Jigs and Fixtures #1: Planer Sled

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Blog entry by Mike Lingenfelter posted 05-22-2008 02:39 AM 30531 reads 79 times favorited 21 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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As part of my workbench project I needed to mill up a somewhat large piece of lumber for the main chop on my face vise. It was larger than my 6” Jointer could handle. I needed to find an easy way to mill the 2 large faces. I have been wanting to make a Planer Sled for awhile now, so that’s what I did.

I based mine on one Keith Rust did for Fine Woodworking “Flatten Boards without a Jointer”. This article is available at, but it is only available if you have a subscription. For those of you that have back issues it was in #175.

I plan to make a couple different sizes of planer sleds, this first one will be a “smaller” sled. It’s about 12” wide and about 48” long. It is more than long enough for this project.

I picked up some ½” birch plywood and some 1-by poplar for the sled. You will also need a bungee card and some kind on non-skid material.

First step was to cut the top and bottom to size and to rough out the 1-by stock.


I then laid out where the 1-by ribs would go, on the inside of the bottom face. I came in about 1” on the sides and about 2” from the ends. I cut the ribs to size, but before attaching the ribs I sanded the top and bottom edges. I thought it would be easier to do this before it was assembled.


The mock-up vise I built a while ago really helped. It was able to hold the boards while I sanded them. I can see how this vise is going be very versatile when it is finished.



The next step was to assemble the sled. I glued and screwed the ribs to the bottom.


Then glued and screwed the top to the base.


I made sure the screw heads were countersunk, so that they would not scratch the bed of the planer or be in the way on the top.

The next step was to work on the ribs and wedges that will be adjustable on the top of the sled. In Keith’s article he made his wedges at 15 degrees, and that seemed to work for me. I chose to do most of my cuts on my band saw. I find myself using my band saw more and more lately. I find it safer for many rip cuts, over my table saw. I used the band saw to cut the wedge needed for the jig used to cut the slots in the ribs. These slots were cut on the table saw. The band saw was also used to cut the wedges that slide into the ribs. The band saw whipped these out quickly and safely.


I’m not sure why but I didn’t take any pictures of the little jig I made, for cutting the slots in the ribs. Keith shows his jig in the article.

Once the ribs and wedges were cut I needed to cut the wedges to size.


You can see I cut the wedges oversized. If I left them this big the board would never sit flat.


I simply laid a ruler across the rib and marked where it intersected the wedge. I cut it a little smaller, so that it would be lower than the rib.

I then applied my non-skid material (self-adhesive non-skid stair tread covering) to the tops of the ribs and the bottoms of the wedges.


The bungee cord rides in grove cut into the tops of ribs and is attached with dowels at each end of the sled.


In Keith’s article he used screws to secure the wedges after adjusting. You have to find the right size hole for this work well with your fingers. I played around with it for a while and half of mine worked well and half needed some help. I think I will look for something else that might work a little better.

This assembly only took a few hours, now it was time for a test run.


I placed the board on the sled, and looked at the ribs to see which ones were not touching the board. There were a few places where I had to push the wedges in to support the board.


Not sure if you can it in this picture, but the rib needed to be lifted up a little.


After a few passes through the planer, I had my first face flat. Keith mentions in his article/video that things can settle and move after the first couple of passes through the planer. Mine did move some and I had to adjust the wedges a couple of times. Over all it worked really well. I was a little concerned about the possibility of the board moving when going through the planer, but it stayed in place without any problems.

Now I can flatten some pretty wide boards, even though I only have a 6” jointer. I’ll build some bigger sleds as the need arises, but this size should work well for most of my projects.

21 comments so far

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4528 days

#1 posted 05-22-2008 02:53 AM

I remember that article. You did a great implementation!

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View fredf's profile


495 posts in 4249 days

#2 posted 05-22-2008 03:27 AM

I would think that you would need a LOT more ribs for thinner stock. the stock you show certainly wont sag, but thinner stuff will flex under the pressure of the feed rollers. I know on mine the pressure is considerable.

I wonder if inserting the wedges from the end would be feasible?? that way you could space the ribs a lot closer . . .

