Questions about planing. Share your tips.

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Forum topic by AngieO posted 05-31-2013 09:45 PM 1403 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1267 posts in 2112 days

05-31-2013 09:45 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question planing plane pallets

So… I’ve had my planer for about a month or so now. LOVE LOVE LOVE IT!!! And I just got another load of great recycled wood. These are boards from pallets. But… they aren’t the pallets that you typically think of. These are from a large factory that ships in very large items and materials. So these are not what I generally think of when I think of a pallet boards.

Here’s my latest load.

These are some nice boards. They have already been disassembled and there are no nails in them.
Also… I have the regular pallets you see. And I have another resource that is friends with a big Amish group that has a sawmill. He gets lots of cut offs from them and has sent them my way.

SO…. I’ve been planing things down and feeling pretty good about it. Wondering if there are some tips you guys want to pass along that I may not have thought of. Or that I just haven’t come across yet.
Some things that I’ve already learned….
- take a stiff bristled brush and get off as much dirt and junk as possible
- make sure ALL metal is removed from boards (looking for a wand)

Someone also mentioned planing down board but not to the exact thickness. Leaving them sit and get adjusted to the environment for a few days and then when ready to build, then plane them down to the exact thickness you want.

Any other things you can think of? Storing wood you’ve planed? Affects of climate (it’s been raining all day today). Ways to avoid snipe? Anything you can think of no matter how insignificant it may seem to you… pleae share it. You never know when someone hasn’t thought of that. Especially me :) I’ve only been woodworking for less than a year. So I need all the help I can get.
Thanks guys.

11 replies so far

View Blackie_'s profile


4883 posts in 2477 days

#1 posted 05-31-2013 09:56 PM

Angie even though you say there are no nails that might very well be true but it never hurts to make double sure, invest into a metal detector, especially if you are dealing with unknown woods such as pallets and tree logs, nails and barb-wire can be found in woods, a nail can destroy a planner blade.

Snipe, a good way to avoid this is to follow your boards with a piece of scrap wood.

-- Randy - If I'm not on LJ's then I'm making Saw Dust. Please feel free to visit my store location at

View GregD's profile


788 posts in 3101 days

#2 posted 05-31-2013 10:05 PM

Sensible people avoid snipe issues by planing rough-cut boards that have an extra couple inches at each end that catch the snipe and are cut off when the board is cut to final size.

Cheap people like me glue scrap to the edges of only-slightly-oversized boards that stick out the few inches necessary to keep the snipe away from the important portion of the board.

-- Greg D.

View GregD's profile


788 posts in 3101 days

#3 posted 05-31-2013 10:15 PM

I also have a torsion box made of melamine that is about 12” wide, 48” long, and 4” tall. If I need to joint a short board that is too wide for my jointer I run the board through the planer on that several times taking very light cuts to establish a flat side. The board has to lay stable on the box so I hot-glue shims to help with that.

The top/bottom of the torsion box overhang the sides by 4” or so and it provides a convenient flat clamping table for glue-ups also. But that isn’t a planer thing.

If I have to joint a board that is wide and long I edge joint two long strips of scrap, lay them jointed-edges-down on either side of the board on top of my table saw, and attach the strips to the board edges. The jointed edges of the scrap then define a flat surface for the planer to reference. And the strips are a bit longer than the board to accommodate any snipe.

-- Greg D.

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4902 posts in 3925 days

#4 posted 05-31-2013 10:26 PM

Lift the outboard end of the workpiece as it is fed IN the planer. Lift the outboard end of the workpiece as it exits the planer.
Don’t get too aggressive with the depth of cut on the planer.
Keep the planer knives sharp.
Keep the rollers clean.
Keep your hands away from the machine. :))
Fully understanding the dynamics of a planer is a must, and the in-feed/out-feed support is absolutely necessary.


View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

2781 posts in 3402 days

#5 posted 05-31-2013 10:44 PM

I agree about leaving them a bit thicker. Nothing peeves me more than buying 3/4” wood then having to plane it to get a bow out of it. So you end up with less than 3/4”. That’s why I almost always buy wood FAS..

