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Thread: Knotty Pine and Deep Tear Out

  1. #1
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    Knotty Pine and Deep Tear Out

    Hi guys.

    So, I'm building my bench of construction grade lumber, because that was what was available, predimensioned, and affordable at my local home center.

    But, it's knotty as can be, and when planing and squaring up the legs and stretchers, I got quite a bit of tear out, including some pretty deep tear out around some of the knots. It seems just about impossible to avoid on this wood.

    Now, I'm building a workbench and not fine furniture, so I was thinking I'd just leave it be. But then I realized that this is a consistent problem that I've had working with pine and knotty wood of any type, so much so that I fear using any board with a knot in it for a project. I may want to use a piece with a knot in it in a real project some day, as I have in the past. So I figured I should perhaps use this as a learning opportunity.

    Sometimes, with a really sharp and well set plane, and a careful approach, I can avoid tear out. But many times you just can't. But you still need to plane the board to thickness or remove twist. What do you do? And more importantly, when deep tear-out occurs that can't be removed, what do you do?

    I've never used wood-filler and was thinking it'd probably look just as bad as the tear out, but I have zero experience with it. That's about the only solution I can think of though. Are there any other options? Ways to prevent it in the situations I described? Any other tips?

  2. #2
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    For a workbench I'd fill the tear out with epoxy and sand it smooth.

  3. #3
    Hello Luke
    Seems you've either been living in a cave, or have been misled regarding setting up your plane.
    For this kind of work, or infact any tropcal you name it, curly/flame/interlocked/dense, and so on...

    The key is to have two planes for the job, something which can hog off a wee bit of material, and another smoother.
    Hone you're cap iron's at 50 or a wee bit more, and learn how effective a well set cap iron works for both those planes.

    If you try other things like moving the frog forward to make a tight mouth, you will fail to get the close set cap iron actually set for the wood, as a tight mouth will stop it from working.
    All that will happen ,(as with everyone who's been misled) is...
    you think you're setting the cap close enough, when infact it will still be too far away, make it closer and the plane will judder about and refuse to take a shaving.

    So basically no tight mouths, (the Kato and Kawai video proves you don't need downbearing from ANY mouth for the close set cap iron to work)
    Hone a steep cap iron angle like 50 degrees, set it at the very most 1/32" away from the edge for your main plane.
    (This might mean you have too much camber, and need reduce it for to get the cap close enough.)

    You're smoother should have a cap iron twice as close as the other for half the distance, or even closer if need be, the iron profile/camber should be nearly imperceivable
    on the smoother, so there is room to mess about setting the cap iron closer to match the timber, without needing to do any work re-profiling the imperceivable camber.

    Providing you are good with knowing how to dimension timber accurately, (as in you've watched Mr Charlesworth)
    Then you can follow the advice on folks who do actually use the cap iron.
    This is evident even for a newcomer, as the straightened shavings, not curls, is what you should be looking at.

    If you want to make this easy for yourself... then regarding the setting of your planes "specifically regarding the setup"
    don't follow advice from folks who don't produce the goods, or is trying to sell you something.

    Straight shavings is what a newcomer will see straight away, that's both for a heavy cut and a light one!

    Have a look at, Warren Mickley, David Weaver, Derek Cohen's posts for starters,
    You have no "privilege" to see photos like myself, so I can show you where to look as you cannot see.

    Derek's are hosted on another fancy site, so you can see his posts
    (David W) is on youtube, has done so much on making this widely known, (thank's to Warren's efforts)

    Some other folks which you will see "the influence of the cap iron" ...(as in actually being used)
    are ... (have to look through my subscriptions)
    Brian Holcombe, Hernan Costa, Franks workbench, Dusty splinters, Matt Kenny, and straight shavings you will find
    You could say Rob Cosman, and the English woodworker too, but they're not being as clear about this as they should be, for different financial reasons.
    Sell you tools, or sell you videos.
    Rob Still won't make his steeper, but he's got like 10 kids so will give him a pass,
    I wouldn't want to use anyone's methods if they wern't 100% reliable, so I suggest go elsewhere (regarding the use of the cap)

    Shouldn't be much more to it, if you've watched Charlesworth's methodology already (nothing to do with setting the plane up)
    Make sure that you don't have you're bevel heel rubbing on the work, as you want the sharp bit in the timber.

    Get some candle wax to ease things a bit.
    That should be enough for you, David W has just about the most content about this, have a look at his woodcentral article "setting a cap iron"
    if you want confirmation on this.
    Have fun, and laugh at the thought of all the rest of the gurus trying to mislead people.
    It's rife on youtube, so don't be fooled.
    Good luck

    Tom

  4. #4
    You can certainly learn to plane knotty lumber. For rough work a double iron jack plane and a double iron try plane are a big help. You need to set the cap iron for the task at hand. Stock preparation is an art.

