What is Sniping on a Planer?

Most of the time, wood from the lumber yard is not perfect. You will usually need to level out the wood for a smooth and consistent thickness before any work can begin. This can be achieved through Planer Thicknesser tools but there is one drawback with these woodworking marvels. They are prone to sniping the wood.

Once you have purchased an expensive piece of wood, the worst outcome is seeing it ruined from snipe.

Sniping in woodwork refers to a deep cut in the lumber. This occurs at the leading or trailing end of the board and sometimes both at the same time. Sniping appears as the lumber is passed through a planer or a jointer.

If you are lucky, sniping can be quite minor and only becomes noticeable once you begin to apply a finish. On the other hand, it can be quite severe. Extreme sniping can cause deep gouges and result in irreversible damage to your piece of lumber.

What causes snipe on a planer?

You should understand how a planer operates when finding out the cause of snipe in wood.

A planer machine has two pressure rollers that are located on either side of the cutter head. The board is held in position by these rollers in order to make consistent and even contact with the blade as it moves through the planer.

This is when issues can arise. When the board is first fed through into the planer, the infeed roller is the only component that is holding the lumber down. This can cause the workpiece to slightly lift up into the planer’s cutting blade resulting in the first 3 to 4 inches of the board being thinner than the rest of it.

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The same problem happens when the board exits the planer. At this point, only the outfeed roller, which is situated after the blade, holds the wooden board in place. Again, the tail end of the board is lifted into the blade causing this part to be thinner than the rest.

Do all planers have snipe?

Almost all planers are guilty of causing snipe. However, some of the best, such as these UK based planer thicknessers are less likely to cause this problem. Manufacturers are all too aware of the sniping issue with planers and work tirelessly to eradicate suc problems with their machines. As technology continues to advance, we hope sniping will one day be a thing of the past.

Unfortunately, at the moment, sniping is here to stay in most planers. However, you can reduce planer snipe and even eliminate it with some simple techniques.

One of the simplest ways is to hold the workpiece firmly on the table during the in-feed and then the out-feed. This can help minimize this common problem and even prevent it entirely. You must be very careful when performing this process, though, due to the rotation of the supremely sharp cutting blades.

Alternatively, you can also use an old, discarded piece of wood and place it in the front of the actual board. Therefore, the old wooden piece takes the brunt of the snipe at both ends. You’ll be happy to know that this method works just about every time.

How can you stop a planer from sniping?

There are other methods of stopping your planer from sniping. Let’s take a look at some below:

  • Lift the board up – It isn’t always possible to have your infeed and outfeed tables level with the height of the planer table. If this is the case, you should lift up the back end of the board as it makes contact with the cutter head. This way, the front end of the board is in contact with the table of the planer for even contact with the cutter. Do the same as it exits.
  • Use spare side runners – Attach strips of old wood to either side of your workpiece. These should be around a foot longer than your workpiece but about the same thickness.
  • Perform regular upkeep/maintenance – Keep the cutter head clean, flat, and smooth. Inspect the equipment for any sap residue, build up of lubricant, dust, and wood chips. Apply finishing wax paste to the planer table so wood can pass smoothly under the cutter.
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Can you sand out snipe?

It is possible to sand out some degree of snipe but this could be very time consuming. However, a belt sander could cut this time down significantly when compared to manual hand-held sanding. However, the thickness of the affected area depends on how well sanding could work.

If the snipe is very small and light, you could get away with a little sanding on those areas. You could even run it through a planer again at a smaller thickness but if you opt for this method, you must ensure that it doesn’t repeat any sniping again.

If you’re hand sanding, use stop shavings when you sand the centre section only. Do this until you’re down to the level of the sniped areas and then opt for full-length shavings.

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