I have been reading the archives researching a planer purchase that I
would be interested in all of your input on.
We own a small band mill and saw quite a bit of lumber. Mixed hardwoods
and some sofwoods. We are finishing up a small (1500 bd') kiln and are
going to have to deal with surfacing on a medium scale.
What I am planning is a surfacing/edging station which will be trailer
mounted. There will be times that I will want to presurface (before
going to the kiln) or finish lumber right at the kiln/mill or on a job
which is why I want the mobility. On rare occasions I will power the
station from an 8kw genset.
I have already built an edging station that will edge and joint 12'
boards in one pass but now am looking to purchase a planer for this
setup. 15" would be fine but what I am looking for is input on a planer
which will handle slightly air dried but very green lumber (for
presurfacing) as well as the finish planing to follow. Additionally I
dont really need a stand as it will be sitting on the trailer.
I had always planned on a powermatic but now I am wondering if I could
get away with something less expensive? Is the spiral cutter a must?
Green lumber? Was looking at the 16" Jet? Noise is not really a concern
I would appreciate all of your input and foresight.
Mark, I remember my grandfather had a mill in Idaho where he did a fair
amount of planning. The one thing I recall (as a child would) is the
screaming after he found an imbedded rock, nail, old bullets, ect. He would
have to stop the line and replace the planer blades. I would suggest that
what ever machine you decide on, buy the next size larger and make sure the
blades are easy to change. I would not consider spirals for this reason. I
know he should have used a metal detector and maybe he did, I just don't
I have yet to come into much contact with metal in logs but its bound
to happen. I dont saw much in the way of yard logs or road side logs.
Just about everything I saw comes from deep woods but that doesnt rule
out bullets, slugs, shot, and so on. Unfortunately its something that
will just have to be dealt with.
We dont run metal detectors at all but if I ever had someone bring me
some yard trees I would definately give them a scan after every couple
I have some similar memories to yours. One of the scaries was a buddy
of mines circle mill. 52" blade, big CAT diesel power unit. He was
flying a big pine log through the mill when KABLAM!!, log screeches to a
hault, belts smoked, all hell broke loose. He gets the mill shut down
and looks over his shoulder and there is a hole in the side of the mill
house. He goes outside to find a piece of a power company cable eye on
the ground outside the mill. One of those big forged jobbies with 3/4"
threaded stud comming off it. After thinking of what that would do to a
human, he looked at a $5K blade wiped out beyond repair.
Thankfully my little band mill will just stop cutting and I trash a $15
blade. Worse would be a $100 set of knives but again, its just a risk I
have to bear.
Thanks again for the input,
When visiting a friend who works at the Palco sawmill in Scotia, CA., he
showed me the huge bandsaw blades destroyed by spikes in the trees. They
have a very intense metal detection/sonar system but sometimes it just slips
by. BTY - Its an amazing place to visit! (They were had stopped tours for
a while but I think they have resumed.)
One other thought- moisture. Wet wood leaks when planning and cutting.
Consider this too when looking for a machine.
Right, I had thought of that as well. The planer will be slinging a lot
of water, or extremely wet sawdust at the least, all over the place. As
I mentioned in another posts, I am planning on air drying the lumber a
good bit before presurfacing or going into the kiln. This would allow
the outer shell of the boards to dry a lot before being planed. I had
planned on doing a lot of waxing and or spraying of the planer
especially if it was going to sit a bit between uses.
My plans for the mobile trailer and its cover have a lot of
ventilation incorporated however this would only keep the equipment at
outside moisture levels. Surface rust will be a real battle.
I guess its a toss up between having to saw every board, load it to a
trailer, unload it to a shop, surface, load it back to a trailer, unload
it to the kiln, etc.. As opposed to being able to presurface right at
the kiln and right out of the kiln eliminating a few of the handling steps.
We will see how it goes. If it turns out to be a bad idea the equipment
will go in the shop and stay put.
As for the big band blades, yes, I have seen those mills many times.
Really impressive. The days of the mill being able to claim that they
surface 1/4" of material away in the finishing process are over. Even
with our little mill we are able to saw well under an inch and still
come out with 3/4" finished lumber.
I have the 16" Jet, JWP-16OS. I wouldn't call it very mobile. Two strong
men can just lift it via built in steel rods that extend from the main
casting. It has 3 blades that are fairly easy to change. It has the power,
3 HP 220 VAC, to take 16" cherry and oak. The chip extraction would be a
problem for your application. I had to buy an 1100 CFM dust sucker to keep
up with it. Running it without the dust/chip hood might be possible, but I
would ask JET first.
I had my eye on that planner because of the attractive price. The
weight issue isnt a biggie for me as it will be trailer mounted so there
will be no handling involved. We have a small endloader to offload it
from the truck and help with assembly.
I mentioned in another post that I have a good sized blower but I am
not sure of the CFM. I will have to look into that. It was definately a
concern and I was thinking it would be nice period to have a chip blower
on the trailer just to get all the chips away from the work area.
Thanks a lot!!
Motor on top will take care of a bit of the size problem, definitely not a
spiral, waste of time on wet lumber, though what purpose do you hope to
serve by skip planing prior to the kiln escapes me. Are you planning on air
drying for a couple of weeks or more? Only makes sense that way.
OSHA would scream, but the portion of the top which covers the chipbreaker
and forms the top of the shaving duct could be removed for shaving flow.
I've seen it done, though it's not as good as using a duct and blower.
Any of the iron clones with the motor on top should do. Easily adjustable
bed rollers would be a good point, so the wet could be elevated easily off
the table, and dry run almost flat.
George, thanks for your reply. I will definately air dry a bit before
presurfacing or even going straight into the kiln for that matter. The
presurfacing serves several purposes. While its not such an issue with
band sawn lumber, presurfacing helps to reduce surface checking.
Additionally it makes for 100% contact with stickers in the pile (thick
and thin boards result in some boards floating here and there). Lastly,
it removes thick wood which is handled and dried just to be removed
later. Getting this extra wood out of the process sooner saves on kiln
time, handling, and of course with 100% contact on the stickers the
boards will dry better/flatter. Lastly, the presurfacing means that
boards comming out of the kiln should need only a single pass through
the planer and edger to finish them.
I dont plan on presurfacing everything that goes through the kiln. Only
the best material.
This has been one of my concerns. I do however have a pretty decent size
blower which was given to me. It was one of the style that had a disk
attached for mounting it atop a 55 gallon drum. I think it may have been
used for dry cuttings extraction in a machine shop. It really moves the
air. I thought I could just attach that to the planer and blast the
chips into a pile.
Great info, thanks for the input. I have yet to see one for reasonable
$$ that had any sort of knob adjusted bed rollers. Most seem to be a
couple wrenches, allen bolt, and a dial indicator or something. Will
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