A new Toy: Thickness planer

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Blog entry by Dave Rutan posted 06-04-2014 02:03 PM 2324 reads 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

One thing that I have long felt lacking among my group of tools was a thickness planer. Since I tend to look for discarded wood (I.E. free) to use for projects very often the wood is a bit rough. Mostly it will have a previous owner’s finish on it which I am forced to remove. I’d also like to utilize pallet wood, since it’s free in my area, but my list of ‘rustic’ projects is a bit short.

So some time ago, I started saving my pocket change towards buying a thickness planer. I consider it a voluntary tax on myself with a benefit at the end. I also got some additions from other sources. I’ve been shopping around and narrowed it down to two choices. The unit that won offered a dust collection hook up while the other did not.

So Monday I picked up my new toy and unboxed it. I did not have time to try it out beyond certifying that the motor ran. I read the manual multiple times and checked that the blades were not loose.

This morning I had some time so decided to try it out. I ran some drawer fronts through it. (Did I mention I collect dressers and such for the wood?) The planer ran fine. The gears didn’t fly off, the belts didn’t snap, the wood wasn’t thrown across the room. I did get some snipe, about 2 1/2 inches worth, but drawer fronts tend to have holes in them on the ends where the knobs were attached, so I don’t consider this a biggie, plus I have not yet begun to play with adjustments of the tables. And giving some light support to the piece as it enters and exits the planer is supposed to help. The surface I got is very smooth too, not like in the reviews.

I discovered that several of the drawer fronts are some kind of good wood. They are a dark red/brown color with a nice grain. They aren’t even glue ups! What sort of musical instruments might I make from them… Hmm.

Oh, and the planer is a Craftsman 12.5 inch x 6 in. and it looks very much like the one from the ads below.

The runner up was a Porter Cable 15 amp model. My Craftsman is actually more expensive, but it was on sale. The blades are cheaper too. Yay!

-- Ni faru ion el ligno!

10 comments so far

View firefighterontheside's profile


19571 posts in 2090 days

#1 posted 06-04-2014 02:08 PM

Depending on what existing finish is on the wood, you may want to sand it off before sending it thru the planer. Some factory finish is very tough and will dull your knives quickly. Congrats on getting the planer. They are wonderful to have.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View Dave Rutan's profile

Dave Rutan

1754 posts in 2422 days

#2 posted 06-04-2014 03:20 PM

firefighterontheside, That’s a good idea. I have a cabinet scraper and it would do me no harm to scrape the finish off, or most of it.

-- Ni faru ion el ligno!

View Oldtool's profile


2747 posts in 2424 days

#3 posted 06-04-2014 03:26 PM

Congratulations Dave, this tool is a real time saver, as well as a blessing for your back should you have hand planned prior.
I agree 100% with firefighter above, existing finish can dull blades rather quickly. Also look out for fasteners – nails, staples, etc., not nice to plane your boards only to have a ridge up the length where the blades are nicked.

Enjoy your new toy, you saved your pennies & now comes the reward.

-- "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The point is to bring them the real facts." - Abraham Lincoln

View Dave Rutan's profile

Dave Rutan

1754 posts in 2422 days

#4 posted 06-04-2014 03:43 PM

Oldtool, I have a wand style metal detector. I check anything that’s going through a motorized machine, just in case.

As far a planing by hand goes, I have my dad’s jack plane, but I haven’t had much luck with it.

-- Ni faru ion el ligno!

View nomercadies's profile


590 posts in 2572 days

#5 posted 06-04-2014 08:30 PM

I must watch this as it goes. I just started using my Dewalt 12.5 and have been swooning over the results. What fun not using stock thicknesses offered by the big boxes.

-- Chance Four "Not Just a Second Chance"

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2924 days

#6 posted 06-05-2014 12:13 AM

I agree that a planer is a necessity and it is so rewarding to uncover some gorgeous wood under years of crud. I like mine so much, I just bought a big one!

Already been said but I’ll add that dirt and prefinished hardwood flooring are really hard on blades. Don’t throw those ‘disposable’ blades away when dull. I get mine resharpened and they work better than new.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View NormG's profile


6375 posts in 3238 days

#7 posted 06-05-2014 02:03 AM

Congrats – very handy things to have

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View Dave Rutan's profile

Dave Rutan

1754 posts in 2422 days

#8 posted 06-05-2014 02:19 AM

gfadvm, Great, now I’m trying to imagine a jig to sharpen planer blades on my worksharp.

-- Ni faru ion el ligno!

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2924 days

#9 posted 06-05-2014 02:22 AM

Several guys have posted jigs to sharpen planer blades with sandpaper and a flat surface. Me? I send em to a sharpener guy!

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View robscastle's profile


5626 posts in 2438 days

#10 posted 06-05-2014 08:30 AM

An almost essential tool if working with rough sawn timber along with a jointer.
The thicknesser is almost the most wood chip producing tool going as well so ensure you have a suitable Vac connected to it,
Clog it up and you will ruin your material.

The one I have is a real screamer, so earmufs are also required.

Buy a series of blades and change them often. hunt around ebay etc as there are some bargains out there.

I use a diamond burnisher on mine with the blades in the machine, otherwise its a swap out and sent off for resharpening, I found it was more accurate and then the resetting was simplified as well.

-- Regards Rob

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