[Answered] Advice on planing rulers for table top?

So my mom and I have been collecting old wooden yardsticks to decorate a side table I’m putting together for her. Getting close to having enough to start putting them on and I had a question about how I could go about planing them to the same thickness.

I’m thinking of using double sided tape to put the top side down on some scrap and running that through but I haven’t used the planer enough to know if there’s some reason I shouldn’t or if there’s a better strategy. Or what brand of tape to get.

I figure one by one isn’t a great plan since some of them are pretty warped. Open to suggestions on how to fix that as well.

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If the drum sander is available, I would recommend you use it instead of the planer, but if you must use the planer taping them down securely and completely flat is an option. You must take very light cuts each pass too, to avoid tear outs. If the rulers are reasonably thin, and I suspect they are, sanding is a much better alternative.

You might also use the CNC, but even that is a gamble as the rulers are not fixed/glued to a substrate of any kind.

You might also consider a simple orbital sander depending upon just how exact you want the smoothness to be.


Based on what I’ve read, I’d go with the orbital sander. The drum sander broke a crucial part. Tim Bene is working on a replacement, as the part would be backordered until … … April, I think?

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Definitely my recommendation.

An advantage of the drum sander is you CAN do them one at a time. The equipment design will do a decent job of overcoming the warping and I’d be concerned that any tape strong enough to stand up to the violence of the planer (or CNC) would damage the paint/printing on the face side.

If the DMS drum sander isn’t repaired in time, and a trip to the Six Flags area of Arlington is manageable … should not take more than a few minutes for me to run through my drum sander.


Thank you for the offer! I will definitely keep it in mind if the drum sander at Makerspace is still down when I’m ready to start messing with them.

And thanks to the advice everyone. I think I’ve managed to line up my membership periods at DMS with whenever the drum sander is down so I’ve never touched it.

Using the drum sander is fairly easy - just take very little off each pass [around 0.006"]. A really good write up on how to operate it can be found here:



Won’t sanding take some of the printing off, plus you would lose the patina that indicates they are old yardsticks. I would leave them as is, maybe wipe with a solvent to remove grease and wax.

Randy, the intent is to sand off the backside so they are the same thickness, then attach sanded side down on the table top. Objective is a level top with aged sides up.


Correct. I plan on keeping the topside aged with minimal changes. Just want the top to lie flat.

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I love that the phone numbers on the yardsticks are either four or seven digits.