I have an interesting problem. I been in the process of remodelling my living room and dining room - paint, lights, floor, essentially the works. And in doing so I discovered one of my floor joists is raised in comparison to the rest. I know that it is a small enough of a rise that I can plane down the joist (about 3/8" of an inch, the joist runs the length of the room which is near enough to 27', with no holes drilled through the 10" joist within a few feet of the peak), so bringing it true shouldn't be an issue.

The problem is I don't have a hand planer or belt sander. From what I have read online some guys have attempted to do this with a 1/4 sheet palm sander (which I have already). Is this actually an option or should I swallow the bill for a new tool? (Which I really wouldn't mind --- it's just I am married to an accountant and now "we have cost over runs").

Thoughts? Advice? Hopes and prayers?


  • 5
    When talking about sanding or planing, 3/8" is quite a lot. No way I would think about that with a 1/4 sheet sander.
    – JPhi1618
    Commented Jun 5, 2019 at 14:25
  • 3
    You could do it with a sander however a block plane is a cheap way to get uniform results, a sander will not be very true and make cause more squeaks and creaks compared to a surface that is tried up with a simple block plane , I have found them at thrift stores for as little as 1$ and an almost solid brass one for 7$ that one is 12” and the brass as scrap was worth more than 7$ I still have it and several others I have picked up over the years some wood, brass but mostly steel frames, great for trimming doors also.
    – Ed Beal
    Commented Jun 5, 2019 at 14:28
  • @EdBeal, I have been wanting to get a block plane specifically for trimming doors (as I have a house has great doors but stick in a couple places, as the house is now pushing 50 years old). I never thought about using a block plane for this task however, wouldn't the actual work be about the same as using a palm sander? But just give better results. Let me see if I understood you correctly.
    – J Crosby
    Commented Jun 5, 2019 at 14:33
  • I agree with Ed - as long as you have a sharp blade (or know how to sharpen it) a good old 'manual' plane would do a good job here. Probably only take a few minutes.
    – brhans
    Commented Jun 5, 2019 at 14:35
  • 2
    "Thoughts? Advice? Hopes and prayers?" Hey buddy, you married the accountant; we can't solve all your problems :) I will say that cost over runs are the norm. Accurately planning is hard; my suggestion would be to over-estimate the expense on every project by 25%. This should help balance under and over-estimating as we never estimate realistically, but optimistically. Commented Jun 5, 2019 at 17:47

2 Answers 2


If the floor framing is wide open, snap a chalkline on the side of the joist and run your circular saw on that. You could go so far as to screw a guide to the joist if you don't trust your skills, but it's a matter of finding a comfortable position and bracing against the joist with your hands. Just keep the saw table tight to the joist to keep the cut square.

Do investigate why that joist is high, though. Is it just warped? Bad from the mill? Hung up on a beam where the framing around it has settled or sagged? You may not want to fix the problem this way if you find something underneath that should be fixed instead.

  • Second part for sure. I can't imagine the joist has always been 3/8" higher than the others. That would have been extremely noticeable when the house was initially built.. Commented Jun 5, 2019 at 17:51
  • The house is almost 50 years old and it has settled quite a bit. This is the only joist that is "out of whack" with the floor. I am not sure what would have led to this area being higher. There is, however, a tele-post in the basement right in the apex of the peak. I suspect that this a large part of the issue. Any other thoughts that I should check before I place my flooring down?
    – J Crosby
    Commented Jun 5, 2019 at 21:18
  • Sure, but this comments thread isn't the place for them. Post a new question with clear photos of the post scenario if you'd like more help. Seems odd that there's a post under one joist.
    – isherwood
    Commented Jun 6, 2019 at 12:56

Here is what I did - and 3 weeks later I have not had any issues or noise so I figured I would share in case someone ends up having the same issue.

  1. I opened up the floor even further so I could inspect the joists as Isherwood suggested to better determine why the joist is high. What I found was that the telepost that I thought was just part of a small wall in my basement was actually the corner piece of the wall. And that while this joist was the high spot another joist (not directly next to it but one over) was also high due to the wall, and how the basement has settled over the past 40 odd years. Once I determined these two joists to be the problem I set to work.

  2. I leveled the joists with the 6' level, leveling true to the rest of the joist in the vicinity, snapped some lines and measured the high spots to ensure I wouldn't be taking too much off. My earlier estimate of 3/8" was correct.

  3. I planed them down, using an electric hand planer that I found on Facebook Marketplace (talk about great timing!).

NOTE: I used a planer after taking into account what several commenters said about the pitfalls of using a sander as opposed to a planer (see comments right below Original Post). These pitfalls and the time differences in completing the task is why I opted for a planer.

  1. As my joists were 10", I decided to err on the side of caution and built sister joists with 2x10s to make up for the trim. I screwed them in place, and sandwiched subfloor adhesive between them to hopefully prevent squeaking (so far, so good).

  2. I let everything set, checked levels and once I was confident that they would stay level I began to put the sheets I removed back.

  3. I filled my cut marks with sub floor adhesive again, to hopefully reduce the chance of squeaks. I wasn't worried about over application on the top side, as I took a razor blade after it had set and scraped it level with the floor so I wouldn't have lumping or bumps underneath my laminate.


  • Label everything as you go so you don't have a puzzle when you are done.
  • Properly check to make sure that your trim will not overly weaken your floor.
  • Use the correct adhesive, read the labels there are many different adhesives for a reason.

Hope this helps! And thanks guys for your insights, I could not have done it without you.

  • 1
    I would mark this is the right answer. A circular saw on a joist for such a small cut seems way overkill and could take well more time in trying to even out the ends. A planer should be able to get at least 1/16" in a pass so this is a relatively quick job.
    – DMoore
    Commented Jun 27, 2019 at 3:02
  • 1
    I like this solution (and up voted) but technically this does it answer the question in the title as it explicitly says “without a planer” 😀
    – auujay
    Commented Jun 27, 2019 at 16:44
  • lol yes I am aware that I used a planer. And as the OP I also know what I wrote. I will edit the answer to explain why I opted to make the purchase of a planer, and not use a sander, as I mentioned in my question.
    – J Crosby
    Commented Jun 27, 2019 at 16:48

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.