Precision in Practice: Mastering the Art of Double-Sided Planing

by:V-hold Machinery      2024-03-25


Woodworking is an ancient craft that has stood the test of time, and one of the fundamental techniques in this art is planing. Planing allows woodworkers to smooth out rough surfaces, straighten warped boards, and create accurately dimensioned pieces. Among the various types of planing, double-sided planing takes precision to a whole new level. In this article, we will delve into the intricacies of this technique and explore the skills and practices required to master the art of double-sided planing.

Why Double-Sided Planing Matters

Double-sided planing is a crucial technique in woodworking because it ensures that both faces of a board are flat, smooth, and parallel to each other. While single-sided planing may be sufficient for certain applications, double-sided planing offers an unparalleled level of precision and ensures consistency in thickness and quality across the entire piece. This technique is particularly vital in projects where both sides of the wood will be visible, such as tabletops, cabinet doors, or high-end furniture.

To achieve perfection with double-sided planing, woodworkers must have a thorough understanding of the process, utilize the appropriate tools, and employ proper techniques. Let's explore these aspects further.

The Process of Double-Sided Planing

Double-sided planing involves carefully and systematically flattening both faces of a board to achieve optimum thickness, smoothness, and parallelism. The process typically consists of the following steps:

1. Initial Assessment and Preparation: Begin by examining the board for any defects, such as cupping, twisting, or excessive warping. It is essential to start with a well-prepared and stable workpiece to ensure accurate results. If the board is excessively warped, it may be necessary to address this issue before proceeding with the planing process.

2. Face Jointing: Face jointing is the initial step in double-sided planing, where one face of the board is flattened to create a reference surface. This process involves using a jointer or a hand plane to remove any twists, cups, or bows from the face of the board. It is crucial to focus on achieving a flat reference surface that serves as a guide for subsequent planing.

3. Thickness Planing: Once the reference face is established, it's time to move on to thickness planing. This step involves consistently removing material from the opposite face of the board until the desired thickness is achieved. It is important to pay close attention to maintaining parallelism and an even thickness across the entire width of the board.

4. Flipping and Final Planing: After the desired thickness is achieved on one face, it's time to flip the board and repeat the process on the previously untouched face. This involves face jointing the second side to achieve a reference surface and then thickness planing until the desired thickness and parallelism are attained, matching the first face.

5. Surface Finishing: After the double-sided planing process is complete, it is advisable to give the board a final smoothing to remove any planer marks or imperfections. You can achieve this by using a hand plane or sanding the surface until it reaches the desired level of smoothness.

Tools and Techniques for Double-Sided Planing

To master the art of double-sided planing, woodworkers need to have the appropriate tools and employ effective techniques. Here are some essential tools and techniques to consider:

1. Jointer: A jointer is a powerful tool used for flattening and straightening the reference face of the board during the face jointing process. It consists of an infeed table and an outfeed table, with a cutterhead in between. The jointer's precision and ability to remove material accurately make it an indispensable tool for double-sided planing.

2. Thickness Planer: A thickness planer allows woodworkers to achieve consistent thickness across the entire board. This machine uses rotating blades to remove material from the opposite face of the board, ensuring parallelism and accurate thickness. Using a thickness planer significantly speeds up the process compared to hand planing, especially for larger projects.

3. Hand Planes: Hand planes play a crucial role in double-sided planing, especially during the face jointing process. They allow woodworkers to remove material by hand, catering to smaller projects or areas that may be difficult to access with power tools. Hand planes with a wider base, such as jointer planes or jack planes, are commonly used for this purpose.

4. Parallel Clamps: When flipping the board to work on the second face during double-sided planing, it is essential to secure the piece in place to prevent movement. Parallel clamps are versatile and provide even pressure along the entire length of the board, ensuring stability during the planing process.

5. Techniques: When performing double-sided planing, focus on maintaining consistency and accuracy. Take light passes with the jointer or thickness planer, gradually removing material until the desired results are achieved. Pay close attention to grain direction, ensuring smooth and tear-out-free cuts. Additionally, regularly check the board's thickness and parallelism using precision measuring tools, such as calipers or straightedges.


Mastering the art of double-sided planing requires dedication, practice, and an understanding of the process and tools involved. Double-sided planing ensures a high level of precision and consistency in woodworking projects and is particularly important when both sides of the wood will be visible. By following the proper process, utilizing the right tools, and employing effective techniques, woodworkers can achieve flawless results in their woodworking endeavors. So, whether you're crafting a stunning tabletop or an intricate piece of furniture, mastering the art of double-sided planing will undoubtedly elevate your woodworking skills to new heights.

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