Abstract The planing test was developed for studying the tribological properties of tools coated by the physical vapour deposition method. The test method turned out to be very suitable for this purpose because of the simple cutting geometry and easily controlled cutting parameters, which can be kept unchanged during the test. Although planing does not directly resemble other cutting methods, it has features that are similar to the gear generating processes. The repeatability of the test is good. The results show a considerably longer lifetime for TiN-coated tools of C45 and ASP30 high speed steels compared with the uncoated tools.