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I'm starting to use a router sled I made to clean up some oak slabs I've been drying. If you look at the photo you can see some lines left after using the router. I used a new 1.25 inch bowl cutting bit but I am still getting some lines. My question is what should be my next step to get this cleaned up?

I am not yet good enough with sharpening hand planes so that is not an option right now. I only have a 6" jointer. I don't know if a hand held belt sander would screw this up and I don't want to sand it for days with a ROS as this piece is about 8' long.

If anyone has been in this situation before, or any advice in general would be helpful.

(Bonus points if you can spot our pet rabbit running around.)

Thanks!

Automotive tire Wood Textile Grey Wall


Plant Light Road surface Asphalt Wood
 

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Randy - The lines do not appear to me to be very significant. With an operation such as this I do not believe you will ever get rid of the lines completely. Looks to me like you could move on to a belt sander.
 

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In order of my preference for cleaning up that slab:

Hand planes, then maybe ROS to even-out the luster
Scrapers (card or cabinet)
Wide belt sander
Belt sander + ROS
Just the ROS
Hand sanding
 

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I'd go for Allen's option #1, knowing that on a live edge piece you're likely to have some ornery swirly grains for a hand plane. Then put put a 80 grit on the ROS and you'll get rid of the remainder in no time, then the 120 and 180 won't take long at all.
 

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The lines you have, and grain tear out, are why I moved on from router planing. It is a good 1st step for your situation, as I imagine the piece was pretty uneven before the router. I have successfully removed lines like that with 60-80gr and an ROS - took hours on something 1/2 the size. It was not super flat, but was ok. The very best is a #7 plane. I suspect if there was a shop around that could plane it you would have done that vs the router.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for the suggestions - they help me decide how to move forward. I do have a 12" dewalt planner but most of my slabs are wider than that - this first one is a test.
 

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Randy, I've used a router sled a few times and had a similar result. My fix was hand planes. If you have them, it is a good chance to get a workout cleaning up the surface.

I think your underlying problem is that the router bit is not perfectly parallel to the surface you want to plane (or the rails it is riding on). Basically each line you see is a very shallow "step". Getting the router bit exactly parallel will result in a smoother surface, but that is going to be very hard.
 

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Lumber2sawdust - you guys are convincing me to work on my hand plane sharpening skills. I also think you are right about the router bit not being exactly parallel to the lumber. I've been wanting to modify the sled a bit anyway, after using it on two pieces of lumber. I am going to make some tweaks it and try it again AND then try my biggest plane (after another go at sharpening) and hope I don't get that awful tear-out I always seem to get. Thanks for your input.
 

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The lines are a result of the wood and the bit deflecting as it is cutting there wood, there is a lot of force involved in cutting the wood with a router bit. This is apparent in metal that has been milled also.

Of course better/sharper bits will exhibit less of this but the lines will always be somewhat there. You could try going over it again at the same height and offset the cuts slightly or go in the other direction. You also could increase the debth of cut but the smallest possible margin. Maybe put some masking tape on the bottom of your router for the first cut and then take it off for the 2nd cut.

I wouldn't bother with a hand held belt sander, too easy to mess up the nice job you have done so far.

Do you use those shavings for anything like rabbit poop collecting?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks again. Once again feedback on here is so valuable to me. I ended up finding and calling a local place that will wide belt sand slabs for $75 hour. I figure I can get at least 8 slabs done in this hour for a cost of less than $10 slab. This will give me a little more time to perfect my sharpening skills.

Pat - I do use a little of the shavings for rabbit litter.
 
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