How to Flatten Large Boards in a Planer

I grew up working in my dad’s custom woodworking shop standing in a pile of shavings on the outfeed side of a 24″ planer. Oh sure, we had dust collection, but we (me) frequently got too lazy to go empty the ten-foot-cubed collector into fifty-five gallon drums and drag them to the dumpster. So frequently I stood in a pile of shavings. Ah, the luxury of the good old days!

Another benefit of a commercial shop is a large jointer, we have a 12″ jointer in our shop. Twisted boards don’t stand a chance! However, if your raw stock is a 16″-wide maple slab, even that huge jointer isn’t wide enough – so you’re headed for a glue-up. Sure the individual boards are square and true, but with a glued-up slab, there’s always room for error. Yes, hand planes and winding sticks are an option (but not one that I find palatable, especially in maple!) Or you could just chuck the board into the planer and cross your fingers. But with the rollers pressing down on the board, you’re more likely to just end up with a thinner off-kilter slab.

So here’s a trick from Scott Francis on keeping the slab stable for the first few runs on one side to give you a flat surface to work from. Pretty clever!

– David Thiel

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One thought on “How to Flatten Large Boards in a Planer

  1. earthartinc

    That is great for short boards and I have a somilar setup but with a lip in the back so no need for tape.
    For long boards and live edge stock, I use 1 x 2 pine glued to to the bottom on both sides. Easy to use winding sticks and a plane to level it. Now if my planer was 24” life would be grand.