I just discovered something my thickness planer can do!
It's a Steel City 13" with the helical inserts. First of all, it's far better than any other small planer at regular lumber- it's fast, relatively quiet, and leaves a much better finish with practically no tearout. Also, you never have to send the blades out to be sharpened. When they get a little dull, you rotate them over to a fresh side. Eventually you replace them, but they've lasted a year so far and still work well, so I'm not worried.
Among it's features are depth stops, so you can make lumber at a repeatable thickness.I found it interesting that the machine had a depth stop for 1/8", which of course every planer manual says you should never attempt. So why not try?
Amazingly, it worked perfectly, without even a backing board. Of course, that just tempted me to see if I could go thinner:
A few caveats:
That piece of cherry is actually .053" thick, I just couldn't hold the calipers straight while taking a picture. Also, that's the point at which I got some blast-out on a section where the grain was short. Certainly it seemed good enough to try it out on some sides- here you can see the setup, which is extremely simple:
Just a slab of 1/2" MDF, and a narrow strip of carpet tape at the front and back of the pieces. I run it through once without removing any wood, so the feed rollers press the wood firmly onto the tape. Then it's just a matter of removing wood without going too far, preferably using small bites- the machine has notches on the depth wheel to indicate 1/128", though I go faster.
Who needs a thickness sander when you've got this? It's far faster (i can take off 1/16" in one pass if I need to), the finish is waaaaay better (just raise the grain and remove the fuzz, then you're ready for finishing or gluing) there's hardly any dust (just small chips that are easily picked up by the dust collector), and no changing sandpaper, risking burning, getting tool-dulling grit in the pores, etc.
This is going to revolutionize my production process. Coming soon, flat-top steel-string guitars!