Limiting Tear-Out when Planing Curly Maple

Advice on dealing with the various grain directions in "curly," "birdseye," or "tiger" Maple. July 16, 2009

Whatís the best way to plane tiger map without getting tearout?

Forum Responses
(Solid Wood Machining Forum)
From contributor J:
Wide belt sander.

From contributor R:
Thatís how I'd advise doing it, unless you have a lot to remove, then plane at an angle, leaving enough behind to accommodate the tearout, and then wide belt.

From contributor A:
We plane curly hard and soft maple as well as birdseye all the time with a great finish. We use a helical insert head that came on our Northtech 24" 15hp planer. We do slow down to 7-12 meters a minute depending on how sharp the knives are. We will go right to 150 on the widebelt after that will perfect results. Our old straight knife planer would ruin the stuff.

From contributor G:
Wet the surface with a damp cloth.

From contributor H:
I modified the feed mechanism on my Powermatic 100 12" planer so that it would slow down to 1 to 2 feet per minute while the cutter head speed remained constant. This slow feed rate made planing curly and birdseye a breeze.

From Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
I agree with contributor H and contributor D. Appreciate that with curly or birdseye, you are planing against the grain in spots, which results in tearout. Less stock removal per cut (or per knife) is desired. Slow feed or shallow cuts both help. Also, avoid lower than normal MCís - make sure that the wood is not dried too dry (under 6.5% MC) or dried over 160 F. (Over-drying is a common event when curly is mixed with regular maple in the kiln, as curly dries faster. A kiln operation must use longer equalization to avoid over-drying.) If you do your own knives, you might also consider dropping a few degrees from the rake angle.

From contributor U:
Before we went to Shelix heads in the jointer and planer, I used to have my sharpener grind a slight back bevel on the face of the planer knives. It reduced tearout quite a bit.

From contributor Z:
The last curly maple I planed I wet the surface and ran it slow and at a slight angle. I had very little tearout.