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Thread: Newbie question on bench plane use with hard wood

  1. #16
    One point not mentioned above was grain direction. In my experience every piece of wood will plane easier from one direction than it will from the other. You need to read the grain and plane so the grain ends exposed on the surface are leaning --> /////// not --->\\\\\\ . Also take a paraffin candle and scribble on the sole of your plane every few strokes. You will be amazed at how it reduces the friction and makes planing easier.
    Lee Schierer
    USNA- '71
    Captain USN(Ret)

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  2. #17
    Wow, what a great site! I'm amazed at all the good info here ... especially from a bunch of "neanderthals".
    Seriously, all these tips are great. It's especially comforting to know not to expect anything but thin shavings with oak and a straight-across blade.
    After reading the responses, I re-honed the blade, trying Robert's technique to give it a little camber. I made sure the chip breaker was set as close as I could (given the back bevel; haven't quite gotten rid of that yet.) Then I waxed up the sole, and dialed the adjuster down to give very thin shavings. Now it seems a *lot* better! It still will catch sometimes, but not as often or as bad as before. I think after I get rid of the back bevel, give it a bit more camber (right now I can't even really see much when sighting across the blade width), and refine my sharpening technique (better stones too), things will improve even more.

    A big thanks for all the replies. I'm looking forward to being part of the site, and learning more from all you experts.

  3. #18
    Sounds like it's working well. The only thing I would add is that with white oak (which I hate, btw), is that it can help a ton to skew the plane diagonally from the direction you are pushing. This allows the blade to make more of a slicing cut than a pushing cut. Slicing is always less effort than pushing. The downside is the width of your cut will be less so you'll have to do more strokes to cover the same area as there's no such thing as a free lunch. But whenever I'm having a tough time with really hard stuff and I don't want to reduce the cutting any further, skewing the plane works wonders.

  4. #19
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Stone Mountain, GA
    Glad it's working better. The learning curve is kind of steep at first. I remember my early ventures with a plane, and one of the biggest revelations was just how little blade projection you actually need, and how flat the surface needs to be before it starts to work like you think it should. As you gain experience and develop muscle memory/coordination for the planing motion, you'll probably be able to push a bigger shaving than you can now. But for now just try to set a shaving where you can easily control the plane. The next hurdle will probably be figuring out exactly where to plane to make it flat, and figuring out why you can't take shavings at certain spots.

  5. #20
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Bay of Plenty, New Zealand
    I've not read the whole thread, for what it is worth if I need to remove a lot of materal I start out with planing diagonally to the grain and only towards the end start going more with the grain. First in one direction diagonally, then in another direction diagonally. Being afflicted with arthritis I am fond of using the old Stanley #5-1/4 Junior Jack plane which is the same width as the #3 but longer. The other item is that during manufacture the sole of a plane gets ground and that is not as smooth as a plane that has been used a lot, candle wax is your friend. FWIW there was even a short period that Stanley made a plane that had an "oiler" in front of the knob!
    Last edited by Marinus Loewensteijn; 11-14-2019 at 3:51 PM.

  6. #21
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Columbus, Ohio, USA
    Where do you live? Someone may live near you. I am in the center of Ohio; for example. If you lived near me, I could provide another opinion on "is it sharp" and also provide a few extra planes that we could try against the wood.

  7. #22
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Longview WA
    Blog Entries
    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Pitonyak View Post
    Where do you live? Someone may live near you. I am in the center of Ohio; for example. If you lived near me, I could provide another opinion on "is it sharp" and also provide a few extra planes that we could try against the wood.
    If you are in the Pacific Northwest you have the same offer as Andrew's from me.

    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  8. #23
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    N Illionis
    ron if you wanted thicker shavings to remove more wood plane diagonally across the board, but you'll have to clean it up by going with the grain.

  9. #24
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Borger, Texas
    Hi Ron,

    Of course you will get good advise "from a bunch "neanderthals"".....that is when the topic is flint napping a flint spear point. (Or, getting a woodworking bench plane to work well.)



  10. #25
    Well, by really learning to dial in the blade projection and keeping the blade sharp, I've finally finished with the planing of the table top (top/visible side) and most of the sanding. I was able to see for myself how these tools actually flatten using the diagonal stroke plan. Kind of amazing, really: run your hand over an area and discover some minor undulations, then after about 30 seconds of diagonal strokes, it's all flat. Equivalent of tons of sanding but more more controllable, and fun (I hate long-running sanding jobs). Table top may not be perfect, but overall it's pretty nice.
    Next topic will be how to deal with minor tear-out or other blemishes, but I'm headed to the "finisher" forum for that one.
    Thanks again!

  11. #26
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Stone Mountain, GA
    Fixing minor tearout might be best done with a bit more planing. Are you sure you were planing with the grain? Assuming the table is made up of several boards, each board might have a different grain direction. If you notice this you can change planing directions for each board. Sometimes a board has wavy grain and the grain direction changes along its length. Also if there are knots, or if there is any wood that was near a knot, the grain will change direction dramatically around that.

    Assuming you can't simply plane with the grain, there are three ways to avoid tearout (not including having a sharp blade- that should be a given). First is to set a very thin shaving, second is to set the cap iron very close, third is to increase cutting pitch. I don't think you need the third here. But a combination of the first two should get you there.

    So sharpen as good as you can, then set the cap iron to where you can just barely see a reflected glimmer of light from the iron, about as close as you can without going over the edge. That's about the setting you want for final smoothing. Then set the plane for a very fine cut- retract the blade and then make planing strokes on a test piece while slowly advancing the cutter until it just starts to cut. At this point you should be able to plane just about anything- knots, curly figure, etc, without tearout and without regard to grain direction.

    If your table is nice and flat, then the idea with smoothing is to take a few passes along the grain with the goal being to get a thin full width shaving from beginning to end of each board on each stroke, with each stroke overlapping the previous by half. The surface has to be very flat to do this, and it usually takes several passes at least to get there. But once you get to that point you are done unless there are any flaws or lingering tearout. If so just keep doing more passes. Don't be surprised if you have to sharpen every few passes- you'll start getting dust instead of shavings. The thinnest shavings require the keenest edge. When you master the chipbreaker you can take thicker shavings to speed this up. For now I'd stick with the thinner shavings to be safe.

    Another approach is to do spot removal on the areas with tearout. A #5 plane is a bit large for this- usually the lingering tearout will be in a low spot and the plane can't reach it. So a card scraper might help, if you know how to set up and use one. Be careful not to dig too deep a hole with it. A finely set smoothing plane can help even out after you're done with the card scraper, and you can blend everything in with sanding. If you avoid a glossy finish you will probably not notice the little low spots.

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