Thicknessing back and sides with a jointer

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Thicknessing back and sides with a jointer

Postby Mike Kinny » Wed Jun 05, 2019 1:56 pm

Hi,

I don't have a drum sander and am not intending to buy one as they are way too expensive for my budget however I have a jointer.

Has anyone tried thicknessing back and sides with a jointer? What are other options if any?

Thanks, Mike
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Re: Thicknessing back and sides with a jointer

Postby Alan Carruth » Wed Jun 05, 2019 3:07 pm

I would not advise it. Although some folks report good results using some sort of a sled to back things up, in general guitar tops and backs are too thin for a power joiner or planer; you're likely to end up being showered with expensive (and sharp!) splinters.

I've used a Wagner Safety Planer for decades for this. 'Safety' when used in reference to a power tool is more an aspiration than a reality, but with care it can do the job quite well. you will need to finish up with a hand plane and scraper, of course.

If you're not averse to a decent upper body workout you an do the whole job by hand. You'll need a heavy and flat bench top. A toothed plane iron is a big help too, I'm told. It's surprising how precise the results can be. Hand planing also allows you to taper the thickness in ways that can be helpful; something that can be hard to do with a sander.
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Re: Thicknessing back and sides with a jointer

Postby Peter Wilcox » Wed Jun 05, 2019 4:18 pm

I've used both stationary and hand held belt sanders to rough them in - go slow and check often. I've used the jointer to thickness and rough radius (on the neck) fretboards, but that's thicker. You'd need to fasten the work pieces to some type of backing, and go really slow with fine cuts. If the wood is highly figured you might run into trouble with tear outs. I finally broke down and bought a used drum sander - what a time saver.
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Re: Thicknessing back and sides with a jointer

Postby Freeman Keller » Wed Jun 05, 2019 6:28 pm

I just made a deal with a guy who owns a cabinet shop. He thickness sands plates for me, I set up his guitars. Win win.
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Re: Thicknessing back and sides with a jointer

Postby Christ Kacoyannakis » Wed Jun 05, 2019 10:11 pm

Do you have drill press? If so, StewMac sells a version of the old Wagner Safety-Planer. Pretty effective at thicknessing sides, backs and tops, and around $50 (or less).
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Re: Thicknessing back and sides with a jointer

Postby Barry Daniels » Wed Jun 05, 2019 10:32 pm

You don't happen to have a ShopSmith do you?
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Re: Thicknessing back and sides with a jointer

Postby Mike Kinny » Thu Jun 06, 2019 12:54 am

Thanks guys for all the input.

Freeman Keller, I think I can find a woodworking shop to do it for some payment. Thanks.
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Re: Thicknessing back and sides with a jointer

Postby Barry Daniels » Thu Jun 06, 2019 9:24 am

I will take that as a "no".
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Re: Thicknessing back and sides with a jointer

Postby David King » Thu Jun 06, 2019 12:28 pm

If you are going to have a cabinet shop do the sanding it pays to be there and check the results before they arrive at the final thickness. Hopefully they can switch out the belt for a finer grit as they get close but you'll still want to hand scrape the last few thousandths off to arrive at your desired thickness. A 60 or 80 grit belt can leave a pretty deep scratch that might require .010" of scraping on each side whereas a 180 or 220 belt will leave a much nicer surface. Because the table drive conveyors on most sanders are rubber and somewhat compliant you'll often find the the edges of your wood will be thinner than the center this is especially true if they try to take a lot of wood off in each pass.
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Re: Thicknessing back and sides with a jointer

Postby Clay Schaeffer » Fri Jun 07, 2019 9:05 am

One possibility to rough thickness the plates is to use a router with a sled for it to ride on, and then hand plane or sand to final thickness. The small bench top planers can also be used if you have a good method for gluing up plates at near final thickness, and you don't use highly figured wood.
I would not even attempt to use a power joiner for thicknessing back and sides. Unless you used a "carrier board" similar to what is done using a planer, and glued the pieces to it, the vibration set up by the thin wood and cutter head beating against it would turn it into a pile of splinters (as has been mentioned).
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Re: Thicknessing back and sides with a jointer

