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  • woodworkists – thicknesser?
  • Premier Icon zilog6128
    Full Member

    how useful is this? I fancy making some stuff from pallets (mainly because I have access to basically an infinite amount from work!) and my dad suggested a thicknesser, as he’d seen a cheap one with really good reviews in Screwfix. Turns out it was cheap because (I think) they’ve EOL’d it – you can’t actually buy it anywhere. Looks like it’s a generic model though, Machine Mart etc all do their own version, but at a lot more money.

    Anyway, how useful would one be for processing pallet wood etc? I don’t need everything to look amazing, but if it looks nice then it’s a bonus, but if the thicknesser actually makes the carpentry work easier then that’s decent reason! Are the cheaper benchtop ones any good (giving that I probably won’t wanting to put massive planks through it!)

    Also is pallet wood in general decent enough & actually worth the bother of pulling them apart, removing the nails, etc? is it OK to work with? Get all sorts, lots of bog-standard ones, get the occasional monster hardwood one too.

    Premier Icon bridges
    Free Member

    Hmm. Personally, I’d be steering clear of any such machines at the budget end; not to say they won’t work, but they probably won’t stand up to heavy use, and may not give reliably consistent results over time. A thicknesser is one of those machines I’m happy for someone else to own and maintain. My friendly local timber supplier will machine most material down to specific dimensions, and they have machines that cost many tens of thousands of pounds, which will invariably do a much better job than anything you can buy in Screwfix. So I just order whatever I need, give them instructions as to dimensions needed etc, and then just pick up/ have the finished product delivered.

    As for pallet wood; I’d burn it long before I made anything from it, but I appreciate many people enjoy making more ‘rustic’ style stuff with it. It’s the cheapest, crappest wood you can get, pretty much. In my opinion, it’s not worth the effort cleaning it up etc. It will warp, twist, split and crack at some point, as it dries out inside. It will need treating if used outside. Whereas for not that much money, you can buy far better materials.

    If you really want to use it, then I’d suggest getting a hand plane, and getting experience planing wood down for use. Slow, laborious and very uneconomical in terms of time, but quite satisfying. A jack plane, No.7, is a good tool for quickly getting rid of the rough stuff, then a smaller general purpose No.4 plane for smoothing. I wouldn’t spend the time getting pallet wood perfectly smooth and square, as it’ll warp, as above. But personally, I wouldn’t bother putting much time and effort, and definitely not much money, into pallet wood.

    Premier Icon mahowlett
    Free Member

    Cheap thicknesser will be fine for processing pallet wood, the finish isn’t as nice as a more expensive one but that’s not an issue with pallet wood, you won’t be making fine furniture anyway. The biggest issue is the pallets themselves. Miss even one nail in the wood when you strip them down and there’s a good chance you’ll either blunten the blade or worse take a chip out of it. Replacement thicknesser blades are never very cheap and you can’t sharpen very many chips out of them before you have to chuck them out. Unless you are pretty sure of the quality of the pallet wood I wouldn’t. Pallets get remade over and over and they end up with nails in all kind of places, it can take ages to strip them down as they use nails that aren’t designed to come out so they break off. Most people who use pallet wood either have a reliable quality source or they run them through big drum sanders, which are less fussy or they leave them the thickness they come and just cut them to length.

    Premier Icon joshvegas
    Free Member

    A jack plane, No.7

    Not a jack plane.

    Premier Icon zilog6128
    Full Member

    thanks all!

    or they leave them the thickness they come and just cut them to length.

    might just take this option then, I’m only thinking about outdoor stuff at the moment!

    Premier Icon deadlydarcy
    Free Member

    Lol, **** hand planing. 😀 You’ll be bored shitless after a few minutes. Cheap and cheerful thicknesser is fine for what you want. Just make sure to achieve your final thickness in a few passes – that’ll be a lot less work for the thicknesser. Obviously hardwoods will challenge it quite a bit.

    Premier Icon zilog6128
    Full Member

    Lol, **** hand planing.

    yeah, that option was never in the running tbh 🤣

    Premier Icon FB-ATB
    Full Member

    Aren’t the nails used in pallets a bit beefier than the standard nail you find in a diy shed? Based on the sample of 2 pallets I’ve ever broken down they had ridges on the shank making them harder to remove and they cause more damage on extraction.

    Premier Icon Jakester
    Free Member

    It’s the cheapest, crappest wood you can get, pretty much. In my opinion, it’s not worth the effort cleaning it up etc. It will warp, twist, split and crack at some point, as it dries out inside.

    Most pallet wood is kiln dried so relatively stable. However, IME better used as kindling than for construction!

    Premier Icon WorldClassAccident
    Free Member

    I was doing some rough work with pallets and wanted to smooth them. I found an electric hand plane that was cheap enough to throw away after the job – middle isle of Lidl or similar – and mounted it blade up in a workmate so the blade was just higher than the rest of the surface. The blade was just a little wider than most of the pallets I used.

