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The Thickness Planer can be mounted on the MARK V, as shown,
or on the Shopsmith Power Stand.
two models of planers: the Thickness Planer and the Professional
Planer. The Thickness Planer mounts on the Mark V(Figure
21-1)or a Shopsmith Power Stand. The Professional Planer has
its own stand and motor (Figure
In terms of
what it does, the planer might be the simplest power tool in a home
woodworking shop. Yet, simple as it is, when teamed with other power
tools, the planer gives you everything you need to transform all
kinds of lumber into useful, beautiful and fun projects. It gives
you greater freedom to work with hardwood, softwood, even trees
from your backyard or logs from your wood pile. Adding a planer
is a great step toward achieving a totally self-sufficient home
The Professional Planer has its own stand with its own motor.
the planer with the jointer. The planer is not the best tool to
use for straightening cupped or warped stock. These defects should
be removed with the jointer before you plane the stock.
A planer performs
only two basic tasks, but it does these very, very well:
One: It planes
the surface of a workpiece so that it's smooth and flat. Sometimes
this means it will remove a large amount of stock in several passes
(such as when you're planing a really rough piece of lumber). At
other times it can be set to take off just a small amount (when
you want to get an extremely smooth, final surface).
Two: The planer
wilt plane any number of boards to the exact same thickness.
To set up your
planer, follow the instructions in the Owners Manual that came with
As you work
with the planer, you'll find that it has several special features:
- The planer
will plane stock from 4" down to 3/32" thick. It can handle boards
from 1" up to 12" wide. The length of stock is limited only to
what you can safely control.
- The cutterhead
revolves on two sealed ball bearings and holds three precision-ground
steel knives. Each knife is 12-1/4" long and rests on three knife
leveling screws so that you don't have to match grind the knives.
With the knives installed, the cutterhead is 2-1/4" in diameter.
- The table
surface is 28" long and 12-1/2" Wide. The table is held parallel
to the cutterhead by four threaded posts. The vertical position
can be adjusted from 3/32" to 4" away from the cutting edge of
- The 1/20
horsepower variable-speed feed motor feeds stock through the planer.
The actual feed rate at any given feed control setting will vary
depending on the depth of cut, sharpness of the knives and width
of the stock.
holds three knives. Each knife is held in the cutter-head by two
metal wedges with four locking screws through each wedge. In all,
eight locking screws hold each knife in place.
the knives themselves are wedge-shaped. Each knife is slightly thicker
at the bottom than it is at the top. When properly seated, the wedges
and the knives interlock. Warning: Use only Shopsmith Planer
Knives in your planer. Other brands of knives are not wedge-shaped
and will not seat properly in the cutterhead. Using off-brands of
knives is extremely dangerous. Check the wedge locking screws immediately
if an unusual noise, vibration, or uneven cuts develop and after
every 10 hours of use.
There are also
three knife leveling screws under each end and under the middle
of each knife. These screws allow you to adjust all three knives
to precisely the same height without the need for costly and time
consuming match grinding.
using the planer, read and understand these important safety instructions:
planer danger zone is separated physically by the infeed and outfeed
shields. It is extremely dangerous to place your hands inside or
under the shields. This rule applies not only when the planer is
running, but whenever the planer is plugged in. The danger zone
also extends 6' directly in front and to the rear of the stock being
planed because the planer can kick stock and chips in both directions.
to the right side (the switch side gives you maximum control) of
the planer and keep your hands from under the infeed and outfeed
shields whenever the planer is plugged in. There is one exception
to this rule: You must put your hands in front of or behind the
openings to feed and receive stock. But don't put your hands into
the openings or stand so that your body is in line with these openings.
- Wear proper
eye and ear protection, and a dust mask.
- Keep the
infeed and outfeed shields in place and locked down. Never operate
the planer without the protective shields in place and properly
- Don't let
your fingers be pinched between the stock and the table. Release
the stock as soon as the infeed roller grabs It.
- Never reach
under the infeed or outfeed shield to adjust a workpiece or brush
away wood chips while the planer is running. Turn off and unplug
the machine, let the cutterhead come to a complete stop, then
reach in with a push stick or similar wooden or plastic tool.
