Woodworking Tips
Woodworking Tips Index
Planing an Edge
 
One tool that you might not think of that can do the job of two is the thickness planer. Even though a planer is used primarily for thicknessing stock, it can also be used to joint a smooth, square edge that's parallel to the opposite edge. This comes in handy when I have several workpieces that need to be trimmed to the same width.

To make this work, the edge that rides on the bed of the planer needs to be straight and square to the face of the workpiece. So start by jointing (or hand planing) this edge first. Now, depending on the size and number of workpieces, I use several different approaches.


Square Stock
If the workpiece is thick (roughly square-shaped), planing an edge is like planing the surface of a board, see the drawing at right. The extra thickness provides a stable platform as you run the piece through the planer.
Narrow Stock
But when the edge of a piece is narrow, there's not as much support. So the workpiece may tip over as it passes through the planer.

The solution I've found that works best is to carpet tape a support to each side of the workpiece, as shown in the drawing at right. Just be sure that the supports are flush with the bottom of the workpiece.
Multiple Pieces
Finally, if you're planing the edges on a number of pieces that are the same width (a set of stiles and rails for example), the workpieces can act as their own supports. Simply gang them together with carpet tape to form an oversized blank, see the drawing at right.
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