    I split the pallets getting out every nail I could find and had a big stack of planks ready to go. Zip tied the plane trigger so it was always on and then pushed the plank along the workmate and over the blade, flip it over and repeat.

    I did enough to clad a shipping container interior in an afternoon but lots of dust.

    Premier Icon simon_g
    Full Member

    They do the job but you have to be vigilant about nails and other crap (a cheap metal detector like a nightclub bouncer uses is handy). They are also make about the loudest, most annoying noise possible for your neighbours, and produce massive amounts of dust/shavings. A Henry or similar hooked up will be full in seconds.

    Premier Icon zilog6128
    Full Member

    I had a quick look on eBay and there’s an old DeWalt thicknesser local to me ending v soon… googled it though & whilst one woodworking site reckoned it was ok, the next one said if it had “made in Italy” on it (which it does), it is post-B&D takeover and therefore shit. Overpriced anyway as it’s had no bites, and I probably don’t want such a big lump sitting there taking up valuable garage space tbh.

    They are also make about the loudest, most annoying noise possible for your neighbours, and produce massive amounts of dust/shavings. A Henry or similar hooked up will be full in seconds.

    both good points!!

    Most pallet wood is kiln dried so relatively stable. However, IME better used as kindling than for construction!

    is that right? I haven’t tried burning any as I thought it might smoke and/or be treated with all kinds of crap. Would save me a fortune with the fire pit though 🤣 🔥


    @WorldClassAccident
    yeah, I’m not doing that 🤣🤣🤣

    Premier Icon Twodogs
    Full Member

    I was doing some rough work with pallets and wanted to smooth them. I found an electric hand plane that was cheap enough to throw away after the job – middle isle of Lidl or similar – and mounted it blade up in a workmate so the blade was just higher than the rest of the surface. The blade was just a little wider than most of the pallets I used.

    I split the pallets getting out every nail I could find and had a big stack of planks ready to go. Zip tied the plane trigger so it was always on and then pushed the plank along the workmate and over the blade, flip it over and repeat.

    I get scared just thinking about that 🙂

    Premier Icon mahowlett
    Free Member

    yeah, you’d need to be pretty careful about which way the wood was going to get fired when it finds a nail you missed at the very least…. scares the crap out of me

    Premier Icon dyna-ti
    Free Member

    Im with WCA on electric hand planer first, then maybe a thicknesser and a cheap one will be fine as long as you only take off 1/2mm at a time.
    Buy a metal detector/nail/stud finder too, as nails with destroy the thicknesser blades, which is not only costly to have reground, but they need specially set up so they are even,parallel and balanced. That job in itself is a pain in the balls.
    Planer, thicknesser are only to take to approximate size, to get them an even consistent thickness. Actual finishing is done with a sander and a belt sander will be your best option.

    Premier Icon Jakester
    Free Member

    s that right? I haven’t tried burning any as I thought it might smoke and/or be treated with all kinds of crap. Would save me a fortune with the fire pit though

    Yep, a lot are – apparently it’s to do with the need for the pallet wood to be treated to prevent nasties being imported/exported during transit. Some have a heat treating mark on them but all of the pallets I’ve ever had have been bone dry and burnt well.

    Premier Icon bridges
    Free Member

    Lol, **** hand planing. 😀 You’ll be bored shitless after a few minutes.

    True, but you will at least learn how to use a plane to smooth wood. An experience which you would find invaluable later on down the line, should you get anywhere serious about woodworking. And I’m talking about proper woodworking, not using pocket hole jigs and Festool Dominos. 😉

    I was doing some rough work with pallets and wanted to smooth them. I found an electric hand plane…

    Do not listen to this person. 😀

    Most pallet wood is kiln dried so relatively stable.

    Yes, but it invariably warps, twists and splits etc, regardless. Plus, it often contains lots of resin. Mmm, resin. Gets **** everywhere, all over your tools, hands, clothes furniture, pets, everywhere. Horrible nasty stuff. It’s the tree’s revenge for being felled too soon.

    Premier Icon kayak23
    Full Member

    I used to have a student that would always call it a ‘thinesser’, as it made the wood thinner, not thicker.
    Couldn’t really argue with that 🤣

    Premier Icon timber
    Full Member

    I’ve got a Triton one as my local contact with a proper big one is no longer local and a lot of people are (rightly) precious over what goes through their machines.

    Chose mine for its extra width as doing window sills from some beech I had in the timber store and wanted as few joins as possible. Done about 30m of 300mm beech boards reduced by 15mm and buried my driveway in shavings.
    Did a few Douglas Fir floorboards in 5m lengths, bit flex to put through without a ton of rests.

    Load of other bits and pieces have gone through because it’s there like workbench top, dining room bench, stuff for shelves, wall cladding.

    I’m happy it’s done what was needed, had my moneys worth out of it. Get some decent ear defenders if you don’t have any.

