One of the things I found out very early on in my type of woodworking is that the slabs I use in my projects are often in dire need of planing. The problem with this is the thickness planer I had was not large enough to accommodate the width of most of these slabs. So, I began reviewing my old book and magazine libraries and surfing the Net to try and find something else that might meet the need for the type of work I planned to do.
The results of my search were mixed. The very first option I found, and the one I decided to use as my baseline, was a design for a router planer in one of my old WOOD magazines (April/May 2005):
While the design in this issue was excellent for thinner pieces, I needed something that would also be height adjustable because many of the pieces I was working with were a lot more than 2” thick. So, I designed a small router planer using pipes and plywood height adjustors based loosely on the Wood maganzine design.
This first router sled I designed used aluminum tracks with a clear plexiglass bottom (see photos below). The movement of the router back and forth over the piece was controlled by using the router handles rather than separate handles as in the design in WOOD. Width adjustment was made by opening the table the router planer was mounted on (width adjustment on this table was minimal, so I knew I’d need to come up with something bigger sooner or later).
The concept worked great! The sled needed some work, however. With this design, the router sled was too “wishy-washy” in its movement back and forth, and there was too much of a chance that it would slip off the plywood cross rails if I got careless and wasn’t watching what I was doing close enough. As a result, I went to a “track” sled:
This version worked much better than the first one, but it was still too small to handle the larger slabs I wanted to plane to a flat surface. So, back to the drawing board. Next up – Version 1.1.