-- Fred, Springfield, Ma

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 4361 days

#3 posted 05-22-2008 04:20 AM

This is an interesting post. It looks better than my jig. I simply use screws to level the board. But the wedges will work much better. I may have to try this.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Mike Lingenfelter's profile

Mike Lingenfelter

503 posts in 4653 days

#4 posted 05-22-2008 04:48 AM

Fred – I can see your point. It would be easy to add more ribs. For me, most of the wide boards I’ve wanted to plane have been somewhat thick. I wouldn’t put anything under 4/4 on the sled without more ribs, but 6/4 and up I think will do well.

View johnjoiner's profile


160 posts in 4433 days

#5 posted 05-22-2008 05:40 PM

But, but …. Isn’t this what that shiny LN jointer plane of yours is for? ;-)

Nice post and photos, Mike.

-- johnjoiner

View Mike Lingenfelter's profile

Mike Lingenfelter

503 posts in 4653 days

#6 posted 05-22-2008 06:09 PM

John – I was wondering if someone was going to call me out on that :). I’m still working on my hand planing technique when it comes to rough lumber. I definitely hit it with hand planes after it went through the power planer. I’ll get there soon and complete a project with only hand tools, unplugged as you well :).

View Al Navas's profile

Al Navas

305 posts in 4415 days

#7 posted 05-22-2008 06:30 PM


You did a terrific job with this sled – I remember the original article. I have never used the non-skid material, but will get some and start using it on some of the jigs, or even my cross-cut sled to minimize the risk of wood movement.

-- Al Navas, Country Club, MO,

View jcees's profile


1078 posts in 4338 days

#8 posted 05-31-2008 01:06 PM

I remember this one from FWW too, way cool idea that works! Such a deal. Nice job, Mike. Great bench blog too.


-- When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. -- John Muir

View depictureboy's profile


420 posts in 4182 days

#9 posted 06-05-2008 02:43 PM

Since I dont have a membership there, I have a few questions.

First what is the purpose of the bungee cord?

Second what is the total thickness of this sample you did? For instance the Ridgid planer I am looking at has a max cut height of 6 inches. The sled and wood, look taller than that.

-- If you can't build it, code it. If you can't code it, build it. But always ALWAYS take a picture.

View Mike Lingenfelter's profile

Mike Lingenfelter

503 posts in 4653 days

#10 posted 06-05-2008 03:41 PM

The bungee card is used to hold the “ribs” in place so they don’t move around. It provides some downward pressure that keeps the “ribs” stable. I don’t have an exact measurement, but I used 2 – 1/2” pieces of plywood and some 3/4” poplar. So, it’s about 1.75” thick. I think it can be made thinner. The important thing is make sure it won’t flex under pressure.

View dalec's profile


612 posts in 4428 days

#11 posted 06-05-2008 06:25 PM

Mike, I also saw the FWW sled article. Yours is so much prettier! Nice looking and functional sled.


View NedB's profile


659 posts in 4105 days

#12 posted 09-21-2008 08:45 PM

excellent project, It is going on my short list of jigs to build for the shop. Might stave off the need for a jointer awhile longer.

-- Ned - 2B1ASK1

View stillhaveboththumbs's profile


33 posts in 2963 days

#13 posted 10-31-2011 01:41 AM

I will be making one of the sleds soon. I have a very small shop and have been looking for ways to save room by using the tools I have to do more than one job. Hand planing is great but very time consuming. Not to mention it is cold in the shop.

-- But I did measure it twice and cut it three time and it still is to short!

View FSKeil's profile


1 post in 2833 days

#14 posted 02-15-2012 07:33 PM

Mike that is a slick jig, thanks for putting together this post. I am trying to figure out how you cut the 15 degree slot in the ribs though. Could you post a picture of the jig for doing that?

Fred Keil

View Betsy's profile


3392 posts in 4435 days

#15 posted 03-14-2012 05:31 PM

Mike – I wanted to see if you’d give us an update on how you like your sled. I’m thinking I need to build one since I no longer have a joiner. Would appreciate the feedback.


-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

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