Need advice on a planer purchase

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Forum topic by Spagester posted 06-25-2012 01:51 PM 3159 views 0 times favorited 24 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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14 posts in 2131 days

06-25-2012 01:51 PM

Topic tags/keywords: planer

I have been building furniture from reclaimed wood. The wood is mostly Oak. I have a Rigid two knife planer that I’ve been using. I’ve found that on some of the wider, older boards I have more luck with a belt sander to remove cupping.

The Ridgid just doesn’t seem to be very effective on this old wood for a few reasons. The wood is often warped cupped and twisted. and it’s difficult to run a board through and make a flat surface. I might have found a solution to that though. There is a local guy with a bandsaw mill who is shaving the tops off some of my 2” material and making it flat.

The biggest problem is power I think. I have some 2×4 ash that’s hard as a rock and I can only take about a 64th to a 32nd” inch off at a time. I’m afraid I’m slowly destroying the planer, because it’s not made for this kind of work.

Also the planer does not feed the wood very well because it’s rough cut.

Does any one have any recommendations for planers that are more suited to this work?
Or maybe some suggestion for working with this kind of old hard wood.
Are there any brands that I should just stay away from? (prefer USA made even though I’ll be buy old and used)

I appreciate your help.

Here’s a table I made for my son from 2×10 Oak. I was unable to plane the surface of the oak down so I ripped it to 1 1/4” and made this butcher block tabletop.

24 replies so far

View Bobmedic's profile


379 posts in 2771 days

#1 posted 06-25-2012 02:01 PM

Warps cups and bows you can’t take out on a planer. You have to use a jointer first then the planer to get a parallel face. If you put a bowed or warped board in a planer all you get is a thinner bowed or warped board.

View Everett1's profile


213 posts in 2503 days

#2 posted 06-25-2012 02:22 PM

Ditto what Bobmedic said, best bet would be to get a jointer so you can flatten one side/edge first.

As far as made in the USA, these days you would have to get something old and used. I could be wrong, but I think the only tool really made in the USA anymore is the Delta Unisaw.

Also, i find it really funny that when typing the word “jointer”, the spell check on this website puts a red underline on it as a misspelled word, haha.

-- Ev in Framingham, MA

View chrisstef's profile


17311 posts in 2975 days

#3 posted 06-25-2012 02:34 PM

+1 for Bobs reply. The belt sander is a great place to start on reclaimed wood to get the dirt and grime off the exposed face, it will do a number on your planer blades and shorten the lifespan quickly if you send it through all dirty. I happened to find an older rockwell jointer for about $250, another $50 in parts and she was good to go. Its really made quite the difference in my projects. Ive also been using a Groz #5 plane, my beater, to scrub the dirt and crap off reclaimed timbers and get it relatively flat for the jointer. If i nick a nail or something embedded in it, no biggie, hone it back up and let it rip, nicks and all.

As far as taking off big bites on the planer 1/32” is about standard for one pass through the planer, any more than that through a lunhcbox will bog it down pretty good. It can be slow going at times and kind of frustrating but thats just how it goes.

Good luck and welcome to the gang. Beautiful table BTW.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2456 days

#4 posted 06-25-2012 02:52 PM

I beg to differ with the posts by Bobmedic and Everett1: You can build a sled to hold your board level, (I made one using the turn pegs from a couple of Christmas tree stands), then make one side relatively flat. It doesn’t need to be totally flat, just enough to run true through the planer. I put the side that has the cup to the inside through first so I have two edges that will be flat and true.
Once you get the one side flat enough to make a true cut, remove it from the sled, turn ir over and run it through normally until it is straight, flat and true.

Your lunch box planer isn’t really built to pull a 1/16” off of any wood. but it will do fine at 1/32” or 1/64” and your knives will be much happier with you.

Before I sold it, I sent 125 – 2X8 rough cut white oak floor joist boards through my Porter Cable planer, taking off 1/32” or less at a time. these boards came from a house built in the 1870’s here and burned down
recently. I then ran some Osage Orange through it to make drawers for my assembly bench and it was still as smooth as the first time I used it.

Making heavy cuts is going to work the motor more, and the brushes will wear faster, it also causes more heat.
As far as any of the Lunchbox planers are concerned, none of them is really built to handle the deep cuts in hard wood for a sustained amount of time.