    Premier Icon Greybeard
    Full Member

    Zip tied the plane trigger so it was always on and then pushed the plank along the workmate and over the blade

    I think your username reflects an attitude, not a single incident…

    Premier Icon footflaps
    Full Member

    I just use pallets as kindling. You get the odd one made of decent wood (normally used for a heavy loads eg stone slabs), but most are just super cheap low density wood.

    Peter Millard reviews some of the cheaper thicknessers eg

    Premier Icon chickenman
    Full Member

    I spent the first 30 years of doing joinery planing on battered old Wadkins planer thicknessers. It was very laborious as the feed rollers were really worn. Recently however I’ve had access to a new spiral block planer: it’s wonderful, four times as fast, hardly any noise and a finish so fine you hardly need to sand.

    Premier Icon sparksmcguff
    Full Member

    Recently bought a metabo. Very nice and has done a great job on a mix of Ash, Beech and Oak.

    Also just broke down a pallet. No way I’m putting that wood through even with all of the nails out it’s knotty rubbish. It has, however, been turned into a not unattractive and quite serviceable planter for my lettuce.

    Premier Icon dyna-ti
    Free Member

    Recently however I’ve had access to a new spiral block planer:

    Oh hark at Mr Flash there. ooooohhh spiral 😆

    I think the OP would be best with one of the cheaper planer thicknessers for a few reasons.
    One is he isnt doing this professionally and i wouldnt think concerned about getting it to the teenth of a mil, and just wants something to take the rough off and pretty much make it square.

    To make it square all round you need a planer/thicknesser and neither single machine can do that job, and for jointing boards together he needs the surface planer aspect of it, for thinning them the thicknesser, and to remove any twist he needs a surface planer.

    If the op is wanting to glue the boards together, i doubt he’s going to worry that it isnt 100% perfect, and small gaps wont be a real problem.

    I would also avoid 2nd off ebay, unless you’re lucky the chances are its been totally shagged to death. Motor, bearings, drive belts, blades etc etc. Might end up with a more expensive model, but if you need to repair or replace these parts i might add up to a hefty price increase, and be an utter pain in the 4r5e.

    I’ve reviewed for you some of the cheaper P/T for you, and of them I’d recommend the Scheppach HMS 1070.
    The main part of it is the fence is considerably better than the cheaper titan or erbauer
    Its not ultra cheap, Scheppach has a reasonable name and reputation and make more expensive tools, so the basic quality will be better than the cheaper, who dont seem to care.

    While the Scheppach isnt the best, it isnt the worst and for a home workshop it is I think more than adequate.
    I’ve the RP PT260 for home use. which is ok for me, weighs in at 80kg and costs about £800.(Im intending to replace with dedicated single machines with spiral blocks). I’ve used a number of professional 400kg+ dedicated planers and thicknessers, so im not talking out me arse. Just trying to get you something thats going to work consistently for the jobs youve described

    Premier Icon bridges
    Free Member

    Not a jack plane.

    Absolutely right. My mistake (I often get planes mixed up, it’s no wonder). A No7 is a jointer. I meant a big, long plane that can be used to ensure flatness along a piece. For quick smoothing of very rough stock, a scrub plane is best of course, to remove large amounts of material, quickly. But that’s why I pay someone else to mill my timber for me.

    Peter Millard reviews some of the cheaper thicknessers eg

    That’s very interesting. My experience with cheap tools tells me they are often false economy. That one he reviewed, didn’t seem too bad, although he did point out that you’d need to do a bit of fettling and fine tuning, to get it to work well. And that it would probably require quite a bit of attention to keep it running well. For me, life’s too short to spend fixing such things, I just want them to work properly. A cheap chisel has poorer quality steel, so needs sharpening more often, and doesn’t hold an edge so well. These are things learned over time.

    Oh hark at Mr Flash there. ooooohhh spiral

    As a result of this thread, I had a look around at a few thicknessers; they can get quite expensive can’t they? I think I could go for something like this, for ‘home use’. If I had somewhere to put it.

    https://www.axminstertools.com/sedgwick-mb-planer-thicknesser-with-spiral-cutter-block-230v-105738

    Premier Icon peaslaker
    Free Member

    I’ve got the Triton thicknesser. Very noisy.

    You need good extraction (flow and capacity) to keep up with it. I’ve got a shop vac linked via a vortex separator that can handle thin cuts (0.4mm) but going 0.8mm over full width is too much for it. I can fill up the 30 litre collector bucket in 15-20 minutes.

    I’d be concerned that with pallet wood you don’t have enough thickness to begin with to have much usable after you’ve got it decently planed on two sides. The Triton is rough and ready and you get a fair bit of snipe (thinner bits at the ends) as well.

    You can put planks through the thicknesser wedged up on a sled to get rid of warp, cup and bends, but this all adds up to material you have to remove leaving a thinner end product.

    Sappy woods gum up the blade and make the rollers slip so you need to stay on top of degumming the works.

    After all said, I’ve got a lot of good work out of my thicknesser and it has paid for itself.

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