It's not hard to imagine building a platform that the router could sit on
top of with the board (firmly secured somehow) underneath. you could move
the router back and forth along the length of the board until you ended up
with a flat side. Then flip over and repeat. Personally, I'd rather eat
dirt than do this or anything similar to avoid spending a few hundred
dollars for a planer, but that's your call. I can barely imagine doing this
if I had a one-time use for a thickness planer, but not for any more than
that. If you're looking for a machine you can live without, choose the
I guess it really depends on what you need to plane. Imagine, if you
will, that you have been given a huge beautiful cross section slice of
Carpathian elm burl big enough to make a tabletop. Of course it is WAY
too big to run through any imagineable thickness planer or jointer -- at
leaast ones that might find their way into a home shop. And even if you
did have a plane big enough it would probably destroy the gnarly wood. A
job like this is ideal for router processing and he needed jig(s) aren't
too complicated or difficult. Or how about flattening the top on a huge
Not saying that a router is the best way to go for everything and I sure
wouldn't want to give up my 12" jointer/planer combination...
I do not have a link, but I although I have a 13in planer, I was given an
old maple table top (30in by 60in) which had been sanded by the previous
owner using a belt sander. There were a number of visible belt sander
depressions and generial nicks and scratches which needed to be removed.
I tried sanding, but this was too slow and uneven.
I ended up using the router with a dado bit mounted between two pieces of
angle iron. The angle iron rested on wooden rails (pieces of plywood cut
straight) clamped against the table top long sides. I made a series of
passes down the table. This worked reasonably well, but took a long time to
set up making sure the rails were the same height.
The main problem was my inconsistent pressure. I ended up with a "low
point" at one end due to having pressed down more than other areas, but this
was not obvious as I was working. I also had to do a good amount of finish
sanding to remove lines between passes, which were due to the inconsistent
pressure. Ideally a thicker angle iron would reduce such deflections.
In my case, this was a one-off use. I would not consider this setup again
unless I had a large piece which would not fit in the planer. It just takes
far too long. My planer gives a terrific finish which requires minimal
sanding to be ready for staining/varnishing.
I now have a drum sander, but would not want to attempt to sand such a large
piece. The problem I have with my drum sander is that any slowdown of feed
rate causes a very noticable channel, which is too hard to sand by hand.
I'm going to throw a resounding echo to this comment. I've never been a big
hand planer, but while making a walnut mirror frame for my wife, and no
immediate access to a planer, I broke down and sharpened up a Stanley plane
that I've had for a long time, but never really used much. Prior to this
effort, I'd really only used my planes to clean up an edge for gluing, etc.
Well... to avoid a long story, I was amazed. Shocked, even. It took next
to no effort to plane down the rough cut walnut and it was much cooler than
I can express, to watch the wood coming to life right under my hands. In
mere minutes I had it where I needed it and nothing compared to the feeling
of seeing that wood and experiencing bringing it to that state by hand. It
would have taken me longer to set up a planer if I had one, than it did to
plane down that board, and it would have just been a step in a process. The
whole thing of hand planing is just something you have to experience. You
don't need 20 planes in your shop, you don't need hours of laborious effort,
you just need a couple of good sharp planes and an appreciation for the
craft you're doing. A planer, while still something that I would not turn
down, is no longer at the same priority for my woodworking that it once was.
It will make large quantities of nice wood faster than a hand plane will and
for that reason I'll probably get one sooner or later, but for smaller, one
off projects, I'm fine with a hand plane.
I think I remember seeing something like this in American Woodworking a year
or so ago. It was a box that had a sliding gizmo arranged to maintain a
constant height for an attached router. A dadoing bit could then be used
for surface planing. The downsides were that the workpiece was constrained
by the size of the box and it took a long time and a lot of passes to cover
the entire surface.
I'm kinda into building my own shop aids but I agree with some of the other
posters. This seems like way too much work for very little gain. I'd
sooner buy a thickness planer.
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