What is snipe in woodworking

What is snipe in woodworking

Snipe is a woodworking term that refers to a common problem when planing or jointing wood. It occurs when the wood is unevenly cut or planed, resulting in a noticeable indentation or rough area at the beginning or end of the board.

This issue can be frustrating for woodworkers, as it can ruin the appearance and quality of the finished piece. Snipe is often caused by a combination of factors, including machine setup, technique, and the type of wood being worked on.

One of the main causes of snipe is improper machine setup. When planing or jointing, the wood is fed through the machine using an infeed and outfeed table. If these tables are not properly aligned, the wood can dip or rise slightly, resulting in an uneven cut. Additionally, if the blades or cutterheads are not properly adjusted, they can dig into the wood too deeply, causing snipe.

Another cause of snipe is technique. If a woodworker does not properly support the wood as it is fed through the machine, it can flex or move, leading to snipe. Additionally, if excessive pressure is applied to the wood, it can compress, causing the blades to cut too deeply and create snipe.

Preventing snipe

There are several steps woodworkers can take to prevent snipe. First, ensuring proper machine setup is crucial. Read the manufacturer’s instructions and adjust the tables and blades to the recommended settings. Using a good quality planer or jointer with a built-in anti-snipe feature can also help reduce snipe.

Technique is also important in preventing snipe. Woodworkers should make sure the wood is properly supported and guided through the machine, using additional supports or roller stands if necessary. Applying consistent, even pressure can also help prevent snipe.

Lastly, the type of wood being worked on can affect the likelihood of snipe. Softer woods, such as pine, are more prone to snipe due to their tendency to compress. Hardwood, on the other hand, tends to be more resilient and less prone to snipe. Woodworkers should consider the wood species and adjust their technique accordingly to minimize snipe.

What is Snipe in Woodworking?

Snipe is a common problem that woodworkers encounter when planing or jointing boards. It refers to the deep and unsightly gouges or dents that can occur at the beginning or end of a board as it passes through a planer or jointer.

Snipe is caused by a combination of factors, including the design and setup of the planer or jointer, the technique used by the woodworker, and the characteristics of the wood being worked on. When a board is fed into a planer or jointer, the pressure exerted by the feed rollers can sometimes cause the board to flex or lift slightly. This flexing or lifting can result in the cutting blades of the machine digging deeper into the wood, creating snipe.

The severity of snipe can vary, ranging from minor surface imperfections to deep and noticeable gouges. Snipe is more likely to occur when working with long or thin boards, as they are more prone to flexing under pressure. It can also be more noticeable when using machines that are not properly adjusted or maintained.

Preventing snipe requires a combination of proper technique and machine setup. Here are some tips to help minimize snipe:

  1. Ensure that your planer or jointer is properly adjusted and aligned. This includes making sure that the infeed and outfeed tables are parallel to the cutting blades, and that the cut depth is set correctly.
  2. Support the boards properly as they enter and exit the machine. Use infeed and outfeed tables, or additional supports such as roller stands, to help prevent flexing and minimize snipe.
  3. Feed the board through the machine with a steady and consistent pressure. Avoid pushing or pulling on the board as it passes through.
  4. If snipe still occurs despite these precautions, you can try using sacrificial boards at the beginning and end of the workpiece. These sacrificial boards take the brunt of the snipe, protecting the actual workpiece from damage.

In conclusion, snipe in woodworking refers to the gouges or dents that can occur at the beginning or end of a board when using a planer or jointer. It can be prevented by ensuring proper machine setup, using proper technique, and providing additional supports for the boards. By following these guidelines, woodworkers can minimize or eliminate snipe and achieve smoother, more professional-looking results.

Understanding the Woodworking Phenomenon

Woodworking is a skilled craft that involves shaping, cutting, and joining pieces of wood to create functional and aesthetic objects. From simple DIY projects to intricate furniture pieces, woodworking offers a creative outlet and the satisfaction of working with one’s hands.

Importance of Understanding

It is essential for woodworkers to have a deep understanding of the materials they work with, as well as the tools and techniques required to achieve desired results. This understanding helps woodworkers anticipate challenges and overcome obstacles during the woodworking process.

Fundamental Woodworking Techniques

Woodworking involves various techniques that are essential for achieving precise and professional results:

  1. Measuring and Marking: Accurate measurement and marking ensure precise cuts and joints, ensuring the final piece fits together seamlessly.
  2. Cutting and Shaping: Techniques such as sawing, planing, and routing are used to shape and cut wood according to the desired design.
  3. Joinery: Joinery techniques like mortise and tenon, dovetail, and biscuit jointing are used to connect pieces of wood together securely.
  4. Sanding and Finishing: Sanding and applying finishes help achieve a smooth and polished surface, enhancing the overall appearance and durability of the woodworking project.

