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mistermikev

school me about planers...

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so a while back I bought a 13" craftsman planer(351.217130) on craigslist for $100.  Sadly I haven't used it yet and I've had it for 4-5months.  If I'm being honest with myself it's a healthy fear of a tool I haven't used before.  so... I've read thru the manual a few times, and I think I have a grasp of how to run it but a little reassurance would help me afa courage!

so... on the right it has a crank.  I understand that you set this to the size you want to output... as I understand I can place my piece below the rollers and crank down while watching a 'depth of cut' pointer in the center of the unit.  I understand I should shoot for 1/32 removal but should never cut more than 1/16 at a pass.  accurate?  anything else I need to know?  what are the common planer mistakes?

I plan to use it to plane down a 5/16 x 3 x 20 piece of ebony to 5/32 for a headstock overlay.  with that in mind - is there a minimum thickness one can plane?  I'm gonna guess that zero is not possible but what about 1/8"?

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Personally I've never used a planer myself, but I think it might be a little too aggressive for making what is essentially a thick veneer. A thickness sander might be more appropriate for that, or perhaps a router bed (several designs to be found on the site) followed by hand sanding

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3 hours ago, Norris said:

Personally I've never used a planer myself, but I think it might be a little too aggressive for making what is essentially a thick veneer. A thickness sander might be more appropriate for that, or perhaps a router bed (several designs to be found on the site) followed by hand sanding

thanks for chiming in norris!  I have a router bed and have used it for that before... guess I'm just itching to use this thing... since I bought it and all!  Some have recommended double sided tape and attaching to a 3/4 board, then run through but seems like dbl tape might be dangerous... I know I'll screw it down (jk 😀)!

Anyone here tried this ie double tape?  (crickets)

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They're great, I've got a Triton thickness planer. Which I'm getting a lot of use of for the stripy V. I used to take a lot of work down to the timber hard and pay a couple of quid each time to get them to do it. The Triton was £260 so won't take long to pay for itself, especially good for laminated necks etc. I run them though then just skim over with my no7 to get a good glueing surface. 

Only places to be really careful and where I've been caught out previously - Make sure you understand the grain direction of the piece you're pulling through and understand which way the cutters cut on your planer or you are likely to get tear out. Finally, the more figured the work piece is, the more your planer is likely to ruin it. A nice flamed top is totally not to go through a planer. 

The only real bummer about my planer is the max cutting width of 317mm so I can't get 1-piece bodies or pre-gled bodies through it, I still have to go to the yard for that. But I can thickness before glueing and be careful to make sure the piece are flat when gluing to avoid having to use a machine after.

Mine will go down to 7mm, so when I want to thickness a fretboard, I stick it to a bit of mdf and run it through so I can get down a little thinner. I wouldn't use the planer to go to 2-3mm for a headplate. Something hard like ebony might be OK, but it's risky. When I make headplates from offcuts, I either just use a hand plane, or in the past I've use the router on a little makeshift sled.

Edited by ADFinlayson
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3 hours ago, mistermikev said:

Anyone here tried this ie double tape?  (crickets)

Yes and without any problems, as long as the very good advice of @ADFinlaysonis followed.

SR

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1 hour ago, ADFinlayson said:

They're great, I've got a Triton thickness planer. Which I'm getting a lot of use of for the stripy V. I used to take a lot of work down to the timber hard and pay a couple of quid each time to get them to do it. The Triton was £260 so won't take long to pay for itself, especially good for laminated necks etc. I run them though then just skim over with my no7 to get a good glueing surface. 

Only places to be really careful and where I've been caught out previously - Make sure you understand the grain direction of the piece you're pulling through and understand which way the cutters cut on your planer or you are likely to get tear out. Finally, the more figured the work piece is, the more your planer is likely to ruin it. A nice flamed top is totally not to go through a planer. 

The only real bummer about my planer is the max cutting width of 317mm so I can't get 1-piece bodies or pre-gled bodies through it, I still have to go to the yard for that. But I can thickness before glueing and be careful to make sure the piece are flat when gluing to avoid having to use a machine after.

