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NickDReed

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Hi all,

In the market for a planer thicknesser, but as ever when faced with parting with large amounts of cash I'm procrastinating.

Generally I deal with stock no wider than 250mm. Use quite a lot of reclaimed and predominantly soft woods how ever I do get hards now and then, lengths anything up to 4 meter scaffold board (obviously that could be sectioned). I have a planer jig for the table saw and a 10 inch bandsaw and have made do until now, but it's got to a point where I'm limited in my projects without.

I've been looking in the usual places, ebay/gumtree. I'm reasonably mechanically minded and enjoy a bit of restoration. I'm also tighter than a ducks bum so the idea of bringing this in under £500 is appealing if maybe a little unrealistic.

So I am coming with cap in hand for your worldly advice and possibly ridicule. Are there possibilities I've not thought of which may mean I don't even require a planer thicknesser? Is a table top version adequate? Do I just require a thicknesser?

The idea of being able to use timber felled locally in my projects is also something I've been considering a possibility if I had the means to process it which I think would be possible with the right kit.

I'm no carpenter or joiner, I build for my home and my enjoyment and my learning. I bow to everyone's better knowledge than my own and would appreciate everyone's advise and hindsight with your own experience.

Thanks for your time.
 

Trevanion

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SCAFFOLD BOARDS THROUGH A PLANER!?!



On a serious note:

There are three kinds of planing machines (That apply in this case anyway):

A Surface Planer is designed to flatten, straighten and square rough-sawn timber that may have twists, bows and cups and generally you're only working two faces of the timber.

A Thicknesser is designed to be the next step after surface planing, it planes the timber down to a calibrated size by working off the prior planed surfaces face down on the thicknessing bed, which usually results in straight, square, and sized timber. You can run rough sawn boards through a thicknesser but these will not come out straight, square or without twist, every surface defect will be translated from the bed up into the cutter head and you'll have "banana" boards.

A Planer Thicknesser is the best of both worlds, one machine for both tasks, therefore, taking up less space although it can be awkward and time-consuming to swap between both modes on some machines.

For £500 secondhand you could be looking at getting what's generally called a "PT260" machine Kity, Elektra Beckum, Metabo, Dewalt, Elu and some other manufacturers have made similar machines over the years and they're considered a pretty decent machine for the budding hobbyist. Push the envelope a little further anywhere up to £1000 and you could pick up a heavy-duty trade-class machine such as a Sedgwick MB, Startrite SD310, Multico CPT and some others amply, you could pick one up for less if you're lucky but decent planing machines are so popular they always command a premium price second-hand and are snatched up very quickly, they're trumped only by bandsaws where it sometimes seems buying new is cheaper than secondhand!

I bought a Multico Thicknesser a while ago and I saw it within five minutes of it being listed on eBay and FB marketplace and asked to go and have a look and have first refusal, when I got there the next day the guy showed me he had over 50 enquiries about the machines so he wouldn't budge on price at all. I bought it because machines are very hard to come by around this part of the country for around £450 and I put another £300 into it just to make it to where I was happy with it. I did a thread on the rebuild if you're interested in that kind of thing: THE MOST EXPENSIVE MULTICO TH... IN THE WORLD. (RESTORATION)

Obligatory safety note that these machines are really rather dangerous to people who aren't trained and have no prior experience of working wood with spinning cutters, it's worth taking a machinery day course with the likes of Peter Sefton or Axminster to avoid doing stupid mistakes which could cost fingers.
 

Droogs

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Hi Nick, do you do mostly machine work or do you do any hand tool work. for hand tools work a scrub plane is great to get your "face" and "edge" of a log to the point of getting it flattish and then 5 1/2 will give you a nice surface that you can use as a datum to then machine thickness to what you need, if it is only occasional use and you fancy a little bit of exercise. if you do it more often or want to use machines for another reason a bench version will suit your need but they are in this price point usually fitted with universal motors which are loud. Also is space a concern? this could dictate whether you go for a combination machine or seperates.
 

NickDReed

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@Trevanion thanks for the response. I appreciate my use dodgy wood may be frowned upon. I hope I can be forgiven at some point.