Common Woodworking Challenges

While woodworking can be immensely rewarding, it is not without its challenges. Some common woodworking challenges include:

  • Snipe: Snipe, or a dip in thickness at the beginning or end of a board, can occur when using planers and jointers. Understanding the causes and preventive measures for snipe is important to achieve consistently flat and smooth surfaces.
  • Wood Movement: Wood is a dynamic material that expands and contracts with changes in moisture and temperature. Failure to account for wood movement can result in warped or cracked projects.
  • Joinery Strength: Choosing the appropriate joinery technique and ensuring strong connections between wood pieces is crucial for the stability and longevity of the final piece.
  • Finishing Issues: Achieving a professional-looking finish can be challenging, with issues such as uneven coloration, drips, and brush marks requiring careful attention and technique.

Continuous Learning and Improvement

Woodworking is a craft that requires continual learning and improvement. Woodworkers often engage in workshops, classes, and online resources to enhance their skills, explore new techniques, and stay updated with evolving woodworking trends and technologies.


Understanding the woodworking phenomenon is key to becoming a skilled woodworker. Through knowledge, practice, and attention to detail, woodworkers can create functional and beautiful pieces that showcase their craftsmanship and passion for the craft.

Causes of Snipe in Woodworking

Snipe in woodworking refers to a common issue where the planer or jointer creates a deeper cut on the beginning or end of a board, resulting in a visible groove. This can be frustrating for woodworkers as it negatively affects the overall quality of their work. There are several factors that can contribute to snipe:

  • Inadequate support: Insufficient support or uneven pressure on the board can cause it to dip slightly as it enters or exits the machine, leading to snipe. It is important to ensure proper support throughout the entire process.
  • Machine setup: Improper machine setup, including misaligned tables or knives, can contribute to snipe. Woodworkers should regularly check and adjust their machines to ensure everything is aligned correctly.
  • Feed rate: Feeding the board too quickly or too slowly can increase the likelihood of snipe. Finding the right feed rate for each specific machine and wood type is crucial in preventing snipe.
  • Material thickness: Boards that are too thin or too thick can be more prone to snipe. Finding the optimal thickness for the particular machine being used can minimize snipe.
  • Blade sharpness: Dull blades can cause tear-out and increase the chances of snipe. Keeping the blades sharp and regularly replacing them when necessary is essential for preventing snipe.
  • Machine vibration: Excessive machine vibration can lead to snipe. It is important to check for any loose parts or issues with the machine’s stability and address them promptly.

By understanding the various causes of snipe in woodworking and taking appropriate measures to address them, woodworkers can significantly reduce or even eliminate snipe, resulting in higher quality finished products.

Effect of Snipe on Woodworking Projects

Snipe is a common issue faced by woodworkers that can have an impact on the overall quality of woodworking projects. Understanding the effect of snipe is important in order to prevent or minimize its occurrence and ensure the best possible results.

1. Surface Imperfections

Snipe is characterized by an uneven surface cut at the beginning or end of a piece of wood. This uneven cut can result in surface imperfections such as ridges, gouges, or scallops. These imperfections can be unsightly and affect the overall aesthetic appeal of the finished woodworking projects.

2. Measurement Inaccuracies

Snipe can also lead to measurement inaccuracies in woodworking projects. When a piece of wood is sniped, it may be shorter than desired, which can throw off the measurements and dimensions of the project. This can be particularly problematic for projects that require precise measurements, resulting in a poor fit or improper assembly.

3. Waste of Material

Snipe can also result in a waste of material. When wood is sniped, the uneven cuts at the beginning and end of the piece may need to be trimmed off, resulting in the loss of usable wood. This can result in higher material costs and a less efficient use of resources.

4. Time and Effort

Dealing with snipe can add unnecessary time and effort to woodworking projects. Removing snipe requires extra steps such as trimming and sanding the sniped areas, which takes additional time and effort. This can slow down the overall workflow and increase the labor required for a project.

5. Difficulty in Joinery

Snipe can make joinery more challenging. When two pieces of wood need to be joined together, snipe can result in an uneven joint, affecting the overall strength and stability of the connection. This can compromise the structural integrity of the woodworking project and lead to potential issues in the future.

