Thickness Planer Tips
How to Set-up and Use.

Planer tips to make it easy for you. These practical planer tips give you a variety of uses.

Thickness Planer Setup:

These steps simply the setup of your thickness planer and virtually eliminate snipe.

  1. UNPLUG the planer

  2. Lower the in-feed and out-feed table adjustment screws so that the tables are below the center (cutter) table.

  3. Raise the cutter head assembly and rotate the head (carefully) so that no blades are hanging below the cutter head unit.

  4. Place a long straight edge between the table and the pinch rollers in the center of the table (a good four foot level works for this).

  5. Lower the cutter head assembly until the pinch rollers hold the straight edge firmly in place.

  6. Slowly adjust the table adjustment screws until the in-feed and out-feed tables contact the bottom of the straightedge.

  7. Move the straight edge to each side of the table and check that the in-feed and out-feed tables still contact the straight edge.

  8. While the straightedge is at the sides of the table gently use a wrench to adjust the leveling screws up 1/4 turn beyond the point where the tables contact the straight edge.

  9. Double check step 7 & 8

  10. Snipe free planing is your reward!

You made the pinch rollers effectively pressure the boards against the cutter table. Now you have three points of contact to the board, the cutter table, the pinch roller, and the END of the in-feed or out-feed table. This is the point where snipe occurs, during the beginning of the cut or the end.

I hope this planer tip was clear enough to understand. If you don't see satisfactory results, repeat this process a time or two. I think you will find it gets rid of 95% of the snipe.

Additional Planer Tips

Typically, it is prudent to take no more than 1/16"-1/32" on each pass. When I get close to the desired size, I use only 1/64". It gives a better finish.

A custom-made Extension table supports long boards. Mine folds down for extra space when not in use. Use a piano hinge to attach to the planer cabinet. A steel pole is solid support. You can put a leg leveler in the steel pole for adjustments. This allows you to make the extension table flush with your in-feed or out-feed table. You can remove it for storage.


How to Use a Planer as a Jointer

There have been many theories of whether to use a Planer or a Jointer to flatten a board. Everyone has their own idea. From my own experience, the following planer tips actually work every time.

Generally, when a cupped board runs through a thickness planer, the rollers tend to flatten the board. When the board is through the planer, it springs back to a cupped board. How do we solve this?

First, the board should be as dry as possible. I prefer Kiln-dried wood. Store your wood in your shop for two weeks prior to use for stability.

From your sketch or Bill of Materials, determine how wide the boards need to be. If you have 7" wide board, but you need 3" wide pieces, then rip the board in half. Frequently that may eliminate most of the cup. Then use your thickness planer as usual.

thickness planer tipsIf you need the full 7" wide, put a straightedge across the width of the board. Determine how much cup there is.

Slide a shim underneath your straightedge, so that it fits snuggly. woodworking planer tipsNow you know the thickness of the shim. Using carpet tape (two-sided sticky tape), affix the shim to the cupped side of the board. Turn the board over, and run it through the planer. The shim will keep the planer's rollers from flattening out the board.

After a 2-3 passes through the planer, you will have one side flat. Then turn the board over, and take off the shim. You may need it on another board in the future. You are ready to flatten the other side.

This works every time you have a cupped board. Moreover, you can do a wide board without the need of a jointer. If you build a router table, you can edge joint the board as well. I have never had a jointer. I don't plan on cluttering my work space with one now.

Save all of your tablesaw shavings and cut-offs. This gives you shims of a different thickness to use for the cupped-board technique!

Questions or Suggestions? I would love to hear from you!

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