ADVICE NEEDED: Thickness and surfacing short boards?

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Forum topic by toddbg posted 12-26-2018 06:37 PM 788 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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34 posts in 2582 days

12-26-2018 06:37 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

Last year I got a bunch of 8/4 mahogany in various sizes.
Some spindle size about 12” long, some platter or shallow bowl size varying from 6” to 12”.
There were also some 6”X12 to 15” sizes.
I’m interested in making boxes and have done a few tests of slicing the boards down to 3/8” or so.
I’m at a stage now where I need to get even thicknesses and good surfaces on the boards.
I tried hand sanding but have consistently rounded and dipped the corners/edges.

My local shared workshop won’t let me run the boards through the planer or drum sander (they require minimum 24” length)

Do you guys have any suggestions?
How do you normally make boxes?
Do I need to buckle down and buy a small drum sander?

-- -- Todd, Washington

7 replies so far

View RobHannon's profile


347 posts in 1496 days

#1 posted 12-26-2018 06:50 PM

Do you have a planer? You can hotglue pieces to a longer flat piece of sheet goods. Make sure they are adhered well before running them through and take light cuts.

Can be done with handtools as well, but I do not have the experience to offer any advice with that.

View steve104c's profile


52 posts in 2204 days

#2 posted 12-26-2018 07:19 PM

Drum sander would be safer. This is how to sand short pieces. Take a larger piece, at least the min. length to be safe to run under the sander and a little wider than the piece you want to sand. Lay your piece on top of larger piece and attach small pieces around the smaller piece. The pieces around the smaller piece need to be below the thickness of the piece to be sanded. Set sander to height of the piece to sand. Make sure the pieces around the piece you want to sand are snug up to the piece you want to sand. This will hold the piece to be sanded while the sander does it thing. You might need to turn off sander to remove piece after it is sanded. It may even work if you put several pieces together that you want to sand and secure with pieces on sides. I have had a piece of wood shoot back out of my drum sander, so be sure and stand to the side when guiding the pieces into your sander. In my last garage shop, I had a an upright freezer right behind my table saw. It got my second piece of wood that shot back. My stomach got the first. Had a bruise the size of a soccer ball for about a week. Lesson learned. I now stand slightly to the side of every tool that might shoot back. Good luck.

View JayT's profile


6417 posts in 3177 days

#3 posted 12-26-2018 07:20 PM

Hand plane and a thicknessing jig

-- - In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.

View jonah's profile


2136 posts in 4264 days

#4 posted 12-26-2018 10:48 PM

You should be able to run small boards through a drum sander, though without a sled or some other solution a thickness planer is not an option.

Why would a drum sander not work with say a 12” board?

View AlaskaGuy's profile


6335 posts in 3275 days

#5 posted 12-26-2018 11:21 PM

Go to YouTube, lots of ways to skin that cat

Edit to add: video #1 Save a bunch of time by running 2 parallel strips of double sticky tape down the carrier board then just stick your pieces to it. No need to cut and stick 2 pieces tape for each piece of stock individually

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View anthm27's profile


1798 posts in 2076 days

#6 posted 12-27-2018 01:26 AM

I have no stand up machines just hand held power tools including a router. I thickness using a hand held router.
You can see how I do it on part 2 of my blog here
See Paragraph 3 and pics 2 and 3
Hope that helps.
Kind Regards

-- There is no hope for any of us if we keep apologizing for telling the truth.

View bilyo's profile


1255 posts in 2068 days

#7 posted 12-27-2018 01:52 AM

My method is similar to what has been suggested above. I would start by grouping pieces of similar width and then trim them so that they are all the same width within each group. Do this very carefully as they are even quite small to be run through a table saw. Once this is done, put them end to end to create groupings of 3 to 4 feet in length and then hot melt glue narrow waste strips (3/4” width works OK) to each side extending beyond each end by about 6”. These sacrificial waste strips should be about equal to the thickest piece in the grouping. This holds all the pieces together and the extended ends prevents snipe (if you are using a thickness planner). Check with your shared workshop to see if they would allow this configuration to be run through the planner. Once you have everything to the thickness you want, run the groups through the table saw again to rip off the sacrificial strips.

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