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Planer Envy -- Can't help messing stuff up

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Forum topic by JosephNY posted 08-12-2016 01:04 PM 1161 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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JosephNY

31 posts in 1626 days


08-12-2016 01:04 PM

I’m making a coffee table out of a single slab and thought I should plane it.

I have just about no experience planing.

So I planed it with an electric hand planer, as carefully as I could, and then hand planed it.

In the process, I gouged out wood in a number of placed.

I tried planing more, but it’s not helping.

I tried sanding, but the gouges are too deep.

How can I fix this?

Below are pictures.

Thank you!


17 replies so far

View gargey's profile

gargey

457 posts in 235 days


#1 posted 08-12-2016 01:13 PM

What is an electric hand planer?

Not a great idea to make your first attempts at hand planing on a valuable large slab.

You can fix it by learning and improving your hand planing skills on scraps (which will take a long time) until you build up the skills to tackle the slab, which has a higher degree of difficulty.

Or you can find someone else to try to fix it for you. Or get a big serious sander.

What kind of hand planes do you have? Like I said, learning to sharpen, set up, and tackle tough woods can take some time, but once you have the skills you could fix it.

There’s also scraping, whole nuther can of worms…

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JosephNY

31 posts in 1626 days


#2 posted 08-12-2016 01:30 PM

Sorry, I must have used the wrong term. By “electric hand planer,” I mean a handheld planer with electric motor, as opposed to a hand planer or motorized planer that sits on a worktop or floor. What is the correct term?

I would love to improve my skills, but time is (and probably brain cells are) too limited.

Having someone do it for me defeats the entire purpose of the project—that is, to do it myself.

(Although, I’ll trade a similar slab for a couple of good in person planing lessons (;-)

It sounds like I just need to keep sanding.

And not plane any more.

I’ve got a belt sander with 40 grit I could try.


What is an electric hand planer?

Not a great idea to make your first attempts at hand planing on a valuable large slab.

You can fix it by learning and improving your hand planing skills on scraps (which will take a long time) until you build up the skills to tackle the slab, which has a higher degree of difficulty.

Or you can find someone else to try to fix it for you. Or get a big serious sander.

What kind of hand planes do you have? Like I said, learning to sharpen, set up, and tackle tough woods can take some time, but once you have the skills you could fix it.

There s also scraping, whole nuther can of worms…

- gargey


View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

8235 posts in 2888 days


#3 posted 08-12-2016 01:44 PM

Got a router and a bottom cleaning bit? You may need one and a sled to straddle the work. That would be my solution. Unless someone else has a better one.
Here’s a pic.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View joey502's profile

joey502

487 posts in 977 days


#4 posted 08-12-2016 02:06 PM

40 on a belt sander is pretty agressive. That solution could end up worse than the problem. You can easily create hills and valleys.

I would suggest using random orbital sander. Start with a coarse grit, 60 maybe, work up to finer grits. Be sure to alternate your sanding directions to help avoid creating an uneven surface. Google techniques, there have been a few articles on power sanding in the various magazines in the last few years. This will take a while but 60 and then 80 grit will level things out pretty well. Your higher grits will smooth the surface.

What hand plane are you using? How sharp is it?

Your slab chages grain direction a lot, especially around the center. Tearout is a problem when the grain changes direction and you plane direction does not. Tricky grain can be planed but sharpness of your tools, angle of the blade and angle of the plane matter a lot more on changing grains.

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4448 posts in 3420 days


#5 posted 08-12-2016 02:35 PM

My suggestion would be to find a shop with a wide belt sander and have them surface the slab. Then you can do the final sanding/finishing.
An electric hand plane is for doing door edges and rough stuff. Never designed for surface planning. I have not used mine in 5 years, but it is standin’ by if needed.
Bill

-- bill@magraphics.us

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bandit571

14526 posts in 2142 days


#6 posted 08-12-2016 02:49 PM

One of the hardest areas to plane is an area like around that knot. You have to take thin slices. Slices instead of shavings. You push the plane along, with the plane at an angle, so that the cutter slices along.

Grain around a knot will swirl from all sorts of directions. You need to go at the same angles, and with the grain. Set the depth of cut to where it barely is cutting. No need to get in a rush. Work towards the center of a large knot like the one you have.

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View BilltheDiver's profile

BilltheDiver

250 posts in 2345 days


#7 posted 08-12-2016 06:45 PM

Another vote for the router & sled method

-- "Measure twice, cut once, count fingers"

View pintodeluxe's profile

pintodeluxe

4852 posts in 2272 days


#8 posted 08-12-2016 06:59 PM

Take it to an industrial shop with a wide planer or drum sander. I have done that for several large tables or furniture tops, and it really saves a lot of work.
The shop I use has a 50” wide helical head planer / dual drum sander combo. It planes and sands at 80 and 120 grit all in one pass. I usually stare at that machine in awe.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View bobasaurus's profile (online now)

bobasaurus

2647 posts in 2643 days


#9 posted 08-12-2016 07:12 PM

I would probably router sled to flatten the top, then use a finely set and very sharp smoothing plane to clean it up. Or a random orbit would do an okay job, too.

