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Nicks in planed walnut and birch wood

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Forum topic by woodworker33 posted 03-11-2014 06:35 PM 1324 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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woodworker33

22 posts in 997 days


03-11-2014 06:35 PM

Hi there! I’m experiencing an issue where the wood has nicks/pits and was wondering if someone can shed some light. I mainly work with walnut and birch wood. Would this be caused by the planer or is it the nature of the wood? Here’s a photo:

Thanks in advance!


12 replies so far

View JayT's profile

JayT

4772 posts in 1671 days


#1 posted 03-11-2014 06:38 PM

That is tearout, usually caused by planing against the grain of the wood. Sometimes it is unavoidable, because the grain changes direction within the board, but most times it just means you need to feed the wood the opposite way. It can also be an indication that blades are not sharp and are tearing the wood instead of cutting it.

-- "Good judgement is the result of experience. A lot of experience is the result of poor judgement."

View Ingjr's profile

Ingjr

144 posts in 2476 days


#2 posted 03-11-2014 06:39 PM

Looks like planer tear-out to me. Try reversing the direction it’s fed into the planer. How sharp are the planer knives? Dull knives would probably be the biggest cause of this malady. Could also try lightly dampening the wood with water before it goes through the planer.

-- The older I get the faster I was.

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woodworker33

22 posts in 997 days


#3 posted 03-11-2014 06:48 PM

Thanks, that’s what I’ve assumed, going to order new knives now!

I have a theory, if the knives are dull, wouldn’t it also cause tearout to the pieces on the left/right? The strange thing is, the tearout is only on that specific piece, perhaps that piece of wood has different properties that makes it more prone to tearout?

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bondogaposis

4020 posts in 1811 days


#4 posted 03-11-2014 06:48 PM

yep,planer tearout. Going against the grain will cause it.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View JayT's profile

JayT

4772 posts in 1671 days


#5 posted 03-11-2014 06:54 PM

I have a theory, if the knives are dull, wouldn’t it also cause tearout to the pieces on the left/right?

Not necessarily. First thing to check is grain direction. If that board had grain running one direction and the ones next to it have the grain going opposite, then the boards that fed through with the grain will not show tear out and the one going against the grain will.

Also, some woods are just more tearout prone than others. My limited experience with birch is that is doesn’t tear out near as easily as many other species. Walnut generally planes well, too, but will tear out when going against the grain.

-- "Good judgement is the result of experience. A lot of experience is the result of poor judgement."

View jdh122's profile

jdh122

879 posts in 2278 days


#6 posted 03-11-2014 07:04 PM

What JayT said – when you glue up boards it’s good to check the grain direction in each one and make sure that they all run the same direction. That way post-glueup planing, whether by machine or handplane, will be much simpler.
Birch should be relatively easy to plane, unless there is very fancy figure. Of course the grain can turn around in any species.

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

View BinghamtonEd's profile

BinghamtonEd

2281 posts in 1829 days


#7 posted 03-11-2014 07:15 PM

+1 to Jeremy’s comment. Results like yours have encouraged me to better pay attention to grain direction in glue-ups. Sometimes its unavoidable, though.

Last weekend I glued up a QSWO top for a toy box, and I picked the most visually pleasing layout of the wood’s figure, and that happened to result in boards with the grain direction running opposite one another. I made sure to use cauls to minimize the amount of leveling needed, and passed up the planes (too wide for the planer) in favor of a card scraper. Worked out great, the panel is smooth as can be. I just mention it in case this might help you plan your approach in the future.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View jumbojack's profile

jumbojack

1667 posts in 2084 days


#8 posted 03-11-2014 07:20 PM

When planeing single boards it is simple to see what direction to send the boards through. After glueing a panel up it is more problematic. Taking really light passes on the planer will lessen the tearout. Then you can also identify before it gets too crazy and switch to a card scraper to finish your panel.
It is a tangled web we weave when glueing panels and another thing to think about when doing panel layout. Getting the best ‘show’ face, orienting the crowns to oppose each other, grain direction; for this reason alone I rarely send panels through the planer. Preferring to use a cabinet scraper to clean up the panel after glue up.
There is almost no way to clean up that tear out on what appears to be a cutting board.

-- Made in America, with American made tools....Shopsmith

View BinghamtonEd's profile

BinghamtonEd

2281 posts in 1829 days


#9 posted 03-11-2014 07:39 PM

I bet everybody, at some point in their woodworking journey, has sent, or will send, sent at least one board through a planer (or hand plane) and see tearout like that, just as they are getting to final thickness. Let the string of curse words flow. I know I’ve done it a few times, although less these days.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View Shawn Masterson's profile

Shawn Masterson

1297 posts in 1408 days


#10 posted 03-11-2014 11:04 PM

I wouldn’t change out the knives unless you know they are dull. As stated before that is textbook tear out. flipping the board might help. Also taking a super light cut can help. I fed a piece of hickory through by mistake and the planer was set up for a heavy 1/8” cut it basically shredded the surface of the piece.

View woodworker33's profile

woodworker33

22 posts in 997 days


#11 posted 03-11-2014 11:32 PM

I make very light cuts in each pass. One full rotation of the crank is 1/16”, I turn 1/4 rotation. I did notice, however, that I’m seeing these tearouts more so than before. I will do a couple of tests with the old knives and pay attention to the grain direction, which is something I haven’t done before (good to know!).

View BinghamtonEd's profile

BinghamtonEd

2281 posts in 1829 days


#12 posted 03-12-2014 12:28 PM

I do light passes as well, like you. If I have to remove more than 1/4” I usually stop at the bandsaw first, if the piece isn’t too wide. A lot of the time with passes that light, the grain direction won’t matter and you won’t get any noticeable tearout, but when it does, it seems to be at the worst time. When you get a piece with nice figure, or nearby where a knot is and the grain changes direction, that’s usually where it happens.

Now that you’ve got reading grain direction as part of your procedure, I think the easiest way to keep track is to draw slanted lines on the edge of the board to show you the grain direction, once you’ve figure it out. That way, as you’re working, you can quickly determine the direction by looking at your lines, especially when you have a lot of pieces. Feed it through the planer with the lines pointing up and away from the infeed table. On black walnut, plain old white chalk works great for this. On lighter woods, choose a different color, or use a pencil.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

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