The first millwork operation is usually the blanker or roughing planer; almost all lumber that is milled is blanked as a first operation. The blanker is a heavy duty, high speed 30” roughing planer equipped with helical carbide tooling in the top and bottom heads. Foam filled tires act as the feed works. Foam tires are used so that pressure from the feed works will not cause the board to press flat as it passes through the cutter heads. This helps the board get flattened out by removing some of the cup as the top and bottom heads remove the high spots on both faces.
Thickness is usually set at full thickness or 1/16” less, producing a hit or miss surface. Much of the rough surface is removed from both faces, taking off any mill/kiln dust and dirt as well as making the board uniform thickness.
Machine operations after the blanker can have the feed works set tighter if the lumber is uniform thickness. The hit or miss planning also allows the color and grade of the board to be seen better, allowing for better optimization and selection. Sorts can often be made at the rear of the blanker based on widths, lengths, color or grade. Sorts are limited by the space available behind the machine
Even if you prefer to do your own millwork, consider adding blanking to your rough lumber order to save the labor of several passes through your single surface planer. It also cuts down on the wear and tear of your equipment and dulling of the high-speed steel of the planer. Blanked material is easier to sort in your shop for color, grade and grain, allowing you to increase your yield and decrease your overall cost.
The capacity of the blanker is ½” to 5” thick and 2” up to 28” wide.