Question - Thickness Planer: User Error or Junk??

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Forum topic by JustAnotherHobbyist posted 01-25-2021 01:35 PM 347 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1 post in 36 days

01-25-2021 01:35 PM

Topic tags/keywords: planer chips in wood cherry walnut edge grain cutting board planing thickness planer wood tool

Hey all – I’m a hobbyist and really just branching out into “finer” work. Trying my hands at cutting boards because it seemed like a good place to start and they make great gifts haha

My question: I just got a thickness planer. I followed all of the directions and tested on some scrap and figured out how to use it before I put a cutting board through, but I’m getting small chips in the surface. Do I have a crappy planer, is it more likely I’m doing something wrong, or both?!

I got a wen 12.5” portable, new. I read lots of reviews and this seemed like a good “budget” option. As I’m not making any money doing this stuff, I couldn’t justify to myself buying a more expensive planer. That said, if it’s the planer and I should just go for it, I will.

I planed off no more than 1/64” at a time, as suggested by the user manual. Was this too much? Too little? Or is it just that I got a junky planer? The material being cut is a cherry and black walnut edge grain board, about 1.75” thick before I started planing it.

Any advice appreciated. I am willing to upgrade the planer if you guys think that’s the issue. Stipulation: I’m not a pro and my space is on the tiny side, so I’m not spending 1000s on a stationary. I’d like to be under or around 500, if you have suggestions. The Wen was a bit less than 300. If I upgraded, I would likely head toward the dewalt. Thoughts on that one?


6 replies so far

View tvrgeek's profile


1430 posts in 2659 days

#1 posted 01-25-2021 01:43 PM

Thickness planers should only cut down the grain. You show classic “climbing” the grain. A helical cutter I am told will do better, but the correct tool is actually a drum sander. Planers are not finish tools.

The Dewalt with a Schelux or Lux head is just under a grand, and not having one ( yet) I have no guarantee they won’t give similar results.

So, plane to thickness before glue up paying attention to the grain, Then block sand after glued up.

View CaptainKlutz's profile


4153 posts in 2504 days

#2 posted 01-25-2021 01:53 PM

1) Planers are mode for reducing thickness. NOT leaving a smooth surface ready to finish.
While a fresh set of blades can leave surfaces ready to finish, should never rely on planer to leave smooth finish.
Folks either use a smoothing plane, or various sanders after using thickness planer to prep surface for finishing.

2) When planing laminated panels, need to watch grain direction as tvrgeek mentioned. Cutting against the grain will always leave rougher surface.


-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

View Tony1212's profile


500 posts in 2744 days

#3 posted 01-25-2021 02:01 PM

Yeah, that’s just tear out from planing the wrong way – kinda like rubbing a cat’s fur the wrong way. The knives dig into the end of the grain and pull it up until it tears off, rather than severing the wood fibers.

If you want to put your cutting boards through the planer, you need to plan the individual pieces out so the grain is all running in one direction (or at least MOSTLY in one directions if the grain changes in a piece).

At this point, a scraper or a lot of sanding is your best bet.

-- Tony, SW Chicago Suburbs

View bigJohninvegas's profile


943 posts in 2471 days

#4 posted 01-25-2021 03:03 PM

Like said above, Board went through backwards. run it through in the opposite direction. very light passes.
Look at the side grain and you will see what we are talking about with grain direction.
Check out this article, has good illustrations,
And if you get some wood with figure, or around a knot. Grain is going in all sorts of directions. So you will see a little tear out around knots, and figured wood no matter which way you feed it. So very light passes give the best results.

-- John

View OSU55's profile


2738 posts in 2999 days

#5 posted 01-25-2021 03:52 PM

Yep watching the grain direction helps a lot, and no planer will leave a finished surface. Recommend a #4 or4-1/2 smoother after machine planing to remove machine marks and tear out.

View Lazyman's profile (online now)


6640 posts in 2397 days

#6 posted 01-25-2021 03:59 PM

You’ll have to pay closer attention to the grain slope when you glue up boards like that so that all of the individual pieces are oriented the same way. Here is a diagram that shows you what to look for.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

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