Never reach under the infeed or outfeed shield with a metal tool.
You could nick the knives.
If you need to reach under the infeed or outfeed shield with your
hands, turn off and unplug the machine and let the cutterhead
come to a complete stop before doing so.
- When planing
glued-up stock, make sure glue joints are strong. Glue the stock
and leave it clamped for at least 24 hours before planing.
- Plane dry,
properly cured wood only. Wet sawdust and shavings will adhere
to the knives, causing the machine to cut poorly. The moisture
will also rust the knives and other ferrous metal parts of the
- Never plane
'secondhand' lumber. Hitting a nail or screw will ruin the planer
knives and possibly cause injury.
- Don't plane
wood that has large, loose knots and other imperfections which
might cause the board to split or fly loose.
- Never plane
painted or varnished wood, plywood, or particle board-these materials
will ruin your planer knives.
- Always plane
with the grain direction of the wood.
- Don't plane
stock less than 1" wide or over 12" wide. If the stock is too
narrow, the antikickback fingers will not catch it. If it's too
wide, it may jam between the sides of the planer.
- Don't plane
stock less than 12" long. If the stock is too short, it will not
feed properly and you will have to reach Into the danger zone
in order to plane it.
- Don't plane
stock that's higher than it is wide as it sits on the table. (This
is sometimes called edge planing.) Edge planing is dangerous because
the board can easily tip over and be kicked back.
- The stock
should remain parallel to the sides of the planer table as it's
fed through the machine. If a board begins to drift to one side,
very carefully shift it back into position by pushing against
one side or the other with a push stick.
- Don't push
or pull a board through the planer. Let the machine do the work.
- If the stock
stops feeding, immediately turn off and unplug the planer and
wait until it stops. Lower the table and remove the stock. See
what caused the jam; then correct the problem. Never force a jammed
- If a strange
noise or vibration develops, immediately turn off and unplug the
planer. Do not operate the machine again until you have found
and corrected the problem.
- When removing
large amounts of stock, the best and safest way is to make several
passes. The maximum depth of cut on the thickness planer is 3/32"
for most operations. The maximum depth of cut for the professional
planer Is 1/8". Most operations require that you take a shallower
depth of cut.
- Don't plane
boards of different thicknesses in the same pass. Because the
planer must be adjusted for the thicker board, the rollers would
not hold the thinner board securely and it might be kicked back.
- Feed just
one board into the planer at a time. Never plane two or more boards
side by side-one board may interfere with the others.
- When working
with long or heavy boards, support the work with one or two roller
stands placed 1' to 4' out from the machine.
- Never leave
the thickness planer running unattended. When you're finished
planing, turn off and unplug the planer.
- Don't lean
on the planer, whether it's running or not. And never stand on
the planer or use it as a step stool. You could harm yourself
and your planer.
- Never use
your planer as a storage shelf. Small tools, screws, and nails
could roll under the shields. When the planer is turned on, these
objects could be thrown out, severely damaging the machine-or
- Make sure
the machine rests firmly on the floor-not up on its retractable
- Use only
Shopsmlth Planer Knives; other brands of knives are not wedge-shaped
and will not seat properly in the cutterhead.
- Do not attempt
to disassem-ble or repair the control box.
Always make thickness adjustments from a greater to a lesser
thickness, turning the thickness adjustment crank clockwise
and raising the table.
Turn the thickness
adjustment crank counterclockwise to lower the table and accommodate
thicker stock. Turn the crank clockwise to raise the table and decrease
the final thickness of the planed lumber (Figure
this adjustment from a greater to a lesser thickness. For instance,
if you want to plane a board 3/4" thick, first lower the table so
that it goes down past the 3/4" mark on the thickness scale at least
one full turn of the crank. Then raise the table up to the mark.
This maneuver takes up any slack in the thickness adjusting mechanism.
