Planer v Thicknesser (UK)

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Doug Miller wrote:

point...
In this case, all I was trying to do was to clarify that once the other operation was done, it was done--unless, of course, the stock does move significantly enough afterwards to destroy the previous work...
So, I guess the upshot is we're both right and have probably totally p-o'ed the OP... :)
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It was somewhere outside Barstow when Alan Penn

That would depend what I want to use it for.
I have both - ie they're separate machines, not a combined Euro-style machine. The thicknesser is rarely used, the jointer (a planer with a vertical fence) is used regularly. However when I _do_ get the thicknesser out, it's usually to use it solid for a couple of 8 hour days. The jointer typically makes one cut, then the covers go back on.
The thicknesser is one of the most cost effective machines I've ever bought - because of the huge amount of cheap unplaned timber I've put through it and turned into valuable surfaced and thicknessed timber. It paid for itself in the first month I had it.
The jointer could be replaced by a good workbench and a couple of hand planes. Sometimes it is.
You don't need a wide planer - the thicknesser will prepare both sides of a board and produce flat timber.
As to the "Euro question", then I have separate machines because they cost me about the same, lost the wide surface planing I've never needed, but gave me thicknessing for 12" boards (combination planers are either 10" maximum, or very expensive)
If you have a thicknesser, then you;ll be needing a chip collector too. The jointer just has a box underneath its spout.
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Tue, Mar 8, 2005, 12:31pm (EST+5) snipped-for-privacy@codesmiths.com (Andy Dingley) says: <snip> The jointer could be replaced by a good workbench and a couple ofhand planes. Sometimes it is. <snip>
I've got just the planer (thicknesser). When I need a jointer (planer), I run the wood thru the planer using a planer sled. A bit of a PITA, but works well. If you go with one, I'd say the planer (thicknesser), with a planer sled.
JOAT Intellectual brilliance is no guarantee against being dead wrong. - David Fasold
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It was somewhere outside Barstow when snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (J T) wrote:

I do much the same for first passes on timber, although I don't bother with the sled.
You can prepare S2S stock with a thicknesser alone. If it's too twisted a board for this to work, then it's too twisted to trust it to stay reliably stable. Sometimes I need to use an electric planer to knock the high spots down by hand before feeding it, but that's just a coarse process and doesn't take long.
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Andy, JT,
Regarding preparing stock w/ thickness planer alone:
I'm familiar w/ the planer sled approach (FWW #175), but talk a bit more about going without the sled on stock that is not face-jointed, please.
I ask because I'm going the "planer(US) only" route right now; edge jointing will be either a router or TS operation; but I'd been assuming I had to "face joint" w/ the sled before thicknessing.
Can I put a purely cupped board in and get to two flat, parallel faces?
Thanks, Chris
Andy Dingley wrote:

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On 9 Mar 2005 12:41:29 -0800, "TheNewGuy"

if the cupped board has no twist or bow and is thick enough that the feed rollers will not press out the cup, then in theory yes.
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Absolutely. The rollers may compress the cup a little bit (such that it will spring back) but you can mitigate that by flipping several times rather than just flatten - flip - flatten.
Sleds really just needed to address bow/twist.
Steve
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Stephen M wrote:

Thanks Steve, I'm getting the point now :^)
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Wed, Mar 9, 2005, 12:41pm (EST-3) www snipped-for-privacy@compassimages.com (TheNewGuy) says he asks: <snip> I ask because I'm going the "planer(US) only" route right now;edge jointing will be either a router or TS operation; but I'd been assuming I had to "face joint" w/ the sled before thicknessing.
I'm not sure I understand any question there, as phrased. Face joint? With a sled? Had to?
Can I put a purely cupped board in and get to two flat, parallel faces? <snip>
If you are pure of heart, and have faith, and send proper sacrifices for the Woodworking Gods, you can do anything you put your mind to. So, I would say yes, but I don't see doing it without using a sled. I also think you'd wind up with a pretty thin board, and, quite possibly, quite a bit shorter.
You'd probably be way further ahead listening to Andy, rather than me. I tend to think about things like that, and, if they seem reasonable, and just try it, usually I don't bother asking questions.
JOAT Intellectual brilliance is no guarantee against being dead wrong. - David Fasold
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J T wrote:

There wasn't a question, just stating what my assumption had been up until Andy's post; that with ONLY a planer(US) at my disposal, I thought the process would be "always" face joint one side of the stock board using a sled arrangement; then thickness plane "as normal." I inferred from Andy that SOME boards, depending on the character of their unplanarness, could be stuck right-off into said thicknesser w/o the sled operation.

