Help Milling Long Heavy Boards

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Forum topic by lblankenship posted 12-03-2021 10:28 PM 512 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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56 posts in 1616 days

12-03-2021 10:28 PM

Topic tags/keywords: milling jointer planer rough lumber lumber planer sled table saw long boards heavy boards

Hey guys,

I was curious to see if anyone has a method for milling long and heavy boards. I have about eight 12’ x 8” × 2.5” boards that I need to mill for a table top.

I have an 8” jointer, 15” planer and table saw which normally get the job done. However, I was dying after attempting the first board because it’s just too long and heavy for me to keep downward pressure and push through the blades.

I just built a 12’ planer sled with 3/4” melamine doubled up. With an 8’ piece and a 4’ piece on each layer with overlapping seams. However I noticed it has flex to it when lifting, which isn’t wild to think considering how long it is. I was planning on giving it a shot tomorrow since the surface will still be flat on the planer bed when the boards are surfaced.

So my current plan is to try the sled to get a flat face, then run the other face through the planer and get my edges squared on the jointer and table saw. It’s just getting that initial flat face has proven yo be a struggle due to the size of these boards.

I would appreciate any other thoughts you might have.


10 replies so far

View Ocelot's profile


3739 posts in 3980 days

#1 posted 12-03-2021 10:52 PM

I had a similar but not as extreme problem edge-jointing some wide glued-up panels. The panels being 17” wide, I couild not hook my thumb over them and press them down on the outfeed of the jointer when simultaneously keeping them tight against the fence.

I ended up doing it on the table saw.

You have a more extreme situation.

I would think you might find a sawmill with a straight-line edger which could do the edges for you.
My local favorite hardwood place has such a machine and it can do the job.

The faces likewise might be easily done with industrial-scale machines.
But… it depends on how critical the flatness is in your application.

-- I intended to be a woodworker, but turned into a tool and lumber collector.

View Phil32's profile


1649 posts in 1245 days

#2 posted 12-03-2021 11:05 PM

You have taken the first logical step by posting the question. If you are fixated on milling the planks on your own equipment, the next logical step is to get help with the muscle work – handling the planks.

-- You know, this site doesn't require woodworking skills, but you should know how to write.

View Lenny's profile


1728 posts in 4869 days

#3 posted 12-03-2021 11:08 PM

You are correct about a task like this being a workout at the jointer! My son-in-law and I went through this this several months ago (8/4 stock, 8 ft. long). One concentrated on downward pressure while the other pushed the stock forward. Do you have anyone to help you? My other thought is to use both infeed and outfeed support. The thing is, that support has to be near spot on relative to height and sturdy to be of use. The weight of the wood is going to make them want to tip over.

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! Lenny, East Providence, RI

View CaptainKlutz's profile


5170 posts in 2836 days

#4 posted 12-03-2021 11:37 PM

+1 large boards need large industrial tools.

Are trying to do this solo on your power tools? Hope not…..

IMHO – When board is too big and heavy for your power tools, or trying to man handle big stuff solo;
it is time to get out hand tools and let board sit quietly while you provide the power.
IE bring the tool to the wood, don’t carry the wood to the tool. :-)

Hopefully you have nice flat work bench, at least 7 feet long?

Start with one face:
Use winding sticks, and #5-1/2 or #6 hand plane to knock down the high spots, and make one side sit perfectly flat on bench when flipped over. Mark this flat face so you don’t forget.
Support the board along it’s entire length, standing on edge; so air can circulate on both faces, and let board acclimate a day or two. Check it again for one flat side and adjust if necessary before thickness planing. If board moves another 1/8 after flattening one side, might need to find a replacement board, if it doesn’t stay flat the 2nd time. Be sure to add at least 1/8” of thickness to final desired thickness when setting the planer up, so you have enough material to clean up both sides of panel after glue up.

Next make one straight edge:
Clamp the board into your leg vise and support the opposite end with dead man. Find a 6ft long metal straight edge and use #7 or #8 jointer plane to get one edge as flat as you can. Now it’s ready for TS to make both edges parallel to each other.

PS – It takes straight lumber to make a straight panel. Not every board is cut from tree straight enough for 12ft long table top, so plan ahead and process an extra stick or two. DAMHIK

Good Luck.

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

View Aj2's profile


4234 posts in 3140 days

#5 posted 12-03-2021 11:42 PM

My thoughts big boards big machines. Lenny’s got the answer spend time and money for infeed and outfeed support
That’s what I’ve done in the past it’s a real reality check to spend a hundred dollars half a day in time to accomplish something in 15 min.
I would suggest asking a friend to help but that’s not what I’ve done. Outfeed support then buying a bigger jointer has been my path.
Good Luck

-- Aj

View PCDub's profile


351 posts in 1586 days

#6 posted 12-04-2021 03:51 PM

Is the table top going to be 12’ long? If it will be shorter, you could cut them close to the final length and that would make it less work to joint & plane.

View Kudzupatch's profile


360 posts in 2550 days

#7 posted 12-04-2021 06:06 PM

Roller stands.

Makes it much easier. One of the in-feed and one on the out-feed end. Just make sure you have the heights correct on the stands.

EDIT: Let me change that to sliding stands. Roller stands tend to guide the material in what ever direction they are angled and that is not good. I am going to replace my rollers (or place on top of the rollers) a piece of smooth flat plywood so the wood can slide on it so the rollers don’t pull it off in a different angle than I am feeding

-- Jeff Horton * Kudzu Craft skin boats*

View Loren's profile


11375 posts in 4990 days

#8 posted 12-04-2021 06:34 PM

Back when I had a 60” Robland JP machine I built a 30” outfeed table for handling long and heavy stock. For accuracy arguably an infeed table is better but I think for handling the weight the outfeed table was a better choice. The table attached to the edge of the jointer with a piece of angle iron tapped for grub screws which were used to go into shallow holes in the laminated table. I probably used MDF. The grub screws allowed adjustability. Adjustment of the outboard side was achieved with two plywood made in two parts with a slotted sliding section.

For 12’ long boards I’d be tempted to use hand planes to flatten. You’ll have to devise a jointer method for doing the edges anyway if you don’t do them by hand with planes. It’s fussy work to do it by hand but you can do it if you’re patient. I did an 8’ table top of 2” thick oak a few years back by hand and it probably took me an hour to make both halves of each joint.

View therealSteveN's profile


9403 posts in 1916 days

#9 posted 12-04-2021 09:17 PM

Roller balls

place on top of a height adjustable stand, with a T bar topper.

One infeed, one outfeed. Easy work for guys who build doors.

This guy shows a build of a stand base. I think I would make mine “heavier duty” on the base.

-- Think safe, be safe

View Robert's profile


4857 posts in 2823 days

#10 posted 12-04-2021 09:56 PM

When I hear about this, my thinking goes to “bring the tools to the lumber”

I would probably go with a router sled to flatten one side, and a straight line rip with a circular saw and straight edge.

On very long boards you can flex a glue with clamps, so longs as it’s not crazy and the fees are square.

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

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