Minimizing Planer Snipe

Wood machining pros discuss the causes and cures for "snipe" at the end of planed boards. August 23, 2005

I recently acquired a General Intl 15" planer with the motor mounted under the base. This model is similar to the Jet, Grizzly, Powermatic, and Bridgewood 15" planers except for the paint. My problem is snipe. I got the planer and can't get rid of the snipe no matter what I try.

I adjusted the infeed, outfeed and chipbreaker to .020 as per manufacturer recommendation. I also adjusted the bed rollers to .005 and tried rollers beneath the table and still had snipe. I did some research online with the other similar planers and some say to adjust the infeed, outfeed and chipbreaker at .020 and others say .040 below the knives. So what gives? I guess I could live with the snipe with some planning, but if there is a way to eliminate it I am all ears. The snipe is on both ends of the board.

Forum Responses
(Solid Wood Machining Forum)
From contributor S:
I have occasional success with minimizing snipe by elevating the far ends of my infeed and outfeed conveyors to be slightly higher than the planer table, and minimize the setting on the bed rollers. As an example, I have a 6' long infeed conveyor. The end of the conveyer at the planer is set at the same height as the planer table, and the opposite end is set 1" to 2" higher.

From contributor L:
I have the Jet 15" and I also get a small amount of infeed/outfeed snipe. It usually occurs on boards thinner than 7/8", thicker boards usually do not have snipe. I called up Jet and they told me to adjust the infeed and outfeed rollers tighter than what was there from the factory and if that did not work then to do what Scott has suggested, raise the far end of the outfeed table/rollers.

I have not done this yet, but when I am doing small amounts of wood I just lift the end of the board up some and it will usually eliminate the snipe. Feeding end to end with multiple boards will usually yield a snipe on the first infeed board and the last outfeed board with no snipe for the boards in the middle.

From contributor F:

My advice is only for someone who planes batches of wood for furniture or other woodworking projects. If you are selling lumber or something else of the nature that requires you to plane vast amounts of stock per day, you are better off with a planer that is built for it.

That said, I have a 15.625" Makita planer and I have almost totally eliminated end snipe (what little snipe I do get is probably .010- .015" (very slight). From what I know, the big culprit in snipe is the bed rollers. Think about it in exaggerated terms. The bed rollers are set, lets say 1/4" above the table height, you feed in a board, it hits the infeed bed roller which pushes it up, which causes the end of the board to get cut deeper than the rest of the board. The same happens when it hits the outfeed bed roller.

Take your bed rollers way down or all the way to exactly flush with the table and you should see results. Another fact that others mentioned is that the thinner the board, the greater the potential for end snipe. When I plane any thinner than .625", I put an auxiliary table (3/4" melamine with a cleat on the front edge to holt it in place) down on my planer bed. The auxiliary almost totally eliminates snipe in thin stock.

A word of caution - you must keep your planner bed or your auxiliary bed if you are using one waxed at all times and not run with very dull knives. Some planers will break if you fail to wax , run dull knives, or take too big a cut when you donít have much bed roller in play.

I broke my planer a couple of times before I finally wised up and decided it wasnít worth it to be cheap about sharpening and the time spent changing knives. Listen to your planer, the sound will tell you if you are pushing it.

From contributor F:
To the original questioner: I re-read your post and saw that you did take the bed rollers all the way down. I can only say that I flatten all of my stock on one wide face with the jointer before I plane it. Itís time consuming, but very nice to build with and that may be why I donít get snipe.

From contributor B:
While bed rollers can be a cause of end snipe I've always considered the major culprit on a properly adjusted planer to be the geometry of planers. Since you've made sure your planer is adjusted as per factory specifics, and also have tried planing with the bed rollers below the table, I suspect this is the problem.

When you first infeed a board it is pushed down by the overhead infeed roller. Then it passes under the cutter head and finally encounters the overhead outfeed roller. The second roller increases the downward pressure on the board pressing it flat against the table. The board continues through with both overhead feed rollers pressing down until the tail end passes beyond the infeed roller. Subsequently you only have one roller pressing down from that point to the end of the board.

My take on this is that end snipe occurs at both ends in that area where the wood has not yet engaged the outfeed roller (infeed end snipe) and has left the infeed roller (outfeed end snipe). If you measure the distance between the center of the cutter head and the center of the feed rollers, and then measure the length of your end snipe on the board ends you can confirm whether or not this is the case.

As other people have suggested, the cure is to support the end of the board slightly higher then the planer bed during that point in the cut where the board is only held down by one feed roller.
You did not mention what you have for infeed and/or outfeed support. You can't expect a plank that is cantilevered out typically 8' to 12' from the center of the planer to be held solidly on the planer table by only one spring loaded feed roller. End snipe is almost a certainty.

Also, thinner boards can have more end snipe then thicker boards because they are more flexible and will bend up into the cutter head more easily then a thicker board. Also, I think we tend to hold onto heavier boards more solidly and subsequently help them remain in the same plane as the planer table. Again though, all this applies to a properly adjusted planer. Improperly adjusted bed rollers can certainly also cause significant end snipe.

From contributor F:
Contributor B's excellent input is the last puzzle piece. In my case, even though my boards are almost perfectly flat on the face I place down on the planer bed, I still get .010" snipe on the ends because the rotation of the cutter head pulls the material up while it is only in contact with one feed roller.

For my purposes, I am rough cutting solid wood furniture parts about 1" longer than net size. I then run the wide face on the jointer until itís flat. When I plane the parts I have to squint to see the snipe. After I dress out the edges of the part I cut about 1/2" off each end and itís finished.

From the original questioner:
I did measure the distance of the snipe on both ends of the board and it does match up with the placement of my infeed and outfeed rollers. I do have infeed and outfeed support, and two cast tables come with the machine. One thing I have found is if I run the board skewed into the planer it eliminates the snipe on the beginning of the board. I still have snipe, but less on the rear. Can anyone explain why?

From contributor B:
Make sure your infeed and outfeed tables are in the same plane as the center planer bed. Do this with a good straight edge. If not, they could be kicking your material up or letting it drop down. This could explain less snipe when skewing the feed angle as one edge of a table might be more accurately aligned.

From contributor S:
I am wondering what exactly is snipe?

From contributor L:
Snipe is the name for what occurs when your planer infeed and/or outfeed roller pressure is not set up perfectly. When you plane a board, usually the first 2-3" and the last 2-3" of the board end up a little thinner than the rest of the board. Acceptable snipe is in the area of less than 1/64".
If you have anything greater than that and you will have a hard time sanding it out. One method of getting around snipe is to make sure your boards are longer than you need and you can cut the sniped area off. But this is wasteful and itís best to spend some time adjusting your roller pressures to get the least amount