How do I plane a 36" wide bench top?

I have an old recycled bench top that is 10' long, 3' wide, and 2" thick. It is laminated maple. It's from an old bakery so it has some finish on it and a lot of other "guck". I've tried to clean it up a little with mineral spirits and a ROS but it didn't do much. I wanted to get it cleaned up through a planer but can't find anyone with a 36" + capacity planer or drum sander. The top also has threaded rod running across it every 2'. What I'm thinking of doing is cutting it down to about 7' long and removing the rod and ripping it into 1' sections and then running it through my portable planer. Then I'll join them back together. My questions are: Is the finish and other stuff on the slab going to toast my planer blades? ...and... Does anyone have a better idea?
--
BeerBoy




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Turn it over. The underside should be ok. You could use a scraper or a hand plane on it. Your other idea is a crazy waste of time.
-Jack

it
mineral
drum
thinking
planer.
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it
mineral
drum
thinking
planer.
toast
I would use a hand scraper to get all of the "guck" off of the face and then use a hand plane to level the top. Do you have jointer plane? If not, it might be a good opportunity to get a used #7 or #8. There are plenty of articles in the various magazines that outline how to level a large surface with hand planes. It is a great skill to know. It is pretty simple and only involves a plane and winding sticks.
Bob McBreen
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wrote:

Couldn't he do the router on a sled thingy and get it basically perfect?
JP
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I have surfaced large area's like your table top by building a cross slide out of a couple of boards and routing the surface. I got the idea out of the router handbook. It is pretty simple. 2 boards along one axis, then a simple tray that the router sits in. The tray sits on the two boards running parrallel to the one axis, the router slides along the tray, giving 2 axis' of travel across the part to be routed.
If your carefull you can route it flat and clean, then sand or scrape it smooth.
J

it
mineral
drum
thinking
planer.
toast
I would use a hand scraper to get all of the "guck" off of the face and then use a hand plane to level the top. Do you have jointer plane? If not, it might be a good opportunity to get a used #7 or #8. There are plenty of articles in the various magazines that outline how to level a large surface with hand planes. It is a great skill to know. It is pretty simple and only involves a plane and winding sticks.
Bob McBreen
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It might, but planer knives are made to get dull and don't cost that much to replace or resharpen. The bigger difficulty with cutting up the top will be getting it back together. You will need to rejoint the cut edges and accurately doing this on big heavy, seven foot long slabs of maple is not the easiest thing, especially if you don't have decent sized jointer. If you can't find a shop to surface the top for you, then I would suggest cleaning off any gunk proud of the surface using a cabinet scraper, then working over the entire top with a 4 x 24 belt sander. If your goal is to get the top much flatter than it is now, then start with the router sled or hand plane.
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Been there. Done that. Have the t-shirt.
I agree that the ripping and planing idea is not a good idea. Each piece will be heavy and hard to manage. You'll get sniped. Even under the best of circumstances, machine planing doesn't make a thing flat. It makes a thing parallel to the opposite side. You'll end up with 3 untrue surfaces which you'll hope to rejoin into one true surface. Won't happen.
I've done the #7 thing. It's a good start if you have a good tool, work diagonally and occasionally switch 90 degrees to the other diagonal, and use winding sticks to watch your progress (both in terms of twist and width flatness). I agree that scraping would be a good preliminary before beginning to hand plane. Planing something this wide diagonally would be hard for me as I'm neither tall or long-limbed. When I did it to a 2'x6', I failed to watch width flatness carefully enough and somehow ended up with a 1/16" crown. Otherwise, the top was very level lengthwise. I lived with that for a few years, before doing the router sled thing.
Router sled is demanding to build. The long rails (length of your top+) must be ultraflat, at least after they are attached to top. Winding sticks are again necessary when attaching/clamping long rails to your top before routing. The sled rails (width+ of your top) must also be ultraflat. Because the sled rails only contact the long rails, they must have enough bulk to not sag under pressure of router weight and your pressure on the router. The instructions I've seen don't tell you to build in dust clearance, which is important because you lose flatness if the router baseplate rides over the dust you're generating. I was careful in building mine, and everything worked out nicely. I didn't have to remove much material because I only had a crown to take out. Still, it's a big job to build the sled. [Accuracy of the result can't be better than the accuracy of the tool.] I built mine with the idea that it would be useful for other things (like table and dresser tops), but that turned out to be idealistic (thus far). Those kinds of tops are thinner and harder to attach to rails; they also have more internal spring.
ron
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