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Metabo HC260 Planer-Thicknesser Induction

Some of the tools at the Hackspace are potentially hazardous to use, for these tools members are required to have an induction before they can use them. Inductions provide the most basic information on how to safely and effectively use the simpler functions of the tools, we appreciate that some members may have professional experience on some of these tools and in this case please tell your induction provider and the induction may be very reduced and just cover any risks or procedures specific to rLab. Some tools have multiple levels of induction in order to cover more advanced uses of that tool without making the basic induction take too long, higher induction levels will introduce some of the more advanced features of the tools but as with all inductions are only intended to provide basic information on the capabilities of the tools and how to use them safely. Some members of rLab may be willing to offer more detailed tuition beyond basic induction level or offer guided practice sessions in exchange for beer money or assistance on their own projects.

For all tools you are only required to take level-1 induction before use, after that you may perform any task that you feel confident you can do safely, higher levels of induction may be useful to you in performing more advanced operations but are not required before doing tasks covered in them so long as you're confident of your ability to handle those tasks without risk to yourself, others, or the tool.

PLEASE NOTE : All induction providers are volunteers who are providing inductions to the best of their ability but are NOT qualified instructors. Inductions are provided on a best-effort basis but you and you alone are responsible for your safety while using the tools and for satisfying yourself that you can operate the tools safely. There are professional training courses available from various providers in Reading and the surrounding area if you feel they are appropriate for the level of work you intend to undertake. Reading these notes is NOT a substitute for an in-person induction.

Note for wiki editors : Please do not edit induction pages unless you are one of of the people that gives that induction


Parts Diagram for the HC260

The planer thicknesser is a Metabo HC260. This is a combination machine, which can be configured to work as a surface planer (for the flattening of faces and edges of wood), and as a thickness planer, to dimension wood that has already been surfaced (“jointed”) on one face and/or edge.

Both modes of operation involve passing the wood over a circular cutter block which holds two 260mm long HSS knives. This rotates at 6,500 RPM.

General Safety Information

Topic Detailed contents Rationale
  • Ear protection is mandatory on this machine, as it is one of the noisiest machines we have.
  • Eye protection is a must when surface planing, but is unlikely to be needed for thicknessing (you shouldn’t be bent over looking at the wood going through).
  • Dust masks may not be necessary, as the machine produces chips rather than dust. Dust extraction is mandatory with this machine however as it makes a LOT of chips. Use of the overhead air cleaner is a good idea. The dust extractor is very prone to clogging, the likely clog points are the two ends of the hose.
  • Make sure you have no loose clothing that can get caught on the machine and long hair must be tied back
Clothing and equipment to avoid injury

The planer thicknesser is designed to work almost exclusively with wood, and additionally, it’s effective operation depends on the direction of the wood grain as it is passed over the cutter block. It is not designed to work across the grain of the wood, or on the end grain of the wood, in either of the surface planer or thickness planer modes.

For this reason, it is not possible to plane the face of plywood, as the alternating grain direction in subsequent layers results in chips that are too large to evacuate, which clog the machine. It is possible to plane the edge of plywood, but this is quite hard on the knives, and in most applications the table saw would make more sense.

There are some firm modelling foams which can be processed by the planer thicknesser. This should be done with extra care, as they produce long chips which are difficult to evacuate and are known to clog the machine very rapidly, extremely frequent (every couple of passes) checking of the machine and extraction hose will be needed when using foams

The material must be free of any metal - screws, staples, nails etc. These will damage the blades.

What stuff can be used on this machine
General Safety

Never pass your hands over the exposed cutter block.

Never push stock directly down into the cutter block.

Never manipulate the cutter block or knives with the machine plugged in. There are no interlocks to prevent the machine starting while it is being adjusted.

Long pieces of wood will require two people to handle them with this machine.

The HSE document on safe working practices for surface planning can be found here.

Other safety information

Surface Planing / Jointing

Topic Detailed contents Rationale

Surface planning (Jointing) is the process of machining a rough wooden surface to make it accurately flat and smooth, it's often done as a first step towards making an accurate angle or to ensure a block of wood is parallel across it's sides.

Surface planning (Jointing) requires the outfeed table to be attached to the top of the machine, with the dust extraction port installed beneath the cutter block, held in place by the thicknessing bed.

The procedure for surface planning involves passing stock over the infeed table, into the cutter block, and out over the outfeed table. The outfeed table is set fractionally lower than the peak of the cutting circle, and the infeed table is set somewhat lower than the outfeed table. Therefore, as stock passes over the infeed table and through to the outfeed table, the cutter head removes scallops of material, with repeated passes serving to smooth and flatten a surface of the stock.

A fence may be attached to the infeed table, to provide a reference surface for jointing two adjacent surfaces of the stock to some user defined reference angle (normally 90 degrees). Here, a typical process would be to flatten a face, and then, using this flattened face against the fence, flatten an edge at 90 degrees to the face. From here the thicknesser and table saw can be used to give stock that has 4 sides which are either square or parallel to each other.

There are some limiting dimensions to consider: You should not joint pieces less than 250mm long and 5mm thick. The maximum width is 260mm.

How the HC260 works in this mode

With the machine unplugged...

