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Chipboard, also known as particle board, is a sheet material that is made by combining chips of wood with adhesives. Because of the way it is made, it is not the best material to plane.
With that said you can plane standard chipboard with a sharp smoothing plane or even a block plane. However, there are a couple of issues you may face:
- There is a chance that the chipboard could spelch out and chip if planed too aggressively. To combat this, you can score the line you are planing too. This can be done with a sharp Stanley knife.
- The second problem, is it can be pretty rough on your tools. Chipboard has adhesive, which runs throughout the board. This stuff sets really hard and will blunt your planer pretty quickly.
Due to the first point, you should only plane a small amount on each pass with your plane (0.5-1mm). However, this increases the problem from the second point, as you will be using your plane on the chipboard more.
Another option, is to use an electric plane, but you will still face similar issues. Ideally, if you are using this method, you should really reduce the depth right down to avoid the board chipping. Also, ensure the plane is running before it comes in contact with the wood.
If the chipboard is melamine faced, or some other kind of laminate, this makes planing even more difficult. This is usually a tough material, and it will also blunt your blades.
In this case, if you’re just trying to plane a couple of millimeter, you may want to try sanding it instead. This can be done with a belt sander. Although this could round the edges, and it would be harder to achieve a perfectly straight, flat edge.
Trying to plane over 5mm from chipboard? Stop!
If you need to remove more than 5mm, then a plane is not your best option. For this, and anything bigger, you would be best using a saw. If the line is straight, then a standard hand saw will do the job.
Bear in mind, that if your chipboard has any kind of laminate on it, this will probably blunt your saw a little.
If it is just a standard chipboard you have nothing to worry about. The adhesives will blunt your saw very slightly, but it certainly wont ruin a saw cutting one or two pieces of wood.
If there is a facing on the chipboard, try to saw down into the wood and draw the saw back up more gently. This swill avoid spelching the surface up.
Another option, is to use a circular saw with a guard rail set up. This will give you a perfectly straight cut. Also, it shouldn’t really spelch the chipboard, especially if your saw has a sharp blade.
For laminated chipboard of any kind, you can score with a knife, prior to cutting. You can also place masking tape over the cut line, to further protect and avoid the face chipping away.
It is quite common for kitchen worktops to be made from a high-density chipboard, covered in a laminate. It is also very common, to cut these with both hand saws and circular saws.
Also, if you do need to cut lines that aren’t straight, a jigsaw would be a good choice. This could be used if you were cutting a scribe or a curve of some kind.
A jigsaw will cut through standard chipboard easily. However if it has some kind of laminate such as melamine, make sure you use a downward cutting blade. This will minimise splintering and chipping the surface.
Chipboard isn’t the nicest material to plane, but it certainly can be done. With that said to achieve the best results with minimal damage to the chipboard, you will need a very sharp blade. You should also have a shallow blade depth, so you avoid chewing up the wood.
For surfaced chipboard, such as melamine and other laminates, it can be more challenging. You can consider planing a small amount and finish the edge by sanding.
For any adjustments over 5mm, you would usually be better using some kind of saw. This could be a standard hand saw. Or even a power tool, such as a circular saw or a jigsaw.