How to Use a Surface Planer | Woodworking

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Learn how to use a surface planer in this Howcast woodworking video featuring Makeville Studio.

Surface planer is one of several tools that you'll need in a shop if you're going to mill and square up rough lumber, but it also has a separate function which is just to reduce the thickness of boards so you can use it as a thickness planer and also as a surfacer.

If you use it as a thickness planer it is pretty simple to operate. The basic way this is setup is there is a set of blades in the middle of this housing and there is a couple rollers and so you pass the board in and it gets grabbed by the roller, goes under the blades, comes out on the other roller and the blades are skimming off material as its passing through. It can skim off up to an 16th or even an 8th of an inch, that's pretty aggressive at one pass. Normally what you're doing is passing a board through multiple times to skim off the little bits of material until you get down to the thickness that you want. The way it works is there is a crank on the side which raises and lowers this entire housing, that's essentially changing where the blade height is. You need to setup that up first when you're working with a board. You have to know how thick a board you have. You can measure it and set the height on this gauge here or you can measure it by feel which is what I do. I actually put it in the machine and start lowering it and I'll feel when it starts to hit the rollers and other mechanisms underneath the housing.

When I hit the roller I will back off a little bit and then I know that I'm probably at the surface of the wood at this point. From there I will go a half turn and I know I will be taking off probably about a 16th of an inch. Now, there's a couple of options for setting controls on here. You can go between two types of finishes. One is called finishing cut and one is called dimensioning. Essentially, switching between these two positions usually speeds up or slows down the rollers so either you're getting more cuts per inch or fewer cuts per inch depending on the setting. More cuts per inch make a finer finish so you can use that for a finish cut.

Another control that is pretty useful on this machine is a depth stop. You can use this to set a depth you don't want to go beyond. Lets say I have this board, its one and a quarter inches, I only want to go down to an inch. It is very easy to go past an inch sometimes if you're not being careful with this wheel, what this does is it prevents this wheel from turning once it gets down to one inch, you can't even turn the wheel anymore. That's useful, if you're not using that just put it down to some low dimension that you'll never get to and you'll never be stopped.

Now one thing that is really important on surface planers is dust collection. These machines make a huge amount of dust and this machine particularly ejects that dust at a high velocity. So that machine next to us, the dust collector, has to be on when this is on otherwise you get a big mess of dust in the shop. That's it for the setup of this machine. I'm going to run this board through to see how it works. One thing you'll want to do when you're running a board through the planer is draw some lines on it just so you can your progress. Sometimes the top surface of the board may have some hills or valleys maybe cupped. One of the things you need to be aware of with this machine is that it only works if you have one flat face already. What happens is it references off the bottom face which is on this bed down here and it takes whatever it reads down there and does it to the top face. So if you have a bow or twist in your board as this is passing through the planer it is going to get pushed down by the roller and it's just going to accentuate the shape of whatever board you have. It's not a magic box. It just doesn't make a flat piece of wood out of a twisted one. You need to actually have one flat faced before bringing your wood over here. Once you do then you're ready to go.

This machine is extremely loud and you will want to wear ear protection when using it. Okay, that's our finished product and I wanted to run this through to show you one other thing about the planer which is something that happens a lot. It's called snipe. I don't know if you can see this but there is a slight difference in height where the planer blades have chunked out a little bit extra on these last couple of inches of the wood. What happens is when passing the wood through there, the roller grabs it and actually pulls it up into the blade. So at the beginning and at the end of the cuts, the roller does that, it pulls it up into the blade. Y

35 Comments

  1. Thanks for the tip about the snipe.

  2. I hate DeWalt – they don’t ship DW735 to Europe. Are we 2. class human beings? I want my DW735 now!

  3. Excellent explanation! Thanks for taking the time to do this video and I salute the operator, good job!

  4. Damn, shes a spittin image of my uncle Jake

  5. Its a planer thicknesser not a surface planer so i dont hold much hope for this video given they miss name the tool.

  6. No rings around power tools, duh.

  7. Great tutorial thank you for sharing.

  8. seanfishingtexas seanfishingtexas

    So would a jointer help with cuped board to make it flat

  9. Let me google that for you πŸ˜‰ So – according to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delta_Machinery the founder’s name sounds very ‘krautish’ [Herbert Tautz], but started in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Anyway – I was just goofing around, no big deal, and btw. planing with hand planes is a big challenge for me [and a lot of fun].

  10. hand planes better..! feel the wood.

  11. *Right* !!

  12. excellent video! very well explained. Thank you!

  13. Sean McEwen yes, that is what a jointer is intended for.

  14. Gosh, wish it did less than 11″ length.

  15. Beenthere Donethat

    Nice video! Thanks for the help!

  16. I should start a service where I buy things here and then ship to Europe for a small fee of course

  17. I am thoroughly disappointed in the fact that you do not use proper safety equipment as little as safety glasses. horrible image for the youth. 1/2 stars out of 5. πŸ™

  18. Excellent well presented video, precise and to the point.

  19. this does both. 1 for finishing surface, 2 for dimension cuts. was explained in the video.

  20. ri mar please do some research before piping up on what you dont know ps I’m a qualified wood working machinest and is is a thickness planer .A surface planer is the type that you push the timber over the cutter in order to straighten and square up .

  21. I am an avid woodworker and my point still stands as this does do BOTH. whether it does either well or not is beside the point. maybe you need to brush-up on reading comprehension skills before YOU pipe in, since you can’t even refer to a jointer properly (which is the tool you re referring to). i’ll leave you with the last word, since it is hopeless to argue with an idiot.

  22. +ri mar typical American idiot
    Just because you don’t understand the English language don’t mean you get to change the meaning of words
    woodworkuk.co.uk
    This is a suface planner or if you will a jointer because god knows why an already named machine needs a new name but that doesn’t make a planer thicknesses a surface planer

  23. +ri mar as I said I’m a qualified wood machine worker I.E I do this for a living not a bloody hobby or a pass time 8 hours a day for far too many of my years .

  24. Sorry Vat taxes and Donald Trump don’t mix. He’s still looking for a literal vat.

  25. One of the best explanations/presentations of this (and the jointer one, too) tool I’ve seen on youtube. You must be an instructor. The “bros” in their shops have useful information, but they aren’t always the easiest to decipher. You did so, for me, and I appreciate that. Do you have more woodworking viddies?

  26. great review

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  29. Awesome

  30. Thanks

  31. Robyn, thank you. I’ve watched a few of your utube videos. I appreciate your advice. I just wish you lived closer to me, because I love to do wood working stuff, esp since I’ve retired. I really could use some someone who knows what they’re doing. I just wing stuff. It either works or it doesn’t. Thank you.

  32. So helpful!!! you are amazing.

  33. Dennis Mathias it will if you run a follower board in behind the one you’re planing

  34. Relerford Relerford

    Very helpful information. Keep up the good work.

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