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Thread: Timber/hand planer?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Sudbury, MA
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    38

    Timber/hand planer?

    am planning to build a pergola this summer. The drawings I have rendered (yes, I am probably the one person left that does not know how to use sketch-up) have lead me to use 6x6 for the posts. A lumber yard that I use keeps 6x6's, but they are rough sawn and the management prefers the look of surfaced better. So my question would be, do timber framers use handheld planers to surface their materials? Does anyone have any experience doing this and feel like enlightening me?

    Finally, if the planer is the way to surface the timbers, what handheld should I get? I was super impressed w/ my Bosch jigsaw and am leaning toward their planer based on nothing but that. I know Festool makes one, but I cannot bring myself to by one. Thanks for the help.

    Cheers,
    Nick

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
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    St. Louis, MO
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    583
    I don't know that you'd be happy with a power hand planer for that application because the blades are not wide enough. You'd need to take several passes just to get the width, and you'd leave score lines down the length of the post.
    I'd recommend finding someone with a jointer or thickness planer with a 6" min. capacity. It's not the type of tool you'd typically buy for a single job, but any planing mill, cabinet shop, or decent wood shop should have what you'd need. If you're using 6x6 for the aesthetic width of the material, another option would be to use a rough 4x4 and clad it with 1x material.
    Paul Hubbman

  3. #3
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    Oct 2006
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    ozarks
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    [SIZE="1"] associated with several importers and manufacturers.[/SIZE]

  4. #4
    Nick...

    Sounds like an interesting project. I've thought from time-to-time of building one of those...I hope you'll keep us updated with progress...good chance to learn something.

    Wow, Tod, that beam plane is some tool. It is pricey, though, ain't it.

    Makita has a 6-3/4" power hand planer that Amazon is selling for 500 free shipping. I have a Makita impact driver that I like, but as you know it's generally unwise to buy a tool from some manufacturer just because you like some other tool he makes...research required.

    It seems like a power hand planer is maybe a little too specialized a tool for someone whose livelihood doesn't require moving a tool arsenal from job site to job site...I see you're a pharmacologist, so I'm guessing that isn't you. I'll give you a scenario to consider -- instead of a power hand planer for $500 that you may end up using seldom, for $939 including shipping you can buy a 15" stationary planer from Grizzly...there may be better choices, but that ballparks you. Assuming you have a place to put it, you now have a tool that you'll use often. Since I use primarily rough-sawn lumber there's hardly a project I do that doesn't involve my planer. That 15" planer has a max cutting height of 8"...for those timbers you'll probably need some infeed/outfeed support, but that's doable.

    Probably the main use of a planer is to dimension lumber...flatten one side on a jointer then run it through a planer to thickness it and get the second side flat and parallel to the first. That last phrase...parallel to the first...is an important one, and I'm not sure how successful a power hand planer is at that task. For that reason alone you may become quite dissatisfied with that tool.

    Okay, my 2cents. Good luck with your decision, and photos of the pergola please.

    Cheers

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
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    I'm with Ed, but with a slightly different approach:

    For a few hundred bucks you can pick up a lunchbox planer. I have this one: http://www.newwoodworker.com/reviews/rgd13plnrvu.html

    It has a six inch capacity (of course, no 6x6 is actually 6" these days, so it'll be fine). You're going to need one anyway as you move forward. Then I'd rig up some roller stands (to support the weight) and start planing. Outside. On the driveway. With a snow shovel nearby!

    Someday, you may need a big old thousand dollar planer, but that lunchbox will serve you for a long time to come, and will open up lots of new opportunities...

    Thanks,

    Bill

  6. #6
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    No, not all of SoCal is Los Angeles!
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    I'm voting no on the narrow hand planer. If you don't have a lunchbox planer you could check with some local cabinet shops for the cost of running them through for you. That cost may get close to the cost of a lunchbox in which case I would just get one. An alternate supplier for the posts is an option too, of course.

    A 1 hour drive (as an example) would be cheaper than almost any planer. I think these guys are close to you:
    Coolidge Farm
    (978) 779-6633
    183 Berlin Rd
    Bolton, MA Map 10.5
    Smith's Mill
    (508) 435-5151
    27 Wilson St
    Hopkinton, MA Map 11.2
    Garner Brothers Saw Mill
    (508) 435-6877
    26 Fruit St
    Hopkinton, MA Map 12.5
    Last edited by glenn bradley; 03-07-2008 at 07:06 PM.
    Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
    - Arthur C. Clarke

  7. #7
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    I have a older delta two-speed lunch box, but the posts are 6x6x12' and didn't think the feed would be able to move them through.

    Tod, I think that is bigger than our lawn tractor. I know Makita has one that is over 12" too.

  8. #8
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    ABQ NM
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    Nick, I've got the Bosch power planer. I bought it to shorten a few doors, back before I had a shop full of other tools. It worked OK on the doors, but I've also tried using it to flatten wider pieces (cutting boards, specifically) and had poor results. I think you'd be chasing your tail trying to get a smooth, even cut across the face of a 6 x 6.

    Add another vote for a wide planer...lunchbox, stationary, or someone else's.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  9. #9
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    Nick,

    You'd be surprised at what I've thrown at mine, and it always just keeps going, as long as I've got the weight supported and on roller stands.

    Just keep the table well-waxed!

    I had a hand planer. I don't have it any more. If there's one thing I would have liked to launch into orbit, it's that thing. It found an alternative exit from my shop...

    Thanks,

    Bill

  10. #10
    When I planed the lumber for my hardwood flooring, I used a cheap Delta lunchbox planer and man did I ever beat on it. 10 inch wide Ash,air dried for 3 years and 14 feet long. I could not believe it took the pounding I gave it.

    The one thing I did though was make a bed for it. I used 2x6's 16 feet long, and cut them so that when the planer sat down in the notch in the middle of the boards. I measured carefully and used plywood over the top of the 2 x 6's. This gave me a 8 foot table roughly on each side of the planer. I put a layer of that aluminum trim that comes in rolls over the plywood for slipperiness and put the whole thing on sawhorses.

    I still had to drive some of that Ash through the planer as the rolls would not pick it up. You will have to do the same thing with 6 x 6's, but that should still give you a good finish.
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

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