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Thread: Hand Held Electric Planer Disaster

  1. #1
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    Hand Held Electric Planer Disaster

    I attempted to use a hand held electric planer to flatten a wide panel. (I'm still on #5 of 6). My Jack hand plane is out of commission and I'm out of time.
    Purchased an hand held electric. Have never used one before, but it was pretty disastrous. It removes a nice strip of material, but how in the heck do you flatten with it? I ended up with a horrible stair stepped mess.

    I put it back in the box and spent the last few hours trying to salvage it with my #8 Jointer handplane set for an aggressive cut. Not going well. Hopefully I'm not looking at a "do-over".

    2019-07-20 14.40.21.jpg

  2. #2
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    Hi Eric,
    I believe that the electric hand held power planers are intended to plane material that is less than (or no wider than) the width of the blades. For example - the edge of a door. I seem to remember another post on SMC a while back which addressed this same issue. Good luck!
    David

    2019-07-20 14.40.21.jpg

  3. #3
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    Hi Eric,
    I did find a video showing using a power planer to plane a board wider than the planer. I suppose that the results depend on the technique. From your photo, it looks like some long deep gouges from the planer. Is it possible that it has a burr or other defect on the blade?
    David

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FfgEVSBD2E4

  4. #4
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    There is a reason that finishing hand planes have cambered blades (irons).

  5. #5
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    You can use a power plane or a belt sander, handplane or anything else that removes wood. Each requires, knowledge, understanding and practice.
    I have used a power plane many times for flattening table tops. First requirement is that you know how to check for flat, so the you understand what you are trying to achieve and how to get there.
    The next is how to adjust the plane, ( they are adjustable) you can set them for a a fine cut or a coarser cut, adjust the blade angle.you don't have to dig trenches.
    You plane only the areas that need planing, then check your progress, then plane some more and check you progress. You don't simply run the plane over the entire top. You plane off the high spots only. You can plane 45 degrees one way then 45 degrees the other way then finish up long grain with a very fine pass.
    How did you check your table for flat?
    Have you checked that the blade is adjusted parallel with the sole? ( it doesn't look like it is) ,
    Why have you planned the whole top?
    Why is your blade cutting so deep?
    How thick is your table top?
    Is it on a flat, rigid base? Large table top can flex quite a bit depending on the support.
    Last edited by Mark Hennebury; 07-21-2019 at 10:22 AM.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom M King View Post
    There is a reason that finishing hand planes have cambered blades (irons).
    No doubt! I was thinking that if this cutter was convex that would have made things easier.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Hennebury View Post
    You can use a power plane or a belt sander, handplane or anything else that removes wood. Each requires, knowledge, understanding and practice.
    Clearly, I figured that out. (Figured out I didn't know what I was doing). I'm just going to return the thing. I didn't at all enjoy using it, and I have trouble concieving how one would make multiple passes without digging a trench. Even at a 2mm cut depth I couldn't get the tracks to go away. By the time I got it outside into better raking light, it was a disaster. I'm tossing the whole panel. Need to go buy another 3 boards tomorrow and glue up again. This time, I'll just stick with my hand planes. Takes a lot of time, but at least I can get there.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Erich Weidner View Post
    Clearly, I figured that out. (Figured out I didn't know what I was doing). I'm just going to return the thing. I didn't at all enjoy using it, and I have trouble concieving how one would make multiple passes without digging a trench. Even at a 2mm cut depth I couldn't get the tracks to go away. By the time I got it outside into better raking light, it was a disaster. I'm tossing the whole panel. Need to go buy another 3 boards tomorrow and glue up again. This time, I'll just stick with my hand planes. Takes a lot of time, but at least I can get there.
    2mm seems like a very deep cut. Back it off to 1/4 mm or so (0.010"). Plane at a 45 degree angle across the board to start, then when its pretty good, back off even more to finish.

  9. #9
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    Lets start with the basics; Flat
    Flat is your staring point.
    How flat are you looking for?
    How flexible is your panel?
    If your panel is flexible, then you can only get it "flat" relative to what it is resting on.
    Granite surface plates are sat on three points arranged in a triangle, and are thick enough "not to flex"
    So the support is important.
    Lets assume that you are happy with the support of your top and move on to checking it for flat.

