THIS WEEK'S TIP... from ShopNotes

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Planer Set-Up Gauge

Planer Set-Up Gauge My benchtop thickness planer is a great tool that’s saved me time and money in getting quality, surfaced lumber. The problem is that setting it up for the first pass on rough stock can be a guessing game.

If I only know the approximate thickness of my stock, I have to make a guess when setting the cutter height. Sometimes, the cutter head is set too low and the planer takes too big of a bite. Other times, it’s set too high and nothing happens.

To save time and get more accurate setups, I made the gauge shown in the photo. The gauge is nothing more than a hardwood “leg” attached to a ¼″ hardboard “foot” that rests on the planer table. The length of the leg is determined by the distance from the top of the foot to the “zero” mark on the planer’s thickness gauge, as you can see in photo A. The gauge can then be screwed to the planer table.

Now when I want to adjust the planer, I just set a cutoff from the piece that I’m surfacing on the gauge and lower or raise the cutter head until the indicator is even with the top of my material (photo B). This way, I know at a glance the planer is set to remove a thin slice from the stock on the first pass.

Have a nice weekend,

Phil Huber
Online Editor, ShopNotes

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