Preface, I have not worked with a planer before.

I have a curved piece of wood which was created by laminating three 1/4" oak boards over a form. The curve looks good but I would like to clean up the edge. I can do this with a sander of course, but was wondering if I could pass it through a thickness planer. Basically place the piece on its side (its about 3" wide) and pass it through.

Is this "safe" to do on a planer? Should I pass the form through too to provide support?

  • How long is the piece and what is the approx radius of the curves?
    – Ashlar
    Apr 17 '16 at 17:00
  • I see from the Comment below that you went with passing it over your jointer, that's what I would have recommended if you had a jointer. As a fan of hand tools I would also plug doing this with a hand plane, this sort of thing is very easily done with one of those with a bit of tweaking to get a light, tearout-free cut regardless of grain direction..
    – Graphus
    Apr 18 '16 at 15:42

It depends the exact profile of the curve (how "thick" it looks to the planer), but I would hazard that a thickness planer is not a safe option for this. Due to the irregular surface that will be given both to the rollers and the cutting head, I would be concerned that the piece tips over unexpectedly while inside (probably at the beginning, before the second roller engages).

Bracing the curved piece in a form that is the same height as the width of the piece will alleviate these concerns.

However, due to large amounts of glue in the laminated wood I would worry about marring the planer knives. Matthias over at woodgears.ca documented this effect from running plywood on his jointer. Commercial plywood is probably rougher on the knives than your laminated oak (with only 2 glue lines), but together with the risk of going through the planer I wouldn't try that.

  • Thank you that is the expected answer sadly. I guess its clamp and sand time yay! Apr 17 '16 at 13:31
  • Good advice above. If you had access to a handheld power plane and a reasonably steady hand, you could knock off the high spots. You'll find that some people will pass a curved piece through a tablesaw, but that's pretty high risk and bothersome, given that you'd have to attach it to a sled of some description to straighten the fence edge to cut the first edge. Apr 17 '16 at 15:43
  • Actually I took a shot at running it through the jointer and that did a decent job. Apr 17 '16 at 18:59
  • 1
    Since you are holding the wood and passing it through the jointer, there is no risk like with a thickness planer. However, I would still worry about nicking the knives - run a piece of pine through the jointer now and verify that there are no "ridges" on the jointed surface.
    – Eli Iser
    Apr 18 '16 at 4:58
  • 1
    It's best not to extrapolate too much from that example on Woodgears. People joint and thickness glued-up boards all the time without any damage to their knives or cutter heads. The glue used on commercial plywood is the major factor there (big big issue with particleboard/chipboard too, which has even more of the same glue in the core and is unbelievably abrasive).
    – Graphus
    Apr 18 '16 at 15:38

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