What’s Planning?

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Planing is a metalworking technique used to shape and bend thin sheets of metal by pounding them with a specialized hammer on a rounded post. It is commonly used in industrial metal fabrication environments and can be performed by hand or with pneumatic or electric machines. After shaping the metal, imperfections are smoothed out using a stake or anvil and different hammers. Modern body shops and production facilities use machines for a more precise finished product.

Planing is a technique used to bend and shape thin pieces of sheet metal. The process involves pounding the metal with a specialized honing hammer while resting on a rounded post to smooth out the flaws and get the correct curve. Planing is commonly performed in body shops, aircraft manufacturing plants, and many other industrial metal fabrication environments. In the past, workers sanded the sheets by hand, but most experts today use pneumatic or electric machines to shape metal parts quickly and accurately.

Metalworking has been a common practice around the world for many centuries, and blacksmiths have used honing tools to create sword handles, metal bowls, and armor. Today, professionals sand sheet metal to make car fenders, gas tanks, airplane bodies, and decorative pieces like lamps. Many amateurs and hobbyists also use the technique in their shops while restoring vehicles or creating decorative jewelry.

After shaping a sheet into its basic final shape using cruder metalworking techniques, an expert places the material on a stake or anvil and hammers out the small imperfections. The sanding stake is basically a small metal ball atop a rod that is bolted to the floor. Different hammers may be used, depending on the type of metal and the level of perfection the worker hopes to achieve. Some experts use large wooden mallets and ball hammers in their work, while others employ planing hammers specially designed for the task.

Small dents or raised edges in a piece of metal are tapped with the pave hammer and smoothed out along the curve of the post. It usually takes several hundred taps to work a sheet to perfection. By carefully aligning the piece on the stake, a metalworker can achieve almost any desired shape. A professional can manipulate a sheet to create a long, stable curve or nearly round it to a flawless circle if desired.

The metal is smoothed using machines in the most modern body shops and production facilities. A pneumatic or powered planer can make a more precise finished product in a fraction of the time and effort required with hand tools. A worker lines up the piece of metal and controls the hammer with a foot pedal or hand trigger. Using air pressure or electrical energy, the hammer lightly taps the sheet several times per second. The operator simply pushes and pulls the piece of metal by hand as they work to machine the entire sheet.

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