Flossing A Planer’s Blades | Popular Woodworking Magazine

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Did you know that wood shavings can get under the blade of a plane? Well, crazy as it sounds, it really happened to me last week.

We have a large thickening plane in our shop. It’s a Ridgid machine which is built well, works well and is well priced. We bought it two or three years ago and really enjoyed using it. Its components are robustly constructed from steel and aluminum components and I highly recommend it to anyone who needs a good planer. A few days ago, while milling a hard maple board, I noticed the board left the plane with a distinct and significant tear pattern.

I have never seen such a deformity and decided to look at the assembly of the blades, assuming that perhaps they had dulled. What I saw surprised and perplexed me. I found that the wood shavings were stuck between the blades and their bed. How could that happen? After all, I thought that the blade locking bar, the one that is screwed onto the blade and provides tons of pressure on it, shouldn’t have prevented this from happening? What kind of maple board could have caused such a problem? Is it because this particular board was very tough and fearlessly fought with the blade to the point that its extra dense fibrous fragments would get stuck together? Or maybe this has nothing to do with the maple top but was actually the result of operator error? This brings us to the incident that happened a week earlier.

Two weeks ago, while I was milling a few seat stocks for our eighth grade stool project, I may have made a mistake. As I was feeding a plate into the plane, I heard a pop and immediately the broth came out of the plane. I knew the catapulted slab had an uneven top surface which was also not parallel to the bottom surface, but in general, this shouldn’t have been a problem as the planer’s job is, after all, to gradually emerge the uneven top to make it parallel to the bottom. Was it because the slab was a piece of green wood with a softer-than-normal surface, which caused the rubber feed rollers to slip and prevent them from fixing work? Either way, the slab was too crooked for the machine, so the result was a thoughtful response from the poor planer. And like someone eating something that bothers his stomach, the machine threw back the plate quite violently. Right after I examined the table, I did some corrective remakes on the bandsaw, then reintroduced it into the plane for a satisfying resumption of the milling process. Over the next few days, I ground linden and pine and everything looked fine.

Whether it was the maple or the pine board that caused the shavings to get under the blade, I still had to face the problem. I unplugged the plane, opened the blade presumably the hood and one by one unscrewed the locking bars, raised the blades and removed the fibers packed under them.

The blade (thin and shiny) and the locking bar (dark gray) before cleaning. Notice that I have labeled the cutting edges of the blade as a reference. # 1 is the edge I’m using. When the first edge becomes dull, I will turn them so that edge # 2 is facing the wood.

I reassembled everything and gave the plane another chance with the maple board. This time the results were very satisfying. I’m going to monitor the situation of the blades and see if new chips are getting under them. If they do, it means that the bars locking the blades are not providing enough pressure, which is a mechanical design error. Hopefully this doesn’t happen again and a call to the Ridgid customer service department isn’t necessary.


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