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Thickness planer?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by count_funkula, Jan 17, 2005.

  1. Do most of you guys have a planer? I have been buying my wood pre-cut to my desired thickness. Would it be much cheaper to buy large chunks of wood and size them myself?

    Is this practical to do in a garage workshop?
  2. paintandsk8

    paintandsk8 Pushin' my soul through the wire...

    May 12, 2003
    West Lafayette, IN
    Well I've never actually used a thickness planer, but I can tell you that buying roughcut wood is alot cheaper. For my first electric upright I bought some quartersawn sycamore(~5" x 2" x 60"), hard maple(6" x 2" x 18"), and osage orange(6" x 1" x 8") from small local sawmill, and my total bill was only $12.

    The only drawback i see is that most of the home units you see are limited to about a foot in width. A jointer would probably be a good investment too if you wanted to get into sizing your own lumber.
  3. I took another route and built my own 18" thickness sander. It's a whole lot better IMO than planing. In 3-4 passes, I can remove 1/16" and that's without tearout, chatter, skipping, or grooving. And when it's done, it's rough sanded and ready for the next step. I can make veneers too - I think the thinnest I've made so far is about 3/32". I could have gone further but got afraid I couldn't remvoe the piece from the double sided tape without breaking it.
  4. paintandsk8

    paintandsk8 Pushin' my soul through the wire...

    May 12, 2003
    West Lafayette, IN
    Wow hambone, you never cease to amaze me. I'd love to hear a little more about your sander, or even a pic. I'm a assuming you have an electric motor mounted to a drum and rigged up on some kind of adjustable frame? or maybe i'm totally off. Does it use sandpaper or some other abrasive? How fast can you move the wood through?
  5. Ask and you shall git...

  6. paintandsk8

    paintandsk8 Pushin' my soul through the wire...

    May 12, 2003
    West Lafayette, IN
    Very cool. It scared me for a second though, At first I thought that pulley was a hand crank :p
  7. tjclem

    tjclem Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 6, 2004
    Central Florida
    Owner and builder Clementbass
    Can't see the photos. I have both a Dewalt 13" 2 speed planer and a Performax 10-20 thickness sander. I love them both but wish I had the 18-36 sander. I can't get good results sanding whole bodies. If I could build a decent 18" sander I would sell the 10-20.
  8. JSPguitars


    Jan 12, 2004
    Grass Valley
    I'm in the same boat as you TJ.....bought me a floor model Performax, and wish I'd saved my money now. That thing hambone built looks damn cool!
  9. Don't know why you can't see it. Here's some pics to take care of that:
  10. These are actually old pics. I've rebuilt the elevator system since they were taken. The one in the pics is a simple lead screw coming up from the middle of the base under the incline board. It was unstable and could rock. My new one is built from a scissor jack that pushes two adjustable vertical arms up under the incline board - one on each side. This stabilized the platform and allowed me to do the adjustments from the side of the machine rather than under the end.

    I love this tool. Since I do my resawing with my table saw, I use this to make things smooth fast. I built it at 18" specifically to be able to do an entire body at once - and I have. I also send my assembled blanks through for leveling before I mount them up in the jigs. I recently sanded down a fretboard to less than a 1/16" to attach another one on top. I just mounted the whole neck on a shooting board and shoved it through.

    A neat side benefit of this is that it's great for making the belly curve in the back of Fender style bodies. I just trace out the pattern in pencil and use the drum like the factory Fender guys do their drum sanders. Works like a charm.
  11. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    Rough lumber is definately cheaper. Many places that's all you can get. I have the little Delta planer and it gets the job done quicker than the thickness sander if you are removing material but it will tear out and snipe much more.

    I'd say planer is not near the top of the list of essential tools, but it does come in handy. I can't even run rosewood or bocote through the sander (the abrasive loads in 2 seconds) so the planer is handy when I have to mill those woods.
  12. I've got an 8" Belsaw planer/molder with power feed that I've never hooked up and used. But I've been thinking that it might be neat if I could replace the cutter head with a micro-plane drum for just the reason of avoiding loading up abrasives with oily woods.
  13. tjclem

    tjclem Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 6, 2004
    Central Florida
    Owner and builder Clementbass
    Very cool. I can't picture myself being able to build on though. Well done....t
  14. Thanx Tom, but you underestimate the simplicity of the concept. To break it down - a spinning drum and an adjustable flat plane underneath. There are a million ways of accomplishing it. I made my drum but you can buy one or adapt an existing material. I made my frame from scrap aluminum with a little flair but I've seen killer designs made from 2x4's and MDF. And while I assembled a pulley drive system, the coolest homemade one I've seen yet had an adjustable board built under and through a lathe!.

    The MIMF has tons of design discussions and pics and if you google the terms you'll find plans and webpages to give you inspiration.
  15. JTGale


    Oct 26, 2004
    Hummelstown, PA
    Neat, Hambone. What speed is the motor turning at?
  16. Motor turns at a standard 1750 rpm and it's geared down. The drive pulley on the motor shaft is a variable diameter so I have about a 2-300 rpm swing that I can use for tuning the speed. You can get these from Grainger.
  17. Hambone, you are the master improviser. A tool for every occasion!
  18. Thanx Count,

    You know, I was thinking - these are so easy to build and are so damn useful that I think everyone should have one. Since we all have workshops of one form or another, if you guys wanted to design and build your own, I'd help in any way I could. I built this one in a weekend when I was still in my 8 x 10 shed workshop. It would be hard to spend $100 unless you went nuts on your motor and the rewards pay for that the first time it's used. The specialty parts like the bearing blocks are easy to find new but a lot of this stuff can be had second hand or culled from scrap. My drum pulley came from somewhere(?) about 5 years ago. I was just saving it because it was too good a piece to throw out. Finally the time came around where it could be used.

    I know it sounds ambitious but from the looks of the instruments you guys are building, NONE of you are lacking in ambition. If you can put together those things of beauty then you can assemble this little troll. And with that comes the answer to the eternal question "Which came first - the bass or the blank?" :)
  19. budman

    budman Commercial User

    Oct 7, 2004
    Houston, TX
    Formerly the owner/builder of LeCompte Electric Bass
    Nice job, Hambone. A homemade thickness sander has definetly been on my mind lately. I've got the motor already. Just need some pillow blocks and get busy on it, I guess.

    At the moment I've got a 12" Dewalt thickness planer. Most of the bodies I've made are just a hair over 12" wide so I have to run two halves separately before I glue up a body blank. Not a problem really, but the planer is plagued with the usually planer problems. Maple is probably the worst thing to run through it. It seems like the more figure, the more potential for tear out.
  20. I may take you up on that. When you get a chance could you take some detailed pictures of the "Troll" ;) from both sides?

    Also a list of the major components would be handy.