    In Pennsylvania in the 18th century figured woods were desirable and many drawer fronts and panels were figured and even knotty. Last month I saw a beautiful walnut chest of drawers, c 1770 where I think every drawer had a knot (and the associated surrounding figure). All were nicely planed. And the stuff made around 1800 was highly figured.

    Some have suggested that all stock preparation in the hand tool era was done by apprentices. However stock preparation takes a lot more skill than making neat dovetails or mortises. If you had a matched set of boards for figured drawer fronts, you did not want to have Joe Apprentice mucking them up. It might be fun to watch Charlesworth try to plane a rough board with knots. A lot of these experts never did the kind of stock work you are doing now.

    In the case of making a workbench, in most areas of the bench, a little tear out is not going to affect things. If you can by your selection favor one area, I would suggest the middle of the front of the bench, where you would be most likely to make notes or sketches on paper. That area would be nice to have clean.

  5. #5
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    I also do quite a bit of such work.

    One other little trick, that few talk about. I will run the plane at an angle to the grain (with the grain) so the cut is more of a slice. I am still pushing forward, but the rearend of the plane is between 30 and 45 degrees to the right...something like this \ instead of straight ahead |. I save the 45 degree slices for going over the knots.....

    Currently I am working with some figured Ash.....

    And...IF you do squiggle a few lines of candle wax across the sole of the plane.....hang on tight to the plane, as it WILL slide a lot faster.....
    A Planer? I'm the Planer, and this is what I use

  6. #6
    Luke, water under the bridge, the way to repair it is epoxy.

    Future reference, don't go near knots with a hand plane. IME I don't care what you do - ultra sharp blade (which is knot the first knot you hit), skewed approach, high bevel angle - has never worked for me.

    I'm going straight to a scraper and/or drum sander.

    Without either of the above, the best way I've found to handle wood like this is a belt sander. You just have to be careful with it.

    On knotty and/or boards with obstreporous grain, I'm glad I have that drum sander.
    Last edited by Robert Engel; 10-23-2021 at 11:41 AM.

  7. #7
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    On knotty and/or boards with obstreporous grain
    A new word for the new day, obstreperous doesn't just roll off the tongue. (okay my cats made me get a little extra sleep this morning)

    Luke, one of my thoughts was to rip through a knot and post an image of the wild things grain does around a knot. As a member you wouldn't be able to see it. (being a contributor opens up a new world, it is a great investment)

    Don't feel bad, others have suffered the same pain with pine and other softwoods.

    My best luck has been to work the dark part of the knot as best as possible then work outward with my smallest smoother set for the lightest of shavings. Slicing motions like Steven mentioned also help.

    After that it is scrapers and sand paper.

    My current alternative is to carefully select my stock to be able to not have to use the areas with knots as viewable surfaces.

    Knots in pine and other firs can be extremely hard, besides the knot itself being end grain. The swirled grain around knots is extremely weak causing it to tear out relentlessly. It is like a transition between end grain and face grain.

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

  8. #8
    Join Date
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    Minnesota
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    This is sure to be blasphemous, but when I made my bench from home center lumber, some of the knots were enormous and insanely hard. I made sure those weren't part of the top, and when they appeared in my way on legs and stretchers, I used an old chisel and knocked the bulk down below where I knew I'd be dimensioning.

  9. #9
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    So Cal
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    Iíve found a big difference with air dried wood and kiln. Kiln dried anything with knots seems to be dreadful to plane. Air dried wood has plenty of cons but handtool edges last longer and makes work more enjoyable.
    Kiln dried pine doesnít sound fun.
    Good Luck
    Aj

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Trees View Post
    Hello Luke
    Seems you've either been living in a cave, or have been misled regarding setting up your plane.
    For this kind of work, or infact any tropcal you name it, curly/flame/interlocked/dense, and so on...

    The key is to have two planes for the job, something which can hog off a wee bit of material, and another smoother.
    Hone you're cap iron's at 50 or a wee bit more, and learn how effective a well set cap iron works for both those planes.

    If you try other things like moving the frog forward to make a tight mouth, you will fail to get the close set cap iron actually set for the wood, as a tight mouth will stop it from working.
    All that will happen ,(as with everyone who's been misled) is...
    you think you're setting the cap close enough, when infact it will still be too far away, make it closer and the plane will judder about and refuse to take a shaving.

    So basically no tight mouths, (the Kato and Kawai video proves you don't need downbearing from ANY mouth for the close set cap iron to work)
    Hone a steep cap iron angle like 50 degrees, set it at the very most 1/32" away from the edge for your main plane.
    (This might mean you have too much camber, and need reduce it for to get the cap close enough.)

