How to Smooth Uneven Timber Without a Planer Thicknesser

Posted by Mark Hunter on 13th Mar 2021

How to Smooth Uneven Timber Without a Planer Thicknesser

At times you'll be faced with a job where all the lengths of wood you're working with absolutely need to be the same thickness. But, as if often the case, many of them aren't. Some are even slightly warped or bowed.

This is where you need a planer thicknesser, or a mate who owns one, right?

Not anymore.

In this EveryTool Guide, we'll show you how to smooth uneven timber to the exact thickness you need it be using only your router, a suitable router bit and the ESMOOTH Jig.

The ESMOOTH Jig was a big hit at the 2019 Harrogate Woodworking Show, where we demoed it all weekend and sold loads of them. Not only is it way more affordable than a planer thicknesser, but it's also considerably more compact. It can literally be put in a drawer or a tool bag when you're not using it.

Quite point to note: it's suitable for use with routers that weigh up to 5kg.

ESMOOTH Jig - What's in the Box?

In the box, you’ll receive 4 skids for the carriage to slide along. Additional packs of skids are available to purchase should you want to do larger workpieces. Along with the skids, you’ll receive the sliding carriage backplate and the sliding carriage itself which fasten to the slide rails.

You will receive 2 short stainless steel slide rails which are screwed together with the 2 long stainless steel slide rails.

You'll also find a bag with two 4mm countersunk screws used for fastening the sliding carriage together and four 3mm dome head screws, there are used for screwing the slide rails together.

What Else Do You Need Before You Use the ESMOOTH Jig?

It's not a big list:

  • 1 x 3mm Allen Key
  • 1 x 4mm Allen Key
  • 1 x Router
  • 1 x 30mm guide bush
  • 1 x Router cutter
  • Clamps or screws
  • Timber off-cuts for raising the jig

How to Assemble the ESMOOTH Jig

Start off by screwing the slide rails together using the 4 supplied dome head screws. You’ll need the 3mm Allen key for this. Once the rails are connected, place the sliding carriage and backplate together as shown and fasten using the supplied 4mm countersunk screws. You’ll need the 4mm Allen key for this.

How to Use the ESMOOTH Jig

Fit a 30mm guide bush to your router, insert the desired cutter up to the K line and tighten the collet.

We recommend using a long shank TCT face milling cutter, such as the Titman 381QTC or the 381HTC both specially designed and manufactured for the ESMOOTH Jig by Titman Tools.

The 381QTC is a 1/4" shank milling cutter with chamfered edges to give a cleaner finish and the 26mm diameter gives the maximum width cut in a single pass. The 381HTC is the 1/2" shank version.

Measure the depth of the timber you would like to use the jig on and then set your skids onto a similar depth of off-cut so the skids are raised and the carriage will be able to travel freely over the work whilst allowing the router to plunge to the depth you require.

Screw the first rail onto one of the off-cuts of timber and secure this to your workbench. Fasten your second rail down to a second off-cut and then pace at the other end of your carriage and then slide the carriage backward and forwards to ensure the skids are parallel.

Then add your 3rd and 4th rails to the end of your existing rails again ensuring the carriage runs freely before fixing them down with screws or clamps.

To help the ESMOOTH jig have a smooth, controlled glide, clean off the skids and rails before using.

Smoothing and Levelling the Timber Using the ESMOOTH Jig

Sit the router with the 30mm guide bush in the aperture of the ESMOOTH Jig’s sliding carriage.

Plunge the router until it’s touching the high spot on your workpiece, then set the router depth stop to your desired depth of removal, a maximum of 4mm at a time.

Ensure the router is not touching your workpiece before switching on!

Now simply set the router to the desired depth and work forwards and backwards across the workpiece. As needed re-set the depth and repeat should you need to remove more material.

The ESMOOTH Jig will allow you to smooth off and level your workpiece, removing any unwanted high spots.

Once you've smooth and levelled the timber, turn off the router and wait until the bit has stopped spinning before removing the machine from the base plate.

Job is done! You can disassemble the jig and put it away, however, some of our customers have created a space on the workshop wall for it to hang when not in use, ready to go for the next job.

We're only scratching the surface of what you can do with this utility router jig. It can be used for trenching for mortice and tenon joints. It can be locked off by tightening the screws to allow you to use a 3mm router bit to create inlay channelling, for example.

You can find the ESMOOTH jig on our site here.

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