-- Allen, Colorado

View OSU55's profile

OSU55

1056 posts in 1449 days


#10 posted 08-12-2016 08:07 PM

I’ve used a router with a x-slide and rails, I always had significant tear out. It was with oak. Other woods may do better. Cleaning up the tear out and tool lines with an ROS sucked. Once I figured out hand planes, I haven’t needed the router or sander. Here's some hand plane tuning that might help. Blade sharpness, chip breaker tuning and setting are very important with figured wood. 45° BD planes can only do so much regardless of sharpness or breaker setting. Hi cutting angles are then needed – hi angle smoothers, scraper planes, card scrapers.

View Texcaster's profile

Texcaster

1138 posts in 1133 days


#11 posted 08-12-2016 10:44 PM

I’m old school when it comes to dressing rough slabs. Winding sticks and a power planner to true the slab, then a hand plane and a cabinet scrapper for the problem areas. When using the scraper work a large area to avoid making a crater. Finish with a random orbital.

http://lumberjocks.com/Texcaster/blog/53473

-- Mama calls me Texcaster but my real name is Mr. Earl.

View mikeber's profile

mikeber

9 posts in 319 days


#12 posted 08-15-2016 08:42 PM


I ve used a router with a x-slide and rails, I always had significant tear out. It was with oak. Other woods may do better. Cleaning up the tear out and tool lines with an ROS sucked. Once I figured out hand planes, I haven t needed the router or sander. Here s some hand plane tuning that might help. Blade sharpness, chip breaker tuning and setting are very important with figured wood. 45° BD planes can only do so much regardless of sharpness or breaker setting. Hi cutting angles are then needed – hi angle smoothers, scraper planes, card scrapers

Surfacing such a big slab is a challenge. It’s nice saying that one can use a hand planner with a well honed blade, etc, etc. The biggest problem is not working one spot, but keeping the entire slab level with a 1.5” wide blade. A planning router riding on a rail is an easier solution once you set it up. It keeps the tool precisely at a constant level. Achieving the same accuracy freehand is difficult for inexperienced workers. The problem however may be more tear up if the cutter and wood grain don’t match well.
However, as others pointed out, sanding it at a shop equipped with a wide format sander may be the easiest and best way.

View OSU55's profile

OSU55

1056 posts in 1449 days


#13 posted 08-16-2016 12:09 AM


Surfacing such a big slab is a challenge. It s nice saying that one can use a hand planner with a well honed blade, etc, etc. The biggest problem is not working one spot, but keeping the entire slab level with a 1.5” wide blade. A planning router riding on a rail is an easier solution once you set it up. It keeps the tool precisely at a constant level. Achieving the same accuracy freehand is difficult for inexperienced workers. The problem however may be more tear up if the cutter and wood grain don t match well.
However, as others pointed out, sanding it at a shop equipped with a wide format sander may be the easiest and best way.

- mikeber

You don’t become experienced by not doing it. The op’s issue appeared/sounded to me to be tear out/gouges vs flatness. While a router can get a pretty flat, level surface, it requires significant work to get to “ready to finish”, at least that’s been my experience. You need to define “precisely at a constant level” for the router setup. Mine left .010” or so cut lines, and tear out. I don’t have that issue with hand planes. For a rough surfaced slab, a router is a good approach to rough out the surface and get parallel, then hand plane down to ready to finish.

Depends on what the op wants – a quick fix (find a shop with a drum sander or planer wide enough) or figuring out how to handle similar situations in the future.

View JosephNY's profile

JosephNY

31 posts in 1626 days


#14 posted 08-16-2016 12:35 AM

Wow! Thank you all so much.

I tried the belt sander and kept a close eye for creating hills/valleys. I tried to run the sander over the entire piece as uniformly as possible. It got rid of almost all the tearout. I then switched to the ROS and worked up through the grits.

I just today put on a couple of thin coats of epoxy. I’ll sand and epoxy more tomorrow.

It’s definitely not perfect, but I think I’ll like it.

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JosephNY

31 posts in 1626 days


#15 posted 08-18-2016 11:40 PM

Update:

I belt sanded it, then 2 coats of West epoxy, then 3 coats of Rustoleum Spar Varnish.

Then I hated it. The spar varnish is too soft, and, finishing outside, there were about 100 bugs caught in the finish.

So today I stripped the varnish (and some of the epoxy) with a card scraper (boy are my arms tired), and I love the look. And feel. And how flat and even/consistent it looks.

But, I’m scared to continue finishing it. I seem to have a block when it comes to successful varnishing.

Should I use a fast dry poly (Minwax)? Another varnish? A drying oil?

It’s going to be a coffee table (when it grows up).

Below is a pic that doesn’t do it justice.

Thanks!

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