How much cleanup after thickness planing?

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Forum topic by Rob posted 07-29-2014 06:38 PM 1980 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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704 posts in 3071 days

07-29-2014 06:38 PM

I’m looking at getting a thickness planer. I used to think the planer would give you a flat surface, but I quickly learned that all planers leave ridges or ripples that have to be flattened out by sanding, scraping, or planing afterward.

What kind of planer do you have, what kind of post-thicknessing treatment do you give your boards, and how much time would you say you spend?

-- Ask an expert or be the expert -

18 replies so far

View jmartel's profile


7898 posts in 2150 days

#1 posted 07-29-2014 06:58 PM

Not all planers leave ridges or ripples. Helical heads leave scalloped surfaces sometimes, but you shouldn’t have any ridges or ripples from a normal straight knife planer.

The planers do not give a finish-ready surface, so you still need to sand for that. I usually start at 80 or 100 grit and go up from there.

I have a Dewalt 735.

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

View pintodeluxe's profile


5662 posts in 2813 days

#2 posted 07-29-2014 06:59 PM

A good planer will give a smooth surface, with only routine sanding required before finishing. I use a Dewalt 735 planer, and sand with a random orbit sander at 120 and 150 grit. That’s it.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View lew's profile


12062 posts in 3756 days

#3 posted 07-29-2014 07:27 PM

New knives and the type of wood can make a lot of difference in the finish. I have the 735 and with fresh knives, straight grained wood and the slow feed speed the surface is “paint” ready.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View MrUnix's profile


6716 posts in 2199 days

#4 posted 07-29-2014 07:29 PM

My Makita 2030 leaves a very smooth surface that really doesn’t need any further sanding (although I usually do give it a light sanding afterwards anyway). But then again, it is considered a finish planer, so it can’t really hog off a lot of material in one pass either.


-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

View ChefHDAN's profile


1062 posts in 2850 days

#5 posted 07-29-2014 07:39 PM

+1 for the 735, depending on species and which speed (finishing or dimensioning) I run the boards at it’s pretty much straight to final sanding 120 then 180 & done

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

View papadan's profile


3584 posts in 3369 days

#6 posted 07-29-2014 07:43 PM

I have a Ridgid TP1300 planer. With the infeed and outfeed properly set up, I have no snipe on the ends and never any defects in the middle. I use 220 grit on a ROS followed by finishing.

View JayT's profile


5633 posts in 2211 days

#7 posted 07-29-2014 07:46 PM

A good planer will leave a pretty good surface, but you are right that it won’t be finish ready. I use a Steel City 40100 and hit the boards with a smoothing plane afterwards. Only takes a minute or two per board to get a finish ready surface with no dust or noise.

-- In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. Thomas Jefferson

View TheDane's profile


5423 posts in 3663 days

#8 posted 07-29-2014 07:48 PM

I have a DW733 … with sharp blades, it leaves a surface that needs little or no sanding. I think with any planer you need to read the grain of the wood … if you are feeding the stock against the grain, you will be a lot of tearout, which translates to a lot of sanding.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View TheWoodenOyster's profile


1317 posts in 1935 days

#9 posted 07-29-2014 08:06 PM

I have a DC33 old cast iron planer. It is a little rough around the edges, but it is 2 hp, so it can handle a load. I don’t replace or sharpen my blades much, so I typically have a decent amount of work to do after the boards come out of the planer. I sand from 80 to 220, with all the grits in between. Sometimes I hit the board with a smooth plane to get the ridges out. If I use a smooth plane, I also sometimes start at 120 or 150 instead of 80.

How much time do I spend? Too much. That is why a helical head planer is on the list. I made a Dining room table a few months ago and I would estimate 30 to 40 hours of sanding. Smaller projects like side table and coffee tables are more like 10 hours of sanding.

-- The Wood Is Your Oyster

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

4987 posts in 2493 days

#10 posted 07-29-2014 08:23 PM

Mine is a 15” Delta and it has a Byrd head. This one does leave lines (ridges) lengthwise on the boards, but they are light enough that 2 passes (really) with an ROS (150 grit) removes them. But I don’t consider the board ready for finish quite yet. I almost always take a few passes with 180 grit on the ROS, and then follow that with a light hand sanding (also 180) in the grain direction. All in all, it just a few minutes per board.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View exelectrician's profile


2327 posts in 2427 days

#11 posted 07-29-2014 08:26 PM

The Wooden Oyster sounds like a simple replacement of the existing blades would be like night and day for you I speak from experience. When I put in new blades on my 734 DeWalt I was surprised how I had gotten used to the lousy surface that slowly crept up on me, with new blades ,, wow! Like night and day.

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

View Rob's profile


704 posts in 3071 days

#12 posted 07-29-2014 08:35 PM

Thanks for all the responses, everyone! I was starting to worry that I was in for a lot of extra sanding or hand planing even after using the planer.

I found a nice article that talks about cleaning up the scallops left behind by a helical cutterhead:

-- Ask an expert or be the expert -

View TheWoodenOyster's profile


1317 posts in 1935 days

#13 posted 07-29-2014 08:40 PM

Exelectrician – I actually just posted a forum topic about sharpening planer knives and such. I think I have gotten sucked into crappy blade land and not realized it.

-- The Wood Is Your Oyster

View doubleDD's profile


7387 posts in 2043 days

#14 posted 07-30-2014 01:33 AM

+ one as The Dane said. Feeding direction plays a big roll with some lumber. If you are getting results that need a lot of sanding or finishing work, try turning the piece around and see if it changes anything. Of course as others have mentioned, sharp blades.

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

View TheFridge's profile


9483 posts in 1486 days

#15 posted 07-30-2014 01:46 AM

Sharp knives are awesome.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

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