Electric Planer Mod

Turning an electric hand plane into a mobile thicknesser and jointer of sorts. This hardwood contraption attaches to the end of an electric plane and let’s you run it along a flat bench top at an adjustable height, with your workpiece stationary below it.

Complete electric hand plane attachment

This was a project born out of necessity. I’ve been eyeing off a thickness planner recently, which is an awesome tool for planning timber to particular size, so I can more easily turn my huge pile of old timber into some usable boards. Really I would love both a thicknesser and a jointer, but each can cost up to $1000 even for small units. 

What I do have however is a cheap electric hand plane, which fundamentally has the same cutting action, so I thought it might be fun to see if I could make some sort of contraption to make use of it. My plane has some little flat sides with some threaded inserts already, so this is where I started my thinking, and figured I could attach something there. So onto the building, and using some scrap hardwood trimmed down and drilled, the staring point was done. 

Two little hardwood blocks cut to size and secured with M5 machine screws.

Next a shaped part that connects up to the two small blocks, making room for accessing the planner adjustment knob. 

Nice to have my big new bandsaw set up as this sort of thing is just so easy and quick

To give this some decent strength I used some dowels through into the legs. 

A couple of 6mm dowels in each piece should be strong enough.

Now for the slighty tricky part. Two adjustable height legs have to be attached. With some creative drilling I worked out a way to secure a normal nut from rotating, which will allows me to just use bolts to clamp on the adjustable legs. 

Using a forstner bit I drilled a hole just deep enough to put the nut in, but to shallow enough so the nut won’t rotate. This holds it in place so you can tighten it up just from the head of the bolt only.

After some slots cut out on the legs with the drill press and some hand filing, this thing could finally come together.

Was pleasantly surprised to find it seems to work! It is sturdy enough and well secured to the plane. The slots were a bit tight but that can be fixed. I quickly worked out a simple setup: find a block of the desired thickness and set up the plane to a zero depth cut. Place the shoe of the plane of the block, and then lower the legs of the attachment all the way down. Then re-adjust the depth of cut so something reasonable for your timber, and it’s ready to go!

A before and after. The electric plane is a bit rough particularly on the very hard timber, so a little hand planning was also in order to get rid of cutter marks.

I’ll call this “Mark 1” as I’m sure there are things that I could improve. It’s certainly not as good as the real thing, taking longer and being rougher, but for the cost (i.e. basically nothing if you use offcuta like I did) it’s decent solution for some basic board thicknessing and flattening. It’s troubles are keeping the board still, debris building up under the board, and of course at best it will only get things as flat as your work bench. Finally even if you are careful, because you are moving the tool by hand, it’s prone to rocking twisting and alike. But it gets you pretty close and then you can smooth out any errors with an old school hand plane. 


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