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Guide: How to Run Short Boards through a Thickness Planer

by | Dec 6, 2023 | How To

Running short boards through a thickness planer can be challenging if you don’t know how to do it properly. The short wood pieces can cause damage to you, the blades, and the overall working of the planer. So, knowing the safest ways to run small-length boards through thickness planers is compulsory. I will guide you on how to do this job without getting any damage.

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways:

  • Running short boards through a thickness planer requires careful attention to safety and proper techniques.
  • Using a flat and even board is crucial for smooth and accurate planing.
  • A sled can provide stability and prevent damage when running thin or short pieces through a planer.
  • Alternative methods like using a tablesaw or router table can be employed for edge jointing.
  • Match planing short boards can result in tight joints and flat panels.

4 Easy Steps To Run Short Boards Through Thickness Planer

Running short boards through a thickness planer can be a daunting task if you’re not familiar with the proper techniques. However, with the right approach, you can efficiently plane short boards without any damage. Here are four easy steps to help you achieve smooth and accurate results:

  1. Take a Flat Board: Begin by selecting a big, flat board that is long enough to pass through the infeed and outfeed rollers of the planer. This board will serve as a support base for your short wood pieces.
  2. Create a Spacer: To ensure that the short boards are properly supported and won’t cause any damage, use a spacer made from a flat piece of wood that is roughly the same thickness as your short boards. This spacer will provide stability and prevent snipe.
  3. Arrange the Short Boards: Place the short boards on top of the flat board and align them parallel to each other. Make sure there is no overhang and that the edges are flush. This will ensure consistent planing and prevent any uneven results.
  4. Secure the Short Boards: Use clamps or double-sided tape to secure the short boards to the flat board and the spacer. This will prevent any movement or shifting during the planing process, ensuring a smooth and even finish.

By following these four easy steps, you can run short boards through a thickness planer with ease and efficiency. Remember to always prioritize safety and consult the manufacturer’s guidelines for specific instructions on using your planer.

running short boards through a thickness planer

Table: Comparison of Different Techniques for Planing Short Boards

Technique Advantages Disadvantages
Running short boards on a flat board with a spacer
  • Simple and easy to set up
  • Provides support and stability
  • Prevents snipe
  • Requires a flat board and spacer
  • May not be suitable for very short or thin boards
Using a sled
  • Offers additional support and stability
  • Reduces the risk of snipe
  • Requires building or purchasing a sled
  • May take more time to set up
Alternative methods like tablesaw or router table
  • Precise cutting for creating a straight edge
  • Can be used to joint one edge before planing
  • Requires additional tools
  • Not suitable for every workshop setup

Each technique has its own advantages and disadvantages, so choose the method that best suits your specific needs and resources. With the right approach, you can efficiently run short boards through a thickness planer, achieving the desired results with precision and ease.

Tips to Run Short Boards Through Thickness Planer

If you’re planning to run short boards through a thickness planer, it’s important to follow some best practices to ensure smooth and accurate planing. Here are some tips to help you achieve the desired results:

Use a Flat and Even Board

To prevent damage to the cutter head and ensure the desired thickness is achieved, always use a wood board that is flat and even. This will provide a stable surface for the boards to pass through the planer, resulting in a smoother finish.

Secure the Boards

When running short boards through a thickness planer, it’s crucial to secure them properly to avoid any movement or slipping during the planing process. You can use clamps or double-sided tape to hold the boards in place, ensuring they remain stable and aligned.

Take Light Passes

Short boards can be more prone to snipe, which is when the planer cuts deeper at the beginning or end of the board. To minimize snipe, it’s recommended to take light passes and gradually remove material with each pass. This will help achieve a more consistent thickness across the entire length of the board.

thickness planer tips for short boards

Inspect and Adjust

Before running the short boards through the thickness planer, inspect them for any knots, cracks, or other defects that could affect the planing process. Make any necessary repairs or adjustments to ensure smooth and efficient planing.

Clean and Maintain

After planing the short boards, clean the planer thoroughly to remove any wood chips or debris. Regular maintenance of the planer, such as sharpening the blades and lubricating moving parts, will help prolong its lifespan and ensure optimal performance.

Tips for Running Short Boards Through a Thickness Planer
Use a flat and even board
Secure the boards to prevent slipping
Take light passes to minimize snipe
Inspect and adjust the boards before planing
Clean and maintain the planer regularly

Can You Run Boards Through a Planer on Edge?

