What Does Snipe Mean in Woodworking

Woodworking is a complex and intricate craft that requires a deep understanding of various concepts and terminologies. One such term that frequently arises in woodworking discussions is “snipe.” But what does snipe mean in woodworking? In this article, we will delve into the definition of snipe within the context of woodworking terminology and explore its significance in the woodworking world.

In order to fully comprehend and excel in any field, it is crucial to have a firm grasp on its key definitions. Woodworking is no exception. Familiarizing oneself with the vocabulary used within this craft allows woodworkers to communicate effectively with one another and helps avoid confusion and misunderstandings. Snipe, although seemingly insignificant at first glance, holds a significant place in the lexicon of woodworking.

Snipe refers to an issue encountered by woodworkers that results in deeper than desired cut marks at the beginning or end of their boards. It is usually noticed when planing or jointing boards, commonly occurring when passing boards through planers or jointers. Understanding the specific definition of snipe equips woodworkers with insights into how to identify, prevent, and cope with this frustrating phenomenon.

Throughout this article, we will explore the causes of snipe formation, discussing the factors involved in its occurrence. We will also examine different methods for identifying snipe in woodworking projects by recognizing its telltale signs. Additionally, we will delve into the negative effects and consequences of snipe on woodworking projects, underscoring why addressing it is crucial for project quality.

By delving into expert tips and insights from experienced woodworkers, we aim to provide proactive measures to minimize or eliminate snipe from occurring. We will showcase best practices, recommended methods, strategies, workarounds, tools, and techniques that can help reduce snipe and ultimately enhance the overall quality of woodworking projects. So join us as we unravel the mysterious realm of snipe in woodworking-where knowledge meets craftsmanship.

What is Snipe

Snipe is a common term used in woodworking to describe a specific issue that occurs during planing or jointing operations. It refers to a deeper cut or an indentation that appears at the beginning or end of a board being fed through a planer or jointer. This section will provide a detailed definition and explanation of what snipe is in the context of woodworking.


In woodworking terminology, snipe is defined as a sudden deeper cut or indent on the surface of a board that occurs at either end when feeding it through a planer or jointer. It typically appears as an uneven thickness on the edge of the board, causing it to be thinner than desired. Snipe can vary in severity, ranging from minor imperfections to deep gouges that require significant repair work.


Understanding the causes of snipe is essential for woodworkers to effectively address and prevent this issue. One primary cause of snipe is inadequate support for the board while feeding it through the planer or jointer.

When the leading or trailing end of the board lifts slightly as it enters or exits the machine, it can result in an uneven cut and lead to snipe formation. Additionally, inconsistencies in pressure applied by the feed rollers can contribute to snipe, as excessive pressure towards one end can cause an uneven cut.

Another factor that contributes to snipe is misalignment of blades or cutterheads in planers and jointers. If these components are not properly adjusted, they may create an uneven cutting path, resulting in snipe at one or both ends of the board.

Common Misconceptions about Snipe

There are several misconceptions surrounding snipe that should be clarified. Firstly, many woodworkers mistakenly believe that only lower-quality machines produce snipe. While it is true that some lower-end machines may be more prone to this issue, even high-quality planers and jointers can produce snipe if not used correctly or if adjustments are not made properly.

Additionally, some woodworkers think that snipe is unavoidable and an inherent flaw in the operation of planers and jointers. However, with proper techniques and adjustments, it is possible to significantly reduce or eliminate snipe altogether. Awareness about the causes and prevention of snipe is crucial for achieving professional-level woodworking projects without this undesirable defect.

Causes of Snipe


In order to effectively address and minimize snipe in woodworking projects, it is crucial to understand the causes of snipe and the factors involved in its formation. Snipe refers to a common and frustrating issue encountered during planing or jointing operations, where there is an undesired deeper cut at the beginning or end of a board.

This section will delve into the various reasons behind the occurrence of snipe in woodworking, providing woodworkers with valuable insights to help them prevent and mitigate this problem.

Machine Setup

One of the primary causes of snipe lies in the machine setup. Poorly calibrated machines, such as planers or jointers, can contribute significantly to snipe formation.

For instance, if the blades are not parallel with the surface of the tables on a jointer, it can result in uneven cuts that lead to snipe. Similarly, if the feed rollers on a planer are set too aggressively, they can exert excessive pressure on one end of the board during entry or exit, exacerbating snipe.