If you don't set the thickness from greater to lesser, there's a
chance the planer table may "drift" down slightly during the pass
and you'll get a tapered board.
the thickness, you also adjust the depth of cut-how much stock the
planer removes from a board in a single pass. To remove 1/16" of
stock from a 3/4" board, turn the thickness adjustment mechanism
clockwise one full revolution. Warning: Never turn the thickness
adjustment mechanism while you are planing stock.
Planer Speeds & Feed Rates
To increase the power feed rate, turn the feed control clockwise.
To decrease the feed, turn the feed control counterclockwise.
Before you begin
any thickness planer operation, set the Mark V to run at the correct
cutterhead speed and the feed motor to feed stock at the proper
rate (Figure 21-4).
For the most part, the right speed and feed rate depend on:
- the hardness
of the wood
- the width
of the board
- the depth
- the sharpness
of the knives.
The harder the
wood, the wider the board, the deeper the cut, the duller the knives,
the slower you want to set the cutterhead speed and feed rate. As
you plane softer woods, narrower boards, or take shallower cuts
with sharp knives, you can use faster speeds and feed rates. To
determine the correct speed and feed rate for an operation, first
look up the hardness of the wood you're planing in Table 21-1. Measure
the width of the widest board and decide the amount of stock you
want to remove in each pass. Then look up the recommended feed rates
in Table 21-2.
To a lesser
extent, speed and feed rates also depend on the grain pattern of
the stock. As the grain becomes more figured or "wild," or the more
knots there are in the grain, the slower the speed and feed rates
should be. If the planer "bogs down" during a cut, even though the
cutterhead speed and the feed rate are set properly, immediately
lower the feed rate to let the planer catch up. On the next pass,
try a slower feed rate. If that doesn't work, try a shallower depth
of cut, then a slower cutterhead speed-in that order. Do not continue
to run the planer at a speed or feed rate that causes the machine
to labor or stop during a cut. Caution: If you operate the planer
at too high of a speed, the motor that powers the cutterhead will
overheat, blow fuses, and may burn out.
the Smoothest Possible Cut
speed and feed rate combine to give you a certain number of cuts
per inch (cuts/inch). Generally, as the cuts per inch increase,
the planed stock becomes smoother. To raise the number of cuts per
inch, increase the cutterhead speed and decrease the feed rate.
To calculate the exact cuts/inch, use this equation:
find your planed stock gets smoother as you take shallower cuts.
A shallow depth of cut does not lift the wood grain as badly, and
it reduces the risk of chipping or tearing out hunks of wood.
To get the smoothest
possible surface on your planed stock, reduce the depth of cut to
1/64" or less on the last pass through the planer. Increase the
cutterhead speed one to two letters and decrease the feed rate to
SLOW. If the planer slows or stops during a pass when the feed rate
has already been adjusted to SLOW, turn off the machine immediately.
Lower the table and remove the stock. Try the pass again with a
shallower depth of cut. If that doesn't help, try a slower cutterhead
speed (Mark V mounted thickness planer only).
thickness of the board you're about to plane at its thickest point.
Then adjust the table so that the depth of cut pointer is exactly
indicating the thickness of the thickest part of the board. Always
make your first pass at "0" depth of cut. This will even out any
inconsistencies in the thickness of the stock.
If you're planing
long or heavy lumber, have a helper ready to feed or receive the
stock. If you can't find a helper, place one or
two roller stands
out 1' to 4' from the infeed and/or outfeed tables. Make sure these
stands are adjusted to precisely the same height as the table; then
remember to readjust them each time you raise or lower the table.
Turn on the
planer and set the cutterhead speed and feed rate; then turn the
machine off again.
To feed a board into the planer, hold the board parallel to
the sides of the table; then push it forward until the infeed
roller grabs it. Continue to support the board as needed,
but do not push or pull the board once the rollers are feeding
it through the planer.
Take a comfortable
stance to either side of the infeed opening, as near to the planer
power switch as possible. Turn the planer on and let it come up
to speed. Hold the board parallel to the sides of the table; then
feed it forward until the infeed roller grabs it (Figure
21-5). Continue to support the board as it feeds into the planer,
but do not push or pull it through the machine. Let the rollers
do the work.
on the planer and let it come up to speed; then feed the stock into
the machine. Warning: Never turn on the planer with stock already
under the cutterhead or feed stock into the planer before it's running
at full speed. As the stock is feeding through the planer, watch
and listen carefully for several problems:
- Watch that
the stock doesn't drift toward one side of the table, but always
remains centered under the cutterhead.
