20141014 084635 EFFECTS
Stack of waney edge oak 




  pip80 b
Self built 12" planer




  20141016 164017
 Square straight lumber

Making a piece of wood flat and square is a pretty important first step in building something - especially when you buy your wood as slabs of tree with the bark still on it.  It's traditional to use a hand plane to do this job, but this is a slow and skilled process that doesn't always lend itself to the quantities of wood needed to make a dining table for example. A planer (the rest of the world calls it a 'jointer) is the perfect tool for this job even if it does sometimes feel like cheating. 

I could of course go out and buy one, but building it is more fun, and I can make to my specification and maintain it myself. It's built from a set of plans from Matthias Wandel, an engineer with a quite brilliant mind.  The following is a short write-up on how I built a tool that I now use almost every day for every project.  

I used a Makita thicknesser for the donor parts. Stripping down a brand new (and expensive) machine just for the motor and the cutter head was pretty painful at the time, but once I had a great new tool I soon got over it. 

The planer is made from plywood with stainless steel beds and fence, and the whole thing sits on castors so it can be moved around my workshop as required. It's also light enough to pick it up and put it in the back of a car - something you just couldn't do with a commercial machine anywhere close to the specification of this one.

Having built the machine, it needs to be adjusted so that it actually cuts flat and square which takes hours and a fair degree of patience. It's one of those things that makes your brain ache as you get one 'dimension' to cut square, only to find that it's no longer flat. And then when it's cutting flat, it's not quite square and so it goes on. Commercial machines are no different in that respect, but thankfully you only have to do it once. 

The first project I built using this machine was this bespoke 8ft oak kitchen table. I think the results speak for themselves - it's a great addition to my workshop.

A 'photostory' of the build.  

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