Material Feeding Techniques

Another factor that contributes to snipe formation is improper material feeding techniques. When feeding boards into a planer or jointer, it is vital to maintain consistent pressure throughout the entire operation. Any sudden fluctuations in pressure or an improperly supported board can cause displacement and instability during cutting, resulting in unsightly snipe. Additionally, feeding boards too quickly can also contribute to snipe formation as it puts undue strain on the machine’s blades.

By identifying these factors involved in snipe formation – machine setup and material feeding techniques – woodworkers can take proactive steps to minimize or eliminate this issue from their projects. Regularly calibrating machines and ensuring proper technique when feeding stock will go a long way in reducing snipe. In the next section, we will explore how to identify snipe in woodworking projects, so woodworkers can quickly recognize and address the problem.

How to Identify Snipe

Snipe, in woodworking, refers to the thin cut or gouge that occurs at the beginning or end of a board when it passes through a planer or jointer. Identifying snipe is essential for woodworkers as it can affect the quality and aesthetics of their projects. This section will discuss the telltale signs of snipe in woodworking projects and provide guidance on how to recognize and address it.

One obvious sign of snipe is a noticeable depression or groove at the beginning or end of a board. These depressions are usually deeper than the rest of the surface and can extend several inches inward. Another indication of snipe is a difference in thickness between a board’s ends, where one end may be noticeably thinner than the other. These uneven surfaces can affect joinery and reduce overall project accuracy.

To identify snipe, woodworkers should pay attention to their project pieces after they have been run through a planer or jointer. One effective way to detect snipe is by running your hand over the entire length of a board and feeling for irregularities. Additionally, placing a straightedge across the width of the board can help visually identify any depressions or unevenness caused by snipe.

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It’s important to note that snipe can occur regardless of experience level or skill with woodworking tools. Therefore, it is crucial for woodworkers to regularly inspect their projects for signs of snipe, especially after using planers or jointers. By recognizing and addressing snipe early on, woodworkers can take appropriate measures to minimize its impact on the final product.

Signs of SnipeDescription
Depression at beginning/endA noticeable groove or cut that is deeper than the rest of the surface.
Difference in thicknessOne end of the board may be thinner than the other, resulting in an uneven surface.
Irregularities felt by handRunning your hand over the board can help you detect any snipe-related depressions or inconsistencies.
Visual inspectionA straightedge placed across the width of the board can reveal any snipe-related irregularities.

The Impact of Snipe on Woodworking Projects

Woodworking is a craft that requires precision and attention to detail. However, one common issue that woodworkers face is snipe. Snipe refers to the unwanted indentation or cut at the end of a board that occurs during planing or jointing. While it may seem like a minor flaw, snipe can have significant negative effects on woodworking projects.

One of the main consequences of snipe is that it can affect the final dimensions and aesthetics of the project. When snipe occurs, it can result in uneven thickness or an unsightly groove at the end of the board. This can be problematic when working on projects where precise measurements are crucial, such as furniture or cabinetry making. Additionally, snipe can ruin the appearance of a project, especially if it happens on prominent pieces of wood.

Another impact of snipe is the wasted material. When snipe occurs, wood needs to be removed from both ends of the board in order to eliminate it. This means that more material than necessary is being cut away, resulting in inefficiency and potential waste. For professional woodworkers who work with expensive hardwoods or limited resources, this can be a costly consequence.

Moreover, snipe can cause structural issues in woodworking projects. The indentations created by snipe weaken the strength and stability of joints and connections between different pieces of wood. This compromises the overall integrity of the project and may lead to future problems such as warping or splitting.

In summary, understanding the negative effects and consequences of snipe is crucial for any woodworker. It not only affects the visual appeal and accuracy of a project but also leads to material waste and compromised structural integrity. In order to achieve high-quality woodworking results, addressing snipe through preventative measures and proper techniques is essential.

Preventing Snipe

One of the key challenges that woodworkers face is dealing with snipe, which can significantly affect the quality and precision of their projects. However, there are proactive measures and techniques that can be employed to minimize or even eliminate snipe in woodworking.

One effective way to prevent snipe is by adjusting the setup of the planer or jointer properly. This includes ensuring that the tables on both sides of the tool are flush and parallel to each other. Additionally, setting the infeed and outfeed tables at the same height as the cutting knives can help reduce snipe. Taking these steps ensures that the wood passes smoothly through the machine, minimizing any inconsistencies that may lead to snipe.