- Watch that
the stock continues to feed at a steady rate.
- Listen that
the planer doesn't begin to slow or stop in the middle of a cut.
- Watch and
listen that the stock doesn't chip, splinter, or tear out.
If the stock
begins to drift toward one side of the table or the other, gently
press against the infeed or outfeed end of the stock to straighten
it as the stock is being cut. Warning: Never put your hands under
the in feed or outfeed shield! If you can't straighten the stock
or if the stock jams in the planer, turn of f and unplug the machine
and let It come to a complete stop. Lower the table and remove
the stock. Remove any wood chips or sawdust that might be blocking
the path. Then repeat the pass.
If the cutterhead
slows or the wood chips and splinters, quickly adjust the feed rate
to SLOW, if this doesn't correct the problem, immediately turn off
and unplug the machine. Let the planer come to a complete stop;
then lower the table, remove the stock, and inspect both the planer
and the stock to see what could be causing the problem. It might
be any one or a combination of several different causes:
- The depth
of cut may be set too deep.
- The planer
may be cutting against the wood grain.
- The stock
may have wild, figured grain or dense, hard knots.
- The knives
may be worn and dull.
If the problem
is that the cutterhead slows, reduce the depth of cut or decrease
the cutterhead speed. If the wood is chipping, reduce the depth
of cut or increase the cutterhead speed. Also try turning the board
end-for-end if the wood seems to be tearing along the grain. If
the cause of the problem is figured wood grain or knots, you may
have to take very light cuts at a very slow feed rate.
If the wood
seems to hesitate or stick as you feed it, but neither the cutterhead
nor the feed motor slows down, the rollers need to be cleaned or
the table needs to be waxed--or both. Clean the rollers with a damp
cloth and apply paste wax to the table. Dry off the rollers and
buff the table carefully. Locate the cause of the problem and correct
it; then repeat the pass, watching and listening carefully to see
that the problem does not reappear. If an unusual vibration develops
or if you hear excessive chipping and splintering, immediately turn
off the planer. Do not operate the machine until you have located
and corrected the problem.
Support the stock as it comes off the outfeed table. Don't
pull the stock any faster than the rollers want to feed it.
As the stock
emerges from the planer, move to the outfeed side of the machine,
keeping your body to the right of the outfeed opening. Support the
stock as it is fed out, but don't pull it any faster than the rollers
want to feed it (Figure
21-6). Once the outfeed roller lets go of the stock, remove
it from the planer.
board for any chipped or torn spots. If there are no problems, readjust
the depth of cut and feed the board into the planer for another
pass. Make repeat passes until you have reduced the board to the
When you're planing stock to a desired thickness, you need
a tool to measure the thickness. Shown here are a combination
square (A), depth gauge (B), tape measure (C), outside calipers
(D), vernier calipers (E), micrometer (F), and dial calipers
(G). All of them will work well when measuring thickness,
but dial calipers are perhaps the handiest.
Getting a good,
smooth surface begins by making sure the knives are sharp and properly
adjusted, the depth of cut isn't too deep, and that the machine
is running at the proper speed and feed rate. Here are a few additional
tips to help you get the best results:
you're planing stock to a desired thickness, you'll probably want
to measure the thickness many times as the stock approaches the
final dimension. Several measuring tools will work well--a combination
square, depth gauge, tape measure, outside calipers, vernier calipers,
micrometer, or dial calipers (Figure
21-7). If you want a tool that is easy to use and accurate,
choose the dial calipers.
