Planers often hold a bit of mystery to new woodworkers until they come to realize the real name is Thickness Planer, which helps to make the function of this tool self-explanatory. It is sometimes confused with a "jointer" because they seem to have similar functions because of their wide blades, but both machines to quite different functions.

Watch it on Youtube:

For my long-time Subscribes who have seen that big green 15" planer in my shop for the past 15 or so years, this new 13" addition may seem like a lesser planer, but in fact, I love it more than the bigger one ...  

My new planer is what is called a "helical head" planer which means it has lots of tiny little blades or cutters as they are called, instead of 3 big wide blades. The little cutters are made from Carbide which is MUCH harder than steel, and this means the blades will last ... something like 10 times longer (??). These small cutters are also much better for cutting figured woods, which are often woods where the grain is running at all sorts of different angles and harder for large, wide-bladed planers to cut without tearing out the grain.

The purpose of the 3 yellow circles as you have seen in the video, is to show how the planer works, and when you know this it is easier to figure out where snipe might be coming from if you are experiencing that with your planer.  

Setting up a planer is quite straightforward. All you really need to do is to make sure your infeed and outfeed extensions are absolutely even with the infeed and outfeed extensions. 

Using a Wood Planer 

One of the things that new woodworkers sometimes find hard to grasp is that planers do not "flatten" wood, they only plane it to a designated thickness. In the picture below you can see a very Bowed Board sitting on top of a very flat board. The bowed board could be run through the planer but it will not take any of the bowing out of the board because the area that holds and cuts the boards is very narrow, unlike a joint where there are very long infeed and outfeed tables on either side of the cutter head, all of which are designed to take any warping, bowing or twisting out of the boards.

Planing warped boards straight

There is one trick you can do to flatten a moderately warped or bowed board and that is to build a planing jig for your planer. All it consists of is a length of MDF that is flat, and narrow enough to fit through your planer. On the backside, you will need to glue on a wooden "stopper" that will help to prevent the board from kicking back as it goes through the planer. 

To use the jig, all you need to do is find where the board is warped and install any number of thin wooden wedges between your board and the jig, and fasten them down with hot melt glue, double-sided tape, or even masking tapes well in many cases. The thin wooden wedges will prevent the wood from bowing as it is pulled through the planer and thus you will end up with a board that is flattened on one side. Depending on how to band the warping is, this could take any number of passes through the planer.

Thinkness Planer Sled

Here is the inside look at the cutter head of the planer. Notice the 2 black rollers in front of and behind the cutter head, also the cutter head shows 3 of the cutter blades that would be trimming the wood.

Helical planer blade

In terms of snipe, the video is quite clear on things you can try with your planer to eliminate or at least lessen the amount of snipe you might be getting with your planer. Of course, the quickest and easiest solution, if it works for you, is to simply push your wood through back to back, that seems to cure most snipe issues,  but if you want to go further, checking the infeed and outfeed platens is the next step and if that still doesn't solve your problem, making your own long, continuous infeed and outfeed platen would be the next step and hopefully that would solve your problem. 

 Copyright Colin Knecht