View Full Version : Planing Wide Boards

03-04-2006, 08:07 AM
I recently aquired some red oak that is about 9" wide. I have a 6" jointer and planer that will accomodate 13" wide boards. I know you are suppose to start at the jointer and do a face and edge before ripping to width and surface planing but in my case they only way to do that is to rip the board in half. Any suggestions? I'm building a toy box and the lid is 18" wide so it's nice to have the wider lumber but I'm not sure what my best plan of attack is. Qestion number 2; What's the widest recommendation for gluing up boards? Can I glue up 8" wide boards or will they be more succeptable to cupping they say 6" boards?

03-04-2006, 08:45 AM

Do a search and you will find many fine answers about how to joint boards wider than 6" on a six inch jointer. Dano, among others, have provided a number of fine answers, so I will not attempt to duplicate them here and do a half baked job at that.

I have a 6" jointer and use wide boards all the time. I was taught the the max width you should use in gluing up a panel is 5 inches as wider boards are not as stable in panels.

What I do to prepare wide stock is rip it down, joint, plane, glue it up, and after it dries, scrap off glue, flatten with a jointer plane and then a smooth plane. Finally scrape any tear out that I can not get with the smoother and a little light sanding if needed.

I get dead flat and stable panels in my shop but is is a little more work. I have found I do not need a larger power jointer, what I deed is larger arms to push my planes!

Good luck.


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Danford C Jennings
03-04-2006, 09:20 AM
Welcome to the Forum, Chris!!!

The search function here isn't the greatest...Below is a primer on the jointer that I posted a few years back:

Some time ago I had posted a primer on jointer technique and after conducting a search in response to a question, I see that the discussion where I posted this has been removed. Any who, I thought I’d take a few minutes to compose this little primer.

Jointers really are more versatile than most folks understand. But, their primary function is to flatten stock; removing cups, warps, and twists on the face(s) in addition to removing any warp and/or bow to the edge. In England jointers are referred to as "over hand planers", essentially they are a motorized plane. Regardless, the importance in using four squared and consistently dimensioned stock is fundamental to the success of any project; the more complex the project, the more important this fundamental becomes. It is for this reason that I consider the jointer to be one of, if not the, most important tool in the shop.

Naturally, ensuring that the jointer is set up correctly is paramount to its accurate performance. The machine’s owner’s manual will tell you exactly how to check that the infeed/outfeed tables are coplanar, in parallel, depth of cut, etc, and make the requisite adjustments.

Sizing Rough Lumber

Any given bunk of stock will have fairly straight boards but most will have some degree of flaws; cups, bows, warp, and twist. This is where the jointer comes in to deal with these flaws. The objective being to eliminate them and still have the thickness needed. Obviously, stock selection goes a very long way in reducing the amount of jointing that is required and this should be kept in mind when selecting your stock.

In my shop, the first step to sizing rough stock is to cross cut to slightly oversize lengths following my cut list. This begins with cutting off any ends that have splits or any other defect, at least an inch beyond the defect. I always start with the longest lengths off the cut list to minimize waste, using stock with the least amount of defect. I would strongly advise against jointing any thing less than 16", particularly if there are severe defects, for safety concerns.

Face jointing

This is the first step to four squaring and dimensioning your stock. Check the board over to plan your strategy. At this juncture, ensuring that the fence is square to the tables is really no biggie; personally, I make sure it is just out of habit. The fence should be set to a width slightly wider than the board to be face jointed. I set my depth of cut slightly less than the maximum depth for the width of the board indicated in the owner’s manual. My last pass will be at 1/64th.

Boards that are cupped or warped should be jointed with the concave side down; this greatly reduces the chance of the board rocking as it is fed. This first pass is crucial; the same plane must be maintained as the board is jointed, failing to do so will cause you to "chase" the flat, and you will more than likely end up with kindling. For a board that has some twist, rock the board on the infeed table before you start to find the "flat" against the fence, then feed maintaining the same plane.

