Curly Maple Thicknessing Problem

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Forum topic by ardbeg posted 02-13-2010 07:11 PM 2564 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View ardbeg's profile


102 posts in 2117 days

02-13-2010 07:11 PM

I just bought my first curly maple board for a new box project and was all excited. No matter how small a pass I take it through the planer I get horrible tearout. I have run some walnut and pine through and it is okay. Is this a common issue with the more open grain on the curly? Do I need a drum sander (Which I don’t have) to thickness it without getting all the tearout? I could obviously get it close and then go at it with my belt sander and ROS, but I don’t have the skills to get it perfectly parallel after that. It is an absolutely gorgeous piece of wood and I don’t want to destroy it. Thoughts?

-- You may delay, but time will not. --Ben Franklin

11 replies so far

View kolwdwrkr's profile


2821 posts in 2680 days

#1 posted 02-13-2010 07:20 PM

sometimes if it gets tearout one direction you can rotate it and it should be okay. Curly maple is a pain to plane, so you may consider the drum sander. A local shop may have one you can buy time on. You could also trie running them through at an angle. You could also try using a card scraper to get the checks out.

-- ~ Inspiring those who inspire me ~

View a1Jim's profile


113832 posts in 2667 days

#2 posted 02-13-2010 07:22 PM

Hey Gus
Unless you have a spiral head on your planner highly figured woods tend to have tear out. One thing you can do is to wet it down with a sponge before planning that should help a lot .Still take lite cuts. Plus the ideas Keith had.

-- Custom furniture

View Jesse's profile


66 posts in 2308 days

#3 posted 02-13-2010 07:24 PM

I have also heard that some people lightly wet the wood before running through the planer. I can’t speak from experience though.

edit: Jim beat me to it

-- Jesse, Hopewell Jct., NY

View mtnwild's profile


3474 posts in 2617 days

#4 posted 02-13-2010 07:42 PM

I’ve also had this problem with the figured maple. If it’s for a really nice project I put in brand new sharp planer blades and make shallow cuts. This usually works pretty good, work slow, if I still am getting some tear out I stop early and plan on a lot of sanding.
I don’t have a thickness sander, i use a belt sander or by hand on small areas.
The water trick sounds cool, I’ll have to give that a try…

-- mtnwild (Jack), It's not what you see, it's how you see it.

View Ger21's profile


702 posts in 2221 days

#5 posted 02-13-2010 08:17 PM

Also try feeding it at an angle, if the board is not too big.

-- Gerry,

View cathyb's profile


767 posts in 2334 days

#6 posted 02-13-2010 10:12 PM

I use quite a bit of curly koa for my work, which has the same problem. Curly=end grain on the face as well as the ends, which accounts for all the problems. I have the General jointer with a spiral cutter and I have no problems with tear out. I know plenty of guys who have tried to mill curly koa with sickening results on a traditional jointer and in the thickness planer. Jack is right about taking shallow cuts and getting sharp knives on there. If you don’t have a drum sander, it might be worth paying a millwork shop to plane that wood for you. Good luck…..

-- cathyb, Hawaii,

View closetguy's profile


744 posts in 2982 days

#7 posted 02-14-2010 02:43 AM

This was the original reason I bought a drum sander.

-- I don't make mistakes, only design

View KevinVan's profile


91 posts in 2241 days

#8 posted 02-14-2010 07:58 PM

Get a drum sander….You will be happy you did.

-- ALS IK KAN “to the best of my ability,”

View russv's profile


262 posts in 2259 days

#9 posted 02-15-2010 12:43 AM

i own a legacy and one thing it does well is plane highly figured wood. basically, build a level rail system for the router, use a bottoming bit and you can smooth the board as smooth as a baby’s bottom. you will use it over and over once built.

look at this project to get an idea of what i am talking about.
you can build one out of wood instead


-- where to go because you don't want no stinking plastic!

View Chris 's profile


1869 posts in 3081 days

#10 posted 02-15-2010 02:35 AM

The original Power tools works extremely well for this… Muscle power. I.E. Handplanes then scrapers for the final finish.

-- "Everything that is great and inspiring is created by the individual who labors in freedom" -- Albert Einstein

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 2858 days

#11 posted 02-15-2010 02:43 AM

figured woods are tough to plane. i’ve got some waterfall bubinga that i’m planing and its a bear and i’m sure your maple is not nearly as bad as this stuff. and the thing that makes the big difference is that before you run it through wet the surface with water. i’ve been taking about a 1/4 or a turn on each pass and an 1/8 of a turn on the finishing passes. but its that water that makes the difference.

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