Running boards through a planer on edge can be a viable option, especially when you need to joint one edge of the board. However, it is crucial to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations and guidelines to ensure safe and effective operation. By adhering to these guidelines, you can achieve the desired results without compromising the integrity of the boards or the planer.

To run boards on edge through a planer, it is recommended to group the pieces together to widen the planing surface. This allows for better stabilization and minimizes the risk of the boards tilting or becoming unstable during the planing process. Additionally, it is important to ensure that the boards you are running on edge are already the same width to ensure uniformity in the planing results.

When running boards on edge through a planer, it is crucial to have at least one straight edge on the board. This is necessary to ensure that the newly planed edge is also straight and parallel to the existing edge. If the boards do not have a straight edge, it is advisable to joint them first using a jointer or another suitable method. A straight edge will allow for consistent and precise planing results.

running short stock through a thickness planer

Table: Pros and Cons of Running Boards on Edge through a Planer

Pros Cons
Allows for jointing one edge of the board Requires careful adherence to manufacturer’s guidelines
Can widen the planing surface for better stabilization Boards must already be the same width
Can achieve parallel and straight edges Requires at least one straight edge on the board

Running boards through a planer on edge can be a useful technique when jointing one edge or achieving parallel and straight edges. However, it is essential to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and ensure the boards have at least one straight edge for consistent and accurate planing results.

Using a Sled to Run Thin or Short Pieces Through a Planer

If you’re working with thin or short pieces of wood and need to run them through a thickness planer, using a sled can be a great solution. A sled provides stability and prevents snipe, ensuring that your pieces are planed evenly and without damage. Here’s how you can use a sled with your thickness planer:

Creating the Sled

To create a sled, you’ll need a flat piece of MDF and two strips of wood. Attach the strips of wood on each side of the MDF, forming a raised guide for your wood pieces to sit on. Make sure the strips are securely attached to the MDF to prevent any movement during the planing process.

Securing the Wood Pieces

Once your sled is ready, place your thin or short wood pieces on top of the sled. To secure them in place, use double-sided window-sealing tape. This tape provides a strong hold without damaging the wood. Make sure your wood pieces are securely taped down to prevent any shifting or movement while planing.

Planing with the Sled

With your wood pieces securely taped to the sled, you can now run them through your thickness planer. Start by adjusting the planer’s depth according to your desired thickness. Then, feed the sled into the planer, making sure to hold onto the sled firmly to maintain stability. As you feed the sled through the planer, the blades will remove material from the wood pieces, resulting in an even and smooth surface.

Using a sled to run thin or short pieces through a planer is an effective way to achieve accurate and consistent results. It provides the necessary support and stability, preventing any potential damage to your wood pieces and the planer itself. Remember to always follow safety guidelines and manufacturer’s recommendations when using a thickness planer.

Benefits of Using a Sled for Thickness Planing Short Boards

Running short boards through a thickness planer can be a delicate task that requires precision and care. One effective method to optimize the planing process for shorter stock is to use a sled. This simple tool offers several benefits that can greatly improve the outcome of your planing projects.

One of the main advantages of using a sled is its ability to prevent damage to both the boards and the planer itself. By securely fastening the short boards to the sled using double-sided window-sealing tape, you create a stable and controlled surface for the planer to operate on. This reduces the risk of snipe, which is the uneven planing that can occur at the beginning or end of a board. The sled acts as a buffer, ensuring that the boards remain flat and properly supported throughout the planing process.

Another benefit of using a sled is the increased accuracy and consistency it provides. The sled helps to eliminate any warping or bowing that may be present in the short boards, allowing for a more even and precise planing result. This is particularly important when working on projects that require tight tolerances or when matching the thickness of multiple boards for seamless assembly.

In addition to its practical advantages, using a sled can also save you time and effort. By avoiding the need to manually feed and handle each short board individually, you can streamline the planing process and increase your overall productivity. The sled allows you to work on multiple boards at once, reducing the number of passes required and ensuring consistent results across all pieces.

optimizing thickness planing for shorter stock

Overall, using a sled for thickness planing short boards offers numerous benefits that can improve the quality and efficiency of your woodworking projects. It provides stability, prevents damage, ensures accuracy, and saves time. Whether you’re working on small-scale crafts or larger furniture pieces, incorporating a sled into your planing process can help you achieve exceptional results.