Remember, wood working is all about taking your time, treating your tools with respect and doing the best job you can. Studley, Maloof, Krenov, Stickley and Underhill didn’t work faster because o their tools, they worked faster because of the skills they learned with the tools they had.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View Tennessee's profile


2862 posts in 2483 days

#5 posted 06-25-2012 03:44 PM

Whether you joint it first to make it flat, or build the sled to flatten it, you will still be running this wood through your Rigid two blader. I’ve had one of these Rigids in my shop since 2000. I’ve run countless thousands of bd. ft. of barn wood, pallet wood, and probably 20-30 species of exotics, such as jatoba, wenge, purpleheart, marblewood and others. Aside from dulling a lot of blades, (I bought a good sharpener), I agree that it is not made to take off a lot of wood at a pass. It is, however, a horse for a lunchbox with a universal motor!

When I went looking to finally go from 13” to 15”, I decided that I also wanted the ability to take off a little more at a time, so I bought the Grizzly 0453 Spiralhead. I still keep the Rigid around for that occasional 1/8” thick piece, (Grizzly stops at 3/16”), but for sheer hogging off of wood, it’s really hard to beat a true four-row spiralhead planer, especially when you are working with burl or flame. Quiet, too!

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2659 days

#6 posted 06-26-2012 02:24 AM

I have the 3 blade Ridgid and have planed miles (literally) of all types of wood with it. I also use it to joint twisted/warped boards that are too wide for my jointer using a very simple sled and wedges. Dallas has given good advice: sharp blades, thin cuts, wire brush the dirt and debris off before planing. And I would add that the planer is not the best tool for removing the finish from prefinished hardwood flooring scraps! (works well but kills blades at a high rate)

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

View Loren's profile


10278 posts in 3617 days

#7 posted 06-26-2012 02:30 AM

Get a Belsaw.

View AHuxley's profile


652 posts in 3290 days

#8 posted 06-26-2012 03:20 AM

Sounds like the perfect planers for you would be a Powermatic 160, 180 etc. They are built as rough planers (not that they can’t do finish work but it isn’t their forte’) and have quick adjust bed rollers. They are very heavy built and many ran in lumberyards for DECADES. The best ones to look for are the ones that were in schools, 40 years in a school = about a year or so in a lumberyard. Your work is really not suited to a lunchbox planer!

@Everett Northfield still makes a full line of planers, the smallest the #2 (18”) starts just south of $20,000. Thats the beauty of old iron, machines with literally a lifetime of hobby use left in them for pennies on the dollar compared to the new equals. I just bought a cherry Northfield 12” jointer for 7% of what I could order one from Northfield for.

View Spagester's profile


14 posts in 2131 days

#9 posted 06-26-2012 01:31 PM

Wow. Thanks for all the advise guys. I’ll try to give my thoughts on everything.

I learned the har way to get rid of the dirt. It may seem unconventional but I used Behr deck wash on it and then let it dry several days.

I really only have funds for a planer or a jointer. But I wonder if using a band saw might be the best way to remove cupping. Some of the boards are cupped 3/8”. My guess is it would take quite a few passes to remove that much wood. I have been making more and more furniture and people seem to want to buy it, so speed has become an issue.

Massingill machinary is close to me. Has anyone ever been to their website? Most of the equipment is out of my price range and it’s 3 phase which I don’t have but its a good wish book kind of place. :)

I am leaning toward something like a powermatic or northfield. but I guess I’ll just have to keep my eye on auctions and sales to come up with something.

Can anyone tell me more about a sled?

I really appreciate all the input here. Thank you all for your help. I couldn’t address every post, but I took something away from them all.

View GMman's profile


3902 posts in 3666 days

#10 posted 06-26-2012 01:33 PM

You can have this one very cheap.

View AHuxley's profile


652 posts in 3290 days

#11 posted 06-26-2012 08:40 PM

@Spagester what is your budget?

Also don’t fear the phase, most of my machines are 3ph and there are multiple methods for running 3ph machines on single phase power, a 3ph 3hp motor can be run on single phase with a VFD (variable frequency drive) for example for less than $200, about $120 if you use a Chinese drive.

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2456 days

#12 posted 06-26-2012 08:51 PM

Planer sled here

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View Loren's profile


10278 posts in 3617 days

#13 posted 06-26-2012 09:34 PM

”But I wonder if using a band saw might be the best way to remove cupping.”

No. It’s not. A jointer is.

I flatten large slabs with handheld electric planers.

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2659 days

#14 posted 06-27-2012 01:27 AM

Thanks Dallas. I gotta learn how to do those blue thingys!

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

View Spagester's profile


14 posts in 2131 days

#15 posted 06-27-2012 12:37 PM

Hey Loren I had not thought of using my hand planer on that wood. I will definitely try that.

showing 1 through 15 of 24 replies

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