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Thread: Electric hand planer good enough for 2x4 and 2x6 construction?

  1. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom M King View Post
    Also, blade width on these are typically 3-1/4", which will not even cover the width of a 2x4 in one pass. Taking more than one pass to cover the width of any board will leave ridges along the edges of the planer blades. It's just not the tool to do the job that you are thinking it will.
    OK. that makes sense. But explain how that is any different than dimensioning with a Stanley (or Lee Valley) hand plane? It seems to me that both of those techniques do the same thing. I realize that with an electric hand plainer it would be too easy to take of too much wood as compared to a hand plane. But still it is the same basic process. Isn't it?
    Marshall
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    A Stickley fan boy.

  2. #17
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    I have made a couple items from kiln dried (fir maybe) 2x4's from the box store. It worked well

    Sometimes I rip it on the table saw to get the thickness I want and square off the rounded edges.

    If you then had a small bench top jointer (I had one for years that worked surprisingly well, Craiglist can prolly find you one) you could surface it and given it was cut straight in the table saw that might be enough.

    Ideally you then plane it, but I haven't 'always' planed it and have made some decent projects

    For what it's worth

  3. #18
    Thought this thread was going to be about using a hand held planer doing construction. Used to use one to plane a "high" floor joist, or a rafter with too much crown before putting down the subfloor or roof sheeting.

  4. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marshall Harrison View Post
    OK. that makes sense. But explain how that is any different than dimensioning with a Stanley (or Lee Valley) hand plane? It seems to me that both of those techniques do the same thing. I realize that with an electric hand plainer it would be too easy to take of too much wood as compared to a hand plane. But still it is the same basic process. Isn't it?
    If you've ever tried to do any flattening, jointing, or dimensioning with an electric, hand-held power planer you'll know that even the lightest cut possible with the power planer could create ridges that very quickly become something you have to deal with to get to the finish line. When I'm in this odd situation (on a job site probably or in one-off timber framing situations) then I'll usually clean up the ridges with a well-tuned hand plane, but then you need a well-tuned hand plane.

    Conversely, doing the same operations with just a (set of) well-tuned hand plane(s) removes much less material per pass and take a good deal longer because of it, but also is much easier to keep the ridges / plane tracks in check.

    The difference is really in how much wood is being removed per pass and how quickly the ridges become an obstacle to deal with.

    All of this aside, you don't want to do this type of work with a power planer. It's just not worth the effort with framing lumber and it really won't serve you very much if your lumber isn't close to straight, flat, and square.

    Either find a way to mill your own lumber on a jointer, planer and table saw or design your project around S4S lumber and buy that.
    Last edited by Phillip Mitchell; 04-17-2019 at 11:09 PM.

  5. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phillip Mitchell View Post
    If you've ever tried to do any flattening, jointing, or dimensioning with an electric, hand-held power planer you'll know that even the lightest cut possible with the power planer could create ridges that very quickly become something you have to deal with to get to the finish line. When I'm in this odd situation (on a job site probably or in one-off timber framing situations) then I'll usually clean up the ridges with a well-tuned hand plane, but then you need a well-tuned hand plane.

    Conversely, doing the same operations with just a (set of) well-tuned hand plane(s) removes much less material per pass and take a good deal longer because of it, but also is much easier to keep the ridges / plane tracks in check.

    The difference is really in how much wood is being removed per pass and how quickly the ridges become an obstacle to deal with.

    All of this aside, you don't want to do this type of work with a power planer. It's just not worth the effort with framing lumber and it really won't serve you very much if your lumber isn't close to straight, flat, and square.

    Either find a way to mill your own lumber on a jointer, planer and table saw or design your project around S4S lumber and buy that.
    Thanks Philip,

    So if I understand your post, the hand plane approach would have the same problem. The only difference is that the electric planer would quickly compound the problem and make things worse requiting more cleanup to fix it. That was my basic premise that the problem happens with bot methods.

    I agree that if one doesn't have the proper tools then they should stick to S4S but even that isn't necessarily flat or straight.
    Marshall
    ---------------------------
    A Stickley fan boy.

