View Full Version : Thicknessing

09-23-2011, 06:58 PM
Sorry guys, I should have searched the forum before posing a question about thicknessing the old fashioned way. Please take this down.

Rick Turner
09-23-2011, 07:08 PM
You can...if you're skilled enough. The lowest tech best solution for thicknessing may just be the "Wagner Safe-T Planer" which works on a drill press. An alternative is to find a local cabinet shop that has a wide belt thickness sander, and just pay them to do it. If you're a neophyte, you won't have the experience to thickness to "tap", and your net thickness is going to depend on species and approximate stiffness. More info please, and I'm sure I and several others here will gladly suggest ball-park thickness goals. I can tell you in very broad strokes that you'll want tops and backs somewhere between 2 and 3 mm.... .080" to .120" and sides between 1.5 mm and 2 mm .060" to .080". You'll be amazed at just how thin that is in your hands. It'll feel wrong, but it's not.

09-23-2011, 08:31 PM
Thanks for answering this one Rick, I was thinking of this today wondering the thicknesses of sides, backs and tops should be, I'm planing soon to build some for fun for our family.

09-24-2011, 12:02 AM
On Mahogany soprano tops I go down to 1/16" (.0625") = 1.5mm and make the backs at (.075") = 1.9mm...the sides vary a bit depending on how easy they bend but usually about .0625" to .075".

09-24-2011, 05:51 AM
The lowest tech solution, which I use, is a scraper plane. Slow, but very controllable for the novice (like me). It also has the benefit that, unlike a properplane, it requires very little skill to sharpen or to use.

Get it close somehow (I use a traditional plane), say to around 2mm, and then work away from there. It takes me around half an hour to thickness a soprano top, but I only make half a dozen a year and am doing this for fun only.


Pete Howlett
09-24-2011, 07:58 AM
I used to hand plane everything but I have the sander solution for anyone with a pillar drill with a rise and fall rack and pinion table. It follows the safeT plane and was good enough for the first 350 guitars and ukulele I built.

Michael N.
09-24-2011, 08:39 AM
I use two hand Planes for thicknessing. One is a wooden plane set for taking decent sized shavings that quickly thins the board. It's light weight is an advantage. I then use a Stanley 5.5 set as a smoother. With one piece Tops or Backs it's fairly easy and quick because you aren't fighting grain direction. I may finish off with a card scraper or the No80 scraper plane.

09-25-2011, 01:54 PM
Michael, What is the first plane you use for "taking decent sized shavings that quickly thins the board"?

Michael N.
09-26-2011, 10:45 AM
It's just a wooden smoother but with a wide mouth. Plenty of old decent wooden coffin planes around for very little money.
I don't use it like a scrub plane but it's a similar idea - take thick shavings until your sensibilities force you to switch to a much finer finishing Plane. It works on well behaved one piece Backs, Sides or Tops.
However it doesn't work so well with figured wood or two piece Backs/Tops where you are invariably trying to deal with opposing grain direction. When you are faced with that you just have to take thinner shavings from the outset.

Pete Howlett
09-26-2011, 11:19 AM
Or use cross grain planing method.

09-26-2011, 11:23 AM
Or use cross grain planing method.

That's OK for you professionals who actually know howto use a plane properly. My cross planing still rips out grain, making me cross.

I have high hopes for the toothed blade, currently on order from Veritas (2 month waiting list!).

Pete Howlett
09-26-2011, 11:42 AM
Use a smoothing plane with a very fine set and the chip-breaker close to the edge. You have to spend about half a day tuning up a plane for this. You angle the plane as you cross plane creating a slicing cut. It's not that hard. It's made easier if you have a simple vacuum chuck to hold the board flat.

Rick Turner
09-26-2011, 12:01 PM
Pete, you beat me to it on the vacuum chuck thing.

Pete Howlett
09-26-2011, 12:11 PM
It's the only way. I use my shop vac and home made devices. Will be in my tools video which I am storyboarding at present.

Rick Turner
09-26-2011, 12:49 PM
I'm glad you're not just hooking up a drinking straw and sucking on it! :-)

BTW, old refrigeration pumps can be re-purposed as vacuum pumps.

A vacuum sliding fixture would be great for safety on a drill press with a Safe-T-Planer.