I was on a roll, milling stock for drawers, when disaster struck. No matter what I tried, I was getting awful tearout on the maple. I had never experienced anything like it; time to sit down for a bit, take one deep breath, and plot a plan of attack:
- Is there much variation from board to board that some planed well, and now they weren’t?
- How is the grain running?
- Am I getting distracted, and in the process reversing the feed direction, and causing the tearout?
- Should I try a hand plane, and see how the boards behave vs. the planer?
- Have I looked at the planer itself? Blades, speeds, spider webs, gremlins, what else?
- Should I …
The following photo shows what I was dealing with – tearout like I had never, ever, experienced <gulp!…>:
On edge, many of the maple boards showed this kind of change in grain direction – but the DW735 had handled it beautifully, until now! Photo showing change in grain direction on the edge:
Down the checklist I went. A Stanley # 4-1/2 hand plane handled the grain beautifully. Now what? Blades! Look at the blades on the planer, dummy! In almost 5 years, I had never (ever!) changed the blades. On this planer, the blades are double-edged, and can be rotated. It took exactly 15 minutes to rotate the three blades (each was secured with 8 machine screws). Indexing pins on the blade turret made the job a snap, as nothing more is required to set the blades properly.
Problem solved! The first board off the planer looked like this:
The moral of the story: If you are going along fine, and everything hits the proverbial fan, something has changed. Time to find the root cause!
—— Al Navas