Tool Tip #26: HDPE in the Planer Thicknesser

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Blog entry by robscastle posted 02-20-2017 09:05 AM 2044 reads 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 25: Making Architrave Corner Blocks Part 26 of Tool Tip series Part 27: Removing Iron stains from timber »

I see a few posts regarding the machining of HDPE aka HMDP and even PEHD.

Just to reassure the LJs that were concerned about melting, exploding, and generally screwing up machines, here is some HDPE I scavenged and planed to remove the wear grooves so I could use it again.

This is what it looked like upon recovery from the scrap bin.
End View

The surface to be worked

The first Pass results

Then the final results

Again the end view

Now the worked surface

Note:- The static charge on the chips is real and they “cling” everywhere

-- Regards Robert

10 comments so far

View Boxguy's profile


2591 posts in 2201 days

#1 posted 02-20-2017 10:21 AM

Rob, I too have cut this material. I know it as HMDP, High Molecular Density Plastic. It can be worked with carbide bits. It did clog up my dust collection on my miter saw and the grooves in my drill bits. It will melt if you let the heat build up while you are sanding it. But it does have its uses.

-- Big Al in IN

View BobWemm's profile


2411 posts in 1860 days

#2 posted 02-20-2017 02:08 PM

Thanks Rob.

-- Bob, Western Australia, The Sun came up this morning, what a great start to the day. Now it's up to me to make it even better. I've cut this piece of wood 4 times and it's still too damn short.

View magaoitin's profile


246 posts in 883 days

#3 posted 02-20-2017 03:50 PM

Thanks for this post. I have been wondering about milling this material, and just never tried it before.

I would like to make jig runners and maybe sacrificial fences out of this material, but it can be pricey. Any thoughts on zero clearance inserts? Would the friction and closeness of the blade cause melting? I see that Peachtree offers UHMW zero clearance inserts for most tablesaws, but I have only ever used solid phenolic.

The cost for a single 36” long strip of 3/4” x 3/8” material on Amazon and Peachtree Woodoworking is a bit high ($7.99 + $5.99 S&H each through Amazon) so buying a partial sheet might make this more feasible.

-- Jeff ~ Tacoma Wa.

View Greg the Cajun Wood Artist's profile

Greg the Cajun Wood Artist

417 posts in 876 days

#4 posted 02-20-2017 03:58 PM

I’m not sure if this is the same as UHMW…but I covered the top of my worktable with 1/4” UHMW and found it easy to work with as far as cutting and routing goes.

It cannot be glued…even with the best epoxy glue. I had to countersink flathead screws to keep it securely attached.

I also have some 1” UHNW that I have run through my planer and also through my jointer with very good results.

-- Wood for projects is like a good Fart..."better when you cut it yourself"

View Roger's profile


20916 posts in 2738 days

#5 posted 02-20-2017 04:03 PM

Yep, talk about static

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

View pottz's profile


2597 posts in 918 days

#6 posted 02-20-2017 06:34 PM

im using it for zero clearance inserts right now so far its worked great.and yes it can clog up vac lines,i milled it down to thickness on my jointer and had to take apart the 4” lines because the stringy strands accumulated it one of the elbows causing a complete clog.something to consider,not sure ill use it anymore.

-- sawdust the bigger the pile the bigger my smile-larry,so cal.

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10012 posts in 3986 days

#7 posted 02-20-2017 06:50 PM

Very interesting…

... have not tried any of this…

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

View Kaleb the Swede's profile

Kaleb the Swede

1816 posts in 1903 days

#8 posted 02-20-2017 07:07 PM

Check restaurant supply places. The cutting boards for bane Marie’s use them. Bought a half inch thick piece at 24 inches long, sixteen wide for 10 bucks. They also have 3/4 thick too

-- Just trying to build something beautiful

View pottz's profile


2597 posts in 918 days

#9 posted 02-20-2017 08:21 PM

good tip kaleb i got cutting boards at sams club.

-- sawdust the bigger the pile the bigger my smile-larry,so cal.

View CharlesA's profile


3310 posts in 1731 days

#10 posted 02-20-2017 10:16 PM

When I have made runnes from UHMW they curl a fair amount. They usually work because they’re pliable and slick, but not as well as I like.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

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