Opinion on power planer for surface flattening

In the latest fine woodworking there is an intersting article (to me) by Rob Hare on flattening large panels whether they are glued up or the one he is working on for the article - one big ol' wide piece o' lumber!
Anyway, he uses winding sticks to mark irregularities and a power hand planer to remove high spots. He then progresses to a belt sander and finer grits of sandpaper, finishing with an orbital sander or finish sander. I have used a belt sander similar to the way he uses the hand planer but it takes a long time.
I wonder if anyone else has done this. I am sure that it works, it is just that it is often times hard to guage the relative difficulty of an operation by reading about it from someone who has done it for years.
Any comments?
I know, I know. Learn to use a hand plane, right? I am working on that too.
Frank
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On Sun, 31 Oct 2004 14:09:40 GMT, "Frank Ketchum"
Yes. If you think that's hard, learning to use a hand-held power planer is _far_ harder.
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Frank Ketchum wrote:

My first thought on reading the article was that you must have a ton of confidence in your abilities that you won't fuck^H^H*k over what must be a pricey big honkin' chunk of wood. [Pardon my Cheneyism]. The article was a good read. It would be fun to give it a try. Set up your planer as stated (easing the blade corners I think is key) and have a go on some old discard plank or whatever you have. Start with the blade up (take a small bite) and adjust as you go along. Shouldn't take more than a few months before you're pretty proficient.     mahalo,     jo4hn
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I think you would be amazed at how effective a no. 8 jointer plane can be.
Bob
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I recently had to smooth out about 250 feet of 6"x8" timbers from a bandsaw mill. I did one face of one 26' timber with a hand plane and then bought a power planer. The tool is a wild beast and very hard to control (also very hard to set up, but mind that you take whatever time is needed to get it *perfect*). If you take a very fine cut and just work back and forth over difficult spots (much like you would scrub out a bow on a jointer), it's reasonably easy to use for rough work. I still hand planed all my timbers after using the power planer because it was faster than trying to get a smooth finish with the power planer. A belt sander is an order of magnitude slower for hogging down wood (and if you think how easy it is to mess up a board with a belt sander, that gives you an idea of how quickly you can create a disaster with a power planer). If you find yourself using a belt sander to flatten large panels, then a power planer might be the way to go, but the risk is considerable with expensive wood.
Ken Muldrew snipped-for-privacy@ucalgazry.ca (remove all letters after y in the alphabet)
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