Now that the panel is glued up it is time to plane it like one big board. That is a real advantage of working with hand tools – removing limitations. Big boards are planed in the same way as small ones, so there is no need to have a friend with a 24 inch planer (though it would be nice).
1 – If your panel was made of boards with different thicknesses, then start the process with your jack (or scrub) plane by working across the grain just on those thick boards to get them fairly flat with the other boards.
2 – Flatten one side to be the reference face. It needs to be pretty well flat. I generally check for flat against my workbench top (which is flat). You will measure joinery from this face later. Sometimes this should be the show side and sometimes the “hidden” side. I seem to recall that Robert Wearing describes this in his book that was reprinted by Lost Art Press.
3 – With one flat reference face I usually mark the thickness of the board next and plane it to a parallel board. If the thickness is not critical, then use your gauge to determine the thinnest part of the board (usually at a corner) and set your gauge to that thickness. Mark the line all around the board and plane to the line.
4 – Next square up one long reference edge to your 1st reference face. it needs to be square and flat. This becomes the reference edge.
5 – Use the reference edge to mark the width of the board. Here I am using a panel gauge, you can also use a yardstick. Plane the edge down to that line (making sure it is square to the reference face). Note, on this board I planed the long edges before I planed the opposite face. This order is generally not critical.
6 – End grain – Plane it? Depends on the application. For these panels I will plane the end grain later. For now I marked my lengths and sawed to the line.
These boards are looking a little more orderly. Before joinery I have one more trick up my sleeve.