Buying a Planer for Big Timbers

Heavy-duty planing capability requires a whole different class of machine. March 9, 2010

I am considering the addition of a planer to my sawmill. It depends somewhat on whether we bid successfully for a project which includes 8" x 8" and 8" x 12" hardwood timber which would be S4S.

Can anyone recommend a planer that could handle these dimensions? We are partial to a 2 sided planer, but have not been able to locate one that can handle 12" heights. I'm wondering if there is such a planer, or if I should pursue a 1 sided planer or a 4 sided planer.

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor S:
Just planing 2 sides at a time won't give you a square timber. A planer that can plane that big is Pinheiro 1000 series. I have the size smaller, and love the machine. Call Rivervalley Machine.

From Professor Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
It is unusual to see green or air-dried timbers being S4S, as many will twist and warp as they dry. Further, the region around knots will shrink unevenly. The weight of such pieces is very high. A green oak 8 x 12 x 8' is over 5 cubic feet or 300 pounds. Infeed and outfeed tables must be sturdy enough to hold such weight. I do not believe that a two headed planer would work for your needs, as they are not designed for such heavy work. Also, be aware that green planer shavings are almost twice as heavy as dry ones, so you need a great dust system. You will have to find disposal for green shavings. Also, any shavings left in the machine will rust it quickly.

From the original questioner:
Doc, our plan was to air dry in our shed at least 4 months prior to surfacing. We are most aware that a proper dust collector will be needed. My coworker and I have very much ruled out the 2 sided option due to the fact that all we can find are machines that adjust from the bottom, which would not allow heavy duty tables, but wanted to ask here first. I take it the 4 sided wins over the 1 sided? Thank you.

From contributor B:
We run a Baker M-412. I know it can handle those dimensions, but running something that big and heavy would require a little prep work, and specialized machine setup (i.e. adding support to in and out tables, and getting multiple side heads and cutters). The new PH-260 from Logosol could also do this, but it would only let you run 2 sides at a time (top and bottom), then flip 90 degrees, then re-run. Both companies have DVD's they'll send regarding their equipment.

From Professor Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
I have seen a planer that looks more like a hand sander. It was about 4" wide, so it would take several passes, but maybe this is the best for a one-time deal.

From contributor C:
Norwood Industries has a new planer, the Lm410, that puts commercial-grade log building and custom log-molding capabilities into the hands of all sawyers. It can handle beams as big as 24" x 24". It mounts on the mill's rails and is adjustable to fit other sawmills.

From contributor J:
Cantek America has a double sided planer which can do 25" x 16".

From contributor U:
I would approach the problem with two solutions, quite opposite... Get a hand planer (like a belt sander) from Mafell that could plane 15'' wide. This won't give the squareness of the corner. Saw the beams oversize by say 1'' and just prior to using them, get them back on the saw to straighten them and correct the square and at the last step, hand plane. Very costly steps. Or, get a big 4 sided planer. The installation is only justified if you expect to produce a lot of those beams.

From Professor Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
Some of the planers suggested here are called heavy duty, but are not equipped to handle 300 pound pieces of wood. Further, I see very few that open to over 12", as you require. Some of them are over $50,000 (and a few over $100,000). How many timbers would it take to pay for the equipment, let alone the electrical cost, handling cost, infeed and outfeed tables, and so on? Remember that a two-sided planer needs twice the dust system of a single head. And a four-sided needs four times the capacity. Further, the price of a knife is very high, so a four-sided planer with 12" knives will be very expensive. Also, note that some of the machines referenced are for making moldings and the like and not for planing four wide surfaces at once. The horsepower of the motors is not able to remove much material in one pass... Often on a 12" wide surface, they will not remove more than 1/32" to 1/64" (but on a 3" wide surface could remove 4 times more).

How about looking for a planer that will work, such as a Newman S-382 or 282, and then asking the manufacturer for a listing of planers in your area, and then contacting the owners of the machines to see if they will do custom work for you?

From contributor S:
Once you make a commitment on a large planer, you can sell the sawmill services to match your planing capacities. Can't get to second base if you don't leave first.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for all the responses. I have looked at all the options and am reviewing with the boss and other personnel concerned.

I really like the Logosol LM 410. It is inexpensive and if one takes dust collection into account, it would also require very little in that regard. My boss pointed out that it would only plane a perfectly straight timber, but this is all my customer would want either way. The potential order is for about 200 pieces 8 x 8 x 14-18' and 120 8 x 12 x 16'. There would be a total of 7 orders of this quantity. It would likely pay for any machine we purchase.

From contributor J:
I'm with the first response. We just bought a used Pinheiro 800 series planer from Paul at River Valley Machinery in June. Very impressed!