A benchtop planer is one of the finest carpentry tools designed to mill lumber. It can be a great support as you smoothen rough edges, cut wood to your desired thickness or shape, and flatten wooden boards. So, it’s nothing surprising you, all on a sudden, become interested in knowing how to use a benchtop planer, and this article talks about it in simple language.
All it takes is an understanding of the basics and enough time to experiment until you feel comfortable. If you want to change the thickness of your boards, you’ll need a planer. A planer does the job in seconds. You feed the board in one end, and the machine grabs it and sends it out the other side a bit thinner than it went in. This woodworking model can handle boards as wide as 12 inches or more.
The good news is that these planers are affordable. Also, if the knives are appropriately installed and relatively sharp, the planer is dirt-simple to use and works like a dream. Planer is an incredibly useful tool if you are someone who prefers to buy rough lumber. If you are just getting set up with your planer, or are looking to buy one, this guide will offer you the best tips for benchtop planer.
How to Use a Benchtop Planer?
The first step at using a benchtop planer begins with getting familiar with its essential parts and features. Now, let’s highlight some of its operational features.
Getting Familiar with the Operational Features, Mechanism, and Parts
A benchtop planer is a portable woodworking machine that is used to shape, cut, and smoothen the edges of woods. If you’re using a benchtop planer, you’ll enjoy an improvement in your productive time and profits as it helps to ensure that your work piece is given the best finishing touch.
Components of a benchtop planer:
This thickness planer consists of the following elements
Cutter head: A cutter head, which contains the cutting knives
Rollers: A set of rollers, which draw the board through the machine
Table: A table which is adjustable relative to the cutter head to control the resultant thickness of the board.
Dust collection attachment: This helps to collect the dust from the machine to keep your workspace tidy and safe.
Scale and Pointer: It is a metric scale that allows you to set the thickness of the cut easily.
Some portable thickness planers differ slightly in that the table is fixed and the cutter head/feed roller assembly is adjusted.
Because of the amount of sawdust and wood chips produced during the planning process, it is advisable to isolate it from the public and locate it at a place that will have minimal effect on the people.
Set It Up
If you have familiarity with the different types of planers, you may already know that this stage is critical if you want to understand how to use benchtop planer.
Unplug the planer
Make sure that the blade area is free of debris. Sawdust and wood chips
Endeavor to lower the infeed and outfeed table adjustment screws to enable the tables to be below the center (cutter) table.
Raise the cutter head assembly and rotate the head (carefully) so that no blades are hanging below the cutter head unit.
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).
Lower the cutter head assembly until the pinch rollers hold the straight edge firmly in place.
Slowly adjust the table adjustment screws until the in-feed, and out-feed tables contact the bottom of the straight edge.
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.
While the straight edge 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.
Run a Test Drive
Once you have learned how the planer is set up, the next step is to put the machine on and test the machine. Draw lines on the surface of the wooden board using a pen or pencil to track the progress. Then, run the wooden board through the machine to get an idea of how it works.
Choosing Your Desired Finish
The two types of finishes achieved using this type of planer are namely; The finishing cut and dimensioning. When you switch between these two, you make the rollers move faster or slower, respectively.
For the finishing cut, you achieve a finer finish since there are more cuts done per inch. On the other hand, the dimensioning provides fewer cuts per inch and thus, a rougher finish. Now that you’ve finished planning the flat side of each board, it’s time to clean up the edges.
This is where you run each board through the planer on its side so that the narrow edge is smoothed and flattened. If you’re planning several boards at once that all need to be the same size. It’s advisable to run several of them through the planer at once.
You can typically safely run three to five boards on their edges through a planer at the same time. Remember to plane both sides of each board’s edges for a smooth finished product.
Feeding the Machine
Feed the machine with your desired wooden board. Run each wooden board through the planer lengthwise. Start by running them through with the planer running over the flat, the wide side of each board. Make sure you gradually adjust the planer, planning off a little more each time, rather than trying to take off large amounts at once. Instead of planning one board at a time, I prefer to plane them all together if they need all to be milled to the same thickness. Remember to plane both sides of each wooden board for the smoothest and flattest finish possible.
