Please help! Truing long planks

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Forum topic by natenaaron posted 05-11-2015 11:42 PM 1341 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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442 posts in 1824 days

05-11-2015 11:42 PM

This has been a two year frustration. I have a book matched pair of walnut slabs that are around 8 feet long that I have been wanting to use for a table. I am tired of screwing them up. I tried to flatten them and remove a twist using the the router and sled method. My router model POS dug in bad. I had to salvage it using a miter saw with dado blade but that did not remove the twist. Then I tried to use a power hand planer. It did not work.
Clearly I am missing something and the wife is wondering when I am going to finish the table with the VERY expensive wood.

Please help with any advice.

15 replies so far

View mahdee's profile


3890 posts in 1794 days

#1 posted 05-12-2015 02:37 AM

How thick and wide are they?
Depending on the style of the table, you maybe able to work out the twist with cross braces or something like that. Pictures would help.


View BurlyBob's profile


5555 posts in 2292 days

#2 posted 05-12-2015 04:11 AM

Dear Brother, I truly feel for you. I don’t have decent answer to your dilemma, I wish I did. I know, only to well the situation your in!!!! I’ve been there a time or three, but mostly when I’m doing something SWMBO has put before me.!!! Oh, how I hate that! Today I headed out to my modest work shop to build a few small boxes to hold some of the bulk of lead ingots I’ve smelted in the last few weeks. I’m deeply involved in it when SWMBO walks in whining about some damn flowerbed project or whatever the crap. I spent the next few hours digging and grubbing in the dirt. My back and knee are now killing me. I did get one small box built. Should hold 3-4 dozen ingots and clear up a bit of space. Brother, go forth, face your enemy with no fear, you will persevere and win the day.

View rwe2156's profile (online now)


2965 posts in 1508 days

#3 posted 05-12-2015 10:08 AM

What was the problem with your router?
What kind of bit did you use?

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

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4769 posts in 2378 days

#4 posted 05-12-2015 02:23 PM

Use winding sticks in conjunction w/ a jack plane.

-- Bondo Gaposis

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5140 posts in 1748 days

#5 posted 05-12-2015 02:31 PM

The router is also something I’m curious about? I’d also love to see a miter saw with a dado!

View natenaaron's profile


442 posts in 1824 days

#6 posted 05-12-2015 02:33 PM

Here are the planks, They were a heavy 8/4 but the router F’”“ed that up.

Router problem. I was using a 3/4 inch bit taking a very small amount of wood off at a time. The clamp that held the depth of the bit was apparently created by somone who did not think a clamp needed to actually HOLD the bit where it was set. I had a light hand on it when it dug in over a half inch flipped out of the sled and scared the poo out of me.

At the widest point the slabs are 28 inches I believe and the thinnest is about 14.

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Richard H

489 posts in 1707 days

#7 posted 05-12-2015 02:35 PM

I’m assuming the reason a power planner didn’t work is there is a lot of curl in the pieces and you got tear out? If that’s the case making this your first foray into hand tools probably isn’t the best idea in the world.

I’m curious what happened with the router? Did the bit slip during use? Did you set the depth of cut to deep? What kind of bit did you use? Did you router sled sag?

Something else to consider might be calling around to a few cabinet shops and see what they would charge to flatten it. It might be worth it at this point to pay someone else who deals with these kinds of things to do it for you so you can move past this frustrating step and get to making the rest of the table. You can always come back and revisit these techniques later with less expensive and less frustrating pieces of wood instead of trying to figure this out with a piece that has a lot of pressure around it.

Best of luck to you.

View natenaaron's profile


442 posts in 1824 days

#8 posted 05-12-2015 06:33 PM

Being in the middle of no where there are no cabinet shops local. If I can’t figure this out I will haul them the 2-3 hours I need to. A friend has a large drum sander in storage. We were talking yesterday and when he gets back into town we’ll dig it out. I’ve never used a drum sander and I thought the item had to be trued up on one side for it to work. Can it be used to take the twist out?

3/4 inch rabbit bit and I was taking a little over 1/16 at a pass because I was real worried about taking too much. I had the depth clamp as tight as it would go. My sled was on trued and planed rails and set up perfectly flat. All I can figure is the vibration caused it to loosen up and it bit in. Believe me it was a shock. I’ve used routers before, many many times. I was using a new one because my old one was stolen several years ago.

