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Thread: Solid wood panels - what hand plane for smoothing

  1. #1

    Solid wood panels - what hand plane for smoothing

    Hi

    Currently I mainly work with, not sure how it is called in english, solid wood panels width longitudinal joint (finger joint) made from spruce, already sanded out from the shop with granulation 80. What hand plane (LV or LN) would be best for smoothing to get glass-smooth surface. I'm leaning more to LV planes as it seems they are easier to get here in Europe.

    Boris

    IMG_20211109_091000.jpgIMG_20211109_085909.jpg

  2. #2
    Just make sure you buy a double iron plane, that is one with a cutting iron and a cap iron. The “low angle” planes are designed for beginners, maybe not something you want to pay a premium for.

  3. #3
    I'm a beginner regarding hand tools. I used to sand those panels with some kind of power sander, but now I'd like to start using hand planes instead.
    I was thinking No 4 or BUS should do the job, but I'm not sure exactly which one as these panels are made from smaller parts with different grain and I'm afraid that some parts will end better than others.

  4. #4
    Can anyone honestly say they can get a glass smooth surface on those random knotty spruce glueups with a hand plane?
    Last edited by Kevin Jenness; 11-09-2021 at 8:48 AM.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Jenness View Post
    Can anyone honestly say they can get a glass smooth surface on those random knotty spruce glueups with a hand plane?
    Yes, I have done this for 45 years.

    The BUS is a particularly poor choice because it would require a high angle to avoid tear out, but would leave a scuffed surface on a tender softwood. You might as well just sand.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boris Nimipad View Post
    I'm a beginner regarding hand tools. I used to sand those panels with some kind of power sander, but now I'd like to start using hand planes instead.
    I was thinking No 4 or BUS should do the job, but I'm not sure exactly which one as these panels are made from smaller parts with different grain and I'm afraid that some parts will end better than others.
    I'm not sure exactly what you want to achieve. These sound like paint-grade panels and if you nicely hand plane them it may not have the effect you want. But I'm sure it is possible to plane them.

    Like Warren said, a double iron (i.e. bevel down with cap iron) is what you want for dealing with random grain direction. You'll need to learn how to set the cap iron to control tearout, but once you have that down you can plane this sort of stuff without issue.

    So we would recommend a #4, but not the BUS (which is single iron- no cap iron- and bevel up). Veritas makes at least one bevel down smoothing plane with a cap iron, the "custom #4".

    Why the BUS is not recommended: you can either sharpen it at a low or high angle. At a low angle it will leave an excellent finish on softwood *if* the grain cooperates. If it does not, you will get tearout, potentially very bad tearout. All you can do is try to close the mouth down tight but that will typically not eliminate the problem. If you sharpen at a high angle, it will eliminate tearout, but will not leave a very nice finish on soft wood like spruce. A high angle does pretty well on very hard woods, but soft woods don't tolerate a scraping-type cut as well.

    A bevel-down double-iron plane gets you the best of both worlds and no need to keep multiple blades with different bevel angles. You do have to learn how to prepare and set the cap iron, but it is no more difficult to learn than how to sharpen.

    And to answer Kevin Jenness- I have gotten a glassy surface on crappy Spruce construction lumber. The blade has to be freshly sharpened, and the edge needs to be just about perfect. The slightest deterioration of the edge will result in fuzziness, but with a fresh new edge you can plane it nice and shiny and slick. You actually end up sharpening more often than with something much harder like white oak.

  7. #7
    I'd like to get better surface or at least as good as I'd get with sandpaper grit 220. Next I'll apply linseed +beeswax paste as a finish, no painting.
    This panels are not construction lumber quality, they are meant for DIY furniture making.
    Last edited by Boris Nimipad; 11-09-2021 at 10:14 AM.

  8. #8
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    I understand they are not construction lumber, I just mentioned that to show that "bad" wood can be planed nicely. But if they are finger jointed then you will get get odd discontinuous grain, which is why finger joints are usually reserved for paint grade trim. But that is your decision, it may well turn out nice.

    You do need to be careful not to remove too much material, because the finger joint glue line can start to telegraph through the top surface. Avoiding tearout will be key to not removing too much.

  9. #9
    Trust me on this -- you will regret ever touching it with a hand plane.

    Those panels are glued up with no regard to grain direction, not to mention knots.

    Second, if you're applying linseed oil, you don't want a glassy smooth surface. Sand to 180, 220 tops, subsequent coats can be sanded wet.

  10. #10
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    Hi Boris and welcome to the Creek.

    Good advice so far on using a bevel down plane with a cap iron. My suggestion for smoothing such wood is to also take as thin of a shaving as you can. This with a blade as sharp as possible and a well set cap iron will get what you want.