    You're smoother should have a cap iron twice as close as the other for half the distance, or even closer if need be, the iron profile/camber should be nearly imperceivable
    on the smoother, so there is room to mess about setting the cap iron closer to match the timber, without needing to do any work re-profiling the imperceivable camber.

    Providing you are good with knowing how to dimension timber accurately, (as in you've watched Mr Charlesworth)
    Then you can follow the advice on folks who do actually use the cap iron.
    This is evident even for a newcomer, as the straightened shavings, not curls, is what you should be looking at.

    If you want to make this easy for yourself... then regarding the setting of your planes "specifically regarding the setup"
    don't follow advice from folks who don't produce the goods, or is trying to sell you something.

    Straight shavings is what a newcomer will see straight away, that's both for a heavy cut and a light one!

    Have a look at, Warren Mickley, David Weaver, Derek Cohen's posts for starters,
    You have no "privilege" to see photos like myself, so I can show you where to look as you cannot see.

    Derek's are hosted on another fancy site, so you can see his posts
    (David W) is on youtube, has done so much on making this widely known, (thank's to Warren's efforts)

    Some other folks which you will see "the influence of the cap iron" ...(as in actually being used)
    are ... (have to look through my subscriptions)
    Brian Holcombe, Hernan Costa, Franks workbench, Dusty splinters, Matt Kenny, and straight shavings you will find
    You could say Rob Cosman, and the English woodworker too, but they're not being as clear about this as they should be, for different financial reasons.
    Sell you tools, or sell you videos.
    Rob Still won't make his steeper, but he's got like 10 kids so will give him a pass,
    I wouldn't want to use anyone's methods if they wern't 100% reliable, so I suggest go elsewhere (regarding the use of the cap)

    Shouldn't be much more to it, if you've watched Charlesworth's methodology already (nothing to do with setting the plane up)
    Make sure that you don't have you're bevel heel rubbing on the work, as you want the sharp bit in the timber.

    Get some candle wax to ease things a bit.
    That should be enough for you, David W has just about the most content about this, have a look at his woodcentral article "setting a cap iron"
    if you want confirmation on this.
    Have fun, and laugh at the thought of all the rest of the gurus trying to mislead people.
    It's rife on youtube, so don't be fooled.
    Good luck

    Tom
    Tom, interesting. You comments on straight shavings, not curls, are interesting. When my chip breaker is too close I get compressed accordion like shavings. A little back I get sort of straight shavings with a hint of compression. Further back I get curls. Are you saying we should shoot for the middle?

    4818C124-3732-4C3B-864C-4178CA2E4FC7.jpgAC1D8F8E-C798-4DED-B24E-4F617CCD5BBB.jpg4A8F2E3F-EFA9-49D0-BECD-9D4C965BBE71.jpg

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Rainey View Post
    Tom, interesting. You comments on straight shavings, not curls, are interesting. When my chip breaker is too close I get compressed accordion like shavings. A little back I get sort of straight shavings with a hint of compression. Further back I get curls. Are you saying we should shoot for the middle?
    Yes Mark it is a visual reference of the cap iron effect, if someone starting out never seen anyone using it, it should be fairly easy to see who's advice they should be taking.
    Most find they can get away with having the cap a hair further away whilst still seeing some influence.

    I think a good sign of knowing what's preferable is if you're relying on sharpness, then there's not enough influence.
    Whether that's the angle which the cap is honed, or the distance from the edge.

    I think around the 50 degree mark is nice, I try just over it, not knowing exactly what that is,
    any lower and the cap iron needs to be closer, which means it might stand more chance of getting damaged,
    and for some of the densest species on earth, means that one would have to have it too close for comfort...
    i.e the camber must be 110 percent, (I should have made note of the camber being even)

    Note that you won't get good use of the cap iron if the mouth is tight, and wondering if that is where the accordion shaving comment is coming from.

    Too close for me is just a harder push, straighter shaving, before I get to the accordion stage.
    One can take a heavier cut with it set further back and also produce a straight shaving.


    On another note to the OP, try it on some small piece and don't try and hollow the knot out with any other tools.
    The tearout prone timber needs to be supported, so if its hacked out, then one might get the impression that it's not working, when infact it's spelching.
    Should be able to plane a knot it as if it wern't there, just in the same fashion as with a clear board, no directional changes or any of that stuff.

    Tom

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Inkerman, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    957
    Below is a chipbreaker in action, taken from the Kato video.

    vfig9.gif




    Don't believe everything that your read.

