Basic Woodworking Tools for Baby Cribs: Planer

When you are building a baby crib from scratch, you want it to be perfect. And that’s where the first problem comes in.

If you’ve ever sorted through the boards at Home Depot or Lowes, you know how difficult it can be to find the “perfect” one. Too many knots, too much warping, too unattractive—and if you don’t stay organized, you wind up inspecting the same warped boards over and over again!

I’ve been there, and I don’t want to do it again. Neither do you. That’s why I need to share with you the best way to relieve your frustration…A planer.

What is a planer?

A planer basically enables you to buy warped wood and then shave off the sections that are too thick. The blade(s) will either be at a set height (possibly requiring multiple passes) or a variable height (letting you shave off the amount you need in one swoop).

Not sure a planer is your best option for building your baby crib? Want some alternatives? Let’s see, you could…

(a) use sandpaper and rub until your elbows are sore (and hope that you did a good job to get your wood even) or

(b) spend precious hours and money driving from home improvement stores to lumber yards, discarding all the boards don’t meet your standards the way you need them to.

You can see that planers prevent a lot of frustration and work!

Should I use a hand planer or power planer for woodworking?

When looking for a planer, you have two options—a hand planer and a power planer. With a hand planer, the board is stabilized and you slide the planer across it. With a power planer, the planer is set up and the board is pushed through its blades, usually on rollers or a stand. Hand planers are less costly but require more hard work. Power planers are a woodworking investment, but they produce quick cuts and even tackle hard woods easily. As a beginner woodworker building a baby crib, you should start out with a good benchtop planer. I’ve laid out what to look for and where to buy a benchtop planer here.

How do I use a hand planer for woodworking?

If you choose to use a hand planer to build your baby crib, make sure you are ready to roll up your sleeves. You will secure the wood with a vise and push the planer across the surface of the wood, from one end to the other, to shave off the raised surfaces. Several passes are usually required to ensure the wood is a uniform thickness.

How do I use a power planer for woodworking?

With a power planer (often electric), spinning rotary blades cut the board as you pass it through the machine. You’ll usually need fewer passes than with a hand planer, possibly just one. Be aware, however, that you want to avoid nasty scallops. To learn how (and find out what they are!), check out my article on the Three Powerful Woodworking Tools for Small Workshops.

How do I operate a power planer?

Here’s a quick video showing what a power planer is and how to operate it. (FYI, the guy mumbles, so I added the transcript below.) For the in-depth information that you will need to build your baby crib, there’s a good book at the end of this article. Add it to your woodworking library.


What Is a Planer Used For? — powered by eHow.com

Kevin Mouton says:

I’m going to show you and talk about the use of the planer. The planer is essential in getting wood flat and it pretty much just has one job, after wood comes off of the jointer and you’ve established a flat surface, what it does is it makes the other face parallel to that.

So what you want to do is when you come over here, you want to take your tape measure and you want to measure the thickest part of your board and we’re measuring about one inch. Once you’ve got the thickest part of your board measured, you come over here and there’s a measure right here and you want to set that to one inch. It’s not even a bad idea to go just a hair over so that you can creep up on the fit.

With this machine, same as with machines, you want to keep it waxed and in good working order so that the wood goes through the machine very easily and gives you a nice smooth cut. The other thing to keep in mind here is same as with there, you want to take a look at the grain and we’ve got the grain running downhill this way. On this machine, with the knives cutting in this direction, we want to orient the grain so that when the machine is cutting, it’s going downhill from there and so we’ll put it through like this.

Also, after your first pass, you’ll notice if the wood is tearing out because with the tropical wood, you get grain going in a lot of directions and so that after that first pass, you’re looking to see what the jointer tells you, if there’s a lot of tear-out, you simply flip the board around end for end and feed it in that way and see if you get less tear-out. Sometimes there’s nothing you can do about tear-out, but the first pass will generally tell you if you need to flip it around or not, so that’s something that you want to pay attention to, but for the first pass, you’ll always want to try and orient it so that the blades are cutting downhill on the grain and you get a nice smooth cut.

As you just saw, with the use of the planer, we’ve now established two faces of the board parallel to one another. On this way we can see the grain on both sides of the board which is going to help you select your wood for use later on in the project. You’ll be able to take them more pristine slightly parts of the board and put those in more visible places and vice-versa the parts of the board that may have slight imperfections can become lesser seen parts of the project.

As you saw with the use of this machine, very important to use headphones because it’s a very loud machine. Also with this machine, as with all machines, very important to keep the steel bed waxed and the knives really sharp so it gives a nice, smooth cut free of tear-out and just general safer use. Now that we’re established two faces parallel to one another, the next step is to take and get an edge perpendicular to those two faces so that from there we can go to the table saw and establish those two edges parallel to one another.”

What do I do now?

Planers are great tools if used properly. To get the most out of your planer, I recommend investing in the following:

Click to buy now
In 190 pages, you will learn:

  • How to choose a planer or jointer
  • Required and optional accessories for your planer or jointer
  • Basic planer or jointer techniques
  • Advanced planer or jointer techniques
  • How to make your own jigs and fixtures
  • How to perform maintenance and repairs
  • And you even get some planer and jointer projects for practice

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