How to plane small boards without a planer/jointer

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Forum topic by knexster posted 05-02-2020 05:54 AM 381 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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63 posts in 2018 days

05-02-2020 05:54 AM

I’ve been losing my mind trying to find answers on how to plane small boards without a planer or jointer
I’ve seen 10 billion people on YouTube showing router sleds to thickness some giant slab. Great, but with a small board, you don’t have the weight of a slab holding it down. I swear I even came across a video on “how to thickness plane a board without a thickness planer” where they used a benchtop planer. Anyway, i digress…
Maybe it’s obvious to others, but I wanted to share my router sled for planing small boards with a router. I made a generic sled and have a 2 inch surfacing bit. Holding it up for rails are two 3/4 thick pieces of plywood cut 3” wide. To ensure my table top was flat, I unscrewed the top of my bench and clamped two boards the same size as my rails under it. But wait, how did I secure my boards? Well, it’s as simple as some dabs of hot glue and some shims. Yep, it took me hours and hours of YouTube and online research to realize I should just use hot glue. I won’t even get into all the stupid things I tried, attempting to clamp from the sides with mdf scraps, all kinds of stupid stuff. So, for those of you looking for a solution to planing small boards without a planer or jointer, here you go.

-- Don't think outside the box. Think as if there is no box at all.

5 replies so far

View controlfreak's profile


693 posts in 336 days

#1 posted 05-02-2020 10:58 AM

I get that you want a machine to do the work of flattening but short of buying a jointer and planer you will need to go old school. It alway perplexed me as to how craftsmen would work with hand tools to flatten stock. I have just started a book by Robert Wearing the I received form another LJ on 4/27 ironically the day the author died at age 99. The first chapter goes into great detail on using a hand plane to flatten and surface lumber. I am finding myself thinking of all the space I could free up in my small shop if I got rid of my jointer and planer. I doubt that will happen. I think mastering hand planes will be far easier to work small planks than a router will ever be.

View Axis39's profile


197 posts in 331 days

#2 posted 05-02-2020 02:17 PM

I’ve been doing several small projects recently, boxes and stuff. I find it quicker to pull out a handplane and rock it out, than to even begin changing bits on my routers. Don’t get em wrong, there are a lot of things I use a router for every day. But, once I learned how to really sharpen stuff, handplanes, spokeshaves and chisels have made a big comeback in my shop.

I have been threatening to build a good sled for my thickness planer… And I came across some video earlier this year where the guy was using hot glue and shims, like you mention, to hold the boards in place while flattening the first side… And the genius of such a simple solution struck me like a bat to the noggin!

The big thing here is that we all work differently. What is the most efficient for me, may not work for you. So, it’s really great to see others’ solutions to problems we all face.

-- John F. SoCal transplant, chewer uppper of good wood

View mitch_56's profile


36 posts in 1208 days

#3 posted 05-02-2020 02:58 PM

Handplanes do a great job quickly imo.

Mike Farrington shows how to make a small parts thicknesser for your hand plane:

Or, you could spend the money on a thickness sander, they go down to what, 3-4 inches min length?

View corelz125's profile


1264 posts in 1711 days

#4 posted 05-02-2020 03:01 PM

Small pieces like that you don’t need a big jointer plane like a #7 or #8. A #6 will make fast work out of that.

View knexster's profile


63 posts in 2018 days

#5 posted 05-02-2020 03:38 PM

I think I failed to make my point. Hand planes and a benchtop planer are both fairly cost prohibitive. I don’t have any hand planes, nor am I interested in buying any at this time. Yes I can eventually acquire these second hand and have myself some little side restoration projects, but I’m not in the market for that either. Further, let’s not forget with a hand plane, I’ll also need a decent bench with a vice if I’m gonna do it right. However, most entry level woodworkers like myself have acquired a router, and a $20-40 router bit, along with $10 worth of plywood/mdf is much more affordable. Lucky for me, I don’t mind changing my router bits.

-- Don't think outside the box. Think as if there is no box at all.

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