Alternative Methods for Edge Jointing with a Planer

If you’re looking for alternative methods to joint short boards with a planer, there are a few options you can consider. These methods offer different approaches to achieve a straight edge and ensure a smooth finish. Some common alternatives include using a tablesaw or a router table to create a straight edge before planing. Let’s explore these methods in more detail:

Tablesaw Method

The tablesaw method involves using a tablesaw with a straight-cutting jig to create a straight edge on the short boards. Start by aligning the jig with the saw blade and positioning the board against the jig’s fence. Run the board through the saw, using the jig as a guide to ensure a straight cut. This will create a straight edge on the board, which can then be planed for a smooth finish. It’s important to use proper safety precautions when using a tablesaw, such as wearing safety goggles and using a push stick.

Router Table Method

Another alternative method for edge jointing with a planer is using a router table. This method involves using a straight bit in the router table to create a straight edge on the short boards. Secure the board to the router table fence and run it along the straight bit, allowing the bit to remove material and create a straight edge. Once the edge is straight, the board can then be planed for a smooth finish. Always follow safety guidelines when using a router table, such as wearing eye protection and using a push block.

Both the tablesaw and router table methods offer precise cutting and can be effective in creating a straight edge for jointing short boards with a planer. It’s important to choose the method that works best for your specific needs and consider factors such as safety, available tools, and personal preference.

jointing short boards with a planer

Tips for Running Shorter Boards through a Thickness Planer

When it comes to running shorter boards through a thickness planer, there are a few considerations that can help ensure smooth and accurate results. By following these tips, you can minimize the risk of damage to both your boards and the planer itself.

1. Use a Straight Edge

Before running boards on edge through a thickness planer, it’s important to have at least one straight edge. This ensures that the newly planed edge will also be straight, resulting in a smoother finish. Jointing the boards first or using a sled can help achieve a straight edge before planing.

2. Group Similar Boards Together

If you’re planing multiple shorter boards, it’s beneficial to group similar boards together. This widens the planing surface and provides more stability during the planing process. By ensuring that the boards are already the same width, you can achieve consistent and accurate results.

3. Follow the Manufacturer’s Guidelines

Always refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines and recommendations when running shorter boards through a thickness planer. These guidelines may include minimum length requirements, feed rate recommendations, and general safety precautions. Adhering to these guidelines will help you achieve optimal results and ensure the longevity of your planer.

By implementing these tips, you can confidently run shorter boards through a thickness planer, knowing that you’re taking the necessary precautions and achieving the desired results. Remember to prioritize safety and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines to ensure a successful planing experience.

Factors to Consider when Match Planing Short Boards

When match planing short boards, there are several factors that you need to take into consideration to achieve the best results. By properly understanding and addressing these factors, you can ensure that your match planing process is efficient and effective.

One important factor to consider is the angle at which the boards are fed into the thickness planer. The angle needs to be complementary to the adjacent board for a tight joint. This means that you should carefully align the boards before running them through the planer. Additionally, it is crucial that at least one edge of the board is already straight to achieve the desired outcome.

Another consideration is the size and thickness of the boards. Ensure that the boards are within the recommended limits for your thickness planer. Thin or short boards may require additional support or stabilization to prevent snipe or damage during the planing process.

Factors to Consider when Match Planing Short Boards Explanation
Angle of feeding The angle at which the boards are fed into the planer needs to be complementary to the adjacent board to achieve a tight joint.
Straight edge At least one edge of the board should already be straight to ensure the desired outcome.
Size and thickness Ensure that the boards are within the recommended limits for your thickness planer and provide appropriate support to prevent snipe and damage.

By considering these factors and implementing them in your match planing process, you can achieve precise dimensions and ensure a seamless fit between the boards. This method offers the advantage of creating tight joints and flat panels, resulting in a high-quality finish for your woodworking projects.

Benefits and Limitations of Match Planing Short Boards

Match planing short boards through a thickness planer offers several benefits and limitations to consider. By understanding these factors, you can determine if this method is suitable for your project.