Preventing Snipe

In order to minimize the effects of snipe on woodworking projects, it is important to take preventive measures. Some common strategies include using infeed and outfeed support, adjusting the cutterhead properly, using sacrificial boards, and making multiple passes to gradually remove material. These techniques can help reduce or eliminate snipe and achieve smoother, more uniform cuts.

By understanding the effect of snipe on woodworking projects and employing the right preventive measures, woodworkers can ensure better results and enhance the overall quality of their finished products.

How to Prevent Snipe in Woodworking

Snipe is a common problem in woodworking, but there are steps you can take to prevent it. By following these tips, you can achieve smooth and consistent results in your woodworking projects:

  1. Support your workpieces: Use additional support for your workpieces both before and after they enter the planer or jointer. This can be done by using infeed and outfeed tables or by using roller stands. Supporting the workpiece will help eliminate any dips or drops that can cause snipe.
  2. Level your planer or jointer: Ensure that your planer or jointer is properly leveled. You can use a straight edge or a level to check the height of the bed or table. Adjust the leveling screws or bolts until the surface is completely flat. This will help prevent the workpiece from tipping and causing snipe.
  3. Use a sacrificial board: Place a sacrificial board before and after your workpiece to reduce snipe. The sacrificial board should be the same thickness as your workpiece and should extend beyond the ends. This will help distribute the pressure evenly and prevent snipe from occurring.
  4. Take lighter cuts: When using a planer or jointer, take lighter cuts instead of trying to remove a lot of material at once. This will reduce the chances of snipe because the machine will have less of an impact on the workpiece. Gradually removing material will yield better results.
  5. Start with a longer workpiece: If possible, start with a longer workpiece and cut it down to size after planing or jointing. This will help eliminate any snipe that may occur at the ends of the workpiece. Plus, you will have extra material to work with in case snipe does happen.

By following these preventive measures, you can minimize snipe and achieve smooth and professional results in your woodworking projects. Remember to always take your time and be patient, as rushing can increase the chances of snipe occurring.

Using Proper Techniques to Avoid Snipe

Snipe, which refers to the deeper cuts or indentation at the beginning or end of a board when it is passed through a planer or jointer, can be a frustrating issue for woodworkers. However, by employing the following proper techniques, you can minimize or eliminate snipe altogether:

  1. Properly supporting the workpiece: Ensure that the workpiece is properly supported and well-fed into the planer or jointer, especially at the beginning and end of the cut. This can prevent the board from getting lifted or dropped, leading to snipe.
  2. Using infeed and outfeed support: Utilize infeed and outfeed support to provide continuous and stable support throughout the entire cutting process. This helps maintain consistent pressure on the board and reduces the likelihood of snipe.
  3. Adjusting the height of the cutter: Make sure to adjust the height of the cutter properly. In planers, slightly raising the cutter head can help reduce snipe, while in jointers, you may need to set the knives slightly lower at the ends to compensate for the snipe.
  4. Making light cuts: Taking lighter cuts, especially when starting or finishing a pass, can help prevent snipe. This allows the machine to gradually remove material instead of taking away a large amount all at once.
  5. Using sacrificial boards: Placing sacrificial boards at the beginning and end of each cut can help absorb the impact and reduce the likelihood of snipe on the actual workpiece.
  6. Using a dampening technique: Applying a dampening technique, such as putting a cloth soaked in water over the workpiece, can help minimize snipe. The moisture helps to temporarily soften the fibers, making them less prone to snipe.

By implementing these techniques into your woodworking routine, you can significantly reduce or eliminate snipe, resulting in smoother and more professional-looking finished pieces.

Adjusting Woodworking Tools to Minimize Snipe

To minimize snipe, it is important to properly adjust your woodworking tools. Here are some tips to help you reduce snipe when using various tools:

1. Planer

When using a planer, snipe can occur at the beginning and end of the board. To minimize snipe:

  • Make sure the infeed and outfeed tables are properly aligned with the cutterhead. Adjust them to be at the same height as the cutterhead.
  • Slightly raise the leading edge of the board as you feed it into the planer.
  • Feed the board smoothly and consistently, without stopping or slowing down at the beginning or end.

2. Jointer

2. Jointer

Snipe on a jointer typically occurs at the end of the board. To reduce snipe:

  • Ensure the infeed and outfeed tables are flush with the cutterhead.
  • Use a push block or push stick to maintain consistent pressure on the board throughout the entire pass.
  • Keep the board supported and level throughout the entire pass.