I've noticed these machines tend to move fast or get pricey very quick. I'm lincolnshire based too, if you know the county then you'll know everywhere is a long way away. So the idea of driving to Devon to check out a machine isn't appealing, guess that's one of the reasons I'm holding off. Thank you for explaining though, I've done quite a bit of Internet research but having unbiased insight of people who know more than me is always useful. It's easy to get carried away that I need more kit and everyone loves a new toy but I don't want to waste more that would be better used elsewhere.


I read your multico thread. It looked ace by the end. You're clearly very talented at what you do. Something to aspire to for me. I suppose for myself I'm looking to standardise the stock I'm using when and this seems to be the way to do it. Also I'll look into the classes, you only get the ten fingers and I would like to keep the majority of them.
 

NickDReed

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@Droogs I'm mostly doing machine work. I, like most I think would love to be better with the hand tools. I practice a fair bit, I inherited my grandfathers planes and chisels which I have been reconditioning after probably 40 years in a shed. Most of my projects at the moment are larger things which I'm inherently too lazy to deal with by hand. I'm looking to build a standard double bed soon and as much as I enjoy exercise I don't feel like hand tools are what I'd want to be using to level and square boards, I do intend to be using the hand tools for the joinery though.
 

Droogs

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I use machines to prep stock as I am not a masochist. I Think a combination machine would prob be most suitable for yourself as you probably wont be to miffed about the procedure to switch between modes which can often need to be done several times if you are "just plodding along" rather than following a production pattern. With your budget it does pay to take your time to find the right machine for you. i would suggest you look at some of the clearance auctions such as BPI or Bidspotter to see what you can find.

hth
 

topchippyles

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I know for a nice one but its thousand pounds mark.Cracking planer/thicknesser 12x4".Its one of the other forums i am on. When you say use locally felled timber do you mean you want to mill the tree yourself ??
 

Sideways

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On a serious note and seconding Trevanion above, using reclaimed wood and even trees felled from the roadside which may have gravel and grit embedded in the bark is a great way to kill blades and end up spending more than it's worth. You'll cry the first time you put a scar down your cast iron table or into the block of your prized new machine. I'd keep a rough hand or power plane for skinning this sort of timber.
 

NickDReed

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@topchippyles it's something that I've considered, I'm fortunate enough to know several people who have land where trees are regularly cut. It's something I've considered trying. I appreciate that I have no experience working this way but I'm always open to experimenting with new things.
 

NickDReed

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@Sideways I'm aware of the issues with using reclaimed stuff. I spend a lot of time cleaning up before putting anything through the saws. It's never going to be risk free but I mitigate those risks as much as possible and find creating something I like to look at and is practical out of what is someone else scrap rewarding. One man's rubbish is another man's treasure and all that.
 

PAC1

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If you must put scaffold boards in a thicknesser, then consider getting a machine with disposable blades that will at least reduce the pain of hitting a buried nail, staple or stone. I keep a set of blades for the (rare) times I need to put some dubious wood through my thicknesser, I then swap to a good set of blades to finish planing once I know it is safe.
The other option is a drum sander and 40/60 grit loading
 

Fitzroy

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I have a Dewalt 1150, very similar to the PT260 type machines. I find for these smaller machines become a bidding war on eBay and Gumtree is my go to source. You need to be searching everyday, or even lunch time and evening. A good price for a used DW1150 is the £250-350 range, bit more if it's v.good condition and add a £100 if it has the mortising table. The most troublesome parts are the rubber feed rollers, which can wear badly with lots of use, and are £40 each to replace and a pain to do.

Regards reclaimed wood through a PT, they are nowhere near as tolerant of grit and iron as a table saw, nor a bandsaw. PTs only have two 'teeth' and if you chip one with a bit of dirt then you have a trackmark until you change them.

F.
 

jackal

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If you must put scaffold boards in a thicknesser, then consider getting a machine with disposable blades that will at least reduce the pain of hitting a buried nail, staple or stone. I keep a set of blades for the (rare) times I need to put some dubious wood through my thicknesser, I then swap to a good set of blades to finish planing once I know it is safe.
The other option is a drum sander and 40/60 grit loading
I like to have a second cutter block if possible for the nasty stuff. Scaffold boards tend to have stone buried in them😕
 

Jackbequick

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On a serious note and seconding Trevanion above, using reclaimed wood and even trees felled from the roadside which may have gravel and grit embedded in the bark is a great way to kill blades and end up spending more than it's worth. You'll cry the first time you put a scar down your cast iron table or into the block of your prized new machine. I'd keep a rough hand or power plane for skinning this sort of timber.
That's a really good reminder Jackal...but even worse can be unseen nails or spikes...

