What is a "Flattener"?

I just heard of a woodworking machine called a "Flattener" today. We were at a birthday party and I asked for advice about taking the twist out of a 9/4 walnut board, 8" wide and 5' long, without having a jointer big enough or using winding sticks and hand planes. Obviously, the task is to get one side of the board flat, and then go from there to get parallel sides.
A guy told me about this machine from the old days in a shop where he worked as a kid.
A "Flattener". It's like a surface planer, with the cutter head on the bottom. The top of the board if held gently by bed of "nails" that sorta hangs down and holds the board so it can't tip as it goes through the machine. The nails are held in some sort of sliding (upside down) "sled" that feeds the board through.
Has anyone here ever seen one or know where there's a picture of one?
I googled "what is a board flattener?" and got some responses that suggested making a sled for a regular surface planer, using various techniques to hold the board still for a few light passes, until the upper surface of the board is more or less flat.
Pete Stanaitis -----------------------
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"spaco" wrote:

Can't help you with the "Flattener", but based on the size and weight of the piece, think I would head to the commercial drum sanding shop rather than trying to use a bench thickness planer.
A few passes removing a short 1/32" per pass and you should start to see how much of a problem you face getting flat surfaces.
Lew
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I guess I could do something similar with my 3 X 24 belt sander, but won't that process leave abrasive grains in the wood that could dull my planer knives later? If I did it anyway, wouldn't I need some way to hold the board immobile, propped up on the twist?
I did some googling and found a site where they talked about various kinds of "sleds" that you would lay the board on and then just take light cuts till the board got flat on one side, sorta like an upside down jointer.
I know this isn't a "productive" reply to your suggestion, but I'm looking for a way to do it myself. I have saved up 5000 or 10000 bf of various species of rough sawn lumber since about 1980, and I'd like to be able to go to the woodshed, pick out a piece for a project and then process it right here at home. My planer is a simple floor mounted 15" job from Taiwan. It weighs about 500 pounds.
Pete Stanaitis --------------------------
Lew Hodgett wrote:

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"spaco" wrote:

You won't get close to flat with a belt sander, unless you want to waste a lot of stock. DAMHIKT.
Since the drum sander replaces your thickness planer, dulling knives shouldn't be a problem.
About the only time you will need the planer again is if you resaw some stock. ---------------------------------------

Depends on how bad the twist is.
If it's serious, that would be a good time to knock off the high spots with a belt sander and a 24 grit belt, so that it is stable going thru the drum sander.
That probably means concave side down. ----------------------------------------

Drum sander eliminates the need for a sled if you get the piece stable. --------------------------------------

I understand but nobody can have every tool they might need.
My guess is that drum sander time would be less than $30 based on my experience here in SoCal.
Hopefully, most of your stock does not have the twist problems this piece of walnut has.
BTW, isn't the goal to get the maximum yield out of a fairly expensive piece of material?
HTH
Lew
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spaco wrote:

Not so's you'll notice assuming you do at least a modicum of cleanup...

Yes.
So, use the planer and the sled concept. Done. That's what you have the planer for, isn't it????
--
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Not sure what is meant by a flattener, but the first question I have is do you need to work with the board that large? If not, reducing it to roughly the dimensions you need on a bandsaw might solve your jointer width problem.
Alternatively, make a sled for the planner... If this is going to be a regular task and you are into it, make a fancy one with side clamps, jack screws, etc. If it's a one-shot-deal use a board with at least one flat side, or a piece of plywood, that can be run against he planner bed. Place the walnut board on it, and then shim the walnut to hold it so it doesn't rock. The shims can be held with hot glue to even a dab of carpenter's glue. Run the top side through the planner until it's flat, remove from sled, plane the other side.
John
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Thank you. Yes, I do need to work with the board that wide. I don't think I will be doing this on a regular basis, but the sled idea sounds like the way to go anyway. I have a lot of rough sawn hardwood around here, so the sled might get more use once I have it.
Pete Stanaitis -----------------
John Grossbohlin wrote:

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spaco wrote: ...

