How to Use a Portable Surface Planer

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Portable surface planers help you resurface wood to restore it or add a new finish. Repair damaged and distorted wood surfaces with help from a professional remodeler in this free video.

Part of the Video Series: Home Remodeling Tools
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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Chris Palmer. Today, we're going to talk about how to use a portable surface planer. You can use a portable surface planer either to thickness, or just resurface wood. Most of these bench top models go up to about 12 and a half or 13 inch width limit. The important thing you want to keep in mind, is only take off a little bit at a time. A sixteenth is even a lot. You know, maybe three 32nds at a time is plenty. Also, whatever shape the wood is when it goes in, that's how it's going to come out of the surface planer. This is not a tool for straightening out warped boards. It will only send out whatever you send in. So, once your wood is all nice and straight on one side, that's the side that you put down on the bed of the planer, and the cutter head cuts the piece that's facing up. The first thing you want to do is set the heighth of the cutter head. You can lay your piece of wood on the bed of the planer, and adjust the heighth with this wheel here. This gauge shows you how much wood would be removed in relation to the thickness of board you have in place. So, once you start to register on that gauge, that's a pretty good idea of that's a good place to start. Ideally, I like to go through a full pass with just the rollers in contact, and no wood actually being removed. Put on your hearing protection, this is a pretty loud machine. And, wear your safety glasses as always. We're set for dimensioning as opposed to finishing. All that means is it's a little, a slightly slower feed rate, so there's more cuts per inch as the wood moves through. Okay, so that board went through, the rollers pulled it through the machine, but it didn't remove any wood. This is a stain on here, so you'll see when this comes out of the planer, this is going to look a lot different. So, from that height setting, I want to drop maybe a 32nd. So, I'm going to go maybe three-eighths of a turn on the wheel. One full turn is a sixteenth on this wheel. I drop it down again, I'm going to turn the machine back on and send this piece through. It's important to keep the workpiece flat on the table at all times, both when it enters and exits the machine. I'm Chris Palmer. That's how you use a portable surface planer.

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