Introduction: How to Make a Simple Planer Sled for Flattening Wide Boards

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How to make a simple planer sled for flattening wide boards! Using a thickness planer to flatten cutting boards and slabs is easy and can save you hours in the shop. Sometimes its the simple shop projects that help you the most!

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Step 1: Cut the Sled to Fit Your Planer Width

For this project I like to use 3/4" MDF or Melamine because its perfectly flat and will slide easily across your planer bed. As far as the dimensions go, the width will be determined by the width of the thickness planer that you have in your shop. I have a 13" planer so I will need to rip my sled to just under 13" wide. Your sled will need to be just shy of the width capacity of your particular planer.

The length can vary and just needs to be a little longer that the board that you are flattening. Im using my sled to flatten cutting boards and serving boards so I will be cutting mine at approximately three feet long, which should give me plenty of length.

Step 2: Cut and Attach the Cleat

The cleat will be attached to the back side of the sled and will prevent your board from being pushed backwards as it goes through the planer. The cleat can be made from the same material as your sled but I like to use 1/2" material so that I ensure that the cleat is thinner than the pieces that Im flattening. Sometimes cutting boards can get close to 3/4" thick so I want to insure that I have a thinner cleat so that my blades do not contact the cleat instead of the piece Im flattening.

The cleat will be cut approximately 1 1/2" to 2" wide and the length will be the same measurement as the width of your sled. Make sure to pre-drill the holes for the screws so that the screws are sunk into the wood preventing any possibilities of your planer blades making contact with them.

Step 3: How to Secure a Board to Be Flattened

Lay the board, that needs to be flattened, directly on the sled and up against the cleat. Next you want to push down on the board to determine where the gaps are between the sled and board. Anywhere there is a gap add a shim until the board does not rock on the sled and then secure it with small amounts of hot glue. Using hot glue will make sure that the board can be removed easily and it will not hurt or leave discoloration on the wood.

Step 4: Run the Sled Through the Planer to Flatten Your Board

Insert the sled into the planer, adjust the planer to make shallow cuts, and run the sled with the board through the planer. Repeat this process, making shallow cuts each time, until the top side of your board has been flattened. After that, remove the board from the sled, and run it back through the planer without the sled and with the flattened side down and against the bed of the planer. Thats it! Now your board is nice and flat in a matter of minutes!

For more details you can watch the full build video here:

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