Sunday, October 31, 2010

Planing thin stock

Reader Ray, asked the following:
I'm looking at one of the plans in your Basic Box Making book - the jewelery box - to find out more about dividers. You use 1/8" stock and that would seem good for the box I want to make. My thickness planer recommends 1/4" as the thinnest cut for material. How do you get material that thin? I've done a quick check at the local stores and they don't have anything like that in stock. I don't want to buy a thickness sander - although it sounds like a great tool.
Lay a piece of 3/4 inch plywood on the table of the planer and attach a cleat at the under side of the board. Use it as a support under the planer cut. Wax it so that the wood slides smoothly on it. At Marc Adams School of Woodworking, the planers are equipped with melamine boards for this purpose. The melamine provides an extra smooth passage for thin wood through the cut. I also rip thin wood on the table saw, and depending on the sharpness and quality of the blade, I can get a pretty smooth cut requiring little sanding. If using the planer to get 1/8 inch stock be sure to support it as it enters and exits the cut. I lift up on in developing some curvature which develops a tension that helps it to not be lifted by the blades during the cut. In the photo, a cleat on the underside of the board secures it in place on the planer table.

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