Exhibit A, Ryobi 10" surface planer purchased from a yard sale. The blades are wonderfully sharp and the surface of the planed work piece is quite smooth.

Surface Planer

No owner's manual, but I was able to find one online.

I've been using this tool to plane down resawn 1x4 and 1x2 poplar, sometimes some 1x6 stock too. I use a resaw fence on my bandsaw and get the stock close to 1/8" thick, then run it through the planer.

Curiously, as part of my research for this question, I discovered that the manual has a lower limit of 1/2" thick stock, yet I've been having good results going to 1/8".

Perhaps this is directly related, but when I put the fresh stock into the machine, I am careful to ensure that it's inserted flat, yet the first inch and a half gets scooped deeper than the desired thickness.

scooped end

scooped end 2

I've considered to use a carrier board if the wood is part of an important project, but when it's not a critical issue, I can compensate for the extra lost material.

I've not had to plane stock that falls within the manual's restrictions. Is it correct to believe that the scooping is caused by the under-thick work stock?

  • I don't know that this should be closed, as it's not the same question. Based on the referenced non-duplicate question, this is called sniping, which I did not know. – fred_dot_u Nov 16 '18 at 23:13
  • The linked question is helpful in that I can see that it's not caused by under-thick work stock and shows methods to reduce/eliminate the problem. – fred_dot_u Nov 16 '18 at 23:13
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    Yeah, your question is not exactly a duplicate, but I think it's close enough that it could be closed. (Note I'm not putting a value judgement on this. Obviously if you don't know the term it's a lot harder to find the other question.) There is also a "what is snipe", but again, if you don't know the term I'm not sure how you'd find that... – SaSSafraS1232 Nov 16 '18 at 23:28
  • Also, it is worth noting that in the extreme thin stock can cause snipe. If the board is thin enough that the cutting action of the head can flex it then it will be lifted up into the cutting head (since they configured for a "conventional" cut - i.e. forcing the material against the feed direction.) This is worse at the start and end of the board because you only have 1 roller holding the material down. However, if this is the case it's usually a more catastrophic failure... – SaSSafraS1232 Nov 16 '18 at 23:39
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    If you really want to work with material this thin you might be better served by a drum sander instead of a planer. – SaSSafraS1232 Nov 16 '18 at 23:40

This is called snipe, or planer snipe, and is present on pretty much every planer. Some have more than others, but it's there. It has to do with the pressure the rollers exert on the workpiece as they're feeding it through - when only one roller (front or back) is pressing down, the workpiece lifts up slightly and a little bit more is planed off.

There are a few ways to combat snipe - put the workpiece on a sled, feed longer pieces of scrap alongside your workpiece (so the scraps absorb the snipe), or keep your pieces long until after planing and cut off the sniped ends.

Which method you use probably depends on how much extra material you have, how critical the piece is, etc.

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  • Agree completely... but just to note, you can also feed pieces of scrap behind the good piece. Also, having longer outfeed support can help a little with snipe. – Aloysius Defenestrate Nov 18 '18 at 15:31

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