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Thread: Handplaning vs machines...

  1. #1

    Handplaning vs machines...

    Hi guys ! I'm starting woodworking and right now I only have a table saw, nicholson bench and a low angle jack. I always buy s4s wood from my local lumbyard and I noticed it's often not perfect once it gets in my shop. I've read a little bit about planers and jointers and while they seem awesome, money is tight and so is my floor space. I'm a bit lost regarding buying rough vs s2s and could use your knowledge. Is it possible to quickly mill lumbers using only a dewalt 13" planer a #7 jointer plane ? When you get s2s, do you have two perfectly flat and parallel surfaces ? I don't mind jointing edges by hand, it's super quick. But doing board faces with hand planes is very tedious.

    What do you guys recommend ? In the end, we'll move to a bigger house in about 2-3 years and it will likely have a garage so getting a power jointer will be possible but in the meantime should I stick with s4s or buy a lee valley jointer plane and dewalt planer ?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    bloomington il
    yes you can with the dewalt and #7 here is a good how to

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    SE Michigan
    I’ll second Justin’s “yes you can”. With the power planer, you only need to get one face bow, cup, or twist using the #7. Then run that as the reference face (flat face down) through the planer. Many videos out there on how to flatten a board with a hand plane.

    Keep in mind, even s4s stock can be bowed, cupped, and/or have twist. Some flattening of one face is usually needed.

    Regarding the part about “quickly”, that all depends on how out of whack the board is, and how much time it takes to flatten one face.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Suffolk, Va.
    Depending on the length of your rough lumber I had great success flattening on my Dewalt planer. There is a lot of info online on how to build a sled to flatten on a planer. Of course a jointer is probably better. I built a lot of fine furniture with a planer before I got my jointer. It really depends on what you are building, how much and your budget. There are planer/jointer combos out there with smaller footprints. Some will say the shorter beds are a problem but I have the Jet JJP-12 and it is a great machine that performs well. That will help your space problem but not your budget.
    Last edited by michael dilday; 04-28-2019 at 9:36 AM. Reason: Typo
    Father Daughter Woodworking, LLC
    Suffolk, Va.

    400 Square Foot Wood Shop with:

    SawStop Professional 3hp
    Incra Miter Sled 1000SE & 5000
    Kreg Table Saw Miter
    Kreg router table with Jessum lift
    Craftsman 12" lathe
    Jet JJP-12 12 Inch Jointer/Planer
    Dewalt Sliding Miter Saw
    Craftsman 12" Band Saw
    Jet JDP-17 Drill Press
    Rikon Stationary Belt/Disc Sander
    Kreg Clamp Table
    Next Wave Shark HD4 CNC
    Jet JCDC-3 Dust Collector

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
    Eastern PA
    I get the dilemma. When I first started woodworking, I got a bunch of power tools and made different projects around the house. The next thing to get was a jointer and a planer though I just didn't have the money or floor space. So I purchased a few used bench planes (4,5,7), cleaned them up and learned to joint and plane boards by hand. Now, I rarely use any of my power tools because hand tool work is just so much fun (I never expected to love sawing through wood by hand as much as I do now). Though I still use my router for edges since I don't have wooden molding planes ... yet.
    Anyway, you can get a board s4s (s6s really) with bench planes and it honestly doesn't take that long to do. It's pretty easy and it's relatively cheap, especially if you buy used planes and learn how to tune them.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Stone Mountain, GA
    I operated like that for several years (hand planes for jointing one side, lunchbox planer for thicknessing).

    It works. I would get a bevel down jack plane (like a stanley #5, or even better- a wooden one) with a cambered iron for taking out the bad spots. A lot of times you just need to remove the worst spots, enough so that the board will rest on a flat surface without rocking, to send it through the planer. You don't always have to completely surface the first side with a plane.

    s2s will save you a bit of work but for me it is never flat or straight enough to just use without doing some face milling. So I prefer rough sawn, saves money and you get more thickness to work with.

  7. #7
    If you have to choose between a jointer and a planer, a planer wins hands down. It is easy to get by without a good jointer, especially if you are good at edge jointing by hand. A thickness planer saves loads of time and wear and tear on your body and tools. A tuned up, average-quality jack plane (#5) will help with face jointing in the event your wood has cup or twist as mentioned by Robert. You could use different irons for your LA jack, but a new iron probably costs than a garage-sale or flea market #5.

