Planer In/Out Feed Table
The lunch-box style portable thickness planers such as the Ryobi model that I have do a very good job for what it is. The balance of cost, usability, and portability all come together in one very convenient power tool.
However, I find the one draw back is snipe. Snipe being that small amount of extra material removed at either the first or last inch or so of the board being planed.
Often you can both see it and feel it. It measures only a few thousand’s of an inch and is only measurable with a dial caliper.
That small amount of material loss affects the fit and finish of your work.
One common cure-all is to initially cut the piece oversize up to 2 inches. After planing to the proper thickness the piece is trimmed at each end to remove the snipe and attain the final length.
This is wasteful and when working with the exotic hardwoods can become expensive. It is also time consuming and frustrating. A power tool should work correctly.
Well, with the portable planers, out of the box is the best you will get. This is one of the compromises we have to accept in this cost trade off.
As designed there are three surfaces for carrying the wood to be planed.
The in feed table which is usually constructed of bent and formed sheet metal and is hinged to fold up. The out feed table which is constructed the same way. And the planer table which is of heavier construction and remains stationary.
Because you have three short tables none of which are solidly connected or aligned and two of which are rather flimsy, the wood is allowed to pitch up and down albeit a very small amount as it enters and exits the planer.
Maintaining control of the feed in and feed out becomes very difficult.
What I have constructed is a removable rigid one piece table that clamps across all three tables and provides one solid, smooth, slick surface that is six feet long.
With this feed through table in place I am able to have complete control of the in and out feed during the planing operation. Additionally I am able to feed in a piece of wood five feet long and let it exit without having to catch it on the out feed.
The table is simply constructed of ¾ Baltic Birch plywood, with a Formica surface.
When slid in place, clamps are placed on the in feed and the out feed tables. There is also a support placed at each far end that is also clamped to the table.
The planer, and the far end supports are also clamped to the work bench as shown. This only takes a couple of extra minutes to set up and this time is easily saved during the planing operation.
One tip is to feed the wood in at a slight angle. The planer blades will start cutting on one corner first instead of across the full face of the wood, therefore easing the wood into the blades. This will also cause the piece to travel in a slight sideways direction as it travels forward through the planer. The sides on the planer table will deflect the wood on the out feed side and gradually push it back in line. I find this gives an improved cut.
When you have a lot of material to remove, take an equal number of passes on each side. Flipping the board over after every pass. This will relieve stresses within the wood.
On very soft wood the finished surface may be improved by changing the direction of feed and cutting either with the long grain or against it.
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