    If one area comes up rough try changing directions. Often one misbehaving area can be fixed this way and a thin shaving is possible against the grain in the "behaving" areas.

    A #3 or #4 is your best choice. The way to decide depends on your personal preference or maybe hand size. Making decisions like this is difficult for me. That may be why there are two of each in my shop, though they are old Stanley/Bailey planes.

    jtk
    Last edited by Jim Koepke; 11-09-2021 at 10:29 AM.
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  11. #11
    Honestly, if they are fine other than being sanded to 80 grit, and you just don't want to sand to a finer grit for some reason.... I'd just go with a card scraper. I mean, why risk a problem with knots or reversing grain and wind up with something worse than what you currently have? Especially if you aren't very experienced with a smoothing plain and running into those kinds of issues. Sandpaper or a card scraper are the only foolproof options and will both very easily get you the finish you desire. And a heck of a lot cheaper than a LV or LN No. 4!

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Hazelwood View Post
    I'm not sure exactly what you want to achieve. These sound like paint-grade panels and if you nicely hand plane them it may not have the effect you want. But I'm sure it is possible to plane them.

    Like Warren said, a double iron (i.e. bevel down with cap iron) is what you want for dealing with random grain direction. You'll need to learn how to set the cap iron to control tearout, but once you have that down you can plane this sort of stuff without issue.

    So we would recommend a #4, but not the BUS (which is single iron- no cap iron- and bevel up). Veritas makes at least one bevel down smoothing plane with a cap iron, the "custom #4".

    Why the BUS is not recommended: you can either sharpen it at a low or high angle. At a low angle it will leave an excellent finish on softwood *if* the grain cooperates. If it does not, you will get tearout, potentially very bad tearout. All you can do is try to close the mouth down tight but that will typically not eliminate the problem. If you sharpen at a high angle, it will eliminate tearout, but will not leave a very nice finish on soft wood like spruce. A high angle does pretty well on very hard woods, but soft woods don't tolerate a scraping-type cut as well.

    A bevel-down double-iron plane gets you the best of both worlds and no need to keep multiple blades with different bevel angles. You do have to learn how to prepare and set the cap iron, but it is no more difficult to learn than how to sharpen.

    And to answer Kevin Jenness- I have gotten a glassy surface on crappy Spruce construction lumber. The blade has to be freshly sharpened, and the edge needs to be just about perfect. The slightest deterioration of the edge will result in fuzziness, but with a fresh new edge you can plane it nice and shiny and slick. You actually end up sharpening more often than with something much harder like white oak.
    Good to know. I will try fettling my #4 and see if I can fail better.

  13. #13
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    This is not the task to learn to use hand planes. It requires unusual skill at sharpening and using them. It is for experts. Get started with a block plane and move on from there. Even if you never get to that level, hand planes are wonderful tools.

  14. #14
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    I was going to post about the same thing that the other Tom just did. There is a learning curve to setting up, and using hand planes, not to mention the requirement of the skill, and equipment needed to get them sharp enough. You can't just buy one, and expect to get good results, even on wood that's 100% agreeable to start with.

  15. #15
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    Biggest thing? PRACTICE..Practice, Practice....

    Old saying: "If you think a thing can not be done, do not interrupt the person that IS doing it"

    New LV or LN planes are SUPPOSED to be ready to go right out of their shipping boxes.....maybe a few quick swipes on a strop to hone the edge. Set the depth adjustment until it no longer cuts.....THEN start advancing the cutter until it does just start to cut.....rub the plane's sole with a plain, old candle ( a few squiggly lines across the width) to allow the plane to glide along better.
    Gene's No. 4, glass smooth Ash.JPG
    And even a plank of Ash will get glass smooth...tain't some mystic, Rocket Science.....Even the Romans used planes...
    Thin Lid, Troublesome spot.JPG
    It does help to push a plane along, by holding it at an angle to the direction of travel.....more of a slice, than a shave....

    Also, since I usually make my drawer sides in Pine...I MIGHT know a few things about running a plane around on it. Been doing it about as long as Warren has....

    a few years ago. The Boss wanted a larger Pantry Cupboard for the Kitchen...old one was too small...Got some Pine from the BORG..
    Pine Pantry.JPG

    TALL, wide and DEEP...She keeps wanting to paint it...I keep hiding the brushes...Details around a couple knots..
    Pine Pantry, knots.JPG
    Doors and the sides are glue ups....I think the OP's "Pine" boards MIGHT be a better grade of lumber....as you can still buy "Cabinet Grade Clear" Pine....$$$...Pantry is out of #2 Pine
    Last edited by steven c newman; 11-10-2021 at 10:19 AM. Reason: Pantry
    A Planer? I'm the Planer, and this is what I use

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