De planer! De planer!

Earlier this week I ordered a 13-inch Grizzly planer-molder. Our initial job for it is to plan several thousand lineal feet of painted molding from our house through it to strip it back to its original finish. After that, some custom molding for the dining room. I can’t wait until it arrives – all 217 pounds (98 kilos) of it. It’s kind of like “Tool Fantasy Island.”

Comments (4)
  1. Bill says:

    As I recall paint – especially many coats of old paint – eats high speed steel blades for breakfast. I hope you ordered extra planer blades because you’ll be changing them often.

    Use good quality respirators – many older paints contain lead (among other nice things) and you’ll be generating a lot of dust loaded with paint particles.

    It would also be worthwhile to check the moldings for small nails buried in the paint. Two things can happen… damage the planer blade, but also bits of nail can be shot like a bullet. Make sure no one stands in front of the planer.

  2. johnmont says:

    Excellent advice. I had planned for the nails and the lead paint, but not for going through blades quickly. The good news is that a new set of knives for this planer is $40.


  3. Xepol says:

    I thought a good chemical strip was the choice for removing paint.  Replaning the boards is a little more "errosive" isn’t it? (assuming you have exactly the right knives in the first place)

    Cool tool tho.

  4. johnmont says:

    The "chemical stripper vs. heat gun" debate is about as good a religious war as the "Java vs. .NET" debate.

    I’ve done a huge amount of stripping (wood, not clothes) and found two things: Different techniques apply in different circumstances, and that I’ll wind up using all techniques before I’m done.

    Chemical strippers are generally very messy, expensive, and noxious. You can improve one of the three attributes, but you lose something on the other two. (For example, less noxious generally means more expensive. Less messy means more expensive. Less costly generally means less effective — another dimension.)

    The heat gun is my preferred tool, but I found that it took a long time to do very short amounts, that it didn’t get everything, and that the surface often would have either gouges or burn marks no matter how careful I was. (Generally sanding would take them out, but it is still frustrating to watch a little curl of wood smoulder as you scrape paint on the next inch of moulding).

    Being a "anything worth doing is worth doing quickly" kind of guy, I wondered about planing — a technique I saw on "This Old House" for a 4′ door once. I first rented a handheld planer from Home Depot and it showed promise, though the blade was horribly misadjusted. So I bought a Dewalt 3.5" electric hand planer, set the depth to 0" and tried it. I was impressed: it shucked off paint and only very lightly touched the wood. After planing about ten feet in the time it would have taken to heat gun or chemically strip about a foot, I was sold.

    I’ll still have to use the heat gun and the chemicals to get the final finish, but the planer will make the chore hugely simpler.

    There are downsides. For one, it’s an expensive tool (though I will use it for many other projects). For another, this process requires me to remove all the moulding in the house (which can damage the walls) and then to reinstall it.

    The upside of removing all the molding is that I can stain and seal it in a very controlled environment, patch and paint the walls, then reinstall the woodwork.

    It’s an experiment. I don’t know if it’s going to be great, but I do know that I would have gone insane spending every evening for a few months stripping paint with a heat gun.

    Plus it’s a cool tool.

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