I have a cheap 3 1/4" hand-held power planer, and some 4x4s that I'd like to plane down about 1/16" on all four sides to square up the corners. Normally, I'd do this on the table saw, but my saw is out of service at the moment, and my hacked-together upside-down-circular-saw-in-MDF version isn't big enough to cut all the way through the 4x4. (It also wobbles, which isn't great.)

The issue I'm having is that, since the planer is narrower than the board, I get a lovely step / ridge in the middle. I've tried setting the fence so that I can plane half of the board at the time, but this gives results best described as "amateur hour."


  • 1
    I'm afraid my suggestions start and end at hand plane, which is not what you want to hear. You can get better results with the planer I'm sure, but it might require practice that you can't get enough of on these 4x4s.
    – Graphus
    Feb 2, 2017 at 1:45
  • You can build a flattening rig similar to the kind used for a router, but modify it to hold your handheld power planer. I've seen this type of rig used successfully to flatten large slabs more quickly than one equipped with a router.
    – rob
    Feb 2, 2017 at 7:24
  • @rob I'd thought about that. I've also got a set of four 1"x48" steel rods and pillow block bearings that used to be part of my CNC build. I could just put the X and Y axes back together, mount the planer and drive it by hand. That would give me a consistent height. The only problem is figuring out a way to adjust the height once it's mounted... thanks for the idea!
    – 3Dave
    Feb 2, 2017 at 14:13
  • @DavidLively -- just remember that the height of the shoe at the back is in-line with the bottom of the blade, and that the shoe at the front is variable by your cut depth. (So, your supports would be different heights.) Feb 2, 2017 at 14:59
  • 2
    Hate to sound like the founder of the @Graphus fan club cuz I agree with him (her? honestly don't know and just realized this) so often, but yeah, hand plane. Your cheapest way out that won't involve acquiring new hand skills would probably be to pick up a good used lunchbox thickness planer.
    – user1457
    Feb 3, 2017 at 23:57

1 Answer 1


Our jobsite saw only gives about 2 1/2 depth of cut. It's also just your standard 15 amp direct drive, so it doesn't like to be stressed. Fine for 99% of our site work. On the rare occasion we have to rip timbers we start with a shallow cut and gradually raise the blade in two or three passes. Flip and repeat. a 6 x 6 will leave about 1/2 or so in the center. Provided the faces were reasonably straight and flat - else you have to joint one face. We then turn to the trusty Harbor Freight portable electric planer to hog the ridge close. Finish up by hand, with the Ulmia that out of the box in 1981 cost 5x more than the HF planer :). Needed: 2 Guys, aforementioned tools, sawhorses, 5 minutes.

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