Postby Roger Rosenberger » Fri Jun 07, 2019 1:44 pm

I've done it a few times. I used good double stick tape and stuck it to another board otherwise I couldn't get as thin as I wanted in my planer.
I will say I always stood off to the side when running it through the machine expecting it to blow up at any time. Never did though.
It actually "seemed" safer than a Wagner Safety Planer?!
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Re: Thicknessing back and sides with a jointer

Postby Bryan Bear » Fri Jun 07, 2019 2:09 pm

Rodger, the OP was asking about using a JOINTER rather than a PLANER. I am just pointing this out in case someone else reads this thread in the distant future and gets the two confused. Using a jointer, you can't really stand back waiting for it to explode, you will be right over it with your hands and face nearby. . .
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Re: Thicknessing back and sides with a jointer

Postby Roger Rosenberger » Fri Jun 07, 2019 2:31 pm

Bryan Bear wrote:Rodger, the OP was asking about using a JOINTER rather than a PLANER. I am just pointing this out in case someone else reads this thread in the distant future and gets the two confused. Using a jointer, you can't really stand back waiting for it to explode, you will be right over it with your hands and face nearby. . .


Oops, sorry. Yes I've done it on a thickness planer. I wouldn't consider trying it on a joiner.
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Re: Thicknessing back and sides with a jointer

Postby Steve Sawyer » Fri Jun 07, 2019 8:31 pm

While the OP was asking about a jointer, I learned a fabulous trick for getting stock as thin as you want on a planer.

Using a sled is not new, but what this fellow does is he captures the front and back edges of the stock with stops. Then, he'll stick a business card or playing card between the stock and the back stop and trim it flush. This causes the stock to bow upwards slightly, keeping the front edge of the stock from getting pulled up into the head, making toothpicks out of the stock. The infeed and outfeed rollers force the stock flat under the cutter head. I planed some stock down to 1/16" using this trick, and the MDF sled doesn't get torn up from removing hot glue or double-sided tape, though some damage from the stops, depending on how you secure them is inevitable.
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Re: Thicknessing back and sides with a jointer

Postby Mike Kinny » Sat Jun 08, 2019 4:04 am

Roger Rosenberger, Great, that's also one possibility to consider.
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Re: Thicknessing back and sides with a jointer

Postby Chuck Morrison » Wed Jun 26, 2019 2:02 pm

I have an old (early 80s vintage) INCA 8" jointer with a planer attachment. I used it quite a bit over the years to thickness all the woods I used. It worked OK but like all straight blade jointers and planers , you have to be careful of the grain direction, especially on thin pieces. I have on occasion picked up small shattered pieces of rather expensive wood after using it. The key to the attachment is that it has powerful springs that push the wood up against rollers that are over the blades parallel to the out feed bed. It is quite well engineered, like most of the old INCA tools.

Unless you have a setup like this, I think a very straight sled and double stick tape are the only options for getting stock thin with a jointer.

I still use the INCA as a jointer but have moved on to a drum sander for all my uniform thickness chores. I have thicknessed spruce and cedar down to 0.6 mm using the drum sander, there is no way I'd try that on any planer with straight blades.
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Re: Thicknessing back and sides with a jointer

Postby Mark Wybierala » Sat Jul 20, 2019 10:03 am

I just touched on this issue in a post concerning dulcimer sides. My jointer certainly wouldn't pull this off. I have a Home Depot consumer level Dewalt 3-blade 12.5 surface planer (retail $399) that will take clear straight grain mahogany down to about .110" Anything else with figure or curly flame or knots tends to get a bit of tear-out. Each length of wood has a preferred direction to go through the planer to achieve less tear-out but you need to figure that out before you tear-out a chip too large to recover from. Experience tends to indicate that the planer doesn't really care if you try to reduce tear-out by employing even the smallest increments of advancing the cut. The machine is hungry and if you put anything other than the straightest clear grain lumber through it, .110 is the thinnest you can achieve normally.

There's a custom fixture wood mill in town with thickness sander and I've cultivated a relationship to get small jobs done for donuts and coffee
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