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Thread: Hand planing for the beginner?

  1. #1

    Hand planing for the beginner?

    Ok, I just purchased about a 100 lbs. of Lie-Nielsen handplanes, all of Rob Cosman's "Top 10 Handplanes" and more, and I'm knee deep in the minutiae of blade sharpening. But I have to admit I know next to nothing about using any of these tools. So where do I begin? I don't know where the idea came from but it seems to make sense to start off preparing a rough sawn piece of wood and make the sides square, parallel and flat.

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Mathews View Post
    Ok, I just purchased about a 100 lbs. of Lie-Nielsen handplanes, all of Rob Cosman's "Top 10 Handplanes" and more, and I'm knee deep in the minutiae of blade sharpening. But I have to admit I know next to nothing about using any of these tools. So where do I begin? I don't know where the idea came from but it seems to make sense to start off preparing a rough sawn piece of wood and make the sides square, parallel and flat.
    Steve,

    That's a pretty big hunk to start with.

    Lie-Nielsen planes are very good but over kill for the first plane you need learn. Because of the thick iron it is harder to get the needed camber on your "jack" plane (normally a #5) and because it is a roughing plane a Bailey style plane with a thin cutter is lighter and easier to use.

    It is usually a three plane process, a Jack to rough out the board, a jointer to true the board, and then the smoother for final prep. Getting to four square can be frustrating the first few times, change that, it can be frustrating if you do not do it often.

    ken

  3. #3
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    Steve, congratulations on the booty! Yes, face and edge jointing, followed by thicknessing and squaring is a good endeavor, but ease into things by starting with a piece of pine hopefully already machined into a flat board with square edges. Try to get shavings on the edge of the board. Note the grain of the board and if you are planing with it or against it. Sight down the plane & note how your blade protrudes from the sole and how you can control the thickness of shaving by amount of blade showing. Try to get the blade square to the sole. Enjoy watching those shavings fly!

  4. #4
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    May I suggest you begin your practice on Poplar?
    Many begin with Pine, which has unforgiving aspects that trip up many a novice (like me). Poplar is *much* better behaved.

    It's compliant to handplanes, relatively inexpensivensive and takes most finishes well.

    Rather than start with something rough sawn, consider stock that is already "surfaced" as a starting point.

    Sailors "learn the ropes" in a safe harbor at the till of a small boat in clear weather. A similar approach will yield increments of competence that add up to enjoyment.

    https://www.renaissancewoodworker.co...-the-beginner/

  5. #5
    I have to confess that it's not as if I never used a handplane, it's just admitting to not knowing much about them. I had an assortment of older Stanleys but after some frustration using them and more so viewing a Rob Cosman episode where he stated that getting some of these tools to function properly may not be worth the effort I eventually sold or gave them away. Obviously I purchased what Rob recommended to start afresh. My approach would've probably been different at a younger age. Having said all this I'm excited about learning something new. I like the premise mentioned in the article Jim mentioned, start with a small project instead of working on a piece of wood without a use. I recall when first trying my hand at woodturning the boredom practicing cuts with a skew. It wasn't until making something useful like a bowl that finally made it enjoyable. Most of it turned into decorative firewood but it was more fun to make.

  6. #6
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    My reviewing of the Rob Cosman channel is that he uses Wind River planes, not LN. Still, he is a proponent of good equipment.
    Iím not sure giving away your Stanley Bailey planes was a good use of resources, but thatís your issue. I have a Record #7 that takes gorgeous shavings that drives me nuts because the lateral adjustment isnít working properly, but I still use it. Most of my other Record planes have been replaced by Lee Valley, as money became available.
    Enjoy your new planes, and your grandchildren will probably enjoy the quality, too.
    Young enough to remember doing it;
    Old enough to wish I could do it again.

  7. #7
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    Steve, your profile doesn't list your location. You may live near another member who would be willing to spend time with you to help you understand the use of your planes.

    Also knowing your location would help with suggesting variious woods to use. In my previous location poplar wasn't very common. In my current location alder is often available.

    Pine or fir is often recommended because it is available almost everywhere.

    If you were in my area my suggestion would be to pick up some mill ends/firewood for practice.