Check your stock before you feed it inot the planer. The knives
should cut with the grain direction. Click on image for larger
Direction--Always feed the stock so that the knives are cutting
in the same direction as the wood grain (Figure
21-8). If you cut against the grain, the wood may chip out or
even be torn apart in the planer (Figure
21-9). The grain direction is usually easy to determine by the
look and feel of the workpiece. Looks can be deceiving, though,
especially with close-grained woods. If the stock starts to knock
or kick back against the infeed roller or you hear wood chipping
out, quickly turn the feed rate down to SLOW. If this doesn't help,
immediately turn off the planer. When the machine comes to a complete
stop, lower the table and remove the stock from the planer. Turn
the board end-for-end and try the pass again.
If you feed the wood against the grain, you may get a rough,
chipped out surface as shown on the right. Feed the wood with
the grain to insure a smooth surface as shown on the left.
Trouble Spots-- Wood with knots, wild grain, or extensive figuring
is always difficult to surface and requires extra care. Check that
any knots in a board are solid. Warning: Never plane stock with
loose or cracked knots. Feed the work very slowly and take light
cuts (1/128" to 1/64"). Be especially cautious of kickbacks and
stop cutting immediately if the stock will not feed smoothly.
It's normal for the planer to cut a small snipe (less than
0.005" deep) in the end of a board as shown on the right.
But if you let a board droop when it's fed into or coming
out of the planer, the knives may cut a pronounced snipe in
one end as shown on the left. Keep the board parallel to the
flat on the table at all times.
you let the stock droop when it's being fed into or coming out of
the planer, the knives may cut a large snipe at the beginning or
the end of the board (Figure
21-10). A small snipe (less than 0.005" deep) is normal. But
if the snipes are deep, be more careful as to how you support the
stock. Keep it parallel to and flat on the table at all times. Less
often sniping may be caused by weak roller pressure. If the planer
continues to cut a pronounced snipe no matter how you feed the stock,
check the roller springs, following the procedure in the Planer
Damaged or nicked knives will leave long ridges on the planed
stock. Inspect each board before you plane it to insure ther
are no staples, tacks, paint, dirt, glue beads, or similar
materials that will damage the knives. Never plane plywood,
hardboard, or any material other than solid wood.
or nicked knives leave long ridges on the surface of the planed
stock, running the entire length of the board (Figure
21-11). These ridges detract from the finished surface of the
wood and may interfere with the accuracy of your woodworking. The
only way to restore the knives so they won't leave these long ridges
is to have them reground. To avoid damaging the planer knives, inspect
each board before you plane it. Be sure there are no nails, staples,
tacks, dirt, paint, or similar materials on or in the wood. If you
must surface glued-up stock, follow the procedure described later
in this chapter. Caution: If you attempt to surface old lumber with
rusted off nails below the surface, painted wood, plywood, hard-board,
wood with glue beads, or any material other than solid wood, you
will damage the planer knives. Even a bit of dirt on the wood can
nick the planer knives badly.
the planer makes too few cuts per inch or the height of the knives
is inconsistent, the machine will leave unsightly mill marks on
the stock. Mill marks are small, parallel ripples that run across
a board from edge-to-edge. To eliminate mill marks, try increasing
the cutterhead speed (Mark V mounted planer only) or decreasing
the feed rate. If the mill marks persist, check the knife positions.
lumber and doing your own custom surfacing is essentially no different
than general planing, but there are a few tricks you should know.
Be sure the
wood is properly dried. Wet or green lumber clogs the machine as
you plane it. Sap builds up on the knives, interfering with the
cutting action. And as the wood dries, the planed stock becomes
uneven and requires resurfacing.
should stand for at least one year per inch of thickness of the
rough-cut stock. The moisture content of air-dried wood should be
about 12% to 19%. You needn't worry about how long kiln-dried wood
stands, but it should have a moisture content of about 10%. If the
wood is to be used for fine furniture or cabinets, some woodworkers
prefer a moisture content of about 7% to 8%.
the amount of moisture in wood, cut a sample block from a board.