Mine will go down to 7mm, so when I want to thickness a fretboard, I stick it to a bit of mdf and run it through so I can get down a little thinner. I wouldn't use the planer to go to 2-3mm for a headplate. Something hard like ebony might be OK, but it's risky. When I make headplates from offcuts, I either just use a hand plane, or in the past I've use the router on a little makeshift sled.

 

1 minute ago, ScottR said:

Yes and without any problems, as long as the very good advice of @ADFinlaysonis followed.

SR

 

thank you gentlemen.  I guess the consensus is that 1/8" is risky.  I'll have to put off testing it out for a bit then.  Will just go the sled/planer rout. 

grain direction - literally was just reading about that yesterday but thanks for the tip.  will def keep it in mind.

I think it might have been scottr? that suggested to wet down figured wood if you want to put it through a planer.  eventually I want to resaw some 2" flamed maple I have and try it. 

probably should have tried out the planer on my bodies but I wanted to preserve as much as thickness as possible and wasn't sure given my lack of experience on the planer.  next time!

 

thank you both for the reply (scottr - I was out of thank-yous for the day so... it's AD's fault I didn't give you one!)

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4 minutes ago, mistermikev said:

I think it might have been scottr? that suggested to wet down figured wood if you want to put it through a planer.  eventually I want to resaw some 2" flamed maple I have and try it. 

I did have success doing that with a hand plane...actually on my current build. (It seems so long ago....). I have not tried it on a powered planer. I have not used mine for several years, mostly because it eats figured wood.

SR

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1 minute ago, ScottR said:

I did have success doing that with a hand plane...actually on my current build. (It seems so long ago....). I have not tried it on a powered planer. I have not used mine for several years, mostly because it eats figured wood.

SR

ok, note to self... make sure I have thickness to spare when I try to plane figured wood! 

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fwiw I did git to use my planer the other day (I know... snoar, congratulations mike v.!).  I used it to put flat edges on some 2x4s I used to raise up my body for doing the radius.  It worked fairly well.  leaves some decent 'grooves' that are easy to sand... gonna have to think about perhaps getting some blades for it.  anywho... yay me!  def using this to plane my body blanks next time!

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They're scary! I've used the massive industrial planer in the communal workshop and I can confirm what the others have said plus some. It will eat figured wood, next time I'll try wetting it down! Thanks for that tip. It also leaves some grooves or rather crests or ridges here and there but as you say they're easy to sand. What's worse, at least the machine I've used tends to nudge when it starts planing, often chewing quite a deep transverse groove at the front end of the piece. No problem if there's some extra length.

For thinner pieces I've used masking tape and super glue on a piece of laminated chipboard which we have plenty as leftovers by the communal carpenters. MDF works just as fine. A trick to prevent the jump at the start is to have a sacrificial piece in front of the actual piece to be planed. Now that I think about it, next time I may attach even the thicker body pieces to a board with an extra piece for the planer to be chewed!

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yeah, 13" wide spinning blade still scares me a bit!  also... godawful noise from that thing.  I've had mine for a bit now and haven't really fully utilized it but I will def do so on my next build.  I think I'll still shy away from trying to plane down to 1/8" tho.  From what I gather that is asking for troubles.  seems there are never easy solutions!

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Yes to all you've said, though I always cut and thickness fingerboards with hand tools. 

I have a newer version of the planer you have (when I say that, I mean portable, not a craftsman). They generally will snipe. The typical procedure is this:

* if you know the planer is set well, run an inexpensive wide board through, ensure that it's cutting similar thickness both sides. and that it's generally working properly

* if you're not in a hurry, don't race to take off huge amounts. a 16th is fine - the board is going to go through and you can just basically pick it out, reduce thickness, feed it through, over and over..

* you should run at least one test pass with thin removal to make sure that there won't be much tearout (there shouldn't be with ebony - it doesn't have a lot of directional conviction or beam strength in the fibers)

* your last pass should be relatively little removal to clean things up and not create more problems (the heavier the cut, the heavier the tearout). 

You'll likely have two problems:

1) the board will have snipe on the ends. You can see how long it will and make sure the area between the snipe is long enough for a finished board, or you can run dummy stock through. If your planer has four posts, it may have a locking mechanism and reduce snipe. 

