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Thread: Thickness sander vs. planer?

  1. #1
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    Thickness sander vs. planer?

    After seeing Tod's great shop and extra neato tools/machines, I had a question come up.

    Would someone be kind enough to discuss the differences in function between the thickness sander and the planer? Given the same size capabilities, do they both do the same job with the sander just taking care of another step, namely sanding? Or do you use the planer to get the material to a certain point and then the thickness sander takes it to................?

    Is the thickness sander just a nicer tool to work with? Is it used to save time? Other info?

    Thanks very much for your insight and experience.
    Thanks, Mark.

    Custom Bonehead.

    My diet is working good. I'm down to needing just one chair now.

    "Just think how stupid the average person is, and then realize that half of them are even stupider!" --George Carlin

  2. #2
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    From what I see and the little use I've had with a thickness sander, the main difference is that the planner is really meant to dimension lumber, the sander to finish it, and or make it all flat, for example raised panel doors, all the joints come out perfect.

    The other place a thickness sander excels at is with highly figured wood, it will not give you any tea-rout (Yes I know, a good thickness planer with a Byrd spiral head will work well too, but most of us non-pros have the portable type of plane).

    More info than that, you will have to wait for the pros to comment on it

  3. #3
    Mark

    With a good big (1 - 1.5 ton weight range) thickness sander with a very aggressive (36) grit paper you might reasonably remove a millimetre (1/25") of material in a pass. Multi head sanders might get 2-3mm in a pass. With a thicknesser (planer) you could remove 3mm+ easily with a single head in a much simpler and cheaper machine. Because you are removing chips or shaving rather than dust, extraction is also less critical.

    Basically thats it. A planer will remove more material, faster, at a lower cost than a thickness sander. If you are converting sawn solid timber that is enough to justify having the two seperate machines. It is possible, if you are really severely restricted for space or money and not at all restricted for time, to do the whole job on a thickness sander but you will need huge reseves of patience. I have a small wide belt (24") sander and the max pass I take with that is 0.3mm (approx 1/75) on 80grit paper any more and it starts to bog down and get fussy. On that basis it would take me 18-20 passes to remove the 6mm (1/4") that I take off my sawn lumber.

    If I had to make a choice I would keep the planer and do the sanding job with a good ROS. That would take me about 5 times as long on the sanding job but the alternative would take me 20-30 times as long on the thicknessing.

    I am sure that others will have a different perspective but in my work the wide belt is a great way to save time and add consistency but definitely not a replacement for the planer

  4. #4
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    Heathrow, FL
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    Thickness sanders are nice but you cannot replace a planer with one. They just don't take off enough material in one pass. Plus, I'm not sure how well they do at keeping a board square being the tables are not cast iron but those soft mats, at least the ones I've seen.
    Brian

  5. #5
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    mark, ian pretty much covered it, all but for cross grain work. this is where a sander excells say on glued up doors, you could never run a glued up door through a planer....it would eat the rails.
    ians sander is mines baby brother a single head entry level machine that`s capable of minor thicknessing using coarse belts or finish sanding veneered plywood using the propper platten and belt.
    drum sanders are yet another animal, one i believe was built solely for the purpose of sucking money from the pockets of those who get sticker shock from a widebelt.. they do work for flattening stock but as a general rule are slower at the job than a good handheld belt sander and a random orbit...
    with any sander, belt or drum, you`ll need to finish sand cross grain sanding marks with a random orbit or by hand
    in the end, for a non-production shop a widebelt or even a decient drum sander is a luxury........tod

  6. #6
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    Oct 2006
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    Forest Grove, Oregon USA
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    Since I sold my Woodmaster planers, all I have left is a DeWally lunchbox planer that collects a lot of dust--but it's my security blanket.

    I do have and use a Performax sander, though. Because my shop is so small, I simply resaw and a pass, perhaps two, through the sander and it's smoothed out. Unless I use a plane afterwards.

    Take care, Mike
    Wenzloff & Sons Sawmakers

  7. #7
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    Thanks very much for the great descriptions and clarifications guys. Those two machines and their respective uses make perfect sense now.

    Thanks again.

    Now, where so I send my money?
    Thanks, Mark.

    Custom Bonehead.

    My diet is working good. I'm down to needing just one chair now.

    "Just think how stupid the average person is, and then realize that half of them are even stupider!" --George Carlin

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    Arena, Wisconsin
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Rios View Post
    … Now, where so I send my money?
    Mark,
    During this interim period before we formally elect a treasurer I have appointed myself the keeper of funds.

    Please send a certified bank draft to:
    Eff Shafay
    Blind Box # 174389
    Lagos, Nigeria

    For your security, please include your Social Security number and an original, stamped copy of your birth certificate along with your cheque.

    [gosh but that guy’s account was easy to hack. Verry unsecure password.]

    [EDIT]: All in jest... I have never been good at handling $.

    Frank Chaffee
    Last edited by Frank Chaffee; 11-03-2006 at 07:29 PM. Reason: clarification

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