Why planer sleds? - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 10 Old 02-19-2012, 09:04 AM Thread Starter
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Question Why planer sleds?

Hi, I'm new to this forum. In fact it's the first forum of any kind that I've joined. I live in Northern Kentucky. I've made simple built in walls of bookshelves in two houses we've owned. Now that I'm retired I'd like to do more woodworking. My tool collection consists of a Ryobi table saw that's about 12 years old, a combination fixed and plunge router, pad and belt sanders and jig saw.
I have a project that requires me to plane some 2 X lumber to 1-1/4? I thought all I needed was a 13" planer. But now I'm seeing all this stuff on the internet about sleds. Why do you need to put the board on a sled?
Everything I find on the internet states the obvious. For example FWW has a great video on how you can't plane a 10 or 12" board on a 6 or 8 inch joiner/planer (well da) but if you build a sled you can plan it on a bench top planer. Maybe I should forget the planer and look into one of those jigs that enables you to use your router instead. Any practical advise will be much appreciated.
Thanks.
Dennis
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post #2 of 10 Old 02-19-2012, 09:34 AM
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I recently made a router sled....works pretty slick.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&fe...&v=ozyIIhMZMJA

Learning more about tools everyday
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post #3 of 10 Old 02-19-2012, 09:46 AM
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Welcome to the forum. If you run a rough board through a planer without jointing one side flat (on a jointer, with a router setup, by hand, whatever) then all you will get is a flat board, but that doesn't mean the two sides will be parallel to each other, or that it will be the same thickness throughout the entire board.

So you need a jointer, or hand planes, or a router setup, or you can build a sled that will let you shim up the board in your planer, make one side flat, and then you remove the sled and flip the board over and flatten the other side.

Having said all that, if you're buying 2x lumber from the store and it is already reasonably flat on one side, then you can go ahead and just plane it down to thickness without worrying. If it warps on you during the drive home, as most 2x lumber will do, then you're back to paragraph one, right after "Welcome to the forum."

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post #4 of 10 Old 02-19-2012, 09:48 AM
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Many woodworkers buy their lumber in the rough rather than buy already surfaced stock. Rough stock can be twisted, warped and uneven. We want to control the milling process. Typically, you want straight, flat lumber that is planed with the grain, which you don't often get using pre-surfaced lumber. Pre-surfaced lumber isn't normally flattened before planing. In getting the boards straight and flat, you use a jointer or some method that gives the same results. A planer will surface a board but it can't make it flat and straight, put in a warped board and it comes out warped, but planed.

We often want to flatten the rough board but our jointers may not be as wide as our planers. There are several ways to accomplish this task, one is using a sled where you can shim under a warped board to hold it in a position so the planer will cut parallel and give a straight, flat surface. Another method is a router that runs on two parallel rails with the router mounted to a large router plate. You move back and forth across the surface with the board shimmed underneath.

One method I often use is to remove the jointer guard, the same as you would do when using the jointer to cut rabbets and flatten as much of the board as the width of the jointer will cut. This leaves part of the board still with a part that hasn't been surfaced but part of the board is flat. Next I use a hand held router with a special plate, often called a flush cutting jig. It's very handy for other uses, too. The jig rides on the flat portion of the board and cuts the remaining rough surface flush with the jointed surface. Very easy and pretty quick.

When flattening a board face before planing, you don't need to completely surface the entire face. You just need enough flattened so it will reference to the planer rollers. To keep your boards flat, you try to take equal amounts off both faces, otherwise they may react to having more stock removed from one side. You flip the boards while planing and that will take care of any rough areas that were not completely surfaced on the first process.
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post #5 of 10 Old 02-19-2012, 02:41 PM
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post #6 of 10 Old 02-19-2012, 04:40 PM
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joesbucket said this....

"Welcome to the forum. If you run a rough board through a planer without jointing one side flat (on a jointer, with a router setup, by hand, whatever) then all you will get is a flat board, but that doesn't (no joe, it does mean) mean the two sides will be parallel to each other, and that it will be the same thickness throughout the entire board."

If the board was not straight and flat when it went in it will not be straight or flat when it exits, it will just be of a uniform thickness, hence the word "thickness planer". That's what planers do, make 2 sides/faces parallel and of the same or uniform thickness.

Jointers make a board's surface flat and it's edges straight and can make the edges 90 degrees to the face. They can not make boards a uniform thickness. bill

BTW a planer registers off the table which is below the cutter on the opposite side of the board, a jointer registers off the table and the cutter on the same side of the board.

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)

Last edited by woodnthings; 02-20-2012 at 08:39 AM.
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post #7 of 10 Old 02-19-2012, 08:25 PM
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"Rough stock can be twisted, warped and uneven."

Why would you spend good money to buy stock in this condition? Or is it being given to you?

George
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post #8 of 10 Old 02-19-2012, 09:49 PM
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I have a 13 inch planer and make trips to a local shop to do my jointing.

Recently after reading all of the articles about router sleds (and feeling too lazy to take a trip to the local shop), I built one and was very impressed with the results.

When I recently had an opportunity to add cockbeads to a drawer front, I got the idea to try it using my router sled. It worked just great.

Scootch from VA
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post #9 of 10 Old 02-20-2012, 08:34 AM Thread Starter
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What a great education! Thank you everyone for good and thorough explanations on "Why planer sleds?".
Dennis
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post #10 of 10 Old 02-20-2012, 10:04 AM
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George C., I don't know if you normally start your projects with rough cut lumber. When the boards are first sawn from the log, they are relatively straight and flat but when they go through the drying process they warp, sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. A lot of factors come into play, species, how it was cut from the log, grain characteristics, branches, crotches, etc. This is not unusual, quite typical, actually. Here are a couple of pictures of a few white maple short boards. These are actually very nice FAS KD and will mill out to be flat and straight as long as I know how to do it and have the necessary tools which could be handplanes or power equipment.

These happen to be left over off cuts from longer boards. Rough lumber comes in random lengths and widths. Typically, a woodworker begins by cutting longer stock to rough, more manageable pieces as well as looking at grain, color, size and determining where certain pieces will be used on the project. The next step is to flatten one face, then make the opposite face parallel to the first one. After that, one edge is straightened and the opposite edge is made parallel to that. Then you have nice flat, straight pieces of lumber that you can size, cut joints and assemble into whatever you want to build.
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