Sorry, that above question of mine should have ended with, "WITHOUT using a sled to face-joint first."
Thanks, Chris
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It was somewhere outside Barstow when "TheNewGuy"

I don't use a sled, because I manage without one, but if there are to be "two camps" over this technique, then they would be the "use a planer first" and "just do it in the thicknesser", rather than the "sled" and "shove it in" schools.
The planer crowd argue that you can't make things flat with a thicknesser. Thicknessers work from the "back surface", so their flatness-making is somewhat indirect. In some cases (twist) it never works.
The "just thickness it" approach is much the same whether you use a sled or not. Now I don't, which means I put badly supported timber into the thicknesser. This is a bad practice - it's prone to squashing flat if I put excess pressure on, it reduces the gripping width under the feed rollers and it's generally unpredictable. So be careful if you do it and be gentle with your cuts.
In most cases you don't need the sled, even with quite severe cupping, so long as it's symmetrical. In cases that are too bad to work unsledded, then use the hand-held scrub plane to knock the outer high spots down. You don't need to do the centre - that's a broad area, so leave it to the broad cutters of the thicknesser. Those skinny high spots though are quickly reduced and can save you a lot of time.
If you don't already have one, preparing rough timber should use a scrub plane. You can make an effective one from your roughest Stanley #4, a Stanley iron ground with a pronounced crown to the edge, and a mouth that's wide open, even if this needs some filing. Use it diagonally, because you aren't making long fluffy shavings anyway.
As to twisted timber, then this needs either a sled or an axe. I just don't bother with it. Apart from larch, which always twists, then if I find a twisted oak board then it's something I shouldn't have bothered to saw in the first place. Good timber doesn't twist (apart from larch) - if you have twisted stock, there's something funny happening. It might well be reaction branch wood that's never going to be good for much. Either saw out a usable and stable piece, or keep yourself warm with it.
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It was somewhere outside Barstow when "TheNewGuy"

Yes - but:
Don't try to take too much off at once. This increases the pressure from the feed rollers and bends the board as it goes through - so it emerges still with a cupped face.
It's not quick. It's usually quicker to knock off the worst of the high spots with a hand-held powered planer beforehand (the only thing I use one for)
You should try and even the board up before feeding it - lower the high spots on each side, so that the board is level. If you feed it through so that teh bulk of the timber is tilted, then you have to remove even more stock before getting a useful board.
As for any board, bad cupping requires a lot of waste to be removed before obtaining a flat board. It may be more efficient to rip it in half first, providing two narrow, but thicker, boards.
Bad cupping usually represents a lot of stress in a board. Expect the board to warp further as you remove this stress - take it halfway down, leave it overnight, then go back to it.
You'll have a lot of trouble planing a warped and twisted board. Think about cutting it smaller instead, or even putting it on the firewood pile.
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Andy Dingley wrote:

OK, good point.

Don't have one of those, but I suppose I could shave a few passes w/ a jack plane; few passes at the center of the convex side, few passes on the edges of the concave side...

Yup, I remember having this conversation in a different thread :) Knowing the risks & precautions to take when ripping said board...

Again, good idea this newbie wouldn't have thought of.

