Graphical Construction Glossary >> Tools. >> Power Tools >> Thicknesser Planer

Thicknesser Planer
A woodworking machine with a single cutter head that planes timber to a parallel depth and thickness. In the US abbreviated to Planer and UK-Australia is is called a Thicknesser

a modern thicknesser.
A fairly typical modern thicknesser
Photo thanks to Wikimedia Commons, User: VEBA MECCANICA SRL

  • The machine has a top rotating cutter head. It is covered by the dark blue lid in the photo. That lid is where the dust extraction pick-up would be when the machine is in use.
  • Also out of sight at the top, in front of the cutter head is a large knurled spring loaded in feed roller.
  • Behind the cutter head is a smooth spring loaded out feed roller.
  • Underneath the cutter head is the table which can be moved up and down.
  • The table height determines the thickness of the timber.
  • The bed of the table is in this instance is plain, but higher specified machines have two rollers that are adjustable for height that stop friction and allow the timber to roll through the machine freely.
  • The red centred wheel with the handle on it is for lifting the bottom table up or down.
  • The lever to the left of the height wheel locks the table into position so that it will not move during the machining.
  • Again on better machines there is usually a graduated scale or a read out that gives the operator an indication of the thickness that the table is set at.

Top of the range models now often use helical cutter heads. This means that instead of the cutters hitting the timber square on, the cutters have a more slicing motion that reduces shudder and tear out around knots and grain reversals. I equate it using a hand smoothing plane with an angled slightly sideways action when dressing off knotty timber. The shavings come of in a spiral.

When dressing rough saw timber it is common to give it a straight face side and face edge on a jointer planer and then the thicknesser takes over to get the final width and thickness.

Quick Tip It is almost never that the full width of the planer head is used on one piece of wood, so to maintain an even wear on the cutters it is normal to plane a series of narrower pieces staggered through the machine, one left, one right, one centre, that sort of thing. Never just use one side, that dulls the blade unevenly, but also then the top pressure and feed rollers will take on a lean and the feed will be uneven. If only one piece is being worked on then use the middle of the machine.

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