3. Router Table

When using a router table, snipe can occur if the board is not properly supported. To prevent snipe:

  • Use a featherboard or a fence to provide proper support and prevent the board from lifting.
  • Ensure the router bit is properly aligned and securely tightened.
  • Feed the board smoothly and consistently, without stopping or slowing down.

4. Table Saw

Although a table saw generally doesn’t produce snipe, it can happen in certain situations. To minimize snipe when using a table saw:

  • Ensure the table saw is properly aligned and adjusted.
  • Support the board with additional infeed and outfeed supports, such as roller stands or a table extension.
  • Feed the board smoothly and consistently, without stopping or slowing down.

5. Hand Plane

When using a hand plane, snipe can occur if the pressure applied is not consistent. To reduce snipe:

  • Apply even pressure throughout the entire stroke.
  • Make sure the plane is properly sharpened and set up.
  • Use a longer plane to distribute the pressure more evenly.

By following these tips and properly adjusting your woodworking tools, you can significantly minimize snipe and achieve smoother, more consistent results in your woodworking projects.

Importance of a Smooth Feed Rate in Reducing Snipe

Reducing snipe, which is a common issue in woodworking, requires careful attention to the feed rate of the wood through the planer or jointer. Snipe is the term used to describe the deeper cuts or indentations that occur at the beginning or end of a board when it is being planed or jointed.

One of the primary factors that contributes to snipe is variations in the feed rate of the wood. When the wood is fed unevenly through the machine, it can cause the blades or cutters to take deeper cuts at the beginning or end of the board. This uneven feed rate can be caused by various factors, such as improper alignment of the wood, inconsistent pressure applied to the feed rollers, or incorrect settings on the machine.

To reduce snipe and achieve a smooth, even finish on your boards, it is crucial to maintain a consistent and smooth feed rate. Here are a few tips to help you achieve this:

  1. Properly align the wood: Before feeding the wood into the planer or jointer, make sure it is properly aligned with the feed rollers. This will help ensure that the wood is fed evenly through the machine, reducing the chances of snipe.
  2. Apply consistent pressure: While feeding the wood through the machine, apply consistent pressure to the feed rollers. Avoid pushing or pulling the board too forcefully, as this can cause variations in the feed rate and result in snipe.
  3. Adjust machine settings: Check the settings on your planer or jointer and make sure they are adjusted correctly for the type of wood you are working with. Incorrect settings can lead to snipe, so take the time to calibrate your machine properly.
  4. Use additional support: For longer boards, consider using additional support, such as infeed and outfeed tables. These tables can help provide a more stable and consistent feed rate, reducing the likelihood of snipe.

By paying close attention to the feed rate of the wood and taking steps to maintain a smooth and consistent feed, you can significantly reduce the occurrence of snipe in your woodworking projects. Remember to regularly check and adjust the alignment, pressure, and settings of your machine to ensure optimal performance and minimal snipe.


What is snipe in woodworking?

Snipe in woodworking refers to the deep, uneven cuts that are sometimes made at the beginning or end of a board when it is run through a planer or jointer. It is a common problem that can greatly impact the final look and smoothness of a piece of wood.

How does snipe occur?

Snipe occurs when the wood moves slightly as it enters or exits the planer or jointer. This movement causes the cutter head to take a deeper cut than intended, resulting in the snipe. It is often more pronounced at the ends of the board since there is less support for the wood as it enters or exits the machine.

Can snipe be prevented?

Yes, snipe can be prevented or minimized by using certain techniques. Some of these techniques include using sacrificial boards at the beginning and end of the stock, adjusting the feed rate, and supporting the wood properly as it enters and exits the machine.

How do sacrificial boards help prevent snipe?

Sacrificial boards are pieces of wood that are run through the planer or jointer before the actual stock. These boards are typically shorter in length and are used to absorb any snipe that may occur. By sacrificing these boards, the risk of snipe on the actual stock is reduced.

Is it necessary to support the wood as it enters and exits the machine?

Yes, supporting the wood as it enters and exits the machine is crucial in preventing snipe. By using additional support, such as roller stands or infeed/outfeed tables, the wood remains stable and prevents any movement that could result in snipe.

What should be done if snipe still occurs despite preventive measures?

If snipe still occurs despite taking preventive measures, there are a few options to minimize its impact. One option is to cut the snipe off after planing or jointing. Another option is to intentionally overcut the board slightly and then trim it down to the desired dimensions. Both methods help to remove or reduce the appearance of snipe.


How To Remove Snipe | All The Tips And Tricks Plus a Simple Jig

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