View Full Version : Handplane procedure

John Edwards
03-29-2003, 10:31 PM
Honestly I am a bit confusd as to what the purpose/squence of using a plane/scraper for final prep before finish.

Does one use a typical smoothing plane then follow it up with a scraper ? Or maybe a scraper plane ? When is a scraper plane even used ? Maybe the scraper plane is used only in wood prone to tearout ?

Trying to break away from the use of sanders for smoothing.

Hopefully one of you more experianced handtool users could offer some advice ?

Thanks much.

John Wadsworth
03-30-2003, 9:48 AM

I think you'll find that everyone has their own favorite sequence of techniques, with variations depending on what wood you're working with and what finish you expect.

For most domestic hardwoods, which are my usual materials, I'll stop at a fine-set finish plane--my Norris A5 or the new Ray Iles infill. The little ridges left by hand planing don't bother me--indeed, they're hard to see unless you're looking for them.

Occasionally I'll use a scraper for gnarly grain, or if there's a spot that will catch raking light that I want really super smooth. Other folks swear by their scrapers, with or without a plane body; I find I take my scraper planes out mostly to resurface SWMBO's cutting boards. There's the high-angle frog option, too--either a plane made with a higher angle or one of the changeable frogs now available from LN.

Hey, the fun of this is finding what works for you. There ain't no "right" way...

John Edwards
03-30-2003, 10:02 AM
Thanks for your response.
Could you tell me more about the Ray Iles infill plane? Never heard of them before.

Alan Hamilton
03-30-2003, 7:19 PM

What the other John said--with one little disagreement:

I put a little arc or crown in my smoothing plane irons. That way there's no ridge to be seen or felt. (This was discussed in another thread.) Not thirty minutes ago I was using my #4 on some poplar soon-to-be drawers. Even with strong side-light I could not see the tiny undulations left by the plane. I could still feel them, but perhaps only because I knew they were there.

As to scrapers, I use them as both a first and last resort. I usually reach for a scraper to clean up glue lines before I use a plane. Depending on which is closer or which is sharp at the moment, I'll use either card scrapers or a Stanley #80.

I also use scrapers as a last resort when I'm smoothing. Some wood can be just plain obstinate and refuse to be planed. That's when a scraper comes in handy. But I try not to need a scraper; first I'll try all the tricks with a plane. Others will disagree, but I find a scraped surface is just not the equal of a planed surface--though it is still several notches better than a sanded surface.


John Wadsworth
03-31-2003, 10:24 AM
I agree with Alan's comments. Most of my smoothers have a very slight radius to the edge, which turns the ridges into very shallow scallops; as I said, most of the time I don't feel the need for scraping, as these are imperceptible to all but the closest scrutiny in raking light.

And the point about using a scraper for glue removal is a good one, although for that I'd prefer the type known as a "box scraper"--a small blade held in a clamp at the end of a handle about a foot long. Originally meant to scrape labels and stencils off of packing crates so they could be re-used. Some of them are pretty crude, but there are nice ones out there to be had, and even new versions, some with carbide blades.

Alan Hamilton
03-31-2003, 7:27 PM

No, not you. The other John.

I misunderstood what you meant by "little ridges." I don't disagree at all. My apologies.

Ah, yes. Scraping a glue line. I'm afraid my technique with what I would call a "paint scraper" is not very good. I've always used them for rough work, where I can plow great splintering gouges and get away with it. I don't trust myself to use one on expensive hardwood.

Of course you're right: I would do better to use my rough and ready scraper instead of my more delicate, freshly sharpened, more easily dulled scrapers. But, again, I'm not to be trusted.