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

20284 posts in 3070 days

#6 posted 06-01-2013 12:01 AM

Angie, first check all pallet wood for nails. They have a little device that you can run over the wood and it will beep if there is metal in it. It will save your knives on your planer. Also, the planer wll cut the boards parallel to a dimension, but it does not flatten them. It is best to hand plane the boards flat so they don’t rock on a flat table or run them through a jointer first. Make one side straight and then plane it to a dimension.

As for Snipe, Bill White said it all. I mostly get snipe on the trailing edge of a board. The best thing I have found is to lift the wood slightly as it exits the planer at the end of the cut. What happens if you have a long board is that when it comes off the front feed rollers at the end of the cut, it drops at the end the lifts up that last few inches into the cutter head. if you hold up the board so it does not drop, you will not get the snipe.

If you get snipe on short boards, check you front and rear tables for the correct alignment. They can be adjusted up or down to make them align perfectly with the platten inside the planer. Once they are all in line, a short board should not drop at the end of the cut and have any snipe in it.


-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View HorizontalMike's profile


7749 posts in 2878 days

#7 posted 06-01-2013 02:07 AM

Also, set your planer to take as small a bite off at a time. I shoot for maybe 1/32in at a time. In other words less is better, you get less chip-out and it is easier on the blade. Pay attention when you get chip-out and rotate the blade 180-degrees and that should eliminate/minimize your chip-out.

Longer infeed and outfeed tables help, and they should be ever so slightly angled up. For example, my outfeed table extension is 36in long and the outer tip is set ~1/4in higher than the inner. Not much but it does make a difference.

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

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2655 days

#8 posted 06-01-2013 03:04 AM

A lot of good tips above but no one has mentioned angling your boards rather than feeding them straight through. This does seem to help with tear out.

Get those ‘disposable’ blades resharpened rather than buying new ones. My resharpened Ridgid blades cut better and last longer than the new ones.

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

View HorizontalMike's profile


7749 posts in 2878 days

#9 posted 06-01-2013 02:38 PM

”...Pay attention when you get chip-out and rotate the blade 180-degrees and that should eliminate/minimize your chip-out….”

Geez it must have been late when I typed that! I meant ”...rotate THE BOARD 180 degrees…

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

View Grumpymike's profile


2232 posts in 2280 days

#10 posted 06-01-2013 03:52 PM

Wow, alot of good meaty info here … I thought Hz Mike was a bit too close to the Texas corn squeez’ins, but nice recovery.
gfadvm has a good point, if you put all of your boards through the middle of the planer, you will wear the center of the blades … If you put a slight angle on the boards so that they enter on the left and exit on the right you will wear evenly and the blades will last a bit longer …
If you do get a nick from a nail in your blades, loosen up the gibs (the little bolts that hold the blade in) and slide the first blade as far as you can to the right and the next one to the left. They won’t move much, but usually enough to hide the flaw.
Light cuts and several passed will give the best result.

-- Grumpy old guy, and lookin' good Doin' it. ... Surprise Az.

View AngieO's profile


1267 posts in 2112 days

#11 posted 06-01-2013 04:54 PM

Lots of good tips. One thing I do every time is check for metal. Even if I’m the one that removed all metal before I put it in my garage. I check again as I put it through. I’ve found that it’s already saved me once. So it’s a habit I do each time before I put a board through. As I said though… I am looking into getting a wand. I’ll probably still check visually anyways.

I haven’t had any issues with chip-out yet. Don’t know if that’s because my blades are still pretty sharp or what. I guess what I have is snipe. I get a slight dent (for back of a better word) about 2 inches from the end of the board. I will try some of the tips listed here. I reduced most of it by adjusting the infeed and outfeed. Maybe I should raise the outfeed just a little more.

Another feature that I really like about my planer is that it has a thickness guide (I think that’s what it was called). As you put the board in to start there is a little gauge that tells you how much you are going to remove. I’ve been going slow and taking off a very little at a time… mainly 1/32. It take longer… but I’ve found it worth it. And I usually lower the blade for the next pass 2 turns.

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