You begin feeding the stock by applying slight downward pressure with your left hand, feeding with your right using your push block. Feed rate will depend on width of stock and depth of cut, a rule of thumb being about 1ft/sec to 2ft/sec, highly figured woods should be slower. As the stock is fed, keep slight pressure with the left hand and allow the knives of the cutter head to pull the stock down and against the fence. Pressure must be even and consistent; the knives will not always come in contact with the stock. When the right hand is about a foot from the cutter head, gradually apply all the downward pressure to the outfeed table, resist any temptation to apply downward pressure on the infeed, as doing so will cause snipe. On longer boards you’ll need to learn the "jointer shuffle", which is a rather goofy looking piece of footwork, where you drag your left foot forward and drag your right foot to the spot your left vacated. You should never cross one foot over the other. This will cause the downward pressure to change and an accident can also result.

The actual number of passes depends entirely on the severity of the defect you are trying to eliminate. If you also have a thicknesser, the object really isn’t to obtain a perfectly smooth surface, just one that is flat enough so that a parallel plane can be maintained as it is fed into the thicknesser. If you don’t have a thicknesser, flatness still is the main objective and smoothness is a secondary one. Regardless, remember you are dimensioning the stock not preparing it for the finish, so it is always a good idea to leave a little extra.

What if I need to face joint an 8” wide board but my jointer is a 6"? Easy. Set the fence slightly over 4" and joint using two passes, swapping end for end. In this case I find that by jointing the convex face first to be the preferred method, applying more pressure against the fence, maintaining the same plane. In trying to joint a wider board concave side down, the board becomes more difficult to maintain on plane because one edge is lower than the tables.

Edge jointing

This operation is much easier than face jointing; you have less surface area to remove and you have a flattened surface to press against the fence. At this point, it is imperative that the fence is perpendicular to the tables. Pressing the board tightly against the fence will ensure that the jointed edge is square to the jointed face. Before you begin sight down the board’s edge to determine which edge is straightest and joint that edge. On bowed stock, begin by running the ends over the cutter head, then run the board through full length.

Hand positioning and footwork are basically the same as face jointing and because less wood is being removed the feed rate can be increased. What is most important is that you don’t rely on the weight of the board to keep it on edge, you must make certain that the jointed face is tight against the fence.

Final comments

You now have one surface and one edge that are perpendicular to one another. The board can be ripped to rough width by placing the jointed face on the TS and the jointed edge registered against the fence. Or you can now joint the other edge, then dimension to final thickness either on the jointer or thicknesser. If you do final dimension using the jointer, keeping count of number of passes per board is strongly recommended for consistency, as is the use of a vernier caliper or micrometer.

When ever possible joint with the grain, use a consistent feed rate, and when edge jointing for glue ups, take no more than a 32nd. Most importantly, work safe. If the jointer is new to you make some dry runs first to get the hand positioning and foot work down.

As to your second question, there really isn't any set rule, much depends on the wood species, how well it's seasoned, and whether it's flat sawn or quarter sawn...

Hope this helps...


03-05-2006, 02:23 PM
Thanks for the input guys. You have answered my questions and provided additional valued input as well. I was hoping to be able to use the full width of the boards without ripping them and gluing them back together but that doesn't appear to be the case. I guess in the future I might save myself some work if I got narrower stock

03-05-2006, 02:31 PM
In my opinion, you are better off with boards no wider than six inches, to glue up a panel. Anything wider is naturally unstable. Glueing three six inch boards together, alternating the growth rings will give you far more stability. If you can get the material for one panel out of the same board, it should give you acceptable grain and color match.

03-05-2006, 02:32 PM
One quick question. You mentioned that to joint a board 8" wide you set the fence at 4" and make two passes. Do you remove the cutter head gard to in order to accomodate the additional width?

Danford C Jennings
03-06-2006, 07:44 PM
Yup...Proceed with great care....