  6. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Marshall Harrison View Post
    Thanks Philip,

    So if I understand your post, the hand plane approach would have the same problem. The only difference is that the electric planer would quickly compound the problem and make things worse requiting more cleanup to fix it. That was my basic premise that the problem happens with bot methods.

    I agree that if one doesn't have the proper tools then they should stick to S4S but even that isn't necessarily flat or straight.
    A smoother iron is usually ground with the sides of the edge eased a bit so it doesn't leave sharp tracks. That combined with the much shallower cut taken with a hand plane leaves a much more even surface.

  7. #22
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    An electric hand planer operates on a different concept than a hand plane, and I'm not talking about electricity. The electric planer is a small jointer that you use upside down, so there are two major differences:

    1- the cutter extends the entire width of the sole, whereas on a bench plane the sole has wings on either side of the cutter. Those wings play a big role when you're working on a surface wider than the cutter. They prevent the edges of the cutter from digging in if you put more pressure on one side, they bridge high spots across the width to help create flatness, and they limit the depth of any "trench" you could make. With an electric planer you can easily create a 1/2" deep trench in the middle of the board if you keep taking passes in the same spot, with a hand plane that is limited to the cutter projection which is a couple thousandths. This also means that if you're flattening a cupped board where the middle is low, the hand plane will not cut the low middle until you plane down the high edges, but the electric plane will cut anywhere you put it and will happily make the cup even deeper if you're not paying close attention.

    2- the sole of an electric planer is not flat, but has two offset parallel sections like a jointer. If the infeed and outfeed are flat and parallel and set correctly to the cutterhead then this is the ideal setup for producing a straight edge on anything narrower than the cutter, especially when the depth of cut is large. But it is not ideal for planing something wider than the cutter, mostly because it limits you to the setup described in the first point. It also means that you cannot effectively camber the blades, because it has to project above or at least be dead even with the outfeed sole. A hand plane sole is one flat surface, and the cutter projects below. While this seems like it wouldn't work as well to create a straight surface, it really does. At least for the small depth of cuts that hand planes take.

    So essentially the hand planer is optimized for edge jointing, or face jointing of boards less than the cutter width. Bench planes are made for surfacing all faces and are not limited by width. I think an electric planer setup more like a bench plane would be a very useful tool for furniture makers without access to wide jointers/planers- in fact I cobbled together an experimental plane with a large plywood sole, and it works very well in the little bit of testing I have done.

  8. #23
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    Thanks Fran and Robert.

    That pretty much explains the difference (as well as the results) between the two.
    Marshall
    ---------------------------
    A Stickley fan boy.

  9. #24
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    If I had to use big box store lumber for furniture, I'd buy 2x10s and rip 3 1/2 off each edge and use the remainder for secondary wood or throw it away. With proper selection you will get rift or quarter sawn lumber this way and a lot less stress in the drying wood. It also comes from bigger/older trees and hopefully less knots. Also gives you room to rip off the rounded edges and still keep full measure stock.

  10. #25
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    Go to a real lumber yard and look at KD Select 1 grade 2x4 and 2x6. It's a superior grade to the std #2 grade lumber used on most framing work. You may find that you won't need to plane it. I am among those that view quality framing lumber as fine for low cost furniture projects. A bunkbed would likely have cross members which will help keep everything straight. If you want to stick with pine, I would imagine there are grades that contain tight knots that would be far less expensive that clear.



    Quote Originally Posted by Aaron Buys View Post
    Iím looking for some advice on a planer/jointer solution for my woodworking. I would like to build my son a loft bed and Iíve purchased some plans for making one. Itís almost entirely 2x4 and 2x6 pine construction and a pretty simple build. Iím primarily a woodturner so most of my shop revolves around that and I own only a lathe, bandsaw, chop saw, circular saw, (no table saw.) I know I wonít be happy with the final product if I use lumber from the big box store and donít mill it to some extent as I would like to bed to look as ďfurniture gradeĒ as I can. What solution would you recommend to plane/joint the dimensional lumber so all my lap joints look good and the final product looks professional? Iím considering picking up an electric hand planer to true up the store bought lumber. Will this be sufficient or do I need to invest in something larger and more substantial?
    Scott Vroom

    If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

    Bernard Baruch

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