Benefits

  • Tight Joints: Match planing allows for precise dimensions, resulting in tight joints between short boards. This ensures a seamless fit and enhances the overall quality of your project.
  • Flat Panels: Match planing also helps achieve flat and smooth panels. This is especially important when working with short stock, as any inconsistencies or imperfections can significantly affect the final result.

Limitations

  • Straight Edges Required: To effectively match plane short boards, at least one edge of each board should already be straight. If the edges are not straight, additional preparation such as jointing may be necessary before using the thickness planer.
  • Complementary Angles: Match planing relies on feeding adjacent boards at complementary angles to create a tight joint. This requires precision and careful adjustment to ensure a proper fit. It may take practice and experimentation to achieve the desired results.

Despite these limitations, match planing can be an effective method for achieving precise dimensions and seamless joints when working with short boards. By understanding the benefits and limitations, you can make informed decisions and successfully incorporate match planing into your woodworking projects.

Benefits Limitations
Tight Joints Ensures a seamless fit Straight Edges Required
Flat Panels Achieves flat and smooth surfaces Complementary Angles

Safety Precautions when Running Short Boards through a Thickness Planer

When running short boards through a thickness planer, it is crucial to prioritize safety and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines. Here are some key safety precautions to keep in mind:

1. Read the Manufacturer’s Guidelines

Before using a thickness planer, carefully read the manufacturer’s guidelines and instructions. These guidelines often include important information about the minimum length requirements for boards, recommended feed rates, and other safety precautions specific to your planer model. Adhering to these guidelines will help ensure a safe and efficient planing process.

2. Use Proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Always wear the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) when operating a thickness planer. This typically includes safety glasses or goggles to protect your eyes from flying debris, hearing protection to reduce the noise generated by the machine, and a dust mask or respirator to prevent inhalation of wood dust.

3. Secure the Workpiece

Make sure to securely fasten the short boards before feeding them into the planer. This can be done by using hold-down clamps or pressure pads to keep the boards in place and prevent them from moving or shifting during the planing process.

4. Pay Attention to Snipe

Snipe, which refers to a deeper cut at the beginning or end of a board, can be an issue when running short boards through a thickness planer. To minimize snipe, consider using a sacrificial board at the beginning and end of the planing process. This sacrificial board will absorb any potential snipe, protecting your valuable workpiece.

By following these safety precautions, you can ensure a safe and successful planing experience when working with short boards and a thickness planer.

Conclusion

In conclusion, handling short boards in a thickness planer requires proper techniques and precautions to ensure safe and effective results. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can successfully run short boards through a thickness planer without causing damage to yourself, the blades, or the planer itself.

Start by using a flat board that is long enough to easily pass through the infeed and outfeed rollers. This will provide a stable surface for the short wood pieces and prevent any potential accidents.

For added stability and protection, consider using a sled made of a flat piece of MDF and two strips of wood. This sled will not only prevent damage to the boards but also reduce the risk of snipe, ensuring an even planing surface.

Remember to always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and prioritize safety when working with power tools. By doing so, you can confidently handle short boards in a thickness planer and achieve the desired results with precision and efficiency.

FAQ

Can I run short boards through a thickness planer?

Yes, you can run short boards through a thickness planer. However, it is important to follow the proper techniques and precautions to prevent damage to the boards and the planer.

How can I run short boards through a thickness planer?

You can run short boards through a thickness planer by using a flat board, a sled, or other specialized tools to ensure stability and prevent snipe. It is also important to have at least one straight edge on the board and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines.

What is a sled and how can I use it to run short boards through a planer?

A sled is a flat piece of MDF with two strips of wood. To use a sled, the short pieces you want to plane are taped down using double-sided window-sealing tape. The sled provides stability and prevents snipe, reducing the risk of damage to the boards and the planer.

Are there alternative methods for edge jointing with a planer?

Yes, you can use a tablesaw or router table to edge joint with a planer. These tools allow for precise cutting and can be used to create a straight edge that can be planed for a smooth finish.

What are the benefits of match planing short boards?

Match planing short boards can result in tight joints and flat panels, making it an effective method for achieving precise dimensions and ensuring a seamless fit.

What safety precautions should I follow when running short boards through a thickness planer?

Always adhere to the manufacturer’s guidelines and recommendations, including minimum length requirements and feed rate recommendations. It is also important to prioritize safety by wearing appropriate protective equipment and using the planer in a well-ventilated area.