Planing Technique

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Johnny luvs Biplanes

Well-Known Member
Mar 23, 2003
Epsom Downs, Surrey, England
Hi all, how do I go about planing a length of wood (or sanding for that matter) without running the end down lower than the rest of it? I tried this today while doing some work for the wife :( and every time one end was planed lower.
Cheers, John :confused:


Well-Known Member
Oct 20, 2003
Northern NSW Australia
Last time I did something like this I was fitting out a bus as a mobile home.
I cut out a section of bench and mounted a power plane inverted in it, and made a height adjustable feed table and a couple of fences so I could simply run my piece along the table, and got an even cut every time.


Well-Known Member
Mar 31, 2004
southwest TN.
What I have done is take the boards to the local lumber mill or supply house. I was able to have them planed to the thickness I wanted for a very modest cost. Specialty mills that sell hardwoods will most always have a plane to plane the boards they sell.

If you have to use a hand plane, then draw a line on both sides of the board to check your progress against - and swap the board end for end to help minimize the taper. Go slow and check often.

Another way is to "resaw" the board to the thickness or close to it. This requires a table saw or a large band saw but if done with care very little cleanup on the surface is needed. If the board(s) are wide, then a cut from each side can get through. If the board is really wide, it may not work tho.

If you are thinking Spruce for spars, because the wood is so costly, they are usually available in a thickness and width that is very close to what you will need.

You can also try Steen Aero Lab in Florida. They will fabricate spars to any size you need.



Well-Known Member
Feb 9, 2004
Troy, Michigan
you can also thickness boards with a router. do you notice that i like a router. We have done this to 1 meter accross 125 meter thick 3'x5" boards with perfect results

enjoy the build



New Member
Jan 10, 2005
new jersey
thickness planing

my neighbor gave me a delta thickness planer as a gift to recip for some design assistance i had given him on a fab project. Best **** thing i ever got. the cost at home depot is about $275 currently, sell something if you have to but get one. it will surface plane down to .25" and can edge plane a group of boards to identical thickness. hard wood or soft,even plywood, but the glue in ply is hard on the blades. he showed me how to take several pieces of different thicknesses but relatively the same width, a stack up to 6-8 in. wide and temp. fasten with long small dia. all thread and edge plane to uniform size. beautiful, only problem is cleanup, but if your kids or grandkids have gerbils, your in business.
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Well-Known Member
Nov 26, 2003
Minnesota, USA

For those in need of equipment that is not affordable, think cabinet shop. Most cabinet shops will have one or more each of thickness planer, high quality table saw, and probably a wide belt sander too. Better equiped shops may have a moulders and / or gang rip saw as well. If you had custom cabinets installed, and like the vendor, go see them about helping you out. Otherwise, consider paging (or clicking) through the Yellow Pages for cabinet makers. You will probably want to find a shop with less than 50 employees, as the larger shops may not be inclined to deal with "one-off" work.

For those who need or want parts machined with a CNC Router, there are shops like mine who specialize in "job shop" type work.



Mar 17, 2004
Anaheim CA
The old fashioned way...

For those of you who prefer hand tools, this is the way I do it.

1. Get first side flat. Doesn't matter if it's not parallel to the other side. It just has to be flat within your tolerance. The preferred tool for this is a jointer plane (Stanley #7), but I sometimes use a smaller plane to work on the high points before taking full length strokes with the #7. Measure for flat often against a known, calibrated surface, whatever the best you have is. If the board is initially very warped, shim it so that it doesn't rock while you try to plane it flat.

2. With the first side flat, place the flat side down. Now scribe a line around the perimeter of the sides at the desired thickness. Now plane the back side flat to the scribed line. Scribing should be done with a knife in order to achieve the best accuracy.

This is not a machine method. At first you will be slow as dirt. Speed will come with time. The result is "technically" superior to power tools if you do it right, though for all intents and purposes, the power tool result is equally satisfactory.

Stanley #7: Mine is a Lie Nielson #7, but if you're spending $400, you may wonder why you are buying a hand tool. You can get a Stanley #7 on Ebay for lots less.

Stanley #6: A fair replacement for a #7, though a bit shorter. The longer the plane, the easier it is to achieve flat.

Stanley #5: The "Jack" plane. If it's all you've got, they don't call it the Jack of all Trades for nothing.

Stanley #4 1/2 or #4: I prefer the former for final smoothing, the latter for knocking down the high points.

Stanley #40 1/2 or #40: Called the scrub, this plane is invaluable if you have 2" thick boards where you need 1" thick boards. I personally don't want to do 1" of thickness at 1 thousandth inch per stroke. You do the math. The scrub takes off chunks in a single stroke. Use it diagonally across grain to avoid SERIOUS tearout.

All can be found relatively cheaply on Ebay, though the scrubs can be a bit expensive. If you need it and can't find one reasonably priced, a #4 set for a very thick shaving with a highly cambered blade (rounded edge) makes a fair substitute.

A marking guage is handy for scribing the thickness line from the flat edge. Set the marking guage to the desired thickness and place the fence on the flat side. The knife in the guage scribes the thickness as you slide it around the perimeter of the board.

Hope this helps.