Video: How to Reduce Planer Snipe

Doug explains how to reduce planer snipe

Nearly every time that I approach the planer, I think to myself, how am I going to avoid snipe this time? Without fail, I end up with snipe at the leading or trailing edge at some point in the process to a varying degree. It has been rumored that some have totally mitigated the issue – but it is a relief to hear Doug Dale at Marc Adams School of Woodworking share his wisdom. Snipe happens, get over it.

In one of his strategies to reduce snipe, Doug uses a melamine board to bridge the bottom rollers – reducing the number of forces acting on the board. In smaller stock, the action of the bottom rollers, top rollers and cutters can cause flex in the board that only exaggerates snipe in the piece. The stationary bottom bed allows the piece to travel with less flex. This is wonderfully quick and easy jig to make and should be stored near your planer for easy access.

Share your experience in reducing planer snipe in the comments, I’m sure there are more tricks out there!

Doug Dale share this and much more in his book “Power Tool Essentials: The Jointer & Planer.”

— David Lyell

16 thoughts on “Video: How to Reduce Planer Snipe

  1. cusoak

    What he said about snipe is some what correct. But does not have to be a fact of life
    All you have to do is to use a scrap board ( same thickness) that you put in a head of the board you are planing. Make sure that you butt your good board right up to that board and then have another scrap board behind it to feed through.

  2. Shasta Kid

    Slightly lifting the board on both the infeed and outfeed tables helps reduce snipe. I also discovered if you follow the board with another scrap board the same thickness it eliminates snipe as well. Make sure to start the second board slightly overlapping with the first board before they are both planned.

  3. cwroanjr

    Lowell, the lifting of the stock does help with snipe as does making sure that your in feed and out feed panels are level with the planer bed. I have a large 24 w X 9 h planer in my shop and I have found that what helps best is using a pair of roller stands set a hair higher than the planer and a few feet from the planer on each end for the long stock that I routinely run through my planer.

  4. Robert

    A DeWalt representative spoke at a meeting of the San Diego Fine Woodworkers Assoc. and he addressed the issue of snipe on the bench top planer. He recommended slightly elevating the free ends of both infeed and outfeed extension tables, which achieves the same effect that Lowell Homes does by hand.
    After the infeed and outfeed extensions are dead level with the main table, adjust the free ends just enough that a nickel (coin) fits between a straight edge and the edge of the extension that is attached to the main table. After doing this to my planer, I have not had a problem with snipe.

  5. JimJDavey

    I reduce Planer Snipe by “Springing” the board infeed and out.
    with downward pressure on the board over the infeed table and light upward pressure at the rear of the board (get someone to help if a long board). The pressure is applied until the board goes through the second roller. Reverse applies for outfeed, “spring” the board as it leaves the first roller. Same applies for Thickness Sanders.

  6. 111pappy

    On my planer I have stamped steel on the in feed and out feed tables. Over time they dished in and caused some problems with sniping. I added a piece of plywood on the underside of each table and this brought them flat again. This helped with the snip.

  7. grbmds

    Along the same line as Mr. Holmes . . . I have a Dewalt 735 planer which, to start with, produces less snipe. However, I eliminate snipe completely by raising the outer edges of the infeed and outfeed extension tables just a tiny bit. I believe this essentially does the same thing that putting pressure on the underside of the board does. On the infeed side, there is just enough upward pressure on the board as it feeds into the planer to prevent the board from moving when it is grabbed by the rollers. Same thing happens as it exits on the outfeed side. You will probably have to experiment on your own planer, but placing a straightedge on the planer bed so it extends out all the way over either the infeed or outfeed side (or both if long enough) will allow adjustment of the extension tables so that they there is a minute amount of space where they meet the bed and none at the outer edges of the extension tables. I read this trick a very long time ago (don’t know where) and, as long as the the tables hold the adjustment, no snipe. From time to time I check because the mounting screws can loosen up. I would think that all extension tables have some sort of a mounting screw or bracket on either end of the bed that permits upward or downward adjustment.

  8. Denis Lock

    The bed rollers on my thicknesser (planer) are set in a eccentric mounting and can be dropped below the bed surface when not needed (not planing rough stock). David should check the rollers on his machine.

  9. Archer Yates

    As an aside, when I run the work over my jointer to get a true flat surface, i seem to have less problem with snipe. I have an old Inca 570 10 inch Jointer and Planner. If the work isn’t too wide, I can first joint it true and flat, and then send it through the planner mode. I usually don’t get snipe, but it can happen.

  10. Archer Yates

    our community woodworking shop has a 15 inch Jet Planner and uses the melamine board as described, it does’t work for us. Perhaps powermatic and Jet share the same design flaw?
    The fix might be, cut your work long and cut off the front or back where the snipe occurs.

  11. mwohlt@comcast.net

    I have found the best way to reduce snipe is with 3/4 x 12 x 49 hardboard reinforced with (2) 1/8 x 3/4 x 3/4 aluminum angle. That having been said, however, the real cause is the power feed, not the trays and/or rollers. I just haven’t found an appropriate solution yet. I write this in the hope that someone with a little more mechanical engineering than I will pick up the thread.

  12. Prostheta

    It’s a disappointing and lazy bit of advice that “snipe happens”. Whilst it is unavoidable for the most part, we don’t have to accept it. The simplest way around snipe in a workpiece is to hot glue service stock either side of the board the same thickness as the workpiece, and at least the usual sniping length longer. That way the thicknesser snipes the service stock and not the bit you’re trying to save. Sorry, but I found this video unhelpful to people trying to understand how to work around the shortcomings of some machines. The old Jonsereds I work with daily doesn’t snipe when it’s well set-up. I understand that benchtop toys like this Powermatic are maybe less configurable, but it doesn’t justify impressing on learning minds that snipe “just happens”.

    1. Hogarth

      I appreciate reading useful comments but find this type of comment irritating and a waste of time. Why is it someone always has to interject their snobbishness into the dialog? Just for the record I have an old, really old, Delta joiner. It creeks and rattles and shakes and makes wonderful snipe free passes, usually!! Snipe happens! Get over it!

  13. amoscalie

    You are exactly right, there isn’t a way to get around the snipe. It is indeed going to happen, so as you said, “Just get over it”.

    1. Lowell Holmes

      I do not completely agree. If I lift up on the tail end of the board when feeding it into the planer and then lift up on the other end as it comes out of the planer, the snipe is eliminated.

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