How to use a thickness planer?

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Forum topic by tool_junkie posted 07-28-2013 05:40 PM 6850 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View tool_junkie's profile


325 posts in 2553 days

07-28-2013 05:40 PM


I recently bought a used delta brand thickness planer. I have never used a planer before and need some how-to and tutorials on the basic and advanced use of a planer. I googled “how to use a thickness planer” but couldn’t find any useful links.

If you guys can point me to some tutorials, I would really appreciate.


8 replies so far

View ohtimberwolf's profile


813 posts in 2376 days

#1 posted 07-28-2013 05:47 PM

Check out Youtube, they will have something that will help you. Just type in thickness planer or follow this link. larry

-- Just a barn cat, now gone to cat heaven.

View DIYaholic's profile


19623 posts in 2699 days

#2 posted 07-28-2013 05:57 PM

Perhaps a variety of manufacturer’s websites may have tips/tricks & videos on the use of planers….

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View RussellAP's profile


3104 posts in 2311 days

#3 posted 07-28-2013 06:04 PM

My DeWalt has only a couple of knobs, one for depth of cut and another for grade of cut. One is slower than the other.
It’s pretty easy to operate one. just start where you can fit your board in and it will accept it. if the blade is set too far down, you shouldn’t be able to get a board into it. As you get to your boards actual thickness it should accept the board. Then I will run the board through once to get an idea of how far down I need to go to take off about 1/32 of material.

I rarely take more than 1/32 off at a time, blades seem to do a better job with no dips.

If your planer has feeder tables that’s good, but if not you really need them for longer work.

If you can’t plane outside, then a DC is a must have. Planers can put out serious chips.

My advise is to just use it. Unless of course you are one of those poor souls who has to read all about it first. It’s really not that complex. Take off material slowly because in a project all the wood has to be just like the thinest piece, so you only want to take off what you need to and no more.

It’s best to pick times when your neighbors are gone as it makes a lot of noise.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View DS's profile


2925 posts in 2444 days

#4 posted 07-28-2013 06:10 PM

It’s not terribly complicated, however, if I were in your shoes, I would go through the entire machine before ever plugging it in.

Make sure the blades are undamaged and ensure they are installed properly. Use a guage if you have one to set the blade height equally for all the blades on the head. Make sure all the bolts that secure the blades are tightened.

Lubricate any chains with some oil and clean the main pathway to remove any rust that may be present.

Check for any other obvious damage. The last thing you want is for this thing to come apart when you turn it on. This is not likely, but, I know someone who bought a used planer and turned it on without checking and it made a real mess of things. He was lucky he wasn’t injured.

If you have infeed and outfeed tables, I would adjust them to be level with the bed of the planer. This will provide support for the workpiece and reduce “snipe” that can occur on the leading edge of the board.

Next, I would get a test board, open the height to well above the board’s thickness and begin lowering it a bit at a time until it started removing material. Once I had a nice smooth cut, I would accurately measure the board thickness and dial in the thickness guage on the machine. This will help you get a starting point to plane your boards in the future.

Enjoy your planer. It is an invaluable tool in my shop.
My 2 cents.

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

View oldnovice's profile


6896 posts in 3392 days

#5 posted 07-29-2013 04:50 AM

Ditto on what Doug said and, since you are going to be close to it when you use it, wear some hearing protection as they are noisy! And do not forget dust collection!

I bought a Delta version to plane down 100 year old oak to basically take off the finish since I didn’t like using chemical strippers and sanding was not an option as the finish just clogged the belts. My manual has good guide lines on hardness versus depth of cut. Obviously, softer woods thicker cuts and vice versa. For final finish cuts in any material thinner is better.

I have gone through two sets of double sided blades (the finish is 100 years old and full of 100 year old grit too) but this thing has definitely paid for itself!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View tool_junkie's profile


325 posts in 2553 days

#6 posted 07-29-2013 06:14 PM

Thank you gentlemen for the valuable information.

ohtimberwolf: I will definitely go through the videos you linked to. They look really good

DIY, Russel, DS and oldnovice: I will go ahead and go through the planer and make sure everything that is supposed to be in there is there and functioning properly and set to the right settings.

Again, thanks for the valuable information.

View Richforever's profile


757 posts in 3744 days

#7 posted 07-29-2013 06:39 PM


One of the first things I’d recommend is making a sled for jointing the faces of boards by using the planer. Infeed and outfeed rollers are necessary too.

Hearing protection is a must. It’s ok to annoy neighbors, depending on how they annoy you.

Knee deep shavings on the garage floor is pretty cool – like a big playpen. A broom and old boxes make an easy dust collector.

Lifting the back end of the board when feeding it into the planer, and lifting the leading end when the board exits seems to eliminate snipe.

The planer is a fun tool!!!

-- Rich, Seattle, WA

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4948 posts in 3984 days

#8 posted 07-29-2013 06:48 PM

All of the above and “gently”. They are not “hogging” machines, but they sure are nice to have.


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