EZ Planing Sled: Milling and milling twisted or cupped boards whose width is greater than your milling machine is always a challenge. And this becomes a real headache if you have to do it quickly and efficiently.
If you have the common duo of a 6 “jointer and a 12” planner, you know what I mean. While it is manageable to skip the jointer and insert a slightly straight 10 “or so wide lumber into the planner and mill both flat and true faces, attempting to mill a twisted board in the planner will not turn out well. As we know, the planner will try to press the board before shaving its top face and then release the pressure when the board comes out of the machine. This results in a smooth but still – twisted – board that gets us nowhere. In this situation, we have some options:
- Align and flatten the first face with a hand plane, then pass it to the planner, true side down.
- Tear the wide board in half, line up each half on the narrow joinery, mill the other face into the planner, and then glue them back together.
- Milling a face with the help of a router and a gantry contraption, then milling it into the plane – ground side facing down.
- And finally rock the crooked plank on a platform that supports its topography before placing it in a planner. The latter approach is the fastest and most common among carpenters.
Cradle techniques can take many forms. They can be as simple as shimming the twisted board with a few wedges to support its flared areas. Or be a very sophisticated system of adjustable slats that tilt at specific angles and adapt to the terrain of the board.
I recently discovered another technique for cradling the plank that on the one hand won’t require a lot of resources and time to build, and on the other hand it won’t require gluing shims to the platform to nest the crooked plank on top.