Another important measure is to provide support for longer and wider boards during planing or jointing. Aligning an auxiliary table or roller stand at both ends of the tool helps stabilize and level out the piece being worked on, preventing any sagging or lifting that can cause snipe. Supporting the wood adequately throughout its entire length reduces stress on both ends, resulting in a smoother surface and alleviating snipe.

Using a sacrificial board technique is another effective way to prevent snipe. By placing a scrap piece of wood before and after your workpiece when feeding it through a planer or jointer, you create a buffer zone that absorbs any potential snipe. The main piece will only experience minimal contact with the cutting knives, minimizing any chance of significant snipe formation.

By implementing these proactive measures and techniques, woodworkers can greatly minimize or eliminate snipe in their projects. Proper machine setup, providing adequate support for long boards, and utilizing sacrificial boards are all essential practices for achieving high-quality woodworking results without being plagued by unsightly snipe.

Coping with Snipe

Snipe is a common issue that woodworkers face when using planers or jointers. It refers to the shallow cuts or dents that occur at the leading and trailing edges of a wood piece during the milling process. Snipe can be frustrating and detrimental to the overall quality of a woodworking project, as it leaves unsightly marks that may require additional sanding or even cause the piece to be unusable.

One effective strategy for coping with snipe is using sacrificial boards. These are extra pieces of scrap wood that are fed into the planer or jointer before and after the actual workpiece.

The idea behind this technique is to allow any snipe produced by the machine to occur on these sacrificial boards rather than on your desired project. By removing these boards after they have been run through the machine, you can effectively minimize or eliminate snipe from affecting your main wood piece.

Another approach to cope with snipe involves adjusting the feed rate of your machines. Snipe is often caused by uneven pressure applied to the wood piece during feeding. To reduce this issue, some woodworkers find success in slowing down their feed rate when approaching and exiting the cutting area. By gradually speeding up in between those points, it helps distribute the pressure more evenly on both ends of your project, minimizing sniping.

Additionally, supporting your workpieces adequately can also help cope with snipe. Ensuring that your material is properly supported throughout its entire length while being fed through a planer or jointer can prevent unnecessary flexing and minimize sniping. This can be achieved by using roller stands or outfeed tables which provide continuous support along the entire length of your material.

Remember, coping with snipe requires practice and experimentation with different techniques until you find what works best for you and your woodworking projects. It may also be helpful to consult experienced woodworkers who can offer valuable insights and advice based on their own experiences. By implementing these strategies and workarounds, you can minimize snipe’s impact on project quality and ensure a smoother and more satisfactory woodworking experience.

Tools and Techniques

Reducing snipe is a crucial skill that every woodworker should master. Snipe, commonly referred to as the thinning or scalloping of wood at the beginning or end of a board, can significantly impact the quality and aesthetics of woodworking projects. Fortunately, there are various tools and techniques that can help minimize or even eliminate snipe.

One effective way to reduce snipe is by using infeed and outfeed support. This involves using auxiliary tables or rollers positioned before and after the planer to adequately support the workpiece throughout the entire planing process. Infeed support prevents the front end of the board from dipping as it enters the planer, while outfeed support ensures that the back end remains level during exit.

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Another technique is to use a sacrificial board on either side of the workpiece when sending it through a planer or jointer. The sacrificial boards act as buffers between the workpiece and cutterhead, minimizing any snipe that may occur. It’s important to make sure that these sacrificial boards are properly aligned with the workpiece to ensure consistent results.

Additionally, adjusting planer settings can play an essential role in reducing snipe. Taking shallow cuts by lowering the cutterhead height gradually helps distribute pressure evenly across the board, minimizing any chances of snipe formation. Focusing on maintaining a consistent feed rate throughout the entire process also helps reduce inconsistencies and potential sniping.

Using a helical cutterhead can also be beneficial in minimizing snipe. Helical cutterheads consist of multiple small carbide inserts arranged in a spiral pattern around a cylindrical drum. Unlike traditional straight-knife cutterheads, helical cutterheads provide smoother cuts and lessens the likelihood of sniping.

Implementing these best practices and recommended methods will greatly aid in reducing snipe during woodworking projects. It’s essential for woodworkers to familiarize themselves with these tools and techniques to achieve high-quality results in their work. By mastering the art of reducing snipe, woodworkers can significantly enhance the overall craftsmanship and aesthetics of their projects.

Infeed and outfeed supportUsing sacrificial boards
Adjusting planer settingsUsing a helical cutterhead

Expert Tips and Insights

Woodworking is a craft that requires precision and attention to detail. One common challenge that woodworkers face is snipe, which refers to the uneven thinning or thickening of a piece of wood at the beginning or end of a planed surface. To help address this issue, we have gathered advice and recommendations from experienced woodworkers who have successfully dealt with snipe in their projects.

