First time using new thickness planer

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Blog entry by dalec posted 03-19-2008 03:09 AM 9441 reads 0 times favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch

It always seems in preparing to do something, I find I have to do several other related things to get to that thing I want to get done. This much the same in my search for a way to flatten some boards I have.

I am just starting out with not a lot of equipment, but have found a need to flatten some boards. It was suggested to me that I look at getting a planer as a next purchase rather than a jointer. In part this was a budgetary issue and also a space issue.

I have been using my shop vac attached to my bench table saw to control the saw dust. But with the idea of getting a planer, I knew I needed to get serious about dust collection and control, especially with my shop sharing the garage. I have been running my saw and shop vac off the existing 20 amp circuit in the garage. I decided I need to add two additional 120v 20 amp circuits to my garage. With the electrical panel within a few feet of my saw, it made the job much easier. Now I have a dedicated circuit for dust collection and one for a power tool.

I ordered a delta 50-760 dust collector, jet air filteration system and the Dewalt 735 planer with the in-feed and outfeed tables. The filteration system arrived and is installed. The planer arrived last week, as I was working, I thought I would wait for the dust collector to arrive and to set up both as the same time.

I went ahead and unboxed the planer. I had an old miter saw stand that came with my Rigid miter saw that I had broken down about a year ago. I thought I would put it together and use it as the base for the planer. Once I mounted to planer to the stand, I attached the in and outfeed tables, adjusted the tables to be level with the planer deck. The stand works nicely for the planer stand, it is a bit tall, but serviceable.

I decided to try out the planer even without the dust collector. Made a sled out of 3/4” plywood, put in my ear protection, put an oak board on the sled and lowered the planer head to touch the board, pulled the board away from the cutter heads, turned on the planer, lowered the head 1/4 a turn and pushed the sled until it was picked up by the planer roller. Out the other side, and then ran the board through twice more lowering the cutter 1/4 – 1/2 turn each time. What a nice finish! It was much smoother than I had expected. Fliipped the flattened side over and ran it through the planer without the sled. a couple more times lowering the crank 1/4 to 1/2 turn each time. I now have a board that is flat on both sides, no snipe and very smooth. It feels like magic. The Dewalt 735 on the first run through is as good as the reviews on LJ and Fine Woodworking say it is.

I then look down behind the planer and I saw saw dust everywhere. Maybe no more planing until I get my dust collection system running, then again, it was some much fun, maybe not.


18 comments so far

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 3406 days

#1 posted 03-19-2008 03:28 AM

Feels pretty good dressing your own lumber, huh?

Good job. Who needs a jointer.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Mike Lingenfelter's profile

Mike Lingenfelter

503 posts in 3532 days

#2 posted 03-19-2008 03:51 AM

Lately I’ve been thinking with a sled you might be able to do without a jointer. With other techniques and some hand tools you can easily joint up the edges. I was thinking my next big purchase, when I have the room, would be a really big planer. I would never be able to afford to buy a really big jointer to go along with it, but I was thinking I really don’t need to. With a couple different size sleds I could accomplish the same thing.

View Woodshopfreak's profile


389 posts in 3160 days

#3 posted 03-19-2008 04:10 AM

I’m hopeing to get a planer sometime soon. It is a really great thing to have around the shop.

-- Tyler, Illinois

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27251 posts in 3240 days

#4 posted 03-19-2008 04:42 AM

Hi Dalec,

These things generate a ton of dust. Is there any way you can move it outside and run it?

Before I put the dust collection attachment on my Delta I rolled it outside on the driveway and planed to my hearts content. Of course I still got yelled at for “making a terrible mess” on the driveway and “letting the wind blow wood shavings back into my shop. But it was either that or no planing.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View cajunpen's profile


14566 posts in 3484 days

#5 posted 03-19-2008 04:59 AM

Glad to hear that you got your planer – they are incredible tools. You absolutely can do some jointing with your planer. You will need to build a jig to carry the wood through, but it works as good as a jointer – and you can do several boards of the same width at one time. The current issue of either Shop Notes, Wood Magazine has a plan for such a jig in it (I think I saw it in the Tips section). The only limitation is the height of your planer.

-- Bill - "Suit yourself and let the rest be pleased."

