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Why are you doing it?
If it helps you select color, grain, defects, etc that affect how you rip it, then maybe consider buying it already hit and miss planed for a few cents more.
It really depends upon what you are using for a moulder. If it is a full blown multi-head moulder with bottom face joining capability then I think the answer is no.
If on the other hand you are using a small shop machine like a Williams & Hussey or Woodmaster then the answer would be yes.
Im sorry I should have been more specific. It is a six head moulder with bottom face jointing.
You're going to get better results ripping with lumber that has been surfaced to the same thickness.
I agree with JR, have your lumber brought in hit or missed.
We never run rough lumber through our moulders, even with "face jointing" capability. When we got our first moulder, almost 20 years ago, we tried it. Sure, it's better than a 4-head moulder with no jointing, but nothing compares to properly flattened material.
For material where flatness is less important, such as flooring or running trim (both of which get nailed into place), we may buy the material hit-or-miss dressed. Or we may do it ourselves. However, for more critical work, such as picture frame moulding which requires long straight pieces, we prefer to flatten it ourselves. For absolute best results, we rip in the rough, then flatten. This narrows the piece to the width required and makes the flattening/straightening process more successful.
We use an Ironwood 2-sided planer, that uses the Strat-O-Plan style infeed/holddown system. However, as we feed it, we put aside any pieces that we feel will not be straightened will enough, and run those over the jointer.
Yes, we put a lot of work into flattening/straightening, but the results speak for themselves - our customers are our best advocates.
To answer the question - it depends what matters to you. Do a run of at least 1000LF. Pre-plane half of it, and compare the results. Then do it again, on a different profile/species. Then again. Really, only you can answer the question.
Thanks everyone for sharing. David, do you think your method would work as successfully with a single head planer?
Definitely not "as successful" with a single head planer (assuming it's a traditional cabinet planer type), because it doesn't provide very much flattening ability.
As previously mentioned, if you can get your lumber supplier to hit-or-miss it to 1/16" under dimension (4/4 to 15/16", 5/4 to 1-3/16", etc), that would be the most cost effective if you don't have a flattening planer.
If you can't get it that way, get a different supplier (just kidding); I would probably try it. just one pass on the side that you want to run on the table. Before we had a moulder or flattening planer, we would always run anything through the cabinet planer at least 3 passes if it wasn't face jointed first. Start by planing the face, then the back, and then the face again.
We always tried to get our lumber in rough. We ran a lot of thick moulding out of 4/4. Our problem with preplaned material was all the severe hit and miss. We would end up sending half of it back. We would rip in the rough and then send through the double surfacer. Then through 5 head moulder. If I would have had a 6 head machine with 2 top heads I would have done no pre surfacing. Hope this helps. Jay
"Our problem with preplaned material was all the severe hit and miss."
This is an indicator of one of two problems - a REALLY bad machine, or - much more likely poorly dried lumber. The fact that it was lots of hit or miss would suggest to me that it was being flattened out, to the extent it could be in the amount of material being taken off. Unless you had opportunity to rip and/or cross-cut before trying to flatten it yourself anyone would have the same results. It's simple physics - you can't take off what's not there. Just last week I had a guy order 5/4 planed to 1-1/8. I told him that, sure, I can set the planer for 1-1/8 and run it through, but it will not be cleaned up. With very rare exceptions we will not produce anything thicker than standard nominal thickness (4/4 = .750", 5/4 = 1.000", etc) with our name on it. Can you find a few 4/4 boards in a pile that will flatten out and clean up at 7/8 or even up to a full 1"? Sure, but you can't count on it.
"If I would have had a 6 head machine with 2 top heads I would have done no pre surfacing."
To save you the heartache if you ever do think about replacing the 5 head, don't bother with the 6th head for that reason. Any and all flattening is done on the first bottom (and it does NO where as good a job as a proper flattening planer). The top head(s) are just thicknessing. The only reason for using two top heads when planing is if you don't have enough HP to take off as much as you need in one pass.
BTW - how your supplier hit-or-misses is important. We used to get our hard maple from a mill that would only guarantee color/stain if we got it hit-or-missed. But they ran it through a 12" moulder (with a first bottom "jointing" head) to plane it. It did such a poor job of flattening that I told them I would pay extra to get it rough so we could do it properly.