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So during a current project of mine I ran into the issue of needing to plane down a good portion of a wooden piece (about a 1/16th - 1/8th). Now the key issue with this piece was the size and the shape of it. The piece is a relatively small circular like shape, about the diameter of 2.5 inches, and has a few 3/8th holes in it.

Now normally I would have planed the piece to the correct thickness from the start, but the piece has already been cut and plans have changed.

Ideally I believe the best option for this fix would be to use a drum sander, but as I do not own one as of now and need to fix a lot of these pieces I am trying to use what I have at hand(planer) while avoiding having to just go hand sand these all down using say a belt sander 1 at a time. I believe if I were to put all these pieces down on a board in which they would not slide on, grain running the same direction, I could get away with using the planer by feeding that board in the planer making extremely shallow cuts, but am not 100% sure and thought I would come here.

So after coming to this problem I realized I have never actually formally learned the do's/do not's of using a thickness planer and was wondering what these were, as well as any suggestions, alternatives, or wisdom for my current dilemma.

  • You definitely do not want to run these through a thickness planer, and although you could do it with a drum sander, I imagine it would require more setup than it's worth. If anything, make a jig to hold them while hand planing or while sanding them down with a disc or belt sander. – rob Feb 18 '17 at 8:32
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    As an additional note, let's focus on the title question here, and I would suggest opening a separate question for possible solutions to your current dilemma. If you can include a diagram and include the thickness and grain orientation in addition to the other characteristics you've already mentioned, that would also be very helpful. – rob Feb 18 '17 at 8:34
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    In terms of alternate strategies for reducing the thickness of your current pieces a belt sander is a good way to go, not what I'd use but it can do the job efficiently enough that it's the go-to method for many who own a belt sander. I would use hand planes for this, starting with a scrub or roughing plane if I needed to remove the whole 1/8, then finishing with a smooth plane, or smooth plane only for just 1/16. Depending on the species of wood this would take me perhaps 3-7 minutes per piece. – Graphus supports Monica Feb 18 '17 at 9:56
  • The first thing I would ask is why does it need to be thinner? I have found a lot of the time I just get wood to a nice finish and quit. The thickness is sometimes thinner sometimes thicker. If you need it to a certain thickness then I would go with a sharp hand plane starting with a #4 and ending with a #7. – Bob Barnett Apr 17 '17 at 13:45
  • As @rob says in a Comment above, "As an additional note, let's focus on the title question here" – Graphus supports Monica Apr 18 '17 at 7:35
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Probably well late (given the question is from february), but if you desperately needed to plane a disk that size down, you can do it reasonably safely and cleanly with a planer . . . it just takes a bit of set up.

  1. Get a sheet of MDF or ply - at least two feet long and a few inches wider than your disk.
  2. fix the disk to the centre of the sheet of MDF using either double-sided tape, carpet tape or hot glue. Make sure this is stuck down well - particularly the front and back edges.
  3. fix one or two (preferably two) 1"x24" long sacrificial rails to the sheet of MDF using tape/hot glue. These rails should be slightly thicker than the the disk you are trying to plane.
  4. add some bracing at the front/back of the disk using some smaller scraps of wood + tape. ( optional)
  5. Plane as per usual. The sacrificial rails will prevent any snipe and the 24" length will allow you to pass the short disk through the planer reasonably safely.

Take super light passes and make sure the disk is secured well. I would probably lean towards not using a planer for this operation, but if I had to, the above process should make it (reasonably) safe.

  • Thanks for the advice, I did lean away from using the planer for this due to the safety concern, but instead built a jig to use my router to flatten the discs on. Will definitely keep in mind your advice for future projects as well though. – mvr007 May 18 '17 at 3:29

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