    I have crummy 6" jointer, and I still often need to hand face boards for the 15" Grizzly planer, or edge joint anything longer than 4 feet by hand. Even when I move up to an 8" jointer (someday, sigh), I'll still occasionally need to face joint wider boards by hand.

    If you don't need long boards, you probably could get by with just the LA jack for edge jointing for a while.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Elgin, TX
    I have a number Stanley 7 plane which was my Grandfather's. I have used it to smooth boards with great success. My problem is flattening the edge and keeping it square. I have trouble with that. I am not very good. I grew up with my Dad having a jointer so I am better using a jointer. I have a Delta 6 inch jointer long bed.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Dickinson, Texas
    I have a jointer and a thickness planer. They make short work of flattening and thicknessing wood.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Longview WA
    Blog Entries
    The closest thing to an electric planer or joiner in my shop are a belt sander and a random orbit sander. The belt sander gets used more on metal than wood.

    Charles, you do not list your location or what kind of wood sources are available to you. What you want to build and what amount of efficiently you wish to achieve in your projects has a lot to do with determining how you want to go forward. If your plans are to soon build a bigger shop with a few machines, you may find it better to save up for the future shop.

    My recent posts of "Got Some Planing to Do!!!" is a compressed journal of my hand planing some larger pieces of wood:

    Holding On.jpg

    This piece of 16/4 Poplar was purchased from a hardwood supplier in Portland, OR.

    Big Hunk of Wood.jpg

    This is a piece of fir my neighbor cut using a chainsaw mill. The live edges were cut off by me with a chainsaw. It was further milled on my bandsaw.

    This did not happen in one afternoon.

    It was a good workout and allows me the pleasure of an occasional high carbohydrate malted beverage.

    Depending on where you live and the local market, a #5 Stanley/Bailey (or other maker's) plane should be available inexpensively. It would also be good for an all around plane to handle some smoothing after a jointer/planer. It would also be good as a scrub plane to knock down high spots before a planer/joiner.

    One of my favorite parts of hand planing is seeing what can be done with a sharp blade on a smoother:


    It is not real clear in the photo, but a reflection of the window can be seen at the far end of the poplar.

    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  11. #11
    well so far I've built my bed, bedside tables, coffee table and dining table. In Quebec, we mostly use birch, maple, pine and oak. Walnut is crazy expensive so I mostly stick to birch/maple. One thing is sure, I do enjoy smoothing but I'm not fund of getting blisters from my jack plane when dealing with rough wood. I just finished my moxon vise this week using 8/4 hard maple and it took quite a while to remove the cupping and twisting using my low angle jack with a medium toothed blade. Maybe a scrub would help speed things up.

    So I'll probably get a planer first and plan for a jointer in the future when I'll move in to the new house

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    So Cal
    I find there’s some things I can do with my handplanes and chisels that I wouldn’t ever try with my machines.
    I use my machines for larger boards after all my jointer is big giant handplaner.
    Who doesn’t want a big giant hand plane.
    For the small precious boxes I make it’s really mostly handtools.
    So I believe your on the right track in your thinking.
    Good luck to everyone.

  13. #13
    I buy all rough lumber and just have a small Dewalt thickness planer. I typically use just a fore plane to flatten one side. You don't actually need it to be flat, you just need to get it to a point where you've got registration for the thickness planer. This goes REALLY fast. After the fore plane I might hit it quickly with a jack or, if it's a really long board, the jointer. But again, this goes very fast. Then run it through the thickness planer to get the opposite side flat, then flip back and finish up what you started by hand. Then joint the edges.

    You'll need more than a no. 7. I would get a fore plane or modify a beat up jack into one. That will be the workhorse for flattening. You'll probably only need the no. 7 for the edge jointing. And you'll need to make a pair of winding sticks.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Clarks Summit PA
    Charles, I used hand tools for face & edge jointing and thicknessing in the past, but I am getting a bit older & find sometimes I get tired. I got the Dewalt 735 and buy rough stock. I face joint using Phil Thien's planer sled using just hot melt glue and a flat piece of particleboard. It is simple and effective. I can face joint to over 12 inches. I then edge joint with a hand plane. I then thickness plane with the Dewalt. I can afford a jointer, but do not want to move too much towards power - I enjoy using my planes.

  15. #15
    that's very interesting guys ! And Chris, I already have a low angle jack and if I end up getting a jointer plane, why would I need a fore plane ? Wouldn't the low angle jack with it's 15" sole be enough for rough flattening ?

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