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Thread: How do I properly plane a twisted board

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Lafayette, Indiana

    How do I properly plane a twisted board

    I have some rough sawn cherry boards that I got a while back from a Craigslist ad. Some of them are cupped and twisted. I need to plane them smooth but wonder is there a right way and a wrong way to plane a twisted board? Being twisted I wont be able to completely smooth one side then turn it over to smooth the other side. I'm assuming I should feed the boards through the planer and alternate sides with each pass? Also alternate end for end?
    It's not what you achieve in life...It's what you overcome!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    new york city burbs
    do you have a jointer yet?
    It would make this rather easy.
    Face joint the boards flat on one side, then joint one edge.
    Run it through the planer, and you have 3 perfect sides.
    Ive had some pretty bad stuff I turned into usable flat stock, so cups and twists arent a big thing.
    If the board is cupped or twisted real bad, sometimes it pays to cut them first, makes it easier to joint and plane.
    (as in cut it down to the approx size youll need for the piece youre making).
    I cut all my rough lumber down to approx size first, makes it alot easier to handle on the jointer and planer for myself.

    If you just run a board through the planer, you will take off the high ends, but you will probably still have the twist or cup as the planer will flatten the boards down, but the board will spring back when it comes off the rollers.
    This has been my experience, someone with 30 years more experience than me might have a better solution.

    ofcourse, you can always spend 4 months hand planing down the boards.
    Human Test Dummy

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    No, not all of SoCal is Los Angeles!
    Like Allen said, joint one face, then use it as a reference. A planer sled makes quick work of imperfect boards and minimizes waste by only taking off enough high spots to give you a reliable reference surface to run through the planer. Cutting your boards down to pretty close to the sizes you need for parts minimizes the effects of twist, bow, etc. That is; a 4 foot board that may bow 1/2" off of a flat surface like your bench. Cut it in half (two 2 foot pieces) and the bow is reduced.
    Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
    - Arthur C. Clarke

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Delton, Michigan
    also to help things go faster tom is to take off some of the high side till you can get it to stop rocking then hit the jointer.. usually it will be opposite corners to save material..
    If in Doubt, Build it Stout!
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    Don't put off today till tomorrow!

  5. #5
    I use a router sled. Mine is the workbench with some added guides so I can flatten up to 24 inches wide and about 10 feet long. Once I have one side flat I go to my thickness planer. Works great. I saw a video once (Fine Woodworking?) where someone build a sled to feed a twisted Maple board through a DeWalt thickness planer. Worked great too.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Kansas City, Missouri
    Here's Glenn's thread on his planer sled.

    To a small child, the perfect granddad is unafraid of big dogs and fierce storms but absolutely terrified of the word “boo.” – Robert Brault

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