Ask WWGOA: How to Plane Small Pieces of Wood


I’d like to plane some short pieces of 3/4″ x 1.515″ (approx) x 3.5″ long poplar. I am afraid the rollers won’t keep feeding the wood and I will get a large dwell mark, and I may possibly damage my new DV735 machine.

Submitted by Jcoleman001


You’re right. The limiting factor in board length you can safely plane is the distance from infeed roller to outfeed roller. Anything shorter than that will simply get past the infeed roller and then bounce around under the cutter head, since the outfeed roller can’t grab it and feed it.

You need to leave these pieces long and plane them first, then do your final length cuts to reduce them to the short lengths your project requires.


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25 Responses to “Ask WWGOA: How to Plane Small Pieces of Wood”

  1. Ron Knickrehm

    I have a 6″ Grizzly joiner that had a wheel break and it fell onto the corner of the feed table. The plate itself appears to be OK. Is there a place to find out how to adjust the feed be level?

  2. Joe McMahon

    As long as the part count is not to high, a couple of passes with a block plane should get you where you want to go. If the part count is high, taping your parts to a sacrificial board may be the least-cost, least effort solution.

  3. Harold Wamsley

    You can also use a 3/4″ ply wood 12″ wide and long enough for you short pieces and use hot glue to hold them done on the ply wood. I have done this several times and is works great.

  4. Jim Berglund

    Why not fasten it to another, appropriately shaped piece of wood with 2-sided tape and run them through the planer?

  5. J

    Or… take two pieces of the requisite length, and glue them on either side of your desired piece(s), (all parts being of the same thickness), and run the whole shebang through, then cut (or split) off the extraneous material.

  6. Ewell

    An additional way is to put longer pieces ahead and behind the main pieces. All need to be the same depth so the will each be reached by the planer blades.

  7. Dave Ussell

    George, Though giving good advice, you are ignoring the obvious. The fact the inquirer is aware of the problem and yet still asks the question, says the pieces are already cut and so your “solution” is not of much use. They are probably dealing with an existing problem or they would have done what you advise in the first place.

  8. Stephen Hooper

    Umm… do it by hand!

    Build a very simple jig, buy a Japanese plane and enjoy working the wood. 🙂

  9. kenneth jay schwartz

    A simple sled the width of the planer will do. Simply use double-stick tape to affix the small piece to the sled and safely run it through the planer

  10. Little Jack

    Mr. George is very correct…write this off to the cost of education and get another piece of poplar..faster, safer and easier.

    • Gene Hackett

      not if you’re trying to utilize your scraps and having a limited budget for the shop

  11. wcastaldi

    I pass small pieces through my planer seating them on top of large piece of MDF, of course I glue a perimeter with discarded wood around the small pieces to be planed..

  12. John Butch

    When I have this situation, I use a spindle sanding bit in my drill press and pass the piece between the fence and spindle sanding bit, adjusting the fence narrower on each pass, until I get the piece to the thickness I need . In some cases I will pass it thru the band saw to rough the thickness then to the drill press sander setup. This process also reduces my hand sanding of the piece.

  13. Mahlon

    As a last resort, glue two (2) long strips, one along each side of the work ( twice as long as the distance between the rollers of the planer), or along several in tandem.

  14. Martin Beckstead

    Make a carriage with guides on the sides and stops on both axis to keep the pieces from moving. Keep them bunched tightly together to eliminate climbing. Take light passes to minimize the forces. I’ve done it a couple of times. But of course it’s better to plane them before cutting. But if you hsve scraps or are given some nice scraps……
    Good luck!

  15. Timothy

    Simply plane another sacrificial piece to the thickness of your smaller bits, then use double sided tape to stick the small piece to a sled and the newly planed sacrificial piece butted up behind it and you are good to go, thus artificially lengthening your shorter bits.

  16. Bobbg

    Second thought the value of the wood you have I’d just start all over and chalk it up to experience. Plane your thickness first then cut parts to finish size. Those parts you’ve done will work for some other project at a later date. If nothing more lap join them and plane then try and get your finish size.

  17. Bobbg

    I did the tape down method its OK for nice clean wood but if you have knots they tend to pull out busting you chunk of wood. Might be better off either drum sanding or using a hand plane or hand sander you can also use a router with a jig or glue or tape the parts to bigger wood and use your jointer there is always a different way to skin a cat but your best bet is plane all your wood before you part out your Finnish sizes. I’m sure someone will give an answer I haven’t thought of yet because I know you can do it on a table saw also. The safest way with the least setup is hand tools IMO.

  18. Mike

    Or glue some sacrificial pieces on both sides of your work piece,longer of course. Plane,then trim the sacrificial pieces ?

  19. Russell

    If this is the sort of thing you’re going to do frequently, it may pay to invest in a pair of Proxxon tools. They produce a small jointer (AH80) which has a table sized 400 x 80mm. Planing width 80mm. Maximum chip removal (infeed) 0.8mm. Speed 6,000rpm. Weight 5.5kg and to go with it is the DH 40 thicknesser up to 40mm thick and up to 80mm wide. Maximum depth of cut 0.8mm. Cutter speed 6,000rpm. Feed rate 4.8m/min. Table length 232mm. Weight approx. 8kg.
    Don’t be fooled by the size these Proxxon tools are NOT toys, they are industrial quality. I’ve used their tools for years and they produce wonderful results.

    • Mike Shove

      Nice sales pitch on the Proxxon Russell, but the question is will it plane a short board not how much it weighs … For my 2 cents worth, George has the right answer, plane the boards before you do the final cut to length