(Don't simply cut off an end-ends dry quicker and this will give
you a false reading. Instead, cut 6" off the board and discard the
end; then cut off a second 6" for your sample.) Weigh the sample
on a postal scale; then bake it in an oven for one to two hours
at 200°F to remove all the moisture. When the sample is completely
dry, weigh it again. Use this equation to calculate the moisture
content of wood:
||) x 100 = % Moisture content
Joint one edge
before surfacing a board. It's almost impossible to determine the
grain direction in a rough-cut board. By jointing one edge before
you plane a board, you can determine which way the grain is running
and feed the board into the planer so that the knives cut with the
Measure to find
the thickest part of the board. As wood dries, its dimensions become
inconsistent--including its thickness. Measure the thickness of
a rough-cut board at several places and set the depth of cut for
the first pass according to the thickest spot. Take very shallow
cuts at first. Just as it's difficult to tell the grain direction
in a rough-cut board, it's also difficult to tell how the grain
is figured. To avoid ruining the wood, take shallow cuts (1/64"
to 1/32") until you can tell whether there are any burls, bird's
eyes, or other unusual grain patterns.
surface both sides. Plane one side until you have removed all the
saw marks; then turn the board over and plane it to the desired
Boards to Identical Thicknesses
To tell if one board has been planed down to approximately
the same thickness as another, place the two boards side-by-side
on a flat surface. Then simply feel the step between the edges
of the boards with your hand.
you often need to plane two or more boards to identical thicknesses.
To do this, start by planing the thickest board. Plane it down to
the thickness of the next thickest boards; then begin to plane both
boards at the same depth-of-cut settings. Cut these two boards down
to the thickness of the third thickest board; then plane all three.
Continue in this manner until you are planing all of the boards.
Never feed two or more boards side-by-side through the planer. The
boards may interfere with each other as they pass through the machine,
causing them to jam or kick back.
A simple way
to tell if one board has been planed down to approximately the same
thickness as another is to place both boards on a flat surface,
side-by-side. With your hand, feel the step from the edge of one
board to the next (Figure
21-12). If the step seems higher than 1/64", continue planing
the thicker board. If it's smaller than 1/64"--or there is no step--
you can begin planing both boards at the same depth-of-cut settings.
Finish up by
planing all of the boards at the same depth-of-cut setting at least
once. This will insure that all boards are cut to identical thicknesses.
To square stock, start by squaring one corner on a jointer.
Joint two adjacent sides so that they are exactly 90°
The planer can
also be used to square turning stock, furniture legs, and posts.
Start by rough-cutting your stock square, leaving at least 1/8"
extra stock for planing. Square one corner of the stock on a jointer,
jointing two adjacent sides so that they are exactly 90° apart
On the end grain
of the stock, mark the sides opposite the joined sides S1 and S2.
Set the depth of cut on the planer; then plane the stock with side
S1 up. Without changing the depth of cut, make a second pass with
side S2 (Figure 21-14).
Continue in this manner until you have planed the stock to the desired
dimensions. If you wish to square two or more boards, you can combine
this procedure with the procedure for "Planing Boards to Identical
Thicknesses," described earlier in this article.
On the end grain, mark the sides opposite the jointed sides
S1 and S2. Plane the board with side S1 up; then without changing
the depth of cut, repeat the pass with side S2 up.
If you wish to plane glued-up stock, scrub the wood with a
wet rag while the glue is still wet. Be sure to remove all
the glue on the surface of the stock. If any surface glue
remains after the glue dries, remove it with a scraper or
a belt sander. Warning: Allow the glued-up stock to dry at
least 24 hours before planing it.
is designed for planing wood. Other materials, including glue, will
dull or damage the knives. However, on those occasions when you
need to true up glued-together stock, follow this procedure to minimize
the damage to the knives:
After you glue
up the stock, scrub all the glue off the surface with a wet rag
This will prevent glue beads from forming on the surface of the
wood. Allow the glue to dry at least 24 hours; then check the stock
for any surface glue you might have missed. If you find any, remove
it with a scraper or a belt sander. Warning: Glued-up stock must
dry for 24 hours prior to planing. If it doesn't, the stock may
come apart in the planer.
When you plane
glued-up stock, take a shallow depth of cut (1/32" or less) and
use a slower feed rate than normal.When you're finished, check the
planer knives for built-up pitch and signs of wear.