How To Safely Plane Thin Panels Video Screenshot

How to safely plane thin panels using your thickness planer. As a panel gets thin, it is more likely to bow under the pressure of the front feed roller of your thickness planer. If the panel bows, the planer's spinning cutter head can shatter the front edge of your panel or even worse kick the panel back out.

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How To Safely Plane Thin Panels - Video Transcript

Chris Marshall: How do I plane a panel of wood down thin in my thickness planer? That's a great question because as a panel of wood gets thin, it's more likely to bow under the front feed roller of your planer. If that happens, the spinning cutter head can shatter the front edge of that panel and ruin it or worse yet, kick the panel back out in your direction and you definitely don't want that to happen. Well, there's a simple solution. You need to make a planer sled and all that is is a piece of flat sheet material like plywood, MDF or melamine coated particle board and some carpet tape. It works just as well in a bench top planer or a stationary machine and the concept is simple. You need to attach your panel that's going to get thinner to something that isn't, that can keep it flat no matter how thin it gets. I like to use melamine board for planer sleds because it's easier to get the tape adhesive off when you're done using it.

Size your sled so that it's a little bit narrower than your planer bed and really, as long as you like but it needs to be longer than the panel you're going to plane. Now before you mount the panel to the sled, measure the combined thickness of the panel and the sled board so you'll know where you're starting from when it comes to setting the planing depth for that first pass. Then cut four short pieces of carpet tape and stick them to the four corners of the panel. You don't need to waste tape by applying a piece that covers the full width because it just makes the panel that much harder to get off the sled when you're done.

Four short pieces will do the trick. Be sure to apply them on both ends of the panel so it'll be taped down as it's going into the planer and coming out of it. Then peel off the backing from the tape and stick it to your planer sled. Put it about in the middle and press it down securely to make sure it'll stay put. Then, head to the planer. Now set your planers depth about 1/16 of an inch shallower than what you measured and feed your sled through just like you would an ordinary board. Then, repeat the process, planing the panel down to the thickness you need. You can plane a panel down to about 1/8 of an inch thick using a sled like this. That's all it takes to make thin panel safely at your power planer.