    This post may be of help > https://sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?148076

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

  8. #8
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    you might want to check out the Fine Woodworking website which has a free video series running this weekend for Father's Day, one is from Mike Pekovich on "Fundamentals of Handplanes"

  9. #9
    I'd say start with something like a #4 and just plane a piece of machine planed wood to get a feel for how it performs and reacts. See what changing the blade depth, frog width, going with, against, across, the grain does. Go straight, skew right, skew left, do slight skew, do heavy skew, etc. The main thing is just to learn how the plane reacts to things, and start mentally filing away all that information, so you can anticipate what to so in what situation. This includes learning all the "wrong" things, mostly so you know what they are, and what they do or don't do. It is almost impossible to damage a plane in normal use, short of dropping on the floor.

    After that, just try out all the planes and see what they do and how they react. There are "right" orders of planes to use, and "right" ways to do things, but learning that stuff comes later.

    Plus the "right" way of doing something for someone else may not be the "right" way for you to do it. For example, Cosman's top 10 most used planes are almost completely opposite of what my top 10 most used planes are, and yet we both manage to turn out good work. We must just prefer to use different planes, and one might use machines in one situation and the other hand tools.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Seemann View Post
    I'd say start with something like a #4 and just plane a piece of machine planed wood to get a feel for how it performs and reacts. See what changing the blade depth, frog width, going with, against, across, the grain does. Go straight, skew right, skew left, do slight skew, do heavy skew, etc. The main thing is just to learn how the plane reacts to things, and start mentally filing away all that information, so you can anticipate what to so in what situation. This includes learning all the "wrong" things, mostly so you know what they are, and what they do or don't do. It is almost impossible to damage a plane in normal use, short of dropping on the floor.

    After that, just try out all the planes and see what they do and how they react. There are "right" orders of planes to use, and "right" ways to do things, but learning that stuff comes later.

    Plus the "right" way of doing something for someone else may not be the "right" way for you to do it. For example, Cosman's top 10 most used planes are almost completely opposite of what my top 10 most used planes are, and yet we both manage to turn out good work. We must just prefer to use different planes, and one might use machines in one situation and the other hand tools.
    Your comment begs to ask, what are your top 10 most used planes?

  11. #11
    Have a look at David Charlesworth's videos for just about the absolute best demonstration of planing technique, hands down!
    He can describe better through a video, than most could demonstrate in a real life scenario.
    Super descriptive, and real master of conveying the most accurate wording possible.
    You can tell he has worked harder than anyone to make those videos.


    Saying that, I use the cap iron rather than honing those troublesome microbevels and having tight mouths, the corners of my irons aren't relieved so much, as that disables the cap iron
    from working correctly, (if its further than a 32" away from the edge,then it won't get close enough for elimination of tearout)
    I suggest you keep at least one iron honed with no camber for a shooting board at the least.
    If you intend to use the cap iron but you've honed the corners off already, then it will take some time until you will be able to hone that camber off your smoother,
    and you stand a good chance of going down silly time wasting rabbit holes that yield inferior results, with more faff included.

    Watch David Charlesworth then David Weaver (David W on youtube) afterwards.
    Mr Weaver demonstrates how to use the double iron correctly.
    Regardless what they say, very very few folks on youtube have this down,

    If you cannot see straight shavings in hardwoods, then the shavings are not being fully affected by the cap iron, which can lead to tearout depending on what you're working.
    Tight mouths are for few things like arrises, so not the best practice for surfacing your stock.

    Enjoy your hamper!
    Tom
    Last edited by Tom Trees; 06-20-2020 at 11:24 PM.

  12. #12
    Join Date
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    Read :Coarse, Medium, Fine" by Christopher Schwarz. Many do not agree with him but that piece is a great place to start.

    I agree - get the # 4 and a piece of poplar and start planing on the edge, then the face, and then end grain, This is assuming you can sharpen properly.

    Spend time on Derek Cohen's website IntheWoodShop.com

    Ask lots of questions

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Mathews View Post
    Your comment begs to ask, what are your top 10 most used planes?

    In rough order from most to least. Some are duplicate planes, but with a different mouth configuration. Bear in mind I am not a hand tool purist, so I don't generally thickness and edge joint by hand. I mostly use hand tools to augment power tool wood working and avoid sanding dust where I can.

