Advice on handling workpieces on Planer Thicknesser

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bp122

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Hi all

I've got an Axi p/t at home which I have been using for a short time now.

I have no problem handling and feeding wider pieces for planing and then getting a square edge by registering the planed face on the fence.

For pieces which have a near square cross section and don't measure more than 25 or 30mm in height, getting one planed face is fine. But getting a square edge means applying pressure on the fence but there isn't a lot of height to safely grip it away from the cutting blades with or without push blocks.

What's the safest way of doing this? I am (quite rightly, I think) terrified of this scenario and need to plane some things for a chopping board.
I would appreciate the advice very much.
 

rogxwhit

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You use a guard, and your hands don't intrude on the guard, they pass over it. A max 6mm gap was the HSE guidance I remember. Your grip and pressure on the wood changes subtly as you flow though the stroke, and indeed for edging you are prioritising the pressure on the fence. Really throughout, you are imagining that wood face against the fence - you are 'being' it as far as possible. And it's awkward that you have to release a hand to pass over the guard, but that's life. Two hands as much as possible, but never less than one!

Bowed side downwards (if there is one) when surfacing, but look at the grain as well because if it slopes in one direction that can determine the best feed direction.

Face first, then thickness. Then the first edge, then the final thickness.

And for any machining, cultivate a mentality, a sort of mindfulness, that centres on your hands, and keep it present all the time. So if a workpiece slips or catches, there's no chance you'll instinctively try to grab it. It could the world's rarest and most expensive piece of wood, but your hands are more important.
 

Kicked Back

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If you have a table saw, use a jointing jig.

If not, set the crown guard on the P/T the same as if you were planing a wide surface - ie. full coverage of the blade, workpiece goes under. You should still be able to apply pressure to fence before and after the cutter block unless it's a really short length'd piece. You'll find push blocks way too clumsy with those dimensions for edge jointing.
 

Terrytpot

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If something terrifies you, you definitely shouldn’t be doing it, it’s an indication that you need to find another way to get to your desired outcome. If you’ve managed to plane one side flat, why not just thickness it and then glue your planed surfaces to each other leaving the unfinished side’s ready for planing and then thicknessing again. Granted you may not now have a wide flat surface that’s at right angles to the edge but now you are wide enough to easily get that way using your fence. Alternatively, a push block with a birds mouth along its long edge will keep your digits clear of spinning nastiness although only if you risk doing the operation with the guards giving access…
 

Doug71

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Something I happily do everyday but ask me to describe how I do it and that's a different story!

I would say make sure the blades are sharp, nothing worse than the wood bouncing on blunt blades, and the table waxed so the timber slides more easily.

Keep your wood at least 600mm long if possible so you can keep your fingers away from the blades.

Guarding? It's that awkward size where you think do I push the timber under the bridge guard or do I slide the guard up to the side of the timber? Personally I slide the guard up to the side of timber that size but only because I find it slower with the guard over the timber, my way does leave the blades exposed at the start and end of the cut though.

I don't use any kind of push stick or gripper on the PT although some people do. I can use a push stick on the table saw as you are just pushing the wood through but I think on the PT you need more feeling for what is happening. You soon develop a technique for pushing the wood downwards and across to the fence at the same time.

The closer to you that the fence is (for example using the first 50mm of the blades) the easier it is to machine smaller stuff.

I have no formal training so these are just my opinions and how I do it!
 

RobinBHM

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For pieces which have a near square cross section and don't measure more than 25 or 30mm in height, getting one planed face is fine. But getting a square edge means applying pressure on the fence but there isn't a lot of height to safely grip it away from the cutting blades with or without push blocks

you could face all your pieces, with the bridge guard all the way across and about 30mm up, so your bits of about 25mm thick can go under.

Then adjust the bridge guard, drop it so it sits down on the bed and slide it away from the fence leaving just enough for the wood to go through.

If the fence can slide across, you could adjust it so it is over the beds, just leaving say 2” of bed showing - that can make it easier to work next to the fence.
 

RobinBHM

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I’m actually not sure push sticks are good on a surface planer.

I wouldn’t even know how to hold them.
 

bp122

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Thank you, all. It is a lot clearer now. I shall try the methods you have mentioned over the weekend and see how I get on.
 
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