At the very least, these types of boards I'd definitely work with the planer sled to try to flatten a face; but yeah, at some point, very quickly, there's not enough stock thickness to get to your final thickness.
Thanks again, Chris
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Opinion # 487
I would get the Thicknesser. I have had a jointer/planer for 22 years, a thicknesser/planer for 16. I am seriously thinking of getting rid of the jointer/planer.
To qualify my decision, space is a premium for me, I do this to make money, and I seldom buy rough cut lumber. Most of my lumber is s3s and has one straight edge to start with with. Both top and bottom are surfaced to almost the thickness that I want. I inspect my lumber before buying and do not buy twisted boards. And, because I this is a business for me, it is cheaper for me in many instances to buy s4s lumber rather than take the time my self to prep all the wood. I never thought I would say that but culling through lumber piles to get s2s or s3s boards of the right dimensions is part of the wood prep process IMHO. When buying s4s lumber, the width of the lumber is predetermined and consistent. Thickness/planing is basically eliminated unless I need thinner stock. A board that may not have a straight edge, s2s can be straightened with a simple jig on the TS and probably more quickly than on a jointer/planer. If a rough cut board is flat, it can be successfully thicknessed with top and bottom parallel using a thickneser/planer.
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Alan Penn wrote:

This will (undoubtedly) be a nearly interminable thread, but .... :)
Depends a lot on what you have available or want to use as starting stock.
If you want to buy rough lumber, you'll find both almost indispensable. If you can get a good supply of S2S material, you can do a lot w/o the thicknesser, but virtually all joinery starts w/ a straight edge square to the surface. Thus I would recommend the jointer/planer first in that case.
To add to my reasoning, in most US cities it is possible to find either vo-tech schools or small cabinet shops where one can either enroll for minimal cost or pay a small price and get lumber surfaced, thus minimizing the need for a thicknesser/planer until one gets to the point of doing a significant amount of work.
Of course, all operations <can> be done w/ hand tools and one should learn to do so simply as a matter of course, but unless one is into pure reproduction there's no reason imo not to use machines where appropriate.
HTH...and, of course, IMO, YMMV, $0.02 (US), etc., ... :)
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I think it mostly has to do with a few factors. What kind of projects to you like to build? What other machines do you have? How is the lumber you typically buy sold?
I would not give either one up - however, if forced I'd ditch the jointer and use a hand plane.
Dave
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I'd go for a planer/thicknesser....
you'll need both in the end and if you scout round you'll (with time) find one at the right price. I have a 12X4 PT and am now looking round for a 12X7 or 8. My workshop is small else I'd be looking for a 24X8
cheers
Nicholas
--
Nicholas Buttle - Quality Joinery and Cabinet Making
http://www.nbjoinery.net
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Well, really you need both. But if I could only choose one, I'd vote for the thicknesser. That's because in my opinion it's less work to joint (plane) by hand than it is to thickness by hand. Doubtless other opinions will differ ... I'm just stating my own.
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First of all, I have to say that you folks on the right side of the pond got the naming right on these machines.
What we Americans call a jointer will prepare an edge for jointing, but that is a special case of what it does, which is to surface one edge or face of a board to a single plane -- so planer seems the logical name (as does the analogy to a hand plane) What we call a planer does not put any surface into a plane, except by the happy coincidence that the opposite surface is already in a single plane. But it does create boards of uniform thickness -- which is probably why you silly Brits call it a thicknesser.
Now if you guys would get rid of all those silly extra vowels, you would probably have "our" language down right! <g>
And finally to your question -- I'd choose the thicknesser if I could only have one. It can be jury-rigged to create a plane surface. Also, the function of a planer (jointer US) is much easier to accomplish with hand tools than is that of a thicknesser.
--
Alex -- Replace "nospam" with "mail" to reply by email. Checked infrequently.

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What Alexy said... but let me add one more thing:
IMNSHO nothing looks more dopey and amaturish than 3/4" drawer sides (DAMHIKT). I'm not just talking about drawer sides but that's a good example. From a design/style perspective, limiting yourself to stock thicknesses generally leads to unattractive proportions.
Sure, you can produce attractive designs with stock thicknesses, but I think that is a really big limitation that more often than not leads people to make poor aesthetic design decisions based on "it's what I have".
-s

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