    There are a few more I would like to get, specifically a #271, and I've always wanted a #45. I'd pick up a #5 1/4 if I saw it for cheap and in good condition. Actually that is true of almost any plane. "Hi, my name is Andrew, and I have problem with buying used planes on the cheap."

    All the below are used, from around 1900 - 1950, typically Stanley, but some other makes as well. I don't like the heavy bodies or thick irons of the modern makers (or prices ).

    #4 Smooth, with tight mouth for smoothing and occasional shooting.
    #4 Smooth, with wider mouth for quick removal of machine marks and planing off glue drips (after the scraper).
    Standard angle block planes, 9 1/2 style, mine are Millers Falls and Sargent.
    #3 Smooth for cleaning up tear out, woods with rapidly changing grain, and woods that are particularly hard or tiring to plane (e.g. annoyingly hard oaks, rock maple).
    #5 Jack, tight mouth for quick cleaning up edges/edge jointing small pieces, occasional face planing.
    #7 or #8 for edge jointing boards too long for the jointer
    #4 1/2 Smooth, for woods friendly to wide shavings, like white pine, soft maple, poplar, etc.
    #78 Moving Fillister, for adjusting rabbets, also doubles as a shoulder plane.
    #71 Router, for cleaning up or deepening dados and grooves that I didn't do right on the table saw.
    #5 Jack, wide mouth for quick face jointing prior to running through the planer for woods too wide for the jointer.
    #6 Fore, tight mouth for cleaning/truing up panels, occasional face planing.
    #40 Scrub, for quick removal of wood, particularly when I am pi$$ed at a piece of wood.
    Low angle block plane. Never cared for this, much prefer standard 9 1/2, but gets used occasionally.
    Specialty planes, like #79 side rabbet, #140 skew rabbet, compass plane, bull nose rabbet etc.
    Last edited by Andrew Seemann; 06-20-2020 at 10:57 PM.

  14. #14
    Schwarz, Cosman, and Charlesworth, all mentioned in this thread, all make excellent videos. The content does not match the production quality. I watched Cosman's 10 hand plane video yesterday. A long time hand tool woodworker, I owned just one of those planes.

    For rough work, I use a double iron jack plane that I made 42 years ago. It weighs less than three pounds. Cosman recommends a seven pound jack plane; I cannot imagine anyone wanting to use this thing in a serious way. He recommends the 5 1/2 jack plane so he can swap back beveled blades with the 4 1/2 and 7 planes. Woodworkers who have learned to use double iron planes do not need back bevels. Cosman lists no plow, no dado plane, and only the dinkiest of moving fillisters.

    Here is a list:

    Wooden jack
    Wooden trying plane
    Jointer
    Smoothing plane

    Universal plow (a plow with movable fence, multiple cutters)
    Moving fillister
    Dado plane
    Rabbet plane.

    After this Badger plane, Strike block plane, hollows and rounds etc.
    Last edited by Warren Mickley; 06-21-2020 at 9:03 AM.

  15. #15
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Mathews View Post
    Ok, I just purchased about a 100 lbs. of Lie-Nielsen handplanes, all of Rob Cosman's "Top 10 Handplanes" and more, and I'm knee deep in the minutiae of blade sharpening. But I have to admit I know next to nothing about using any of these tools. So where do I begin? I don't know where the idea came from but it seems to make sense to start off preparing a rough sawn piece of wood and make the sides square, parallel and flat.
    I am deeply invested in LN planes and chisels and was struggling on where to begin. All of the tools worked, but I seemed to be missing the hype associated with LN. Fortunately for me, my location and free time provided a great opportunity to attend David Charlesworth's Tool Tuning course in Devon, UK (as well as his other three courses). I watched the Sellers and Crossman videos on YouTube, but for me, there is nothing better than face to face training.

    While my LN planes were good out of the box, they were great after the Tool Tuning course. Included training in the course is how to use the plane, and for me it was a bit of a challenge at first as I had to unlearn what I grew up doing. Fortunately, Sir was patient with me and I had a great time. If conditions and funds permit, I strongly recommend David's courses.

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