Planer not smoothing properly

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Forum topic by Graebeard posted 02-01-2012 11:58 AM 2308 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Graebeard's profile


7 posts in 2312 days

02-01-2012 11:58 AM

I have a new Ridgid 4330 planer and pushing HomeDepot 2×4’s through it. At first, the results were quite smooth and required little sanding. Today I ran a dozen or so boards through, taking off about 1/16 or so with eacj pass, but the results were less than satisfactory. The surfaces came out fuzzy and even chipped in places so they’re quite unusable for furniture.

Any ideas as to what I’m doing wrong?


16 replies so far

View HamS's profile


1829 posts in 2353 days

#1 posted 02-01-2012 12:20 PM

fuzzy and chipped usually is a sign of planing against the grain. Try running the material through the other direction. I also woujld check to make sure the chips are coming out the ejection port cleanly and not packing around the blades. I don’t know how they could, but that would also cause the bad cut. 1/16 is a bit of a big cut as well. When using soft wood, I also need to clean the feed rollers on my planer (Delta 12.5In) often. I use a rag soaked in mineral spirits and unplug the machine before you stick you hands in the works. You will only forget that part once. The rollers get a lot of pitch on them very quickly. Some wood it can be as lettle as 20 or 25 ft of planing.

-- Haming it up in the 'bash.

View BTimmons's profile


2303 posts in 2449 days

#2 posted 02-02-2012 12:12 AM

Was the bottom face of the board flattened on a jointer before using the planer to smooth the top face?

-- Brian Timmons -

View JAAune's profile


1786 posts in 2280 days

#3 posted 02-02-2012 04:55 AM

It could be the board too. Fuzziness is more prominent in some species of wood than others. It’s also possible to encounter reaction wood which will plane differently than normal wood. The last issue is unlikely to be seen on lots of boards though.

-- See my work at and

View ELCfinefurniture's profile


112 posts in 2284 days

#4 posted 02-02-2012 05:10 AM

Fuzziness could be like said, due to planing against the grain or planing tearout prone wood or highly figured wood. If anything just try taking a lighter pass! I often never use my thickness planer to get my final finished surface. I use it for dimensioning and then use a scraper and hand plane to smooth. It eliminates any tearout.

-- {Current North Bennet street school student}

View Loren's profile


10252 posts in 3612 days

#5 posted 02-02-2012 06:41 AM

Pine requires razor sharp knives for sand-free planing. Your knives
got a little dull I reckon and that’s the drop you are seeing
in performance. You can try wetting the boards with a sponge,
studying the grain more carefully when you select the feed
direction, or modify your criteria for selecting boards.

Feeding boards at an angle sometimes helps reduce tearout,
much like skewing a hand plane.

View Graebeard's profile


7 posts in 2312 days

#6 posted 02-02-2012 08:40 AM

Thanks for your feedback, everyone.

1 – the blades are new, so should be sharp. I planed some walnut before I worked on the SPF 2×4’s and they came out beautifully. Since the wood was so hard, I barely touched the surface with each path, so perhaps I need to do the same with the softer woods.

2 – I did try feeding the boards from both ends, and had the same problem, so suspect that maybe I was trying to take off too much with each pass,

3 – Since I was putting through about 100 ft of dimensional wood and working all four sides, I just opened the dust port and let the shavings fly straight out, thinking that my dust collector probably wouldn’t have the capacity to handle all the flyings. I don’t think there was much accumulation inside the heads.

4 – I did not joint the first face, but let the planer deal with any irregularities.

From your comments, I think the two most likely causes may be the grain direction and the depth of cut. I didn’t have a chance to enter the shop today as other family matters interfered, but tomorrow I’ll see if these solve my problem, and will report back.

Many thanks to all of you for your assistance.

View HorizontalMike's profile


7749 posts in 2878 days

#7 posted 02-02-2012 02:21 PM

Tear out around knots is also very common because the grain changes direction before and after each knot, so that too may be a contributing factor if you are using such highly figured wood. I have the same planer (1 1/2yr) and and am seeing less smoothness as the blades wear. I also have a small chip in one of the blades that is motivating me to change my blades…

Like Ham said, take less of a bite and results will tend to be better. I try to take no more than between 1/64th and 1/32in per pass. It results in a lot of upper arm workout from the multitude of passes but seems to work best, IMO.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View fussy's profile


980 posts in 3014 days

#8 posted 02-05-2012 11:18 AM

Several of the guys got it right; light cuts, try to pay attention to grain direction, and wet down with mineral spirits to soften up hard spots with grain reversal around knots. If knives start getting knicked, most planers will allow a blade to be offset one direction or the other just a skosh (3/8 of a flibbit—not as much as a nudge). That should eliminate consistent ridges. Treat it gently and it will work better.


