Planer questions from the new guy

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Hi everyone from Fergus Ontario,
I’ve been a machinist for 25+ years now and last year inherited a bunch of wood working tools. A small table model Delta band saw, a craftsman 10 inch table saw and a Ryobi 10 inch planer. These are all probably 15+ years old. I hadn’t done anything with wood since about the mid 1970’s. I have made a bunch of band saw boxes because they seemed relatively easy. (other than a lot of sanding) I have a bunch of questions about how to use a bench top planer. How do I go about planing a board. How do you know what height to start your first cut at. I’ve tried checking out some of the videos on youtube but they are very vague and only seem to deal with tear out and snipe. Any suggestions on where to start would be greatly appreciated. I’d like to try buying some rough sawn wood instead of paying to have it planed down to the dimensions I require.

It’s pretty simple. To set the height just stick your board in and lower the head until it touches the board. Then remove the board and lower it another half turn or so. Then run it through and see what you get. After a couple of times playing with it you’ll get to know the tolerances for the height. I usually don’t take off more than 1/32" at a time depending on the lumber. Be careful with knots. They’re much harder than the grain of the wood and they’ll do a number on your blades.

Losing fingers since 1969

Thank you very much Brian. I am looking forward to trying this out. We will see how it works out. The tools I inherited have all been well used. I’ve had to replace the little band saw and also the table saw as well. But this should be a good little planer to learn on. Take care.

I just stick the board in, turn it on, and lower the head (or raise the table depending on type) until it starts cutting. You’ll know very quickly how much you can take in a cut. If you get too aggressive it will bog down. If it does, just back off a bit.
You’ll get the hang of it very quickly.

The early bird gets the worm but its the second mouse that gets the cheese.

Thank you much shipwright. I’m going to have to move the shop (garage) around a bit before I give it a try.

Next you have to make one of these. :-)

Losing fingers since 1969

Another neat thing about the planer: it will fill your garage knee deep in shavings. (Great for playing hide-and-seek!)

I think it also helps to have infeed and outfeed roller stands to support the wood when you send it through. Also flipping the boards to take shavings off each side is supposed to prevent cupping and warping.

You might want to play around with it a little first but sharp blades make a huge difference also some spray silicon on the infeed & out feed tables will make it run smoother


You need a flat side or a sled that is flat to carry the lumber. Otherwise you will get unexpected results.

Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

The only thing I’d add is plane your boards down before you cut them into small parts. It may be tempting to cut parts first and then plane, but larger boards tend to only fit through the planer in the correct direction. If you try to plane across the grain of a small part it can kick back pretty violently