We often use weird and unusual timbers, which are fantastic, but they don't always arrive in the best condition. Often the first job to make them usable is to flatten them in some way.
Router planing is the perfect way to flatten timbers with unpredictable grain structures. Very wide timbers would normally require investment in large machinery. A simple "rail & sled" type jig can be constructed to the required size and accurate planing can begin with minimal outlay.
The Radiantools surfacing bit is the perfect tool to do this. It has a very open structure to allow fast chip ejection. It also has four cutting faces to give a really fine finish.
We decided to put the new 4 Flute Surfacing Bit to the test on one of the most unworkable timbers we could find; Pomelle Sapele. Not only an unusual timber, but this piece had matured for over 60 years getting harder and harder. We first put the timber through a thicknesser to set a benchmark. Even with really delicate passes the thicknesser ripped at the surface, with the result shown in the photo.
Using a simple jig and the Radian surfacing bit we got a much better result. This method allows a lot of control, with much less risk of damaging the workpiece. Shown below is a small area but a larger jig can easily be fabricated to accomodate bigger timbers.
Here is the result from the one pass made in the video. The result is really smooth without any extra processes required. This tool gives a lot of extra flexibility to your router and allows you to work with more unusual un-processed timbers.