Did you know that you can plane plastic? Me neither. I used my old Stanley #4. Its sweetheart era blade was razor sharp, though I’m not sure it needed to be. The “shavings” are UHMW (Ultra High Molecular Weight) polyethylene. I also mic’ed these (never measured shaving with a micrometer before either). They were exactly .001″. The plane left a beautiful surface on the plastic. Smooth as glass.
Guess what else? You can cut this stuff with a chisel too. Live and learn.
I’m using UHMW for the drawer runners in the little toolchest I’m building. I originally had some maple for this, but I wanted to try using some new materials just to see if I could do it. After a great deal of searching I finally found exactly what I wanted – 5′ strips of this stuff already dimensioned to 1/2″ x 1/4″. When it arrived, it was exactly 1/4″ thick material, but the 1/2″ dimension was rough sawn. Of the two, I would have rather had the 1/4″ rough. The drawer sides are grooved to accept 1/2″ runners. Honestly, I panicked a little at first. How am I going to cut this stuff? Can I sand it? Scrape it? Turns out it planed beautifully.
One trick: Once I cut the strips to length, they were twisted or bent slightly. You can hand form this stuff. I got out the piece of Corian I used to use for scary sharpening and used it like a surface plate to make sure it was pretty straight. This helped with the planing too. This stuff has no real stiffness of its own. You need a good flat surface to work on. That’s not my bench!
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