One of the greatest problems encountered by planers is something called snipe. This is a situation where the knives take a little bit of an extra cut out of one side or the other side or both. This can be prevented by way of having another piece of scrap wood, having the same thickness. Run that through first, then butt your good piece right up next to it and push it through, and when it goes through, you can move the scrap from the outfeed and put it on to the end of your good piece, and that will eliminate snipe on your boards. Also, to prevent sniping, pull the board’s other end up as you pass it into the planer. Hold it at that position as it passes through the first roller. Then as it exists, lift the wood so that it would not get pulled into the blade.
Avoiding the Tear out of the Grain
Grain tear out is what happens when the blades are running against the grain of the lumber. They tear the grain out. And with this planer, the blades are running against the tops of each of these grain lines. This can be avoided by just turning the board around, to see how those blades are running with the grain, because they may skim out the tops of those lines. That’s how you avoid tear out by running with the grain.
Avoiding Cuts and Gauging
This can be prevented by trying not to put the wooden board into a planer with the rough side forward, because, there’s a good chance that the planer will catch the grain. This causes gauging and cuts in the wood.
Deciding Whether or Not to Use the Depth Stop
The depth stop is a control that enables you to set the depth when milling lumber to prevent going beyond how much you intend to take off. Once you set the depth, it will prevent the wheel from turning as soon as it already has skimmed off the desired thickness from the board. If you do not want to utilize this control, all you have to do is set the depth at a low dimension that you would not reach.
Having had the necessary benchtop planer tips and tricks, you should consider the various safety precautions that are needed for a smooth and convenient planning operation.
Because a planer is a powerful tool that throws up a considerable amount of sawdust and wood chips, it’s essential to wear the proper safety equipment. Like some other tools like a jointer, a planer calls for safety steps.
Recommended safety equipment includes.
Short sleeve shirts.
Meanwhile, the rules to be followed to prevent accident occurrence are.
Wear short sleeve shirts and jewelry can be a hazard.
Wear ear and eye protection.
Never plane a board that’s less than 1/4 inch in thick or shorter than the distance between the feed rollers (inside the machine).
Endeavor to keep your hands away from the machine when it is running, especially the space between the bed and cutter head.
If a board gets stuck in the planer, don’t push it. Turn off the machine, lower the bed (or raise the cutterhead), and remove the stock.
Disconnect the power source before changing blades.
Never look into the machine (infeed or outfeed end) when it’s running.
Using the Planer for Various Applications
A benchtop planer can be used for multiple applications which include:
Working on Deck Spindles
These planers are used to shave custom-planed spindles for rails. Remember to stack the spindles consistently so you can keep track of which sides you’ve planed. It helps to mark one face on the end of each spindle as a reference.
Reclaiming a Piece of Old Wood
The most critical step in reclaiming an old piece of wood or lumber is to inspect carefully for screws and nails. Also, remove dirt and grit from the wooden board with a wire brush.
Flattening a Roughly Sawn Lumber
The woodworking tool leaves a series of rough trenches in the wood that must then be flattened with another plane that has a straighter iron. Flip the piece of work over and run it through the planer again to flatten that face.
Cleaning up Edges of a Board
Plane narrow edges by ganging bore stack boards side by side to plane off the saw marks. Look at the grain pattern and the face of the boards and orient each board to avoid tear-out.
Sanding out Ridges
Sand out ridges left by a nicked plane knife with the right grit, 120-grit sandpaper in this case. Sand with the grain. The most effective way to sand out ridges is to sandpaper around Styrofoam block or use a commercial sanding. It only takes a few seconds to sand out most ridges. Most boards will require a light sanding before finishing anyway.
A benchtop planer can be useful in shaving or milling of lumber. It is cheap, affordable and less complicated in usage. For the new freebies who are looking for benchtop planner tips. Knowing how to use benchtop a planer is essential as it helps to prevent any case of an unforeseen and irrelevant hazard.