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Somewhat akin to the purpose behind this question (Recommendation for manual planing and sanding), I am seeking advice from some experts that would help a hobbyist such as myself trying to manufacture large panels of wood made by joining together (mostly by glue - no fancy biscuit, dovetails, or dowel joints). I even ran into problems when I had access to a decent variety of equipment at a hobby wood shop, when the thickness planers feed width was smaller than the width of the panel I was trying to prepare.

Since I figure cabinet makers make some pretty big armoires and wardrobes, how do you smooth up the glue joints and even up the panels so that they are nice and level? Hand planes (manual and electric) would probably only give excellent results in the hands of the truly skilled.

Are the thickness planers and hand tools described in both the question and answers in the linked question above really the only options?

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    What is the question here. What tools you could use besides the above (which really are the best options) or how to use them? I ask because that could easily be two questions. Thickness planer is certainly the easiest option. Been used for over 100 years – Matt Oct 8 '15 at 19:59
  • If your panel is wider than the infeed of your machine, you're pretty much limited to whatever smaller handheld tools you can bring to the workpiece. In other words, you can't fit ten gallons in a five gallon jar. – grfrazee Oct 8 '15 at 20:07
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    If you're gluing up smaller boards into panels in the first place, then you run the boards through the planer together, before they are glued. Every time you make a pass on one board, you make the pass on all boards. That way they will be the same thickness when you glue them up. Any left over unevenness is handled by sanding or scraping. – Charlie Kilian Oct 8 '15 at 21:23
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    Actually, you can save some work by making up sub-panels narrow enough to go through your machines, then assembling those (carefully aligned) and doing the final levelling by hand. Also, it's slow but a panel sander often has one side open so you could try working half the panel at a time that way. – keshlam Oct 8 '15 at 21:23
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Find a local cabinet shop or woodworking store that has a wide belt sander. My local hardwood supplier will run panels through their 50" wide sander for just a few bucks.

My planer will handle a 13" wide board. If I need a large panel, I'll do the minimal amount of planing possible on the raw boards, then glue them into sub-panels less than 13". Once those are together and planed flat, I'll join them into my final panel, use a hand plane to get it close, then take the panel in and with just a few passes through the belt sander, it is perfect.

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I do some guitar building, and guitars happen to be just wider than standard planers. So, I build a planer sled for my router. Depending on your overall width, this could be useful for you.

some pictures of my set up

Flat plywood, with 2 square rails. Then I attached my router to a sled of plywood that is reinforced for stability.

enter image description here

I was using a 1/2" bit, but there are wider bits that may be more suited to the task.

enter image description here

Planing in process.

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Admittedly, I was removing a lot more material than you likely are.

  • Good point! Using a router on a sled is definitely another valid approach to levelling boards. I've seen articles commenting that some woodworkers use this technique to level large-slab tables. – keshlam Oct 14 '15 at 20:47
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I have used cabinet scraper in situations like this. Get the wood lined up really well by using cauls to keep the faces in line, and a very sharp scraper to remove the glue lines.

Scrapers are great at removing glue and planer marks (wash boarding) on smaller projects, it is labor intensive and the results are great.

  • Biscuits will help with the alignment during glue-up if you have any inconsistencies in your boards. – Aloysius Defenestrate Oct 11 '15 at 5:37
  • @AloysiusDefenestrate, The OP mentioned he was not planning on using biscuits or anything fancy, That's why I mention the use of cauls, they keep the faces in line during glue up. – Jack Oct 11 '15 at 6:13
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    Aaah, I see. (FWIW, I totally agree with cauls, both to level and apply consistent pressure for a good glueline -- I was thinking to make the alignment part of the process easier.) – Aloysius Defenestrate Oct 11 '15 at 14:05

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