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Thread: confusion on the use of the chipbreaker

  1. #1
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    confusion on the use of the chipbreaker

    Hi all,

    I have been reading everything I could get my hands on in regards to setting the chipbreaker, bevel angles, and throat settings for planes. I think I understand most of the information out there but there is still an issue that bothers me.

    A lower angle attack bevel leaves a superior surface - but it is prone to causing tearout
    A higher angle causes less tearout, but is harder to push and leaves an inferior (to a low angle) finish. this spectrum goes all the way to a scraper which is used as the secret weapon against tearout but only as a last resort (I am only referring to flat surfaces).

    In comes the chipbreaker/cap-iron/double-iron:
    if set properly ("properly" changes by type of wood, depth of cut, etc...) it bends the wood fibers at such an angle that it compresses the fibers before the blade. compressing the fibers prevents them from tearing ahead of the blade (tearout).

    the question is this: does a well tuned chipbreaker diminish the advantages of the low angle, or preserve them? I would have thought that the effects of a high angle and use of chipbreaker would be summative in fighting tearout.

    recently I read an article by Derek Cohen in which he customized Veritas custom No.7 and No. 4 bench planes. (http://www.inthewoodshop.com/ToolRev...omPlanes4.html) He advocated using a low frog angle (40°, and 42° respectively). in the article he compared and ranked various plane configurations importantly using the same plane with the same chipbreaker configuration with 42° and 50° frogs.
    Why would a 42° frog with chipbreaker control tearout better than a 50° frog with chipbreaker? I thought that the only downside to high angle frogs is the difficulty in pushing them.

  2. #2
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    On a side note. I posted a link to Derek's Website. I did not have his permission to do so. I don't think there is any reason to suspect he would have issue with it but if I have violated site policy please let me know and I will fix it.

  3. #3
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    David Weaver had a series of posts here, a few years back...about the use of the chipbreaker....

    IIRC: Stanley went with a thin iron, and the chipbreaker. The chipbreaker acting as part of the iron, so between the two of them, the plane acted like there was a single, THICK iron....while making it easier to sharpen the thin iron.

    Normally on the planes I use..the chipbreaker is set less than a mm back from the edge...to where a thin sliver of shine from the iron shows up. I also have a WR #62...and it is a tear-out machine...does NOT use a chipbreaker...imagine that...

    One also needs to polish the leading edge on the chipbreaker....to allow a smooth ride for the shavings to glide across. No gaps allowed, no abrupt changes...just a smooth surface.
    A Planer? I'm the Planer, and this is what I use

  4. #4
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    Don't underestimate the utility of pushing the plane easily. If you work well-behaved stock and think about planing direction, most of the time you don't need to set the chip breaker close, and the plane will be a pleasure to use.

    If you do need to control tearout, you can set the chip breaker at various positions to get the surface you desire at minimum effort.

    A higher angle frog can let you control tearout with a slightly different chipbreaker setting, at the cost of always being a little harder to push.

    Which option you choose depends on the work you do, and your perception of the costs and benefits. Lots of things work.

  5. #5
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    In order to simplify things a little, focus on bailey pattern bench planes or their bedrock cousins. These planes have a standard 45 degree bed angle. There are modern makers makers that offer other angles. Ive tried modified planes with attachments to increase the angle, but I didn't get a higher performance, my regular planes performed just as well.

    I assume you're talking only about bevel down planes.

    If you already have these non standard frogs, just by use you'll get a sense of their utility to you. If you don't have them, I wouldn't bother with them.

    Have you seen the Kawai & Kato study video?
    http://www.woodcentral.com/cgi-bin/r...cles_935.shtml

    The key of the chipbreaker effect is the deflection of the shaving soon after it's cut. A common bailey pattern plane can achieve that very easily.

    I'm not sure where you got the information about lower angle of attack and superior surface. A bailey smoother can leave a glossy flawless surface on american cherry, pine, rosewood or ebony.

    My suggestion would be to get a standard plane as well setup as possible and if you find it wanting, try an alternative.

    Do you have issues with your planes now?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alan Schwabacher View Post
    Don't underestimate the utility of pushing the plane easily. If you work well-behaved stock and think about planing direction, most of the time you don't need to set the chip breaker close, and the plane will be a pleasure to use.
    I don't. not the point of the post. I want to understand the relationship between smoothing quality the chipbreaker and the frog angle in bevel down planes

  7. #7
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    Most of my planing to date has been done in hard maple.

    in my (limited) experience hard maple planes really well until it doesn't. End grain is also the bane of my existence.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Assaf Oppenheimer View Post
    Most of my planing to date has been done in hard maple.

    in my (limited) experience hard maple planes really well until it doesn't. End grain is also the bane of my existence.
    The higher the angle of the blade to wood angle, the more it will cut like a scraper. A bevel down blade's frog angle can only go so low before there isn't any relief angle provided by the bevel. If you watch the Kawai & Kato study video, look closely at the wood behind the blade. It rises slightly. Without about ten degrees of relief provided by the bevel, it would lift the blade out of the work.