[Trimming and not top-posting would surely be nice for thread continuity and ease of conversation...]
Indeed sleds are wonderful devices but...
For the initial "knock it down to flat" work, simply tacking wedges or a strategically placed cutoff of the proper thickness to stop the rocking is another "trick" I use quite a lot.
All you really need is enough to get it through on a single plane a couple of times. If there is twist and it's long, bringing it down to several shorter sections based on the project size first is generally worthwhile to both make the process simpler and to also save as much material as feasible.
Also, severely cupped or bowed pieces may be far more effectively utilized by ripping and regluing than trying to flatten the entire board -- the wider it is, the more likely this is to be beneficial.
What you have to avoid, of course, is the feed roller pressure flattening the piece as it goes through and then it returning to its original shape after passing thru albeit w/ parallel (but not straight) surfaces. This is obviously less of an issue as one gets to thicker and thicker original stock; 8/4 hardwoods one may manage to use minimal pressure necessary to feed and only deal w/ the rocking issue and do quite nicely whereas 4/4 of the same material will need full support.
Experience is the best teacher--nothing ventured, nothing gained...
--
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Look at www.americanwidget.com/flatboarder.htm
This is the same company that made the first Hardwood Stretcher in 1928, I believe.
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I clicked on the link below, and it went to that page, but I couldn't find anything there that relate to this issue. What should I have done?
Pete Stanaitis ---------------------
Hoosierpopi wrote:

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Was this a troll and everyone is playing along or have I entered the twilight zone where the concept and reason for of a Jointer has vanished?
A sander and a planer won't remove twist because they force the board flat druing operation with their feed systems and then you gat a smooth twisted board after it exists the feed rollers.
Sounds like this guy talking about a flattener with some nail bed holder thing is smoking some pretty good sawdust.
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SonomaProducts.com wrote: ...

You got a 15" jointer, Sonoma???? :)
The sled concept works w/ either a planer or thickness sander; I believe there have been what OP asked about but never became very popular; if I'm not mistaken they are a "surfacing planer".
Places I was aware of in VA/NC (like the Lane factory in Alta Vista, VA) used two-sided planers to prepare their rough stock and get a parallel faces before final thicknessing...
<http://www.mlsmachinery.com/onlineCatalog/catalog.asp?cat 20>
/Geezeralert My current planer, a Delta Model 13, the little but mighty precursor to the lunchbox altho it weighs 250 lbs came from a small manufacturer in PA when they upgraded 30+ years ago--at the time they had nine separate lines of five of them in a row each at a fixed thickness and a pair operated each, one feeding and another passing the output to the next in the line at the end of which was the desired thickness. They ensured stock was "flat enough" from the mill. Geezeralert/
--
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. They ensured

fast anyway. Not sure how this sled concept works with a planer and not really fully up to speed what all industrial equip is used in mills.
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SonomaProducts.com wrote:

I wasn't paying any attention to the actual width, only that he said in the original post "...without having a jointer big enough..." so it doesn't really matter how wide it actually is.
The sled is simply a support against which to place shims appropriately to support a cup or twist so can keep the roller pressure from either flattening or rocking on the initial pass or so. Once have that as a starting point on the first side, then can dispense w/ it and turn over and proceed...
Mucho fancy stuff (read $$$ :) ).
--
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I am the original poster. I don't consider myself a troll. Just because you don't know about this machine doesn't make it non existant. In researching my request, I came upon a forum (which I unfortunately didn't bookmark that discussed the problem. One poster said that he had made a sled to emulate the flatter with a planer. He used flat head screws on the sled board, just as my acquaintance had talked of "nails" on the top with the planer knives below.
I live in rural western Wisconsin. There are and have been dozens of small sawmills and wood working factories in the area since the late 1800's. I have seen and heard of many shop-made machines that weren't necessarily available to troll sensors.
If you have a problem with something I said, you should contact me.
Pete Stanaitis ---------------
SonomaProducts.com wrote:
<snip>

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I apologize for any offense. Non intended but obviously preceived. I thought I knew it all. I guess I was wrong.
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