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Milling thin pieces of wood

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Forum topic by Tony1212 posted 08-21-2019 01:09 PM 552 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Tony1212

345 posts in 2214 days


08-21-2019 01:09 PM

Topic tags/keywords: planer plane sander clamp milling finishing sanding

Lately I’ve been making dice trays and towers for my gaming friends. These look best when using wood that is 1/4” or less thick. I re-saw the wood to about 5/16” but getting rid of the saw marks takes a LOT of sanding.

I’ve been thinking about possibly selling these on Etsy or something, but this step makes it so slow. I have a DeWalt 735 planer, can I put something this thin through it? Could I use a sled for something that thin?

Another option is to use a hand plane, since they’re pretty small pieces. But I can’t figure out how to keep the small thin pieces from sliding around my bench. I’m open to options.

-- Tony, SW Chicago Suburbs


19 replies so far

View Madmark2's profile

Madmark2

485 posts in 1068 days


#1 posted 08-21-2019 01:28 PM

Several ideas present themselves.
I don’t know how thin your DeWalt planer goes (read the manual) but my griz G0833 goes down to 1/8”
A thickness sander from micro-mark tools will go down effectively to zero.
A bench sled with a lip at the front and a stop at the rear that is deep enough to hold the length you need to hand plane will also work.
A good resaw bandsaw jig should get your thickness variation down to greatly reduce the sanding needed

M

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

11757 posts in 3908 days


#2 posted 08-21-2019 02:08 PM

The DW735 can do the job. I use a length of 3/4 material and double stick tape my work to that. Then, run it through.
The planer blades need to be really sharp.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View Tony1212's profile

Tony1212

345 posts in 2214 days


#3 posted 08-21-2019 02:13 PM



Several ideas present themselves.
I don t know how thin your DeWalt planer goes (read the manual) but my griz G0833 goes down to 1/8”
A thickness sander from micro-mark tools will go down effectively to zero.
A bench sled with a lip at the front and a stop at the rear that is deep enough to hold the length you need to hand plane will also work.
A good resaw bandsaw jig should get your thickness variation down to greatly reduce the sanding needed

M

- Madmark2

That micro mark sander looks pretty cool, but I think I will need to sell a few sets before I can invest in that.

I’ve tried setting up a stop on my bench for hand planes, but it’s hard getting a piece thin enough that the plane’s nose doesn’t hit it, but still strong enough that it doesn’t crack as I push against it.

I’ve though about something like Andy Kline’s pencil jig. But some pieces are wider than a plane.

I see people making planer sleds for small pieces, but I’m worried that the pieces will explode.

-- Tony, SW Chicago Suburbs

View Bill_Steele's profile

Bill_Steele

556 posts in 2211 days


#4 posted 08-21-2019 02:44 PM

I’d consider getting a drum sander. I’ve had a Supermax 19-38 for a few years and I’m happy with it. I think I can sand down to about 3/32”. It’s sort of a thickness planer—but much slower. It’s great for sanding shop sawn veneer to a consistent thickness. It will leave sanding scratches, but they can be removed with a little sanding or hand planing.

I think you should also look into getting a smoothing plane or maybe something comparable (e.g. # 4 1/2) for removing the saw marks. As you stated, sanding takes a long time—I also think it is more difficult to get a flat, smooth surface with sandpaper versus using a smoothing plane. It’s too easy to sand over the edge or sand more in one area than another. You’ll need the ability to sharpen your plane iron—must be very sharp—so consider the cost for sharpening supplies if you don’t already have them.

To keep the thin pieces from moving around when you use a hand plane, you can make a planing stop. If you are unfamiliar with planing stops take a look at this video where Mike Pekovich talks about work holding jigs.

View Tony1212's profile

Tony1212

345 posts in 2214 days


#5 posted 08-21-2019 04:04 PM



I think you should also look into getting a smoothing plane or maybe something comparable (e.g. # 4 1/2) for removing the saw marks. As you stated, sanding takes a long time—I also think it is more difficult to get a flat, smooth surface with sandpaper versus using a smoothing plane. It s too easy to sand over the edge or sand more in one area than another. You ll need the ability to sharpen your plane iron—must be very sharp—so consider the cost for sharpening supplies if you don t already have them.

I have planes and they are sharp. I have a #4, #5 and a low angle #62 (as well as many others). I use diamond stones, a strop and a Veritas sharpening jig.


To keep the thin pieces from moving around when you use a hand plane, you can make a planing stop. If you are unfamiliar with planing stops take a look at this video where Mike Pekovich talks about work holding jigs.

- Bill_Steele

That video actually helped a lot. My main problem has been finding a planing stop that was thinner than my stock but that was strong enough to not crack when I planed against it. He doesn’t really call it out in the video, but Mike’s bench hook has a piece of hardwood recessed in a dado as the stop. That should get me the ability to plane against a stop that won’t break under load and still allow me to keep it lower than my 1/4” stock piece.

I’ll also have to copy his 45* shooting boards, as well. Those will come in handy with this work. Thank you.

-- Tony, SW Chicago Suburbs

View Robert's profile

Robert

3516 posts in 1960 days


#6 posted 08-21-2019 04:20 PM

I would not recommend putting wood that thin through any planer without using a sled. Believe me when you hear the BANG you’ll know why.

