I have a couple of boards of white oak I want to glue up to make a platform for a computer. They are straight enough for a glue up but will require some surfacing for flatness and overall look.

I am new to this and don't have many tools, only a random orbit sander for this. I was looking to get a jointer plane but the better ones are out of budget, and the cheaper ones are filled usually come with the caveat that it will need servicing.

Is it possible to get a decent result with just the sander? If not any advice?

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    In general a ROS is for smoothing work, not for any sort of flattening. They are in short finish sanders. That's not to say that one wouldn't work here, but that's of course completely down to the boards you have and how flat the glued-up panel ends up. Had you thought about how you'll joint the edges (that is, make them flat, smooth and square to the faces) without a plane?
    – Graphus
    Jul 20 '17 at 7:55
  • Re. cheaper planes, the 'servicing' that they'll require may not be as much as your reading has suggested. Literally every single one will need some fettling but at best it's only 20-30 minutes' work. A very good alternative if you have the right local sources is old/older ones from the secondhand market. Many old planes out there in good condition other than cosmetics, and the majority are well made (most better than affordable planes of today). Oh and BTW, a jointer is definitely not the plane to get first! Much better to start with a jack (a no. 5 or the wooden equivalent).
    – Graphus
    Jul 20 '17 at 8:01
  • I did that by taking a high school ( or JC ) continuing ed. night class. The taxpayers provide excellent equipment. I planed some oak 1X10 and 4X4 . One draw back; the other students hated the noise, Jul 24 '17 at 16:24
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    I would +1 on NetDuke's mention of a router sled. It's fairly easy to make, and having a router is very helpful for all sorts of other operations. (Self promotion alert) You can check out one of my videos for details. I'll try to put a link here, but may be prevented by my low reputation points, as I just joined here. If you can't see a link, you can go to YouTube and search for "flattening a workbench top with a twist" and it's the first one to show up. Flattening a Workbench Top With a Twist Aug 7 '17 at 16:11

I have flattened boards with a random orbital sanders before, you will need a straight edge to mark all the high points with a pencil and sand them down. With a good straight edge you can get the surface extremely flat. I recently used a long steel Starrett straightedge and a orbital sander to flatten a massive table top made from sandwiched 2x4s.

A quick, but not as accurate, way to find all the high spots to sand down is to use a pencil and cover the surface with lines. Evenly, lightly sand the entire surface with the sander, all the high points will have the pencil marks sanded off. You will still need a good straight edge to check you work after, to make sure your not sanding the board concave/convex.

You can also use a cheap hand plane like one of these http://amzn.to/2ueZrIT as a hand plane will work a bit better than the orbital sander for this. Less dust too.

But if you have a router, make a "router sled" to flatten the surface. A router sled will work better than an orbital sander and routers are a fairly common cheap tool.

  • Er, Starrett straightedge @85 smackers when an offcut of plywood would do just as well! If that's too low-tech for someone most aluminium spirit levels are more than straight enough to act as straightedges in the workshop, and in addition to being way cheaper have greater utility besides. Re. the plane you link to, the 404 is a POS and not worth the money compared to a Bailey-pattern plane. Much better (I can't emphasise how much!) for someone to get a twin-iron plane instead.
    – Graphus
    Jul 20 '17 at 23:25
  • +1 for the router sled. Works great and relatively inexpensive. It can be done wth a trim router, though it takes awhile.
    – 3Dave
    Oct 8 '17 at 20:30

In the past I have tried to prepare boards for joining with a sander . . . not very good. Then I got a joiner. Much more effective! Especially after I mastered the ends. enter image description here

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