  • Attach the outfeed table. Two latches fix it into place on the left-hand side of the machine.
  • Install the dust collector below the cutter block on the thicknesser bed.
  • Check dust collection port is connected to the extractor, the bin is empty and that the hose isn’t blocked (a common issue).
  • Check the height of the infeed table relative to the outfeed table. Ideally it will have been left about 0.5mm below the outfeed table, but it may have been adjusted to take a heavier cut.
    • Better results will be obtained by taking multiple passes with a shallower cut. Also, heavier cuts are harder on the knives and will dull them faster.
    • If necessary, raise the infeed table with the red knob at the end of the infeed table.
    • Check it is still lower than the outfeed table, and that the cutter block can still freely rotate.
  • Set the guard. As much as possible of the cutter block must be covered by the guard during operation.
    • If possible, raise the guard above the work, and extend over the whole cutter block.
    • If the work is too tall for the guard, expose only just enough of the cutter block to process the stock, and lower the guard so it sits close to the cutter block.
  • If using the fence, check that it is securely locked, and that it is at the right angle to the infeed/outfeed tables.
Setting up safely
Cutting uphill.jpg
  • Start the planer, and then the dust extractor. Sometimes, if plugged into the same double socket, the start-up current of the planer will trip the circuit breaker if the extractor is already on, so it’s less of a headache to start the planer first.
  • Consider the grain direction of your stock. Best results will be obtained when the knives are cutting with the grain (“downhill”), whereas in the opposite direction you are likely to get “tearout”.
  • Pass the stock over the infeed table, with only enough pressure the keep the stock securely on the table, and moving forward at a steady rate.
    • Too much pressure may well deform the stock as it goes over the cutter block, and will not result in a flat surface.
    • Too little pressure will result in a chattery poor quality surface.
    • A consistent feed rate over the cutter block is very important – a varying feed rate will result in a varying quality surface.
  • When enough material has reached the outside the guard on the outfeed table, transfer the downward pressure used to hold the stock to the outfeed side, so that this serves as your reference surface.
    • Then, from the infeed side, there should be primarily a forward force pushing work over the cutter block. For the end piece of stock, pull this from the outfeed side. Never should your fingers ever go under the guard.
  • Work must only be fed across the blades from infeed to outfeed tables. Trying to go in the other direction will result in the machine throwing the stock across the room...
  • It is common for there to be a slightly deeper scallop at the start and end of a piece of stock, called jointer snipe. It is hard to completely avoid this. The easiest way is to leave a few extra cm on each end that can be trimmed off later if needs be.
  • Take repeated passes until the surface is flat.
  • Once the surface is flat you can either set up to cut the next face an at accurate angle to the one you've just done, or switch to thicknessing mode in order to make the opposite face parallel to the one that you've just done
  • Around 10 minutes of work will completely fill the extractor so this needs to be checked regularly.
    • Also check any time there's a build-up of chips visible, the extractor hose may have been jammed with chips
Performing planning safely


Topic Detailed contents Rationale

Thicknessing will take a block of wood with one face already made flat by planning and make the opposing face flat and parallel to the other.

Thicknessing is simpler than surface planing, as the machine does more of the work. In this mode, stock is passed underneath the cutter block and feeder generally pulls the stock through for you. In this mode, stock is passed through the machine in the opposite direction to surface planing (so that it still goes against the rotation of the knives).

  • The same considerations about grain direction apply, and you want to aim to be cutting with the grain/downhill.
  • Do not try to feed the stock through in the other direction as this is likely to stall the machine and cause damage to the stock.
  • The crank handle raises the bed of the thicknesser, so that you place the already surfaced face down onto the thicknesser bed, and take repeated passes through the thicknesser, incrementally raising the bed, will make the opposite face flat and parallel to the previously surfaced face. You can stop when the face is flat and parallel, or continue until you reach a desired dimension.
  • If you want to remove more than about 5mm of material with the thicknesser, it might well be more efficient to get very close to this with either the band saw or table saw, and then take only a final few passes on the thicknesser.
  • If you want to process a batch of stock to be the same dimension, it can be more efficient and successful to put them all through once, then raise the bed, and repeat, as otherwise it is difficult to get the stock to be exactly the same size with a similar surface finish.
  • There are some limiting dimensions to consider: You should not thickness pieces less than 250mm long and 5mm thick. The maximum width is 260mm. It is technically possible to thickness pieces thinner than 5mm, with an auxillary table added to the thicknessing bed, but care must be taken that the work doesn’t become so flimsy that the cutter block just destroys it.
How the HC260 works in this mode
Set up

With the machine unplugged...

  • If needed, remove the outfeed table, and install the dust collector over the top of the cutter block, fixing it with the wing nut.
    • The outfeed table can be stowed under the machine.
  • Check the dust extraction hose is connected to the extractor, the bin is empty and the hose isn’t blocked.
  • Set the bed height so that it is a few mm lower than the maximum thickness of the stock.
Setting up safely
  • Start the machine, and then the extractor.
  • Pass the stock into the machine in the left-hand side feed port, ensuring the surfaced face is flat on the thicknessing table – rotating the stock up or down will result in heavy snipe.
  • When the table is high enough, the feeder wheel will grab the stock and pull it through. Occasionally you might need to apply a bit of pressure to get the stock to engage with the feeder wheel, but not huge amounts. Similarly, you might need to apply gentle pressure to maintain a steady feed rate through the thicknesser, but not much.
  • Raise the bed and repeat. Each turn of the crank raises the bed 3mm. 3mm is typically too heavy a cut in all but very softwoods. Aim for a cut between 0.5 and 1mm – between a quarter and a third of a turn. This will give better results and is easier on the knives and machine.
  • The chips coming off the thicknesser are typically larger than surface planing, and the extractor sometimes struggles to clear them. Occasionally check that the hose isn’t jamming up at the extractor end.
Performing thicknessing safely

Cleaning up

  • Clean the machine – hoovering the chips out, and making sure the extraction hose is clear.
  • The dust extractor bag fills quickly when thicknessing. Check it regularly and empty it if it is close to full.
  • Clean up the floor around the planner/thicknesser as it will certainly have thrown chips around.
  • It's best to leave the machine with the outfeed table removed and dust collector in the down position so that the blade guard can be put in it's fully inward position so that it's less likely to be knocked and the machine takes up the least space possible