View DocK16's profile


1178 posts in 3505 days

#6 posted 03-19-2008 05:26 AM

Had to go back and read GaryK’s post on the sled to figure out exactly what you were talking about but yes this is a good way to get a truly flat milled board using only a planer. If you do alot of planing with only a bag type dust collector you might want to invest in a garbage can cyclone-type lid as planing does make tons of sawdust and shavings. Garbage can separater is much quicker and easier to empty than cloth dust bags and holds 3 x as much.

-- Common sense is so rare anymore when you do see it, it looks like pure genius.

View dalec's profile


613 posts in 3307 days

#7 posted 03-19-2008 05:43 AM

Thanks Gary for the suggestion that I go with a planer and using a sled in the first place. It feels like the best buying decision I have made so far.

I can’t wait to learn how to really use the planer.

Thanks everyone for your interest and encouragement.


View dalec's profile


613 posts in 3307 days

#8 posted 03-19-2008 05:53 AM


Thanks for the suggestion. I have been thinking about the amount of dust (shavings and heavier saw dust) the planer produces and have read several articles suggesting adding a separator to a single stage dust collector. I am sold on the idea.


View Pete Santos's profile

Pete Santos

172 posts in 3427 days

#9 posted 03-19-2008 06:00 AM

Just some thoughts:
You will have to “experiment” with different woods to get a good feel for them.
Pay attention to the wood grain.
Planers can be dangerous, I was in a shop when a guy tried to plane a short piece on the end grain, bad mistake.
My biggest complaint owning a planer is just having to sharpen the blades and set them.

No groundbreaking secrets, just some things I had to learn by experience.

-- Greatness is not found in possessions, power, position, or prestige. It is discovered in goodness, humility, service, and love.

View dalec's profile


613 posts in 3307 days

#10 posted 03-19-2008 06:07 AM


Thanks for the words of caution on planing end cuts. Now that I have run my first boards through the planer, I will have to slow down and check the grain direction before starting a cut.


View Dadoo's profile


1789 posts in 3409 days

#11 posted 03-19-2008 10:23 PM

I really get a “charge” outta my planer. I’ve acquired some old dirty barn timbers and pieces and it’s so exciting to plane them flat revealing what you have underneath! Just be sure to wire brush the dirt off first and then check for metal. Dirt and metal plays havoc on your blades.

I was planing a bunch of maple boards and had generated a pile of shaveings about a foot deep and a good 4’ long, when the wife came home from work. She was stressing the necessity of my being sure to clean up (so I don’t track this pile into her house) when our Labrador went over and layed down on top of that pile! He was covered. She locked the door. Wouldn’t let us in till she was certain we had cleaned up!

-- Bob Vila would be so proud of you!

View davidtheboxmaker's profile


373 posts in 3223 days

#12 posted 03-19-2008 10:29 PM

You’ve already commented on the need to check grain direction – you’ll find different timbers react differently to the planer – some are very easy, others are difficult with chip out problems at random points.
You can use a router as a jointer – it works well for me, and saves space.

View dalec's profile


613 posts in 3307 days

#13 posted 03-19-2008 10:56 PM


You are right about the charge you get from planing off the initial layer of finish off old boards to reveal the natural work color underneath. I ran a few more boards through this morning. I ended up fashioning saw dust chute of sorts using an old sheet to direct the saw dust to one general area of the shop. It worked well enough to keep the far reaches of the shop relatively free of the heavier saw dust. Still lots of dust.

Will be glad when I get delivery of my dust collector and set it up with metal garbage can separator. Then I can begin figuring out how to correct for the sniping I found with my last few boards.


View jcees's profile


1011 posts in 3217 days

#14 posted 03-19-2008 11:50 PM

To overcome snipe, I finish plane a board using outriggers the same height as the thickness of the board and extending at least six inches past the end effectively transferring the snipe to the outriggers. Snipe be gone!

I don’t own a jointer either. The only I ever wanted, I couldn’t get into my limited space. It happened to be a 16” Yates-American. Hooking up 3 phase would have been an issue too, dang it. Oh well, I can flatten boards by hand if need be and have indeed flattened one side by hand then flipped it and run the rough side through my 15” planer. Just another way to skin a poodle.

GaryK has a wicked cool way of doing it ALL by machine and I’m going to peruse it just as soon as I have a chance to. Jigs are good.


-- When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. -- John Muir

View dalec's profile


613 posts in 3307 days

#15 posted 03-20-2008 02:03 AM


Fine woodworking has an video on using a sled to flatten a board. It is yet another way to flattening a board. I am just beginning to understand Gary’s method its pretty clever.


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