Handheld, rotary-blade, belt-driven power tool used by shapers to sculpt a board from a blank. Originally used by carpenters for tasks like trimming doors to fit into doorjambs, planers were first used on surfboards in 1951 by Southern California boardmaking pioneer Dale Velzy. Previously, boards had been shaped with axes, knives, hand planers, Surforms, and sandpaper.
The shoe-box-sized power planer is held in both hands and run along the length of the surfboard blank, removing layers of foam in a series of "cuts," with the depth of each cut determined by adjusting the planer's blade setting. Sandpaper is then used to smooth out the flats and angles left by the planer. Since the late '90s, with the advent of machine-shaped boards, the planer has been used less and less, particularly for first-pass "rough shaping."
While Velzy maintained his original chain-driven Mall planer was both "the first and the best," pretty much all contemporary shapers agree that the belt-driven Skil 100 is tops—despite the fact that it was discontinued in the mid-'80s.