    The way that i would check it is to have a straight edge long enough to go across the diagonals.
    I use five points of reference for initially establishing a flat surface.
    The four corners and the center.
    You can use shims or not, that's up to you.
    If you want to use shims you can use anything, lets say five dimes.
    Place them up on corners and one in the center,
    Lay your straight edge across the diagonals if it is flat it will touch the corners and the center.
    If your table is flat, the straight edge will touch three dimes across both the diagonals.
    if the straight edge has a gap over the center dime then the two corners are high and need to be lowered.
    if the straight edge sits high and pivot on the center dime, then the centre is high and needs to be planed.
    You have to be able to read your surface, and see where it needs to be planed.
    Then you move on to planing only what needs to be planed.
    You have to know what you are trying to accomplish.
    You have to visualize in the top ,the flat plane that you are working towards.
    Then you set you plane up to get you there as efficiently as you can. If you are experienced and confident then you can take heavier cut cuts, and reduce the cuts as you get closer to the finish line.
    Like Pat said; 2mm is a very deep cut.





    Quote Originally Posted by Erich Weidner View Post
    Clearly, I figured that out. (Figured out I didn't know what I was doing). I'm just going to return the thing. I didn't at all enjoy using it, and I have trouble concieving how one would make multiple passes without digging a trench. Even at a 2mm cut depth I couldn't get the tracks to go away. By the time I got it outside into better raking light, it was a disaster. I'm tossing the whole panel. Need to go buy another 3 boards tomorrow and glue up again. This time, I'll just stick with my hand planes. Takes a lot of time, but at least I can get there.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Erich Weidner View Post
    Clearly, I figured that out. (Figured out I didn't know what I was doing). I'm just going to return the thing. I didn't at all enjoy using it, and I have trouble concieving how one would make multiple passes without digging a trench. Even at a 2mm cut depth I couldn't get the tracks to go away. By the time I got it outside into better raking light, it was a disaster. I'm tossing the whole panel. Need to go buy another 3 boards tomorrow and glue up again. This time, I'll just stick with my hand planes. Takes a lot of time, but at least I can get there.
    2mm is waaaaay too deep a cut. That is not planing, that is excavating. :^)

  11. #11
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    Doug,
    I think you guys are being way too hard on him. Let it go!! Everyone does not have the experience and expertise that you may have.
    David

  12. #12
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    Don't give up on the electric planer, it is a useful tool. I personally use one often as a scrub plane on the slabs I use for countertops and stair treads that have warped a little in drying. Try setting it for a light cut and going diagonal once you are done with heavy stock removal. You should be able to get to a sandable or hand plane ready state pretty quickly. The key is lighter cuts as you progress.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by David Buchhauser View Post
    Doug,
    I think you guys are being way too hard on him. Let it go!! Everyone does not have the experience and expertise that you may have.
    It's likely possible to recover the surface that was gouged by the electric planer. With the electric planer. With a much lighter cut. That's not criticism, it's actionable. IOW, with that, don't give up. A bit of thickness will be sacrificed. Continuing on with that surface (which the OP is considering writing off) would be excellent practice.

    BTW, if the surface is being caused to sag by the size of the table beneath it, shore it up and level it with some work supports. In contrast to what would be required for hand planing, the electric planer doesn't require as much resistance to lateral forces.
    Last edited by Doug Dawson; 07-22-2019 at 12:50 PM.

  14. #14
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    You could always file the corners off those skinny little blades......
    Here's a vid that is perhaps the best tutorial on hand power planers.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_a1HCqK5i-A


  15. #15
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    The issue with electric planers on wide stock is not so much that the blades aren't cambered, it's that there is no sole to the sides of the blade. A bench plane will have a 1/4" or so of sole to each side of the blade, which helps maintain flatness in the direction perpendicular to the planing stroke (i.e. keeps it flat across the width while you're planing down the length). An electric planer has almost no control in this direction- it will happily create deep hollows, ridges, furrows, etc. Lean the plane over just a bit and it will make a sloped channel through the surface. It's like trying to flatten a slab with a rabbeting plane.

    Mostly you should just use it as a spot removal tool. Use a straightedge or do some hand planing to see where the big high spots are, then take just those spots down with the planer. Be conservative with the cut depth, no need to remove everything in one pass when the real danger is removing too much too fast. I would mostly avoid trying to take full passes over the surface, and if I did I would have it set for a very light cut (maybe 1/64")

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