Hand Tools Archive

Surfacing versus rotary planing

Jim Matthews
I suspect the rotary planer has two advantages - the rotating shaft that houses the knives can be built with standard lathes to very high tolerances, at low cost.

The effective chip size can allow for an acceptable surface, in wood that otherwise tears out - at high pass through rates.

The downsides (which disqualified machine planing in my little shop) are high noise levels and fine dust generation.

Surfacers avoid these pollutants, but probably can't handle gnarly species.
They also avoid compression of "softer" species that compromises finishing.

I had a $900 door loss due to poor finish quality - it came out tiger striped.


For hacks like me, the obvious solution is to trade time for convenience and plane (or scrape) by hand.

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