I was given a 12″ planer for Christmas. Is it OK to run painted oak through it? I’ve double-checked to ensure there are no nails or screws in the lumber, but wonder if the finish on the wood will dull the cutters.
Carol Reed: Yes, it’s OK, and yes, it will dull the cutters, but then everything you run through the planer will dull the cutters. That’s why they have to be sharpened from time to time. Given the mess of stripping and the expense of the strippers, I’d plane it. The cutters in the planer probably need sharpening anyway. At least you’d end with sharp cutters in the planer as opposed to a toxic mess to dispose of. Life is a series of tradeoffs, isn’t it?
Cal Brodie: Several years back I received a stack of wood covered with latex paint. Yes, the paint dulled the blades; no, it didn’t ruin them. I just had to sharpen them when I was done. The call to make is whether using the wood is worth the cost of blade sharpening. If there is a chance that the paint may be lead based, I’d be cautious about any exposure to the dust and might choose to pass on planing the boards.
Editor’s note: Lead based paints were taken off the market in 1978. Remember that painted surfaces may have several layers spanning many years.