I realise others may disagree but as I see it, thicknessers and planers are tools really 'only' needed for repetitive preparatory work...say a factory where time is 'of the essence' .

A really good tradesman or even a conscientious amateur can plane, scrape and hand sand the bumps out of (even) wide timber when time and love of the timber and the outcome are not at the mercy of costing. . That's why planes are made...including low angle type. I have seen 'magic' performed with a scraper and also with the circular motion of a smoothing or even jackplane. When the hand tool is the 'connection and communicator' between you and the timber I think great work can come from the task.
 

TheTiddles

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Nobody’s going to ridicule you for asking advice and also (big bonus) telling us what you want to make, thanks for that.

I think a PT is one of the bits of kit that you want to buy the best you can, but as people have said you are so likely to trash it with some reclaimed timber. I have a power plane (Ryobi, nothing fancy) I use on the rare occasions I use old wood, it’s noisy, crude and I don’t care if it gets mashed. So far it hasn’t and then once it’s clear I use my PT, sometimes there’s still a bit of staple in it though or the tip of a screw broken off.

Have you considered calculating the price of buying PAR vs the machine? It may be worth buying nicer timber instead of the machine, it’s not cost effective in the long run usually, but you will get type sudden boost of well prepped stock (but be picky with your supplier)

Aidan
 

Nej

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I started with an Elektra Beckum with replaceable knives, then replaced it with a Jet with resharpenable blades, and more recently replaced that with an Axminster unit with a helical cutter. The Jet sold quickly at about 2/3 its new price. I clean up a lot of reclaimed and painted timber. Straight knives, reusable and otherwise blunt very quickly (too quickly) with paint and varnish. Nails etc take notches out, but if you are just reclaiming this can be tolerated. Screws can completely destroy a tungsten cutter, staples and smaller nails will chip an edge. Setup for knives is tedious, even the replaceable blades are not always completely simple. The helical is simplicity itself, but the cutters are not cheap. I have replaced a set in about 2 years hobby/DIY use £130. To keep my knives/cutters from harm, I have an old black and decker electric planner. I use this first to remove paint etc or clean the surface. Nails etc then show up well and paint/varnish is no longer an issue. Elektra Beckum or similar secondhand should be out there for under £300, but you will get through knives. This adds up. The alternative is to use your router, knock up a sledge, even with a planner thicknesser I sometimes resort to this to take out twist in long boards or timbers too heavy to manhandle on the planner. That said I would not be without a thicknesser planner. The helical cutter block is a huge step forward, if you avoid nails months/year of use without replacement, so much quieter, a blunt straight cutter is painfully noisy. I find the finish is better, though I still occasionally get tear-out.
 

Spectric

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Hi there

If you must put previously used rough wood through a planer/ thicknesser or any other machine invest in a small handheld metal detector and spend time removing unwanted metal before machining it.
 

NickDReed

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Thanks all for your posts, really good to hear others experience and learn from it.

I always take the time to prep reclaimed timber as well as possible, but getting advise re the pitfalls etc when using a planer thicknesser has been really helpful.

I've already got a cheap power plane which I use as part of my prep routine. I've been offered a Legacy ornamental mill (which can be used to plane a surface) along with a thicknesser. I'd never seen the ornamental mill before and it looks extremely versatile. I think for the price of the two it may allow me to standardise my stock and then also give me potential to try my hand at many alternative things. Would obviously be a learning curve, but I'm always up for more knowledge.

I've little doubt that in the future I'll feel the need to upgrade the thicknesser as I generally do with all things, but I think it's an option that makes sense right now.

If anyone has knowledge to pass on regarding the ornamental mill I'm all ears. Very excited about the possibilities it offers. I'm moving house shortly and will have a bigger workspace. Hope to be able to post a few pics of my creations shortly after.
 

TheTiddles

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That is a rare tool! I think Dodge has/had one but he’s not been around in a long time (sadly)

Aidan
 

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