If you are creating a serious woodworking shop, then a planer thicknesser (also known as a thickness planer or wood thicknesser) is a very useful addition to your kit.
Planer thicknessers allow you to turn rough timber into smooth and reduce the thickness of the wood to the exact specification you need.
While industrial-sized thickness planers are of course available, they are usually too big and expensive for the average DIY enthusiast, small-scale cabinet maker or craftsperson. Luckily, portable or benchtop designs are available. They are small enough to fit in a garage or workshop but still powerful enough to get the job done.
A planer thicknesser is made up of a powerful motor connected to a heavy-duty cutter head and roller assembly. The motor spins the cutter head which cuts away the wood. The board is fed into the cutter head on the roller assembly.
When choosing the best planer thicknesser for your needs, you should consider the motor power, quality of construction and the thickness allowance as well as the width of timber it can process.
The motor determines the power of the machine. If you want to cut or plane thick hardwoods look for a machine with at least 10,000 rpm. Planer thicknessers with say an 8,000 rpm capacity will be fine for softwoods and smaller timbers.
The best planer thicknesser will be constructed of high-quality materials and feel sturdy in operation. The body needs to be heavy-duty in order to withstand a lot of vibration.
Thicknessers specify a thickness allowance – this is the maximum thickness of the piece of wood that the machine will accommodate and is typically 150 mm.
A thickness planer will also only take a certain width of wood too so this number should also meet your needs.
Precision in Depth Adjustment
The best thickness planer should of course be accurate and easy to adjust, enabling you to remove exactly the amount of wood you need. Getting this right will save a lot of frustration and wastage. Most have gauges and liners scales to make this easy.
Snipe happens when the weight of the board pulls downwards at the free end, pushing the opposite end into the cutter head. This can create a dip at the end of the board.
Many planer thicknessers have mechanisms to reduce this. You can also help prevent snipe by supporting the weight of the free end. In order to reduce the risk of snipe when planing a long length of timber, and make this process safer, use rolling supports to support the plank on its entry and exit from the machine.
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