Laminating & Thicknessing

As I have noted in recent posts, we are now firmly into the hull construction and also noted that a neighbour’s Wadworth saw made short work of providing rough-sized planks for lamination. I thought I would just write a little further on the business of reducing these planks to boards ready for laminating, and the lamination process.

Planer Thicknesser

I had zero experience of these tools, so agonized long and hard about buying one. Their objective is to allow you to plane a flat surface (or bevel) and more importantly to size rough saw stock to accurately sized boards. You need the latter to construct the larger hull components by laminating multiple “lifts”  or “veneers” together (like big-scale plywood). “Home DIY” tools often disappoint and prove a false economy when confronted with a “man sized” job (which Befur is), so I wondered about buying a 2nd-hand professional tool, but surveying e-bay convinced me decent ones would cost £500+ – so I surveyed the market for a semi-pro version . I decided I needed one which could accommodate boards up to 120mm high (or wide) – so an 8-inch model seemed right.

Eventually I purchased an ErBauer 204mm planer from Screwfix. … and I have to tell you this proved a good decision. Thus far it has performed faultlessly.

It produces very even boards, with a fine finish, and has a duty cycle which seems to exceed mine. (For example I was able to thickness four 4M 120mm boards reducing their thickness from 22mm to 15mm, without stopping (apart from emptying the dust collector) – this was over an 1hr’s work and at the end the motor was still cool…)

The limiting factor is that it can only take about 1-2mm per cut.

Planer Thicknesser Planer Thicknesser with dust collection Planer Thicknesser The dust collection is actually another story…. I went 50/50 with a friend to buy a second hand dust collector (the two cloth-bag and fan variety) and in the process discovered a couple of things worth noting)…

  1. These sort of collectors do NOT filter the harmful dust from the air (the sub-4 micron stuff) that sticks in your lungs. To get rid of this you either need a shop vacuum with “hepa-style” filters, or buy a cyclone-type filter and catch the big bits and blow the fine stuff outside or get one with big “air filters”… these cost £1500+ 😦 … I started to build one, but eventually concluded the cloth-bag variety shown above plus a face mask was better/faster/cheaper.
  2. The cloth-bag dust collector can only JUST cope with the planer, and it’s very sensitive to cut depth and timber selection. On the finest grained of the planks it’s OK, but with the coarser-grained boards it chokes up, and you need to stop and un-bung/clear it about every 3 or 4 passes (this probably helps the duty cycle too!)


When you bear in mind that the epoxy costs about £130/gallon one rapidly starts to want to economize in it’s use! It’s very noticeable how much of the mix is extruded from the joints when you place the clamps on, so there is a strong temptation to be stingy on how much you put in – but I imagine this would feel like a false economy when the hull splits open at sea!!! Time will tell…. 🙂 Also as the West System manuals explain, too much pressure is a bad thing, as you do not want to squash all the adhesive out of the joints – but what’s too much? Also when you put lamination together and try clamping them, you have the two components effectively floating on a bed of liquid epoxy, and so they are very keen to slide about (read “slide out of position”). So allow for the fact you will need to clamp in virtually every direction… buy more clamps! And remember you will be binning a brush for EVERY mix, so find a cheap source and think about possible sculptural projects that can be constructed from brushes with a fine/clear gloss finish that appear to be made of a single piece of iron! 🙂

Below are some pictures of the initial laminating of the Stem – two components that are eventually joined by a triangular “knee”

Part of Inner Stem

Laminated and planed to size

laminating inner stem

seven 20mm laminations clamped (lightly) to bond

1 thought on “Laminating & Thicknessing

  1. Pingback: Under the Cosh! | SY Befur

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