With table saws, any board length can be achieved simply by measuring and cutting. Making a cylindrical project is achieved by using a lathe. Making a board flat MUST be done with a plane!
Prior to “modern” woodworking, a hand plane was the tool used to make a board flat, along with sanding. Today, while hand planes are still vital for our shops, the use of thickness planers is very popular.
A thickness planer has three main parts. The cutter head, which houses the knives, two rollers which move from one side of the machine to the other and a table, located below the roller and knives, which is adjustable to control the resultant thickness of the board.
Our shops will likely consist of two types of planers. The stationary cabinet style, comprising of its own base, heavy comparatively and much larger than a portable type.
With the advent of modern science…actually market demand, a lighter more portable version of this planer has become available. The portable version, like the one shown here, maintains the same capabilities as its stationary cousin, while making planing rough lumber a bit more economical.
Operating the planer is relatively straight forward. The amount of material being removed is controlled by raising/lowering the cutter head. Feeding the board into the machine is controlled by the roller and head speed. This operation, similar to the hand plane, may take a number of passes and adjusting the cutter to get to the desired thickness and/or parallel surface results.
The plan is that the board that comes out of the machine flat/parallel. However, there is a
condition you need to watch for, unlike the hand plane, which is called snipe. Snipe, while not desired, can be controlled by adjusting the tables at each end of the planer, adjusting the roller heights or planing for the snipe by planing a board longer then needed and cutting off the excess.
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