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Planing to 1/8 Thickness

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  • Planing to 1/8 Thickness

    The first time I saw the need for 1/8 inch material I started to sweat wondering how to do this. I seemed to recall (but couldn't find) that my planer manual had dire safety warnings about planing to anything less than 1/4 inch.

    I did try re-sawing to close to 1/8 inch and then bringing it down the rest of the way with a belt sander - but I wasn't good enough with the belt sander to get a uniform thickness.

    So I went ahead with an experiment to use the planer.

    I've done it several times now - pine, walnut, cherry and elm.

    Nothing too serious has happened but I have noticed that tear out seems to happen more frequently and with more consequence (deeper, larger). So I now spend a whole lot more time considering the consistency of the grain, seeking pieces that are cleaner (i.e no knots - even tiny ones - or other imperfections in the grain), paying more attention to the direction of feed and making sure I'm planing longer and narrower pieces.

    What do others do? Am I doing something I shouldn't?

    Thanks,


    Jay

  • #2
    I do this quite frequently since my 12" band saw isn't the best on sawing the wood parallel. I use a piece of 3/4" MDF under the thin stock to keep it flat.

    Learning to read the grain really helps. I find it is easier to read it on the board before cutting it down and draw arrow on the thin stock right after or before the band saw.

    If the wood is a real keeper and could damage itself in the planer, I put a sacrifice piece just a bit thicker on the MDF in front of it with blue tape. The sacrifice piece has to be long enough to get past the first roller and to the knife, which in my case is about 3".

    I've gone thinner, but the risk of it exploding inside the planer goes up.

    Make sure you don't store it near a window where the sun can get to it. It will most always curl on you. Then you have to take it outside and let the sun bake the other side until it returns to flat.
    Steve.
    EX-16, DW-788, Dremel 1680

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    • #3
      I also do it all the time on my Dewalt 735. 1/8 is really, as you have discovered, very critical. I wiped ot a new set of blades because a piece of cherry detonated on me.
      Eventualy I will buy a drum sander for the thin stuff. Something like this (not the sand flee style)
      Jet 10-20 Plus Drum Sander
      Rolf
      RBI G4 26 Hawk, EX 16 with Pegas clamps, Nova 1624 DVR XP
      Philosophy "I don't know that I can't, therefore I can"
      Proud Member of the Long Island Woodworkers Club
      And the Long Island Scrollsaw Association

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      • #4
        I thickness sand wood for many hobby woodworkers I know. Ask around or maybe join a club.
        Before I got my sander I had boards thicknessed by a cabinet shop near me. They did it because I know the foreman. Since I got my sander they refer people to me because it's a money loser for them. I'm not in it for the money, so I have people buy the abrasives so it dosen't cost me, and I give the time and use of the machine.
        Political correctness is always political and rarely correct!

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        • #5
          Rolf,
          I agree planing that thin even with a backer board is dangerous.
          I have the Jet 16-32 Plus Drum Sander and have safely done 1/16 in thick material for inlays.
          Eric

          Liberty Twp (Cincinnati), OH

          If today were perfect, there would be no need for tomorrow!

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          • #6
            I've gone down to 1/8", but the pucker factor goes up exponentially. It pays to closely examine the grain and texture of the board for potential problems (knots, wild swirling grain) first. But even that isn't a guarantee. Probably the safest way to plane very thin boards is to double back tape them to a carrier sled and take very light passes.
            Homer : "Oh, and how is education supposed to make me feel smarter. Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain."

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            • #7
              Thanks for the tips and the cautions.

              I don't think I would care to imagine what a piece of cherry destroying a set of blades might sound like ......

              A thickness sander is not in the near future - but there is a local Fix-It club that I can look into so maybe with a bit of luck they might have one. In the meantime - I'm glad I'm not the only one doing it - but will examine the grain even closer - and take even finer passes than I was already doing.

              Thanks,


              Jay

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Bill Wilson View Post
                I've gone down to 1/8", but the pucker factor goes up exponentially. It pays to closely examine the grain and texture of the board for potential problems (knots, wild swirling grain) first. But even that isn't a guarantee. Probably the safest way to plane very thin boards is to double back tape them to a carrier sled and take very light passes.

                I agree with using double face tape. I have planed down to less than 1/16" to

                make stock for book markers this way. The key is to have a very good bond to

                the sled with good quality double faced tape. I always use clear red oak. For

                safety I make VERY LIGHT passes and NEVER EVER stand

                directly in front of my planer.
                Last edited by Stoney; 06-15-2012, 04:45 PM.
                Stoney aka Al

                This gettin old stuff ain't for sissies!

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                • #9
                  yeah, just use a thick board that is planed flat and double face tape your board to it and then just start planing down your new board. just hang onto your old board as a 'jig'

                  or build yourself a planing sled as described below

                  Woodsmith Tip: Planer Sled




                  + + I Love The Smell Of Sawdust In The Morning + +

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                  • #10
                    I plane down to 1/8 using a backer board with the board taped down to the backer as well. I also take on boards like maple I spray a little mist of water on the board being planed. It seems to help reduce the tear out a lot.

                    Arthur

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                    • #11
                      Can you please tell me how you remove the 1/8" or 1/16" stock from the double sided tape without breaking the stock? Do you put tape just at the ends or under the whole length?
                      Nick.

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                      • #12
                        I also agree everything Bill Wilson said and I would like to add that besides very light cuts, it is also a big advantage to make sure your planer knives are very sharp.

                        I think I have also read somewhere that a light spray with water helps. I have no personal experience with this last bit and I'm not even sure I actually read about it, so a little research may be in order before trying it.

                        Mike

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Nick View Post
                          Can you please tell me how you remove the 1/8" or 1/16" stock from the double sided tape without breaking the stock? Do you put tape just at the ends or under the whole length?
                          Nick.
                          Nick I sometimes use a putty knife to break the bond from the backer board and

                          at times also a hairdryer. Also be sure to remove adhesive residue before

                          applying any finish.

                          PS I use small pieces of tape spaced the full length of the board.
                          Last edited by Stoney; 06-21-2012, 12:40 PM.
                          Stoney aka Al

                          This gettin old stuff ain't for sissies!

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                          • #14
                            Do you have a bandsaw? I resaw up to 12" wide on the bandsaw, then run through the drum sander. From a 3/4" board I get two 1/4" slices and a thinner slice that I use for card holders. Run the 2 thicker slices through the drum sander top 1/4" or thinner. Since the thicker slices are finished on one side, you just have to sand the one side smooth. If you use a thinner blade on the bandsaw, the cut side isn't too rough. The middle piece is used for card holders. Hubby does a preliminary sanding to make sure the thinner board is flat, then cuts the board to card size and puts the pieces in his handy dandy sled he made just for the card holders. The edges of the sled have a thin board 1/8" high around it. When the pieces are even with the edging, the pieces are 1/8" thick, ready for me to cut! He does 36 at one time. He is the master at sleds!! Last count was 10. Just keep your boards flat and if necessary put some weight on them to keep from buckling or curling. If it does buckle or curl, it may not have been dry enough to slice in the first place.
                            Betty

                            "Congress needs to realize it is a government of the people, by the people and for the people. Not of the people, by the people and for Congress." - Dr. Benjamin Carson, Pediatric Neurosurgeon, Johns Hopkins Hospital

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