A planer riser is a piece of flat wood that allows the thickness planer to produce thinner pieces of material. Most planers will only go down to around 3/16″ to 1/4.” This means it can be difficult to produce very thin stock. The planer riser fixes that problem.
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A Planer Riser For Thinner Material
The best wood to use for a planer riser is 3/4″ MDF or Melamine. Both types of man made wood are rigid enough, and the Melamine has built in slipperiness that helps material pass through the planer. The thicker piece also enhances the strength.
There are several applications that are made easier by having the ability to produce very thin stock. Acoustic guitar makers for example, need to produce pieces that are 1/8″ thick and less in some cases. Woodworkers using thicker veneer for Intarsia or similar projects can also benefit from making these pieces themselves.
To make a planer riser, start by taking measurements from the planer in the shop. Measure the width inside (unplug it first) from edge to edge. This is typically the same as the size marking on the planer. Then, measure from end to end of the in-feed and out-feed tables. Cut a board that is at least as long as the length from the middle of each table, and as wide as the inside measurement of the planer.
A planer riser is easy to make, easy to remove when not needed, and allows you to produce very thin stock from a standard thickness planer.
To install the riser, unplug the machine and raise the head up several inches. Then, slide the board inside along the base. Center it between both feed tables, and clamp it in place with four small clamps near the four corners of the riser.
Keep the clamps as far towards the edges of the planer riser as possible. As the material passes through, you do not want it to catch one of the clamps on the out-feed. Make sure that the riser is well secured, and that the piece remains as flat as possible. Planer snipe and other problems can happen if the board is not flat. Clamp the board evenly, and this will keep it nice and flat during operation.
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Using the Riser in the Shop
Also, it is good practice to take ridiculously light passes as the piece becomes very thin. On top of that, maintaining proper grain direction is more important than ever. There will be one direction that the piece goes through much smoother than the other. Keep sending the piece through in that same direction, taking very thin passes to keep it from becoming mulched by the heavy planer blades. Be patient, and take as many super thin passes as needed to achieve final thickness.
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I explain this, and several other acoustic guitar making jigs and tools in my book, Acoustic Guitar Making: How to make Tools, Templates, and Jigs. With over 500 pictures and 1600 images, this book is loaded with great information.
If you have any questions on how to make a planer riser, please leave a comment and I will be glad to answer them. Happy building.
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