Friday, October 16, 2015

Making My Planer New Again

I've always wanted a planer for various projects and a number of years ago, finally cashed in some chips and purchased the one you see above only without the table. I used it to make my work bench out of Douglas fir that I blogged about a couple years back. Without it, I would never be able to do large scale projects like that. It worked beautifully and my workbench turned out nice as a result.

Since then, I've used it a number of times but the last few attempts have been lessons in frustration. The darn thing just wouldn't feed the lumber through which means I was having to push or pull it through. This is not only hard on your fingers and arms, but it results in uneven planing of the boards and there would be divots in spots that I would then have to spend time sanding out. The last time this happened, I did some research and found out that when it was cold out, the rubber feed rollers got hard and then slipped, not grabbing the wood and feeding it through. Since it was indeed cold out at the time, I applied a space heater to warm things up and it got better but still required pressure to get the boards to slide through.

On a new project I'm working on, I needed to plane some boards down to 1/2", 3/8" and 1/4" thickness starting from 3/4" stock and when I put the first board in on a nice 72 degree day, it wouldn't budge no matter how hard I pushed. Thinking whatever drives the feeding rollers had broke, I cranked the thing all the way up and turned it on. The rollers still turned but I noticed that they were coated in grit and dirt. I took some mineral spirits I had handy and with a rag, cleaned all the grit off the rollers. While I was at it, I grabbed a bottle of liquid bees wax and polished the metal feed trays that the wood rides against to make the surface more slick.

I turned on the machine and the lumber glided through on its own like it did the first time I used the thing. Just as I was gloating to myself, the crank handle that adjusts the height fell off onto the floor. A quick look showed that a screw had come loose but there was no sign of the screw anywhere. Since I had remembered that the handle had felt pretty loose when I first set it up, I assumed that it had lost its screw a previous time I had used it and the handle just not fell off the shaft.

I randomly tried a handful of extra screws that I collect from various projects but of course none of them were the correct size. I pulled out the manual for the machine but it didn't have a parts diagram and the instructions only said to put the handle on followed by the screw and tighten it with a screwdriver with no size listed. Back in the day, my choices would have been to haul the entire machine into a store and try screws until I found the correct size or I could take my best guess and buy a variety of screws hoping that I had the correct one among them. Fortunately in modern times, I typed the model number into Google and within about a minute had a exploded part diagram and the size of the screw I needed. A quick trip to the hardware store and $0.52 later, I had the handle installed started in planing the pieces for my project.


ErinFromIowa said...


sage said...

That looks to be a nice tool... I've never done enough woodwork to have a table planer, but had a friend with one when I was MI and used it to take rough cut lumbler and plane it down to size for my gunnels on my canoe when I replaced them a few years ago.

Ed said...

Erin - My thoughts exactly!

Sage - I made due for years without one but as I tackle more and more woodworking, it has become indispensable. Especially since my only source of wood is a big box store that sells 3/4" material only.

Vince said...

I hope your connections are all OK.

Ed said...

Vince - It is working like new again. A good planer is worth its weight in gold in woodworking projects. In your terms, getting a planer is like getting that expensive camera and brings your game up to the next level.

Vince said...

(Chuckle) And instance of being divided by a common language. Your Connections in Luzon. We're getting horrendous reports here.

Ed said...

Vince - It hasn't been the first time our language barrier has caused me to scratch my head! Although most of my in-law relatives are in the Luzon province, none are especially close to the coast and thus far have been hunkering down. Most live in Baguio City which is high up in the mountains and all the roads leading to it are closed down due to mud slides but at least flooding is an issue. We've been unable to reach them over the last day which isn't surprising due to their communications infrastructure but they were prepared to just hunker down until everything blew over. From what I've seen, their biggest risk is an earthquake.

Those that live along the coast there are just nuts in my opinion. I think they get by because they have nothing much to lose as long as they themselves stay alive. Some of the villages can have a typhoon or flood wipe it completely off the map and within a month, they've tacked together enough wood, tin, cables and such to be back up and running just like before until the next typhoon or flood takes them out.