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No end grain in the planer....so HOW?

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Forum topic by Tommy posted 1311 days ago 3758 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Tommy

138 posts in 1459 days


1311 days ago

Ok, I’ve heard plenty of trustworthy sources on this site say that you do NOT put end grains (like cutting boards) in the planer. In addition, my planer manual says the same thing. However, I saw a guy’s post where he said he “attached a piece of poplar to his cutting board on one end and ran it through the planer because he wanted it flat and the poplar would take the tear out”.

I just got a new planer and have only used it once but would love to be able to use it on my end grain cutting boards, or at least to flatten them. I’ve made 3 so far but one is noticeably crooked despite my best glue/clamp/call job.

Opinions and suggestions appreciated.

-- Tommy, ---- It's Never Crowded On the Extra Mile.


13 replies so far

View PurpLev's profile

PurpLev

8476 posts in 2280 days


#1 posted 1311 days ago

the issue with end grain and planers is not the tear out, but the blow out risk of the grain which can shatter the board if half and getting the cutterhead jammed, this results in several major issues:
1. board is shattered into pieces that could fly all over the place – safety issue
2. cutterhead + planer could get jammed, and given the torque of the planer could potentially destroy the planer all together (lunchbox planers more than 3hp machines – but still) and could very likely put an end to your new ‘only used once’ planer

how bad do you need that end grain flat using a planer? worth the risk?

the ‘correct’ form for end grain would be a thickness sander. or a router sled:
http://lumberjocks.com/PurpLev/blog/17193

you can also use hand planes, but of personal experience, for end grain I find it to be a tedious process and hard on your tools.

there’s always the option of using a ROS whch I’ve never done but read others do.

-- ใŠ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Joey's profile

Joey

275 posts in 2446 days


#2 posted 1311 days ago

i’ve done it several times. The problem comes when people try to take too much off with each pass. i never take more that 1/32” of an inch. usually i try to do it at 1/64th. just enought that the knives are barely touching it with each pass. it takes a while but it’s worth it.

If you don’t want to though, get some good handplanes, they work good too and you’ll get a good workout using them.

-- Joey, Magee, Ms http://woodnwaresms.com

View sras's profile

sras

3815 posts in 1760 days


#3 posted 1310 days ago

I do it as well, but take even lighter cuts. My planer lowers 0.1 inches with one revoution of the crank and I take 12 passes to get one revolution completed. That works out 1/120th of an inch or about 0.008 inches.

Addtionally, I put a 1/2 inch radius on the edges before I put it through the planer.

Finally, to make sure the first pass is not too deep, I start with the cutter head so high that there is no contact. It can take me several passes before there is any contact.

Even with all those steps, there is still some risk, but it is significantly reduced. More agressive cuts increase that risk.

I plan to set up my router so I can use the method PurpLev refers to. It is a better way to go – just need to make the fixture.

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View Nomad62's profile

Nomad62

706 posts in 1589 days


#4 posted 1310 days ago

A safer tool would be a sander, they are made in the same size as most planers and are much more reliable than a planer (Tho a little slower) for end grain and high figure woods.

-- Power tools put us ahead of the monkeys

View dbray45's profile

dbray45

2488 posts in 1408 days


#5 posted 1310 days ago

Drum Sander, belt sander, bevel up plane with a steep blade (and muscle), or sandpaper if you do not use the planer.

-- David in Damascus, MD

View live4ever's profile

live4ever

983 posts in 1641 days


#6 posted 1310 days ago

Until I get a drum sander I’ve been using a belt sander.

Need to give the router sled method a try – sounds like it would work splendidly.

-- Optimists are usually disappointed. Pessimists are either right or pleasantly surprised. I tend to be a disappointed pessimist.

View GaryK's profile

GaryK

10262 posts in 2619 days


#7 posted 1310 days ago

You will wear out your blades very fast using the planer.

Even a drum sander takes a while to flatten everything up.

I like the router method. You can either make a sled or just glue scrap boards around the edges and run it upside down on the router table. Just don’t run it all the way through your scrap pieces. Then just run it through the table saw and cut off the scraps.

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

View TomHintz's profile

TomHintz

207 posts in 2029 days


#8 posted 1310 days ago

I also have sent end grain cutting boards through my planer but it is a Powermatic 15HH with the Byrd cutter head. I also take very light cuts and the tearout was minimal and was easily removed when I squared the finished cutting board up. You can actually see that happen in the video and photos in the story on making the cutting boards at the link below.

http://www.newwoodworker.com/bldendgrncutbrds.html

-- Tom Hintz, www.newwoodworker.com

View Tommy's profile

Tommy

138 posts in 1459 days


#9 posted 1310 days ago

Guys thanks for all the great feedback and for the video (Tom). I’m thinking I see a belt sander in my future because I’m still an intermediate here and my work takes me too long to be taking chances with it. ALTHOUGH, I’m tempted to try the slow and light process described, forbidden fruit!

-- Tommy, ---- It's Never Crowded On the Extra Mile.

View DGunn's profile

DGunn

73 posts in 2385 days


#10 posted 1310 days ago

I have built a couple of them. I do the same as Joey said, take about 1/64” off with each pass. It takes a few passes, but it is worth it. Especially if a planer is all you have now to flatten it. But beware the tearout on the end coming through the planer last is really hard to avoid. Running a scrap piece of wood behind the cutting board will help with that (make sure it is the same thickness as the cutting board.)

View gfadvm's profile

gfadvm

10736 posts in 1321 days


#11 posted 1308 days ago

I made a sanding board like Andy showed in his box tutorial to flatten the box bottoms.It works much faster than I imagined.I used 100 grit heavy cloth paper [the drive belt for a drum sander] which is 18” wide x 36” long .Contact cement spray to a piece of masonite and clamp it to your bench.Try it you will like it.Andy is a genius! Clean it with rubber block and vac and it lasts a long time.
gfadvm

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Jonathan's profile

Jonathan

2604 posts in 1682 days


#12 posted 1308 days ago

I now have a drum sander and they definitely work well for end grain jobs. When I built my first end grain board, I used a small belt sander and a ROS. Just kept setting a flat steel edge down on the board at different areas untilI got it close. Not sure I’d go that method again, although it worked fairly well. There was a lot of stopping and starting… a lot.

If I hadn’t gotten the drum sander, I’d probably have built a router sled and gone that route. May end up going that route anyway if/when I ever build more of a butcher block station, although for the occasional end grain project, you might want to visit a local cabinet shop and pay them a few bucks to run it through their drum sander. I might also go that route for something that won’t fit into my Performax 16-32.

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

View dorran's profile

dorran

140 posts in 1865 days


#13 posted 1308 days ago

Good advice here so far. A planer with very sharp knives, light passes, backer board. A belt sander and a flat surface or straight edge. Just mark the high spots, wobble points. Sand and repeat. It’s a cutting board and doesn’t need thousands of an inch flatness tolerances.

-- Life is about choices. You can spend a lot of money on furniture and have really nice furniture; Or you can spend a lot on tools and have even more expensive, crappy furniture. I made my choice.

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