2) the planer's minimum thickness may be more than what you're looking for. You can affix your board to something  to make it functionally thicker as long as that something is uniform in thickness (decent plywood is probably fine - I've never done this as I always hand plane thin items). 

I don't have the typical tools that a luthier would have in 2000, I have a lot of what they'd have had in 1890, so I don't have things like drum sanders, etc, that most folks would use to thickness something thin like this. 

Before you are finished with what you're doing, I would get a good look at the fingerboard with some hope that it is close to flat before final thickness. 

 

While I like to work entirely by hand and have no bandsaw or any such things, when the mrs wants something done (like casework, etc), I find a thickness planer to be a godsend, though it cheats me out of part of the work that I really enjoy (dimensioning).  It's worth getting used to using one. They're not that dangerous as long as you keep your hands out of them, but they will make a filthy mess without strong dust control.  Shop vac on trash can with 4 inch line to the planer will catch most. Watch out for the dust control nazis when you start talking about dust control. 

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On 4/23/2019 at 11:56 AM, D_W said:

Yes to all you've said, though I always cut and thickness fingerboards with hand tools. 

I have a newer version of the planer you have (when I say that, I mean portable, not a craftsman). They generally will snipe. The typical procedure is this:

* if you know the planer is set well, run an inexpensive wide board through, ensure that it's cutting similar thickness both sides. and that it's generally working properly

* if you're not in a hurry, don't race to take off huge amounts. a 16th is fine - the board is going to go through and you can just basically pick it out, reduce thickness, feed it through, over and over..

* you should run at least one test pass with thin removal to make sure that there won't be much tearout (there shouldn't be with ebony - it doesn't have a lot of directional conviction or beam strength in the fibers)

* your last pass should be relatively little removal to clean things up and not create more problems (the heavier the cut, the heavier the tearout). 

You'll likely have two problems:

1) the board will have snipe on the ends. You can see how long it will and make sure the area between the snipe is long enough for a finished board, or you can run dummy stock through. If your planer has four posts, it may have a locking mechanism and reduce snipe. 

2) the planer's minimum thickness may be more than what you're looking for. You can affix your board to something  to make it functionally thicker as long as that something is uniform in thickness (decent plywood is probably fine - I've never done this as I always hand plane thin items). 

I don't have the typical tools that a luthier would have in 2000, I have a lot of what they'd have had in 1890, so I don't have things like drum sanders, etc, that most folks would use to thickness something thin like this. 

Before you are finished with what you're doing, I would get a good look at the fingerboard with some hope that it is close to flat before final thickness. 

 

While I like to work entirely by hand and have no bandsaw or any such things, when the mrs wants something done (like casework, etc), I find a thickness planer to be a godsend, though it cheats me out of part of the work that I really enjoy (dimensioning).  It's worth getting used to using one. They're not that dangerous as long as you keep your hands out of them, but they will make a filthy mess without strong dust control.  Shop vac on trash can with 4 inch line to the planer will catch most. Watch out for the dust control nazis when you start talking about dust control. 

i apparently never responded to this... i apologize... I thought I had but apparently forgot to hit send or something.  Lots of good info here.

the planer is pretty solid afa snipe on ends because it's got both an input and output table... haven't seen any but then I haven't sent anything figured thru. 

I was really thinking this would be the tool to get an item down to 1/8" thickness but apparently not as many have suggested that is perhaps sketchy territory.  I'm going to keep yours and others comments in mind as I get more familiar with the tool.  I plan to use it to thickness some bodies next time I build and perhaps I get more comfy and try using carpet tape to attached to something thicker and result in a much thinner finished size.

thank you for taking the time to response and again I apologize for not responding (I DID, just apparently didn't send it and walked away from the page!)

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I do figured wood all the time in the planer, Wetting helps, also if you can put it through at somewhat of an angle, that helps. Spiral cutter head, even better - but thats getting into some $$. A sacrificial board in front and behind helps with snipe, sort of like how a back board under a piece being drilled helps with chip out. If you get a planer with a locking cutter head, that helps a lot with snipe, my Delta has zero snipe. 

One big thing is that a planer will not make a piece flat. It thicknesses. If you put a bowed piece in, it will thickness but not flatten. A jointer will flatten using it's reference tables. That said. a shorter and thicker piece like body blanks will probably be flattened and are harder on a smaller jointer. 