You are right the curly grain thwarted my hand planing, and the power planing was a fiasco.

View RussellAP's profile


3104 posts in 2313 days

#9 posted 05-12-2015 06:46 PM

At this point I’d find a local mill that can work these in some large machines. They usually don’t charge much and you can make a friend. I’d have them sand the wood down for me too. Most woodworkers can’t handle those large pieces with the equipment they have, and if you did try, you’d likely just break something.

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

View mahdee's profile


3890 posts in 1794 days

#10 posted 05-12-2015 07:02 PM

Drum sander will not straighten out the twists. The first thing I would do is to rough cut the book match by using some culls, maybe angle iron and screws them to the bottom of the table to be to work the twists out. While held together like that, I would join them together with whatever you plan to use and cut it to the rough size length. (working the twist against one another would be good idea)..Next is to take out the reinforcers and see what you end up with. If you have to level it more, use a hand electric planer to flatten the top of the table only using sticks width and length wise to guide you. Final touch can be hand plane, cards, sandpaper. Again, depending on the style you use, the legs can serve to provide additional reinforcements. I am sure there are better ideas out there.


View bondogaposis's profile (online now)


4769 posts in 2378 days

#11 posted 05-12-2015 07:32 PM

Is the bit slipping in the collet or the motor housing slipping in the base? Were you using an upcut spiral bit?

-- Bondo Gaposis

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2602 posts in 3024 days

#12 posted 05-12-2015 07:54 PM

Drum sander will not work . It will make your TWISTED board smooth.
Winding sticks . Planer on 45 degree angle passes. NOT with the grain and NOT across the grain. Change direction 45 degree . Work the high spots till you are close to low spots. You have to get one side flat first.
Blue indicates first passes. Red indicates second passes. Similar method if you are using scrub plane.Then finishing with jack or jointer plane or power plane. Takes thin passes. PATIENCE is your friend.
Ive attached an overhead drawing trying to indicate what you might want to do.

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

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342 posts in 1661 days

#13 posted 05-12-2015 09:09 PM

If you’re letting the bit bottom out in the collet it can easily slip because it prevents the collet from tightening properly. Also, make sure the collet is free of any dirt and resin.

MrJinks007 is right. Anything like a drum sander or planer that pinches the wood while machining it will not remove the twist. It will only provide a twisted board with a smooth surface. Trim the boards to rough size as that will help minimize how much material needs to be removed.

Good luck

-- Mike - Waukesha, WI

View rwe2156's profile (online now)


2965 posts in 1508 days

#14 posted 05-12-2015 10:17 PM

Do you guys read the posts?

1. The bit did not slip in the collet. He said the depth setting was the problem.
2. He also said there are no local cabinet shops.


The way you are trying to do it WILL work so don’t give up. (BTW that looks like more than a 1/16” cut maybe its the camera angle).

Can buy or borrow a router?
Also , the bit you’re using is not optimal for this.
I would get a planer bit.
You have to take very light passes.
I used a 1 1/2” one to flatten my workbench top and it worked great.

Keep in mind when you get it flat you’re still going to have to deal with the grain IMO the drum sander would be the best way to handle it. Mrjinx is right you have to get it reasonably flat first.

I wouldn’t try to machine plane this except using one with a spiral head.
If you found someone with a machine like this, it would be worth a 3 hour drive.
But this is just for final thicknessing and cleanup. You still have to get it flat first.

You’ve got some nice expensive wood there so go buy yourself a decent router.

Good Luck—YOU CAN DO IT!!

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View natenaaron's profile


442 posts in 1824 days

#15 posted 05-12-2015 11:52 PM

It was not the bit that slipped it was the depth clamp that failed, so the motor housing slipped. This is a straight sided bit.

Yes, Robert that is more than 1/16. The image is after I did some clean up to match the depth of the router bit. I was almost to the end of the board when the POS router screwed up. Dug in about a half inch before it flipped out of the sled.

It is expensive wood. Hence my frustration.

Thanks folks. I really appreciate the help thus far. I have some Angle iron to make winding sticks from and will be looking for a planer bit.

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