    "If you try other things like moving the frog forward to make a tight mouth, you will fail to get the close set cap iron actually set for the wood, as a tight mouth will stop it from working "
    "Note that you won't get good use of the cap iron if the mouth is tight, "

    Here is a plane with a tight mouth and close chipbreaker making a nice shaving. My plane is obviously not stock, I have tinkered with it a bit. So Although the comments about a tight mouth may be true for a standard plane, as it comes out of the box, It does not mean that you cannot make a plane function with a tight mouth and close set chipbreaker. Just as the Kato study did not prove that a tight mouth did not work, they simple didn't test it, and so had no opinion one way or the other. The Kato video showed that a chipbreaker works to prevent tearout, and showed the mechanics of how it worked. They did not test all the variables of a hand plane. They did not even test a hand plane, simply a blade and chibreaker.
    Although the information is extremely valuable, it is not the end of the story of handplanes.
    Keep an open mind and experiment.

    SAM_1293.JPG SAM_1294.JPG

    How tight is it?
    this tight!

    SAM_1305.JPG

    And this is a video of a handplane cutting with no clearance / relief angle, (just to see how it works.)

    If you want to learn, take everything you are told with a grain of salt. People, even with the best of intentions, miss a lot of information. So it is best to experiment and see what works and what doesn't
    Handplanes are generally not made to function out of the box, they will require that you learn to see and think, tinker and tune, to get them working.




    <em><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); background-color: rgb(250, 250, 250);">
    Last edited by Mark Hennebury; 10-24-2021 at 2:59 PM.

  13. #13
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    Clarks Summit PA
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    Mark, that is an impressive straight shaving! That seems to be a good indicator of a good close shipbreaker setting. I believe David Weaver said on his video if you measure the shaving it will be shorter than the board. Is yours? There must be some compressive action with the shipbreaker that close.

  14. #14
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    Inkerman, Ontario, Canada
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    Hi Mark, I didn't measure the shaving length, but i am sure that it was shorter the the wood. That was about the thickest shaving that I could push through the plane at that mouth setting, and it was clearly under some pressure going through, It was tight enough to be able to lift the front of the plane. There was probably compressive action from both the tight mouth opening and the chipbreaker, unfortunately its difficult to measure anything accurately on that small of a scale without some sophisticated equipment. It would be fun to do though.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Rainey View Post
    Mark, that is an impressive straight shaving! That seems to be a good indicator of a good close shipbreaker setting. I believe David Weaver said on his video if you measure the shaving it will be shorter than the board. Is yours? There must be some compressive action with the shipbreaker that close.

  15. #15
    I wonder what use you have for the tight mouth Mark?
    I haven't seen a use for one apart from doing end grain bevels, and maybe some fiddly things which would be easier taken to a shooting board.
    Does it not add to much resistance whilst doing try work/panel work with an altered wear on the mouth?

    I've never tried altering the mouth, I just jumped straight onto using the cap iron, not even known it were possible at the time (thankfully).
    as I still haven't experimented with much of this, i.e going super steep like Warren suggests, obviously makes for a greater distance from the edge,
    although I find 50 gets the cap far enough to get under most contaminants like iron filings grinder detritus and remnants putty and cement,
    Was thinking I needed a harder cap iron before this, should I still notice anything like this happening, then 70 it is for me, tried this once, but didn't mess about for long before wanting my familiarities back, adjuster being more sensitive, and a tiny bit more difficult...I should have set it back a bit, very straight shavings at all settings.


    I found my plane was getting as hot as my dinner doing productive work attempting to use both a tight mouth and the cap, and looking back, still not working as good as it should.
    That's at 50 degrees and 1/32" distance.
    Noticeable dulling fast and needing a level of sharpness which was fairly constant, so obviously not preferable.

    I've seen Cosman allude to using the cap, (straight shavings, obviously working with those species) and at the same time, suggest other things for troublesome examples,
    so it's possible to make believe I suppose.
    Being in that grey area with his cap iron profile, makes those uber expensive hones come across as somewhat a bit more excusable/reasonable to my mind.

    The real test is being able to plane anything under the sun, any direction, no tricks needed, should be possible with any double iron smoother set for the job at hand.
    Treat any piece as it were riven stock, the plane might not be as hungry on denser bits like knots, but no need to go with the grain, unless its heavy stock removal, not try/panel/smoothing work, and just take another swipe.

    Those guys on the videos mentioned are most who actually use the double iron plane, a few more maybe Mr Chickadee has a video on it, there is very few.
    You won't find this information from the top woodworking channels, and it is a shame.

    The hardest part of all this, is getting the camber/ feathering if you like, perfect on both planes which use the influence.
    And for the underside, I find hollowing out the centre before honing the entire area makes for better chance of not getting a belly,
    as the fit might need to be a wee bit better than before.


    All the best
    Tom

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