Planing a Cedar Bartop Slab?

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Forum topic by csamson posted 04-04-2013 05:27 PM 1664 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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10 posts in 2122 days

04-04-2013 05:27 PM

Anyone have advice on how to plane a large cedar slab? It’s 8’ long and about 45” at the widest point. I’ve looked at other posts and seen router jigs, hand planes and belt sanders as solutions but not sure which route to go. There’s a pretty good ridge down the middle on a few sections of the slab as the pieces weren’t cut perfectly.

Here’s a picture:

11 replies so far

View chrisstef's profile


17796 posts in 3241 days

#1 posted 04-04-2013 05:35 PM

Handplanes will work but there appears to be some tricky grain in that slab that may frustrate you. Id go with the router sled or take it somewhere that has the capability to run it through a drum sander for you. All depends on your tooling, available time and money.

Nice chunk o lumber there regardless. Welcome to the gang.

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

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3883 days

#2 posted 04-04-2013 05:39 PM

Taking it to a shop with a wide belt is the quick way to get
it done. Probably cost you about $100.

If you want to do it yourself, you can fuss wit building a
router jig.

I can do it with a hand held door planer. I dub the corners
off the blades and use the tool just like a jack plane.

View helluvawreck's profile


32086 posts in 3101 days

#3 posted 04-04-2013 06:05 PM

We had two 36 inch wide belt sanders (not big enough) at the plant but if you brought that to our plant we would never run that piece of wood through either one of them. Not for any $100 anyways. I’m the one that kept our equipment up and I’ve had to align the conveyors, rollers, and all the other things involved when they get off. We used them to finish sand all the s4s and paneling that came off the 5 molders. They were good industrial sanders and I’ll admit that we babied them but we still ran thousands of feet through them and I would never risk the down time to do that job. If you’re going to be doing stuff like that every so often I would go with the routers.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View csamson's profile


10 posts in 2122 days

#4 posted 04-04-2013 06:44 PM

Where I would even call for a wide belt sander that is big enough to fit that slab in?

The bar is for personal use. I don’t make these for anyone but it has been fun and something I may get into if this goes well. I would hate to buy/make a router sled for a one time use though. I guess I already have 30 hours+ into the project so what’s another few hours building a sled.

Just didn’t know if there was an easier/better way of doing this?

View Sandblastguy's profile


42 posts in 2346 days

#5 posted 04-04-2013 07:01 PM

I have a 4’x8’ stroke sander that would do a very nice job of this piece. If you can find a stroke sander near you it will do this no problem. Some furniture builders still have them. If you offer to supply the sanding belts I know my belts are 280” long and cost around $20.00 each. They should be able to sand this to the final grade and ready to finish.

-- Sandblastguy Orangeville On. Creating Art From Nature

View csamson's profile


10 posts in 2122 days

#6 posted 04-04-2013 07:15 PM

I might have to make a few calls about a stroke sander then. Any thoughts on where to start?

Another thought; I could plane/sand each half before joining them?

View Sandblastguy's profile


42 posts in 2346 days

#7 posted 04-04-2013 07:22 PM

If you go to a business that sells large equipment like this they may tell you who has one or talk to the guy that sells the belts. Some times cabinet guys have them.

-- Sandblastguy Orangeville On. Creating Art From Nature

View John Ormsby's profile

John Ormsby

1288 posts in 3972 days

#8 posted 04-04-2013 07:25 PM

The stroke sander idea is the best one. Cedar will also clog the belts. I would go to a shop with a stroke sander and offer to buy the belts along with their labor and machine costs. It would be well worth it.

-- Oldworld, Fair Oaks, Ca

View csamson's profile


10 posts in 2122 days

#9 posted 04-04-2013 09:34 PM

After making a few calls I don’t know if I’m going to be able to sand it down after joining it. There is a place in town called The Bench that is basically a woodworker’s warehouse where you can come use their equipment for $25 per day. They have a 24” drum sander that should be able to handle each slab before I join them. If I run them through on the the same setting I should have 2 identical widths for the slabs and then join them up.

Am I correct in thinking this will work?

View csamson's profile


10 posts in 2122 days

#10 posted 04-08-2013 05:42 AM

The 24” drum sander didn’t work out too well. The slab is 23.5” wide at the widest point and it needed more clearance. I did find a guy who had a 36”. It cost me $60 and spent about hour and half sanding 1/2” off one of them and 1/4” off the other.

It looks great and just glued it together this afternoon. Thanks for your help guys!

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30128 posts in 2573 days

#11 posted 04-08-2013 06:10 AM

Just remember to post your finished project

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

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