A Smarter Planer Sled for Flattening Wide Stock
Clamp-on saw guides hold the stock while wedges add support.
My jointer is only 6 in. wide, and I often have to joint wider boards than that. To flatten those boards with my big planer, I use a planer sled with a long clamp-on saw guide embedded into it to hold the board. With the board clamped at its ends, I slip wedges under the edges to even out the high spots, which maximizes my yield. The wedges stay put with hand pressure only and keep the board rock-steady on the sled. The system works wonderfully.
The clamp is one of those clamp-on straightedges used to guide a circular saw or router. I chose the 50-in. length (available online for $35), which works for most boards I mill.
To make the top of the sled just flush with the clamp bar or slightly higher, so the low-profile clamps grab as much of the board as possible, I screwed it to a 3⁄4-in. MDF base and then added more MDF on the sides, shimming them up with thin plywood to just the right height. The resulting sandwich is stiff and stable. I also had to trim the handle of the clamp so that it wouldn’t interfere with the planing operation, but it is still easy to operate that way.
For the infrequent occasion when a board is too twisted to allow good clamp purchase, I just handplane the high spots a bit to let the board sit lower in the clamp.
—Lary Shaffer, Scarborough, Maine
More from FineWoodworking.com:
- Turn Your Planer into a Jointer
- A Planer Sled for Milling Lumber
- Flatten Wide Boards on a Small Jointer
- Mill Lumber Safely: A bandsaw and a jigsaw make the process less intimidating
- How to Mill Lumber and Cut Parts to Size
- How to Get Square, Stable Stock
- From Rough to Ready: a one man system for prepping more stock in less time
The premise is easy to grasp, but the details of construction couldn’t be less clear -- especially the “The clamp is one of those clamp-on straightedges used to guide a circular saw or router.” I find nothing online that looks like it functions anything like the hardware in the sketches. Can you provide some clarification?
Jveetee, look for the Bora clamp it will make sense when you see it
I was confused at first too, but I think you will find that the clamp is turned upside down so that the "jaws" of the clamp which would normally aim down to clamp to the surface of a piece of wood now stick up to clamp to the piece of wood to be planed.
Great idea and a creative use of the clamp.
Thanks for sharing, this may be the best tip I've ever seen.
jveetee this is the cheapest crappiest one I could find online:
I agree this is a great idea! Really innovative use of that clamp. I have one that since getting my track saw I have not used so it will now be back in action.
I have used this method for years now and find it works well, I have a 48" and 24" set-up. I picked up this idea from a previous issue of this magazine.
Rather than bear the expense of a saw guide, or tying it up, why not just fasten stop blocks to the carrier sled and use wooden end-wedges to keep the board in place?
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