Woodworking in the great white north.

The cheapest outfeed roller EVER!

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While working on my workbench, I was at the point where I needed to plane the surfaces of the two slabs.  These are roughly 11 1/2″x4″ slabs.  One is 6′ long, the other 7′ long.  Which is to say, they’re crazy heavy and awkward and cumbersome and pure madness to handle on one’s own.  So, naturally, I decided to try it!  My biggest challenge was going to be handling the boards on the outfeed side.  Before I go there, you’ll need to understand how my planing system is set up.

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My planer (a 12″ lunchbox planer) is mounted on a rolling cart.  The height of the infeed/outfeed wings on the planer end up about 2″ above the surface of my bench and table saw.  I typically roll the planer over to the bench and use the bench as the outfeed.  This is pretty good when dealing with smallish boards, I’m able to scoot around to the outfeed side and help hold up the leading edge as it feeds through the planer.

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My problem is that the two slabs are just so massive and heavy that I would easily wreck my back stretching out to hold up the board up on the outfeed side.  I needed some outfeed rollers, and fast.

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The problem with outfeed rollers is that they are static.  I’d need more than one of them and have to find a way to hold them down to the bench, which meant screwing them down with the current bench.  Nixed that idea.  What I really needed was something else to roll along the bench with the board.

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Hmm…something that rolls?  Think…think…think.  BINGO!  A BALL!  Ok, so I’m a little slow on the uptake.  It turns out that a tennis ball is just the right size.  Of course, not to derail my already brilliant solution, but as I explained this to someone this morning, I realized that another way would be to use a paint roller tube.  Not only is it soft enough to not mar the workpiece, it’s not going to wander like tennis balls might.  I’ll try that next time.

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So, with a stool to help balance the slabs on the infeed side and tennis balls on the outfeed side, I moved the first slab into place and let it go.  I was very, very happy with the outcome.  Not only did the balls gently carry the slab, they were also just a little higher than the outfeed.  The benefit of this was twofold.  First, it helped by lifting the slab a little, reducing drag on the outfeed wing.  Second, and much more importantly, the added height helped keep the leading edge higher up, which is a decent way of minimizing snipe on the trailing edge.

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So, if you’re cheap like me and need outfeed support like I did….go buy a couple of tennis balls, or try the paint roller idea and see how it works for you.

One last tip…with big heavy slabs, make sure you wax the planer bed and wings with some pastewax from time to time.  The reduced drag is remarkably noticeable.

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One response

  1. Wrote and posted this from the BlackBerry Playbook WordPress app. I think the app needs a bit of work…have to clean up formatting on a PC. Could be my lack of education though. 🙂

    March 13, 2012 at 10:29 pm

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