Slab Flattening Mill
The hottest trend in interior design these days is live edge slab table tops. And, why not? The natural curves of the trunk give an organic feel. The crazy grain patterns in crotches and burls are eye-catching. Even cracks that would have sent lumber to the burn pile just a few years ago are being controlled and enhanced with butterfly patches and epoxy inlays. However, slabs present some challenges in the shop. Overall width and weird grain changes make the use of a jointer and thickness planer impractical if not impossible. If you just tear into it with a belt sander you will eventually end up with something that is somewhat smooth, but not even close to flat. And who wants a table that isn’t flat?
Woodpeckers Slab Flattening Mill (along with your router) lets you accurately and easily flatten oddly shaped and oversized slabs right in your own shop. Since you’re using a router instead of a planer-style cutterhead, tear-out is minimal…the surface will only need light sanding afterwards.
Woodpeckers Slab Flattening Mill starts with two aluminum extrusions. The inverted “V” shape of the main rail sheds sawdust and provides a solid base for the mating extrusion, which fits over the inverted “V” and glides on UHMW polyethylene runners. You can mount the mill to any flat and level work surface in just a few minutes…even a sheet of MDF on a simple pair of sawhorses. When you’re done, the modular design stores conveniently.
The Basic Slab Flattening Mill accommodates slabs up to 38” by 57”. The extra pair of 72” rails included in the Extended Slab Flattening Mill can either replace the 48” cross rails to increase width, or connect with the 72” base rails to extend length. The capacity grows to either 62” by 105” or 38” x 129”.
While expanded capacity is great, you’ll also appreciate that the whole assembly can be condensed down to work on cutting board and end table sized projects without reaching across a vast stretch of unused space.
Using the Slab Flattening Mill is as easy as sliding your router across the slab and back, moving over a little less than the width of your cutter and repeating until you’re done. It works best with a variable speed router of 2 horsepower or more. You’ll get done sooner if you stick to a large diameter spoil board style bit. Woodpeckers have done some of the shopping for you and offer a couple of suggested router bits. One is an economical brazed carbide bit from Whiteside. The second one, from Amana, features reversible/replaceable carbide inserts so you can always have sharp edges.
Don’t put off that natural edge project you’ve been dreaming about any longer.