RE: scary factor - I've got healthy respect for all large power tools, and small hand tools. I'd never tell anyone how to feel, but planer is low on my list. Jointer is way up there, I still get a thrill every time I turn it on, and every pass over the cutter head. Big jointers (12-16") scare the crap out of me. Table saws used to give me a little adrenaline jolt, but I love them so much now. Biggest respect from me is -  jointer (large open cutter head), router (VERY high speed, interchangeable cutter), radial arm saw (too easy to cut your arm off, trapped wood is scary af), sprayed finishes (permanent lung damage). Honorable mention to car jack and jack stands. Working under a car with 6" under clearance is terrifying, and I will have 3 levels of redundancy for keeping that car up. (cinder blocks, jack stands, jack)

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8 hours ago, komodo said:

I do figured wood all the time in the planer, Wetting helps, also if you can put it through at somewhat of an angle, that helps. Spiral cutter head, even better - but thats getting into some $$. A sacrificial board in front and behind helps with snipe, sort of like how a back board under a piece being drilled helps with chip out. If you get a planer with a locking cutter head, that helps a lot with snipe, my Delta has zero snipe. 

One big thing is that a planer will not make a piece flat. It thicknesses. If you put a bowed piece in, it will thickness but not flatten. A jointer will flatten using it's reference tables. That said. a shorter and thicker piece like body blanks will probably be flattened and are harder on a smaller jointer. 

RE: scary factor - I've got healthy respect for all large power tools, and small hand tools. I'd never tell anyone how to feel, but planer is low on my list. Jointer is way up there, I still get a thrill every time I turn it on, and every pass over the cutter head. Big jointers (12-16") scare the crap out of me. Table saws used to give me a little adrenaline jolt, but I love them so much now. Biggest respect from me is -  jointer (large open cutter head), router (VERY high speed, interchangeable cutter), radial arm saw (too easy to cut your arm off, trapped wood is scary af), sprayed finishes (permanent lung damage). Honorable mention to car jack and jack stands. Working under a car with 6" under clearance is terrifying, and I will have 3 levels of redundancy for keeping that car up. (cinder blocks, jack stands, jack)

some good info again - thank you!  I don't have issues with snipe at all - locking head and input/output tables so it doesn't seem to have that issue.  I am getting a 'rib' in the middle of my piece but it's easy to sand out.  afa bow, I know what you mean.  it will take out bow if it's going in sideways if that makes any sense... but obviously will follow the bow on a long piece.  easily managed with router sled at that pt.

I've worked on a table saw - big professional delta... had to do cut lists from 4x8 malamine all the time... had to put laminate through one (talk about risky... laminate will cut you like a razor so you have to fear that AND the table saw - unrolloing the laminate into the blade!). 

Tablesaw is about the most versatile tool in the shop... and there may be a correlation between that and it's reputation for being the most dangerous.  it would make sense that given it's multiple uses it would be more likely to be involved in accidents.  that said... those big heavy delta saws with a 10' table are a lot safer than anything I can afford.  If at some point I find I can't work without one... I'll likely get one.  until then, I'm better off without.  sm for jointer.

jack stands... makes me kind of nervous just thinking about them.  Fortunately I have no auto/mech skills!

thank you again for all the invaluable info!

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You can flatten a board on the planer thicknesser if you feed a cupped board, stuck on a straight board and wedge the under-side of the high spots, that will get the top flat, the flip it over to make the bottom parallel with the new level top. It's certainly not as efficient as a jointer, but it's good enough to get a 3/4" cap flat enough for glueing.

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6 hours ago, ADFinlayson said:

feed a cupped board, stuck on a straight board

^ That. Pieces of melamine covered chipboard are very useful for that since the double sided adhesive (masking tape and super glue) both sticks and gets loose cleanly. And they're cheap, offcuts are sold by next to nothing at kitchen cabinet makers. MDF works well too.

 

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tis a good trick and something to keep in mind... but honestly if a neck blank was bowed... more than say 1/16... think I'd just use it in a lam or not use it at all.  not sure I'd trust that it would'nt become a problem later.  I've built enough cabinets to know that fighting with what wood wants to do... well the wood is gonna win it's just a question of when!

 

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