You can apply some self adhesive sandpaper to one side. This enables you to plane both sides if needed.

For planing by hand, a plane stop can be made out of thin material and clamped across the bench. But it can be an issue trying to keep the strip down, so a small piece of double sided tape can be put on the underside closest to the stop.

You might also try using the plane sled mentioned the sandpaper might give enough grip.

All that said, this is one task the drum sander excels at. I still use a sled tho.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View Bill_Steele's profile

Bill_Steele

556 posts in 2211 days


#7 posted 08-21-2019 04:26 PM

Perhaps you could make something similar to what he used to plane the table leg. Just make the stops wide but narrow. Imagine if the stop was 3/4” wide but only projected up about 1/8” to 3/16”. Maybe that would keep it from cracking when you planed against it? I think you could also use aluminum as a stop. Go to Home Depot and buy a strip of aluminum and embed that in a saw kerf so that only 1/8” projects above the surface.

View tywalt's profile

tywalt

83 posts in 644 days


#8 posted 08-21-2019 07:46 PM

Bench hook with a short fence is the easy solution as others have mentioned.

If the stock is narrow as well as thin and you are having trouble keeping it square to the bench hook fence, a wooden hand screw can be used (depending on how long your stock is). Clamp the piece in the hands screw and secure the hand screw to the bench either in the vise, clamp or screw one jaw directly to the bench. The benefit of the wooden hand screw is that if you run your handplane into it, you’re not regrinding a new bevel :) Dogs or planing stops can be used too if your bench permits.

-- Tyler - Central TX

View gwilki's profile

gwilki

318 posts in 1953 days


#9 posted 08-22-2019 11:28 AM

I plane to 3/16” frequently on a Dewalt 735. As others have said, use a piece of 3/4” mdf for a sled. Either use double-sided tape or simply put a cleat on the end of the sled – which is what I do. Turn the planer to the slower feed rate and go for it. I plane all species to be dizzy bowls and have no issues at all.

-- Grant Wilkinson, Ottawa ON

View Tony1212's profile

Tony1212

345 posts in 2214 days


#10 posted 08-22-2019 12:43 PM



Perhaps you could make something similar to what he used to plane the table leg. Just make the stops wide but narrow. Imagine if the stop was 3/4” wide but only projected up about 1/8” to 3/16”. Maybe that would keep it from cracking when you planed against it? I think you could also use aluminum as a stop. Go to Home Depot and buy a strip of aluminum and embed that in a saw kerf so that only 1/8” projects above the surface.

- Bill_Steele

Yes! Wide, thin strips glued to a substrate would work, too. That’s a great idea.

-- Tony, SW Chicago Suburbs

View Tony1212's profile

Tony1212

345 posts in 2214 days


#11 posted 08-22-2019 12:49 PM



I plane to 3/16” frequently on a Dewalt 735. As others have said, use a piece of 3/4” mdf for a sled. Either use double-sided tape or simply put a cleat on the end of the sled – which is what I do. Turn the planer to the slower feed rate and go for it. I plane all species to be dizzy bowls and have no issues at all.

- gwilki

This is what I was looking for, personal experience. I know the 735 is pretty popular, so someone HAD to have tried it in the past. Thank you.

I have tried using the 735 to do this with some scrap cherry. I used the masking tape and super glue trick to stick the cherry to the sled (no cleat), and it just tore the pieces off. I don’t remember if I had it on the fast or slow setting, though.

-- Tony, SW Chicago Suburbs

View gwilki's profile

gwilki

318 posts in 1953 days


#12 posted 08-23-2019 01:25 PM

Take light cuts, Tony – less than 1/2 a turn of the hand wheel.

Watch grain direction, too. When you are going this thin, every small thing in your set up can make a big difference.

-- Grant Wilkinson, Ottawa ON

View shipwright's profile

shipwright

8357 posts in 3278 days


#13 posted 08-23-2019 01:57 PM

It sounds to me like your easiest solution would be a card scraper. They are fast, don’t cost much, leave a clean surface, and won’t tear grain.
That would be my choice for sure.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese! http://thecanadianschooloffrenchmarquetry.com/

View Sylvain's profile

Sylvain

870 posts in 2979 days


#14 posted 08-23-2019 08:09 PM

Look at this Paul Sellers video at about 55”

-- Sylvain, Brussels, Belgium, Europe - The more I learn, the more there is to learn

View bc4393's profile

bc4393

79 posts in 1622 days


#15 posted 08-23-2019 08:32 PM

I’m a convert of the microjig Grr-riper. You can cut strip as thing s 1/8 against the fence and since it holds it so well with a good blade they can come out without saw marks because its not bouncing off the blade and just need a quick sand. The flip side is you need thicker stock to start off with. I’ve got a block of 2×2 mahogany pieces glued together I can run a ton of thin strips in no time and make trays from them. Here is a video showing it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dHj1LPTk3zE

Another option is a sanding head that you can chuck up in the drill press. I have a couple old scool ones made of aluminum so they don’t flex but you can get the idea. Bring the head down where it lightly makes contact with the work piece and lock the spindle. You want to do multiple pieces at once to make sure they are all the same thickness and slow your speed down on the drill press. I tune up sides of my boxes using this method.

https://www.woodcraft.com/products/woodriver-new-wave-3-sanding-disc-attachment

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