  1. Use sacrificial boards: One effective technique shared by many experienced woodworkers is using sacrificial boards. These are extra pieces of scrap wood that are placed before and after the workpiece when planing. The sacrificial boards help to minimize or eliminate snipe by providing additional support and reducing the chances of the workpiece lifting at the edges.
  2. Adjust your planer: Another valuable tip is to adjust your planer settings properly. Ensure that the infeed and outfeed tables are level with each other to maintain even pressure throughout the cut. Additionally, take time to adjust the depth of cut control knob. Make small adjustments until you find the sweet spot where snipe is reduced or eliminated.
  3. Control your feed rate: Maintaining a consistent feed rate can also help prevent snipe formation. Woodworkers suggest starting with a slow but steady feed rate as you begin planing, gradually increasing it once you pass halfway through the board, and finishing with a slower feed rate towards the end of the cut.
  4. Support longer workpieces: If you are working with longer boards prone to sniping, it’s crucial to provide adequate support during planing. Utilize roller stands or makeshift supports on both sides of the planer to ensure an even distribution of weight throughout.

Remember, practice makes perfect when it comes to dealing with snipe in woodworking projects. Each workshop setup may require specific adjustments and techniques to minimize or eliminate snipe. Learn from other woodworkers and find what works best for you. By implementing these expert tips and insights, you’ll be well on your way to producing smoother, snipe-free woodworking projects.


In conclusion, it is crucial for woodworkers to have a thorough understanding of snipe and its impact on woodworking projects. Snipe, defined as the unwanted groove or indentation at the beginning or end of a board, can significantly affect the quality and appearance of the final piece. It is important to recognize the factors that contribute to snipe formation, such as machine setup or user error, in order to minimize its occurrence.

The negative effects of snipe on woodworking projects cannot be overlooked. Not only does it compromise the aesthetics of the finished piece, but it may also result in waste and additional costs. Snipe can cause unevenness in surface thickness and joint lines, making it difficult to achieve precise measurements and fitment. These issues can lead to unsatisfactory results and require extra time and effort for corrections.

Fortunately, there are proactive measures and techniques that woodworkers can employ to minimize or eliminate snipe in their projects. Proper machine setup is essential, including adjusting the tables, guards, and blades or cutters. Some techniques include using sacrificial boards or backer blocks before and after the workpiece to reduce snipe formation. Additionally, feeding the stock continuously into and out of the planer or jointer can help minimize snipe.

It is also beneficial for woodworkers to seek advice from experienced professionals who have encountered snipe in their own projects. They can provide valuable insights, tips, and recommendations on how to effectively deal with snipe-related challenges. By implementing these best practices and recommended methods, woodworkers will be equipped with effective strategies to address snipe and improve overall project quality.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is sniping in woodworking?

Sniping in woodworking refers to a common issue that occurs during the planing or milling process. It is characterized by the sudden and excessive removal of material at the beginning or end of a workpiece when it passes through a planer or jointer.

Snipe often appears as an unwanted depression or gouge, causing inconsistencies in the thickness or flatness of the wood. It can be frustrating for woodworkers as it can ruin the overall smoothness and uniformity of their projects.

How do I get rid of snipe?

To get rid of snipe in woodworking, there are several techniques you can employ. One method is to use sacrificial boards, which means placing extra pieces of scrap wood before and after your actual workpiece as you pass it through the planer or jointer. This helps mitigate the depth of snipe by distributing its effect onto the sacrificial boards instead of your main project.

Another approach is adjusting the pressure or downward force applied while feeding the wood through these machines. By slightly lifting up on both ends of your workpiece, you can minimize snipe occurrence. Lastly, ensuring that your planer or jointer blades are sharp and properly aligned will also reduce snipe.

What is a planer snipe?

Planer snipe is a specific type of snipe that commonly occurs when running a piece of wood through a planer. It refers to irregular indentations at either end or sometimes both ends of the board where it transitions from being supported by the feed rollers to being unsupported near the cutterhead area. The nature and severity of planer snipe depend on various factors such as machine quality, technique used, and characteristics of the wood being processed.

However, planer snipes are typically more noticeable on longer boards compared to shorter ones due to differences in support throughout their length during planning operations. Preventative measures such as using supporting devices like rollers or sleds can help minimize planer sniping and ensure smoother results in woodworking projects.

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