-- Steve in KY. 44 years so far with my lovely bride. Think I'll keep her.

View RKW's profile


328 posts in 3411 days

#9 posted 02-05-2012 02:45 PM

i have the same planer, and have never had this problem. I would guess you are taking too deep of a cut. If your problem is the knives, they have two edges so when they get dull, they can be turned around. This is a good machine. The bearings went out in mine after a year, but the warranty covered it. Other than that, no problems.

-- RKWoods

View Bruce C.Oestreich's profile

Bruce C.Oestreich

25 posts in 2343 days

#10 posted 02-05-2012 05:47 PM

planing 2×4 construction lumber is rather difficult to get good results for making furniture. Construction lumber is not like hardwood in that it is lumped together ie. SPF (spruce,pine ,fir ).You will get 1 piece very hard the next piece soft next pitchy etc.There isn’t any consistency from one board to the other.I have run board through my big planer with variable feed adjusting feed rates up and down to no avail.I think the best route would be like others have stated …less cut ,grain direction,also try to look at the lumber in the store when you buy it to get the best pickings.A good alternative is to find old northern pine boards from razed building if you can.I never get any tearout from those types of boards.Keep up the good work!

View Graebeard's profile


7 posts in 2312 days

#11 posted 02-05-2012 07:23 PM

I think Bruce also has a valid point. There do seem to be some differences between the SPF boards.

I changed the cut depth so it barely registers on the Depth Gauge and still tend to get a few burrs. I also noted that while most boards feed properly, a couple of boards don’t want to feed through and need to be pushed or pulled even though the cut depth is so low the surface is barely scraped. These boards come out with what appear to be polished (blackish) scuff marks as though the pressure rollers were not able to grab the board. Is there a way adjust the roller tension?

The boards I’ve been using were ones I picked through at HD, and were marked as kiln-dried, but perhaps not as dry as they could be. Maybe I should dry them myself for a few weeks before using. The boards I used originally when I bought the planer had been in my storage for several years so perhaps that’s another factor.

Folks, I really appreciate all your suggestions and hope to Pay It Forward as I gain more experience.


View HerbC's profile


1741 posts in 2823 days

#12 posted 02-06-2012 01:00 AM


Construction dimensional lumber is kiln dried to do two things:

1. Kill any bugs and bug eggs in the wood.
2. “Set” the pitch (sap/resin) so it will not bleed out at lower ambient temperatures.

Typically the lumber is only dried to 17-19% moisture content during this process. If you’re going to use this type lumber to build “furniture”, including shop equipment such as benches and cabinets, you need to let it set in your shop or the intended destination of the item being built for a couple of weeks or more before working with it. Stacking the lumber with spacing stickers between the layers will speed up the process a bit.

Good Luck!

Be Careful!


-- Herb, Florida - Here's why I close most messages with "Be Careful!"

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2806 days

#13 posted 02-06-2012 02:56 AM

You said you were taking a sixteenth at a time?
From my experience with my planer, a Ryobi, that’s too much. For softer woods, I never take more than a thrity secondths at a time. Tearout happens easier in softer woods.


View matt garcia's profile

matt garcia

1892 posts in 3636 days

#14 posted 02-06-2012 03:21 AM

If you experience that again, try running the board in the opposite direction.

-- Matt Garcia Wannabe Period Furniture Maker, Houston TX

View fussy's profile


980 posts in 3014 days

#15 posted 02-06-2012 05:56 AM


The slipping and black marks you mentioned are caused by the feed rollers slipping. They are hard rubber and need to be cleaned periodically. Unplug it, raise it as high as it will go, and carefully wipe down the rollers with mineral spirits. That will clean them and eliminate the slipping and marking. Resin and pitch form a hard layer on them. Like on saw blades and sandpaper. Soft woods are big offenders. Also, William and the others were right; 1/32 is plenty and 1/64 can work better on the final passes.


-- Steve in KY. 44 years so far with my lovely bride. Think I'll keep her.

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