    On end grain your efforts will likely be improved greatly by using a low angle bevel up plane with a sharp blade. As Rob Luter says in his end line, "Sharp solves all manner of problems."

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

  9. #9
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    I'd say it preserves the surface quality for the most part. There is a range of adjustment, from set way back and not doing anything, to set way too close, and anything in between. If you set the CB extremely close, to the point you start to get accordion shavings, it will leave a pretty dull surface and the plane will be a bear to push. That is almost always too close, and if you see that you should back it off a bit.

    If you have straight grained wood and its feasible to plane with the grain, there's no reason to set the CB very close at all. It will be easier to push, and you'll probably get a little brighter surface. As you engage the CB more, I think it will start to leave a duller surface, but its very subtle until you get to the "way too close" range. In the normal working range I use, its not something I notice. If you were going to notice it, it would be on very soft woods like pine or cedar.

    I'll say that the major advantage to using the CB is in the steps leading up to final smoothing - getting the board flat and true and hitting your depth mark without leaving a bunch of tearout for the smoothing plane to deal with. And being able to do those steps with healthy shavings along the grain (vs having to go across the grain or diagonal or whatever). Surface finish is good after these steps, but if you are going to leave a hand-planed surface then the final smoothing pass is what will be seen. That is done with a freshly sharpened blade and taking very thin shavings. When the shavings get super thin the CB doesn't have much to do- I set my smoother CB fairly close but it is just barely working the chip when I'm taking .001 shavings.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Assaf Oppenheimer View Post
    Hi surfaces) ….

    the question is this: does a well tuned chipbreaker diminish the advantages of the low angle, or preserve them? I would have thought that the effects of a high angle and use of chipbreaker would be summative in fighting tearout.

    recently I read an article by Derek Cohen in which he customized Veritas custom No.7 and No. 4 bench planes. (http://www.inthewoodshop.com/ToolRev...omPlanes4.html) He advocated using a low frog angle (40°, and 42° respectively). in the article he compared and ranked various plane configurations importantly using the same plane with the same chipbreaker configuration with 42° and 50° frogs.
    Why would a 42° frog with chipbreaker control tearout better than a 50° frog with chipbreaker? I thought that the only downside to high angle frogs is the difficulty in pushing them.
    Hi Assaf

    Chipbreaker vs High Cutting Angle?

    The short story is that both work, and can work very well. It really depends on the wood you are working, your experience in setting up planes, and also your personal preference in the type of hand plane.

    Given that you are working at the extreme of grain reversal - such as planing a book-matched panel, where the sections intersect opposite to one another, or planing a very figured and complex board that would usually have you reaching for a scraper or sander - then my first choice is a closed up chipbreaker.

    Over the past decade I have moved 90% to closed chipbreakers, as opposed to high cutting angles, but that is a personal preference and not a criticism of the latter, per se.

    One of the factors for me in choosing a BD plane over a BU plane is sharpening. BU planes with high cutting angles generally need to be prepared using a honing guide. My long-standing recommendation is that one work with a 25-degree primary bevel and a (say) 50 degree micro secondary bevel. This is important if you want to add camber to the blade. A honing guide is needed…. it needs to be added that the reason Steven here gets such poor results from his LA Jack is that he has no clue how to prepare the blade, and is quite oppositional in regard to recommendations to raise the bevel angle.

    I was a great proponent for BU planes until the chipbreaker method became better understood. This was a relief to me as I prefer to freehand sharpen, and the bevel angle on BD planes is less important (than with BU planes).

    As you noted, a lower cutting angle should leave behind a clearer planed surface. How low can one go? That really is the issue. This now brings into play “relief angles”. Generally, a plane needs around 10 degrees relief. One can get away with as little as 7 degrees, but 10 is better. So, a (BD) frog/bed of 45 degrees and a plane blade with a 30-degree bevel leaves 15 degrees. And a 40-degree frog leaves 10 degrees from a 30-degree bevel and only 8 degrees from a 32-degree bevel. That is cutting it fine, but doable.

    Why not 50 degrees for the frog? Because we then start moving in the direction of coarseness. 50 degrees is a good all-rounder, especially if you are not planing wood that demands any special treatment. It also places less emphasis on the leading angle of the chipbreaker needing to be as high as recommended (generally, mine are at 50 degrees). The higher frog is more tolerant of a slightly lower leading edge, as well as not being set as close to the edge as the higher leading edge on a lower angle frog. But the compromise is a lesser surface.

