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Best way to plane wood

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  • Best way to plane wood

    I have about 15 boards of 4/4 cypress I need to plane to 3/4". I am trying to figure out what the best approach is:

    1) Plane each piece, one at a time to 3/4" before moving on to the next board.

    2) Run each board through the planer before moving on to the next adjustment.

    Method 2 seems more effeicient but will that work since not all boards of excatly the same. After a couple of passes they all would be the same but not sure if that works. Using method 2 would I set the planer height equal to the thickest board?

    I am new to the planer so just trying to learn the best way to use it. I also have a bunch of cherry to plane.

  • #2
    Re: Best way to plane wood

    Method 2, it'll guarantee you end up with the same thickness on all boards.
    You'll have to start with the thickest first, and get them all to approximately the same thickness. Then feed them one immediately after the other. This will help reduce snipe (which may or may not be a problem for your planer). Also, flip each board after each path so you take material off both sides equally.

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    • #3
      Re: Best way to plane wood

      Thanks, thats kind of what I figured. I have a ridgid planer 1300.

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      • #4
        Re: Best way to plane wood

        Method #2. I've planed some massive amounts of wood before,think of doing it several days in a row type amounts.What I do when its many boards is set a pair of saw horses at each end/side of the planer then turn the planer around for the next pass.At 1 time I had built 2 rather massive 4 wheeled carts I used to move the wood around on as at the time I was planing 2x12's that started rough at between 2 1/8 and 2 3/8 thick all were 20 footers and it was several thousand bdf.
        Sam

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        • #5
          Re: Best way to plane wood

          Method 2 works best, but note that a planer won't necessarily flatten a board...it'll tend to make the face being cut parallel to the one being referenced by the table. Put and twisted board in and you'll get a twisted board out that's smoother and thinner, but will still be a challenge to join uniformly due to inherent irregularities.

          A jointer is the ideal tool to flatten and straighten prior to planing, but there are other methods if you don't have one. Hand planes have been used for years. Another good option is to use a "planer sled"...the sleds flat surface will provide the reference for the planer to duplicate. You'll need to a build a simple sled, and use some care to prevent the board from rocking or shifting, but it's very doable. Flat boards help make better 90° edges and far better joints, which makes the whole process more pleasant and effective.

          Regardless if you pursue flattening or not, it's always a good idea to take light passes, and alternate sides. A board will tend to curl in the direction that wood is planed from if you only do one side. Keep the planer tables waxed and the rollers clean (wipe with alcohol as needed). If the wood is highly figured it'll be more prone to tearout...wetting the surface with water will help reduce that if you run into that situation. You can also feed at slight angle to reduce tearout. Keep the blades sharp too. Knicks in the blades are inevitable, and they'll create visible ridges which can be sanded, handplaned, or scraped down, but you can also pass them back through the planer at the same height using a different location of the blades to remove the ridges.
          Last edited by hewood; 03-13-2008, 10:19 AM.

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          • #6
            Re: Best way to plane wood

            Method 2 + Ditto all that Hewood said. Also, stop about 1/16+ shy of the final thickness and let the boards set for a day or two to get rid of any internal moisture. Then plane to final thickness.

            Go
            Practicing at practical wood working

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            • #7
              Re: Best way to plane wood

              Excellent tips, thanks! This will be my first real hardcore "planing session". So far I only used it for two cutting boards, planing 4/4 glued-up stock down to 5/8".

              Hewood - when I bought the cypress that I will be planing I did have it jointed on one edge and both sides, I just need to take about 1/16 or so off the wood. I do want to get a jointer but thats not in the cards for some time. I wanted a band saw first. I do have some cherry that needs jointing and planing but I am going to go to a local woodworkers club and rent thier jointer for that. Then I can use my planer to finish the job.

              Gofor - I only need to take about 1/16 or 2/16 off. The wood has been sitting in a dry place with spacers between each board. I think I should be good to go.

              This leads me to another question, one of the knives in my ridgid 1300 planer has a nic and need to flip them around. How difficult is that? I am not very mechanical and worry about making sure the blades are set up right.

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              • #8
                Re: Best way to plane wood

                A couple things:

                First, cypress is prone to tear out, so look at the edges. Keep the surface up that has the point of the grain on the edge pointing toward you as you feed it into the paner. This means you flip the board end to end when planing the second side (good practice for all powerplaning). If the grain changes along the surface, pick the direction that gave the least tearout on the rough planing (before you got to 1/32").

                If only one blade is nicked, move the wood over some and replane on the same side to get rid of the ridge.

                I don't have the Ridgid planer, so can't help with the blade change difficulty.

                Go
                Practicing at practical wood working

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