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Forum topic by cajunpen posted 08-07-2007 10:22 PM 4754 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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14575 posts in 4091 days

08-07-2007 10:22 PM

Topic tags/keywords: jointing planing edge flattening board

I have a question regarding flattening wood – prior to taking it to the jointer. I also posted this in Tom’s Thread about his planer purchase – but that Thread is so long, that I am afraid that most people are not checking it very often.

My current method for flattening a board is to take it to my Performax 32” drum sander. I normally take a board, scribble a pencil line down the length of it (wavy line across width of board) and run it through the drum sander until the line is completely gone. I then take it to the planer (12 1/2” Delta) and plane the opposite side. I am assuming that the drum sander (sanding away the pencil line) makes the one side perfectly flat and ready for plaining. What do you guys think? Am I right or wrong in my thinking? I also have a 6” jointer (small Delta Table top) that works good for jointing short pieces, but it’s not the greatest for anything over 36”.

Another question about edge jointing. Does my pencil line theory (wavy from one end to the other) hold true for flattening the edge of a board? I’m thinking that if I joint until all of the pencil line is gone – the board should be flat. Appreciate any comments.

-- Bill - "Suit yourself and let the rest be pleased."

13 replies so far

View WayneC's profile


13754 posts in 4122 days

#1 posted 08-07-2007 10:32 PM

I’m not sure it would be flat. I would think it would be the same as running both sides through a planer. You should be able to check it with a strait edge or other flat surface. It could have taken wood off in areas below the line.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View che's profile


123 posts in 4051 days

#2 posted 08-07-2007 10:41 PM

I don’t have a drum sander but my understanding is that the clamping pressure is much lower on the sander compared to the planer. Because of this the sander doesn’t press the board flat to the table and should be pretty flat on the other side.

I think the sander would do a good job with cupping but would have trouble with bow and twist due to the shorter table, compared to a jointer.

-- Che.

View Max's profile


56000 posts in 4298 days

#3 posted 08-07-2007 11:08 PM

The best way I believe that you could tell if the board was flat after running it through the sander would be to lay it on your table saw top and see if it rocks at all. Or as Wayne said use a strait edge across the surface. I think that it would still have some cup or twist just like if you ran it through a planer. Although I could not tell you for sure, I do not have one of those type of sanders.

-- Max "Desperado", Salt Lake City, UT

View WayneC's profile


13754 posts in 4122 days

#4 posted 08-07-2007 11:22 PM

Perhaps there is a limit to the length of the board your trying to flatten. This might work ok for short boards.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 4325 days

#5 posted 08-07-2007 11:37 PM

To check for twist, used to straight edges one on each end of the board, & sight across them to see the twist.
To eliminate the twist put a wedge on each of the high corners to keep the board from following the same parallels.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4013 days

#6 posted 08-07-2007 11:58 PM

I have both a drum sander as well as a planer. Both will follow the board. The sander can take a lighter
pass, but doesn’t do much good except with shorter pieces. It also takes a looong time.

I use my planer to flatten any board that will fit into it as long as it’s not too long. Too long would be anything
over 3 feet. I run it through on a piece of plywood with wedges (as suggested above) to keep it from rocking.

Then I take a few light passes until about 80% is flat, then flip it over and do the other side so that it is
100% flat, and flip it over once more to take it to final thickness.

As Dick mentioned above, use a pair of winding sticks to check out the board to see what you are working with.

For larger and longer boards I use a whole different process. I will write it up along with some pictures
then post a link here.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Max's profile


56000 posts in 4298 days

#7 posted 08-08-2007 12:07 AM

Speaking of making a planer sled, here is a link to a pdf that shows how to make one. It is on the second page of the pdf doc. You can use the adjusting screws as they show or use wedges under the high spots also as Dick and Gary suggest. Hope this helps.

I posted this on Tom’s Thread also.

-- Max "Desperado", Salt Lake City, UT

View furnitologist's profile


198 posts in 4038 days

#8 posted 08-08-2007 12:13 AM

I’m with everybody above on this and combine all the answers together on this one….....wedges on a sleighs, all combinations and permutations….....but not just a run through the drum sander, that won’t work.

Hey GaryK… your joinery storage box….....NEAT!!!!

I saw a post where Dick was questioning if he could use the term COOL….an age thing he mentioned, is NEAT OK for Dick???

Edit…........Good link Max.

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Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 3987 days

#9 posted 08-08-2007 02:20 AM

I’ve got copy of Woodsmith on my desk as I write. it looks as good as it gets. Sometimes it just boils down to a sharp plane and winding sticks.I’m lucky to have a hardwood supplier, High Desert Hardwoods in Eagle , Idaho who lets me pick and choose. I most ly stay away but have had good luck with cup by putting it with the cup up in my DW 735. A couple passes and I flip it over and then flip it every pass.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View cajunpen's profile


14575 posts in 4091 days

#10 posted 08-08-2007 04:43 AM

Thanks for all of the input guys. I probably should have been more specific with the details. My pencil theory is ONLY used on boards (mostly under 6” wide) that have no apparent twist or bows in it. I’ve been fairly lucky buying my small cache of lumber and it’s for the most part pretty straight. I am only trying to get a flat board perfectly flat and that is what I was trying to ask about. Sorry for not being specific enough with my question.
In the end, it was’nt a total waste – all of the above suggestions will still apply. I can use the winding sticks to see if my board is dead flat.

Since Dick said cool – I’ll say “this group is the bomb!” I think that means great in the vernacular of the younger generation :-)).

-- Bill - "Suit yourself and let the rest be pleased."

View Steffen's profile


326 posts in 4060 days

#11 posted 08-08-2007 06:14 AM


I don’t remember seeing a comment about this but from what I understand the purpose of using a jointer is to make one edge flat first; then the jointer to make one face, with the jointed edge against the jointer’s fence, flat second. Now you have one edge and one face which if everything is aligned perfectly are perfectly perpendicular to each other. This is very important because when you run the board through your planer, jointed face down, you will get the other face flat AND parallel to the jointed face (as well as perpendicular to the jointed edge). The final step would be to take the board to your table saw and cut the remaining rough edge with the jointed edge to the fence. Now you should have a flat board with each face and edge parallel to it’s opposite.

If you don’t have a jointer, or if your board is bigger than your jointer then the planer sled is the way to go to get two parallel faces of the board. Once you have that then the edges can be squared off on the table saw.

Like Wayne said, doing it the way you are you could get the same results just running it through the planer and you would be doing it a lot faster.

I think “the wood whisperer” has a video pod cast on this exact subject. Episode 6 “A quick guide to milling lumber” He gives some tips on how to edge and face joint if you don’t have a jointer or if your board is too big.

By the way, If I totally missed what it was you were asking…just hit me up the side of the head with a board…make is some black walnut though, I need some.

-- Steffen - Kirkland, WA

View Sawdust2's profile


1466 posts in 4113 days

#12 posted 08-08-2007 12:02 PM

I think all the ideas are correct. Steffen relates what I was taught by Ian Kirby.

I think this thread is groovy! (or maybe dado) (I have a friend that always says daddyo when he means dado. )

-- No piece is cut too short. It was meant for a smaller project.

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 4325 days

#13 posted 08-08-2007 03:06 PM

When I wrote my comment I couldn’t think of the term, ”winding sticks”. whiich reminds me of what my Grandson always says,”COOL” to all of you.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

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