    Regards from Perth

    Derek

  11. #11
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    I use a 25 degree bevel on an LN LA Jack. I think it will be easier when the bench is done and I have a firm hold on my work.
    I am considering a 30 degree microbevel- A2 isn’t what I would call robust at 25 degrees on end grain

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    Derek, what you and Jim said about the relief angle is very interesting. So with a standard 45° bevel down plane, should I set the reliefs angle to 35°? Would that give a more robust edge or is there a trade off? I currently set mine to 30° on all my BD planes.

    follow up - is the relief angle the reason why bevel up planes are bedded at 12°?
    Last edited by Assaf Oppenheimer; 01-20-2022 at 3:46 AM.

  13. #13
    I did experiments on the clearance angle about 45 years ago. The clearance angle is the angle between the sole of the plane and the lower part of the edge. For a bevel down plane, the clearance angle would be the difference between bedding angle ( usually 45 degrees) and the honing angle (I use 30).

    What I found was that with a clearance of 8 degrees I was sure that the plane wasn't cutting well, due to lack of clearance. At 12 degrees I was sure that there was no clearance problem. There is undoubtedly some variation in this depending on wood species and dullness of the iron.

    The bevel down planes have a 12 degree bed to insure clearance. The bevel down planes generally have a 45 degree bed so that coupled with a honing angle in the low 30s clearance will not be an issue.

    I have used a wooden trying plane and a wooden jack plane at 43 degrees for about 43 years. I have used a Bailey type plane altered to have a bed at 42 degrees. These are very marginal improvements over 45 degree beds, but they require more discipline in sharpening. I sharpen at 30 degrees with no microbevel, secondary bevel, just flat honing.
    Last edited by Warren Mickley; 01-20-2022 at 9:42 AM. Reason: mistake

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Assaf Oppenheimer View Post
    I use a 25 degree bevel on an LN LA Jack. I think it will be easier when the bench is done and I have a firm hold on my work.
    I am considering a 30 degree microbevel- A2 isn’t what I would call robust at 25 degrees on end grain
    Assaf, for many years I used a LA Jack (Veritas) as a shooting plane. The blade was 25 degrees and A2. It had no difficulty holding an edge. I have done extensive testing with BU planes and a 25 degree bevel is very strong. HOWEVER, it is not an angle I would use if planing face grain. You are assured of tearing out even mild woods. The cutting angle of 37 degrees is simply too low. Keep in mind that a Stanley has a 45 degree frog, which is the cutting angle. This is the reason Stevens LA Jack tears out for him. You need to raise the bevel angle for face grain. Otherwise all it will be good for is shooting, or cross grain.

    30 degrees is also too low for face grain. This will create a 42-degree cutting angle - which is lower than a Stanley, and it does not have the chipbreaker to control tearout.

    You need to see these two planes as working in a different way. Learn to play to their strength, not weaknesses. The strength of a Stanley lies with the chipbreaker; the strength of a BU plane lies with the fact that the plane will respond to different bevel angles. As the bevel angles gets higher, the BU plane copes increasingly well with interlocked grain. A 50 degree bevel creates a 62-degree cutting angle, and it will plane just about anything without tearout.

    Regards from Perth

    Derek

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Assaf Oppenheimer View Post
    Derek, what you and Jim said about the relief angle is very interesting. So with a standard 45° bevel down plane, should I set the reliefs angle to 35°? Would that give a more robust edge or is there a trade off? I currently set mine to 30° on all my BD planes.

    follow up - is the relief angle the reason why bevel up planes are bedded at 12°?
    Assaf, I have used the term "relief angle" when it is probably better to use "clearance angle", as Warren used. It means the same thing.

    The clearance angle has nothing to do with a "robust edge". The clearance angle is the limitation for increasing the bevel angle on a BD plane.

    For BD planes, a 32-35 degree bevel is going to produce the strongest edge. The bevel angle is not going to affect the cutting angle for a BD plane.

    You can alter/improve the performance of a BD plane in three ways: close the chipbreaker, increase the angle of the bed/frog; or increase the cutting angle by adding a back bevel to the blade.

    BU planes are bedded at 12 degrees out of history. They are called "block planes" as they were originally used to plane butcher blocks, which are made of end grain. They went out of favour many decades ago, only coming back in recent times (90's) because (1) being made now of ductile iron created a strong plane (the earlier versions were cast iron, which is fragile, and the low bed angle leaves the sole very thin). (2) the re-discovery of a high cutting angle could be created simply by increasing the bevel angle.

    BU planes simply became a way to create a plane with a high cutting angle. Before BU planes, I was using a bevel down HNT Gordon woodies, which have a 60 degree bed (and 60 degree cutting angle). BD and BU, but they are the same cutting angle.

    Regards from Perth

    Derek

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