Take a look in most woodworking shops and you’re sure to find stationary machines that allow lumber to be milled into four-squared, usable boards. The three main machines used to mill are a jointer, planer and table saw. Of those three workhorses, the planer is the least studied and least understood.
Contrary to what some woodworkers believe, a planer is not a machine that mills lumber flat – this behemoth produces parallel sides, be they faces or edges. Parallel is not flat. If you take a cupped or twisted board and run it through your planer, what comes out is still cupped or twisted, but it’s opposing sides are now perfectly parallel to one another. There are, however, a couple of tips and tricks that make this machine more valuable in your shop, including how to mill thin parts for piece such as spice-box dividers. (Fig. 1)