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Trick for flattening on the router table

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Forum topic by toddbeaulieu posted 03-27-2017 01:42 PM 840 views 2 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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toddbeaulieu

810 posts in 2842 days


03-27-2017 01:42 PM

I’m finally getting around to trying my hand at cutting boards. I was thinking about how flatten them and whether I could invert the old router sled approach. It turned out to be very quick and easy. Sure, you have to deal with end grain tear out, but that’s not specific to this technique.

Place the side you want to flatten face down on the router table (table saw, etc). I’ll leave the leveling to you, because that’s specific to your project. My boards were level enough that I didn’t need to worry about that, and I planned to skim them on the jointer afterwards, anyway, getting the sides perpendicular. Straddle the board with two jointed runners. I find 2×4 (flat side down) to be best because it have plenty of material to over-route into without coming through it. Also, I like the additional surface area. I had issues with my T track in front, where plywood runners would settle into the track. Clamp the runners, taking care to ensure that the clamps aren’t resting on the table.Raise the bit up until it’s kissing the underside of the board and let the fun begin. Because you can’t easily see under the board, the 2×4’s make it much easier to deal with the outer edges. With thinner runners it slows things down trying to ride the runner without eating too far into it. You raise the bit up more if the first pass doesn’t reach the low spots.

In this photo I used plywood runners. It was my first attempt.


15 replies so far

View LittleShaver's profile

LittleShaver

207 posts in 457 days


#1 posted 03-27-2017 01:56 PM

Clever. Thanks for the tip.

-- Sawdust Maker

View Carloz's profile

Carloz

979 posts in 429 days


#2 posted 03-27-2017 02:04 PM

Why wouldn’t you just use a hand plane? It is faster safer, makes no dust and is far more pleasant to work with.

View Bill_Steele's profile

Bill_Steele

217 posts in 1569 days


#3 posted 03-27-2017 02:50 PM

I like this idea—a variation could be used for the planer or drum sander (guides attached below face to be flattened). Is this an end grain cutting board? Did you have much tear-out? I understand that tear-out is an issue on the thickness planer for end grain cutting boards.

Can you tell us more about the router bit you used (e.g. picture, where it can be bought)?

I’ve never had much luck cleanly cutting end-grain with a hand plane. Maybe I’m not getting the iron sharp enough or I ‘m using the wrong technique. Always seems like there is a tremendous amount of resistance when trying to make the cut. I would probably reach for a belt sander if I was going to flatten it by hand.

Thanks for sharing.

View toddbeaulieu's profile

toddbeaulieu

810 posts in 2842 days


#4 posted 03-27-2017 03:12 PM

This is end grain. I’ve never planed end grain before. I’ll have to research what that takes, because even my LN low angle wouldn’t touch it. Maybe end grain requires a high angle of attack? Granted I haven’t sharpened it in a while, but I don’t use it THAT much. Seems to work well with everything else. I tried a number 6 on it that is reasonably sharp and again, it was having none of that. BTW, I did flatten the board by hand before cutting and turning grain.

For the second side I used the planer. I was VERY careful! Heard horror stories of exploding boards and even damaging the planer or breaking blades. I really wanted the second time flat and parallel .. and I wanted to experiment. Even a hair of handle adjustment produced more noise than I was comfortable with!

Bill, it’s just a straight bit from Freud. I must have bought it at Woodcraft because I have no record of it in my Amazon purchases. Whiteside makes one similar to it, part number 1097.

Finally, with either approach there was quite a bit of tear-out. I spent a lot of time sitting in front of the boards with 40 grit. Ugh. I wish i had a drum sander.

Here’s what I did this weekend (actually, two of the larger board).

View BurlyBob's profile

BurlyBob

5061 posts in 2103 days


#5 posted 03-27-2017 03:27 PM

I really like that last one. Guess I was lucky on the batch of 27 I just finished. They were from a load of scrap my buddy who runs a cabinet shop dumped on me. I bugged him to let me use his wide belt sander to flatten them out. Sure made that part an easy job. Only cost me a bottle of Patrone!

View TheFridge's profile

TheFridge

8323 posts in 1324 days


#6 posted 03-27-2017 05:11 PM

Low angle for end grain. Shallow cuts. Sharp is master.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View toddbeaulieu's profile

toddbeaulieu

810 posts in 2842 days


#7 posted 03-27-2017 05:19 PM

I do need to take some time to sharpen my stuff. And I think I was trying to be too aggressive.

View KnickKnack's profile

KnickKnack

1087 posts in 3404 days


#8 posted 03-27-2017 05:27 PM

This technique can also be used for producing “wedge” shaped boards… like these.

-- "Do not speak – unless it improves on silence." --- "Following the rules and protecting the regulations is binding oneself without rope."

View toddbeaulieu's profile

toddbeaulieu

810 posts in 2842 days


#9 posted 03-27-2017 05:28 PM

Dang it, so I wasn’t the first to figure this technique out, huh? So, they won’t be naming it after me?

View KnickKnack's profile

KnickKnack

1087 posts in 3404 days


#10 posted 03-27-2017 06:12 PM


Dang it, so I wasn t the first to figure this technique out, huh? So, they won t be naming it after me?

- toddbeaulieu


I’m guessing I wasn’t the first either!

But it’s a good and useful post – I use this on almost every project I make (I like wedges) – I have no jointer, and I’ve never managed to make planes work for me, so this is my “go-to” system for flattening.

-- "Do not speak – unless it improves on silence." --- "Following the rules and protecting the regulations is binding oneself without rope."

View oldnovice's profile

oldnovice

6433 posts in 3206 days


#11 posted 03-27-2017 07:23 PM

You turned “flattening” upside-down!
Clever trick!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View DirtyMike's profile

DirtyMike

637 posts in 740 days


#12 posted 03-27-2017 08:32 PM

Fantastic tip, I have been using a planer sled with the router. I will be trying this.

View RobDubs's profile

RobDubs

39 posts in 297 days


#13 posted 03-27-2017 09:59 PM

I use my Veritas LA Jack Plane religiously for the majority of my dimensioning and smoothing work. I use the 25 degree blade for the most part. As soon as that thing becomes the slightest bit dull, nothing but tear out. Just an FYI.

View Aj2's profile

Aj2

1177 posts in 1636 days


#14 posted 03-27-2017 11:17 PM

I don’t like the router table idea.I just seem like a accident wanting to happen if the big gets trapped in cut it would be very grabby.I use my planer with a Bryd head so far so good.

-- Aj

View toddbeaulieu's profile

toddbeaulieu

810 posts in 2842 days


#15 posted 03-27-2017 11:57 PM

Hmmm. I suspect that if you tried you’d see that’s not an issue at all. In fact the 2×4 rails on the flat make it crazy solid and safe. You are in control of how high you raise the bit. There was nothing grabby about it.

Also, virtually no woodworkers have shelix if you were to look at the percentage, so we’re looking for other ways. Might even need a jig if the board isn’t reasonably flat and you need it held on plane through the planer.

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