follow them.
4. Always seek instruction / training from an appropriately qualified instructor before using any tools, especially power tools.
5. Make sure that the mains cable cannot be tripped over or that it causes a hazard in anyway.
6. Secure the material to be planed in a woodworkers or similar vice.
7. Fit an extraction bag to the planer. This will collect most of the dust and chippings.


The machine plane seen below has cutters that revolve at 1800 rpm (revolutions per minute). This makes it suitable for most woods. It has four cutters mounted on a rotating drum (see diagram B). Always hold the plane with two hands. NEVER use the plane with one hand as it is very easy to push it over the fingers of the second hand. This would result in a very serious injury. NEVER steady the wood to be planed in one hand whilst controlling the plane with the other. A serious accident is inevitable. Only use a machine plane with a dust collection bag fitted.



The rotating drum (shown in slow motion) and its four cutters are seen in the sectional view shown below. The drum and cutters rotate in an anticlockwise direction. The plane is pushed in the direction of the arrows - this is the safest way to operate the plane. The height of the front base plate can be adjusted so that more or less material can be planed from the wood.