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Thread: It's not about the shavings!

  1. #1
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    It's not about the shavings!

    Sunday morning coffee rant......

    Like some of us I consume my fair share of woodworking related print and video media. A favorite is YouTube instructional bits on technique, tool use, tool restoration, and such. How is it that many of the the guys doing vids on plane use and restoration completely miss the purpose of bench planes? No, it's not to produce "gossamer shavings". It's to work the wood surface to reduce thickness, create uniformity, and to smooth it to a finish ready condition. While your shaving is a good indicator of uniformity and depth of cut, it ain't the end product. I'd like to see more of these pieces focus on the surface finish you're left with rather than the waste that falls on the floor.
    Sharp solves all manner of problems.

  2. #2
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    Many years ago at a Tool Event one of Ron Hock's blades was being given a test drive. As we were talking I picked up one of the shavings. He pointed to the shaving and said, "that isn't why people buy my blades." He then pointed to the surface of the piece of wood and said, "this is why they buy them."

    A properly fettled and tuned up plane should be able to take a range of shavings. A jointer does not need to take "gossamer shavings" to do its job well or properly.

    There is a usefulness to "gossamer shavings."

    When fettling a plane a concave or even convex sole is not likely to be able to repeatedly produce a fine shaving. Part of trouble shooting a plane is "reading" the shaving or how the plane acts on the surface being planed.

    On final smoothing, the thinner the shaving the less likely there will be tear out. It isn't likely to have a 0.020" divot torn out by a 0.001" shaving.

    Finally thin shavings can inform a user of their blade's condition or if it is in need of sharpening.

    One point to consider, by measuring my shavings at times it has "calibrated" my eye. When removing extra material it can often be calculated how many shavings need to be taken to reach my line. If it is too many, the blade can be adjusted to make it less.

    Often times "gossamer shavings" are just a way to show off and gloat.

    Yes, I am guilty of showing off and gloating.

    jtk
    Last edited by Jim Koepke; 06-12-2022 at 11:01 AM.
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Luter View Post
    Sunday morning coffee rant......

    Like some of us I consume my fair share of woodworking related print and video media. A favorite is YouTube instructional bits on technique, tool use, tool restoration, and such. How is it that many of the the guys doing vids on plane use and restoration completely miss the purpose of bench planes? No, it's not to produce "gossamer shavings". It's to work the wood surface to reduce thickness, create uniformity, and to smooth it to a finish ready condition. While your shaving is a good indicator of uniformity and depth of cut, it ain't the end product. I'd like to see more of these pieces focus on the surface finish you're left with rather than the waste that falls on the floor.
    Rob, there are a few factors. Unfortunately, many of the YouTube demonstrators do not know what they are showing, and many of the YouTube viewers do not know what they are seeing.

    You can tell from a shaving how well the plane is set up. You are never going to get a consistent fine shaving if the sole/mouth is not flat. The evenness of the shaving (avoiding a skew) depends on a well-set blade. A straight shaving will tell you if the chipbreaker is in play. A broken shaving occurs when the board is not flat, and a full width shaving when the board is flat. Look at the feathering on the outside of the shaving to determine the blade's camber. Look at the shavings for shine to determine whether the blade is sharp.

    All that before you look at the surface.

    Regards from Perth

    Derek

  4. #4
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    "gossamer shavings" with a Stanley 45....
    June Project, too many noodles.JPG
    Took 33 passes, just to go down 1/4" ...takes way to long..

    Friday Morning, almost done.JPG
    Now set up as a "working" plane, instead of a "Showboat" plane....6 passes to reach 1/4" depth.....

    YMMV...
    A Planer? I'm the Planer, and this is what I use

  5. #5
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    Itís more up to the wood being worked than the thickness of the shavings you can achieve. A plane needs to cut clean and not leave scratch marks. Itís than up to the finisher. Those beautiful finishes on quality old work, and some new, is art. The use of fillers, glazes, scrapers, glass paper, finish build and such. The plane is not usually the last cutting device to touch the work.
    Jim

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by steven c newman View Post
    "gossamer shavings" with a Stanley 45....
    June Project, too many noodles.JPG
    Took 33 passes, just to go down 1/4" ...takes way to long..

    Friday Morning, almost done.JPG
    Now set up as a "working" plane, instead of a "Showboat" plane....6 passes to reach 1/4" depth.....

    YMMV...
    33 passes to go 1/4" does not a "gossamer shaving" make. It works out to more than 0.007" for the shavings. Maybe you have a different meaning for "gossamer."

    Your thick shaving set up with 6 passes to reach 1/4" (~0.041" per shaving) looks a mess and your arrow points to what looks like one end being higher than the other. There is likely a sweet spot somewhere between the two settings.

    The plane is not usually the last cutting device to touch the work.
    My surfaces are seldom worked after the last smoothing plane. My sandpaper consumption has been almost non-existent in the past several years.

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

  7. #7
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    Your mistake is thinking everyone doing a youtube video is an expert and knows what they are talking about. Most of youtube is about getting subscriptions and providing entertainment.

  8. #8
    I agree with the OP's frustration with the Tubers.
    As other have pointed out quite well, you can learn an awful lot by being able to read the shavings but you then need to adjust your work according to what they tell you.
    Like most, I also enjoy it when I achieve that sweet setup that gets you the perfect cut but it's a short lived victory if the underlying wood is not the proper dimension.
    You can plane for removing unwanted material or you can plane for finishing a surface. Most tubers only show the thin wispy shavings no matter what they're actually doing. This is just another way of misleading people into thinking that it's the proper way to work. Spoiler; it doesn't always look like it does on YT, it's called editing.

    This is the only time I can remember taking a photo of my shavings, after I got my (new to me) plane set the way I liked.
    IMG_0288 (600 x 400).jpg
    The rest of the debris, the stuff that wasn't camera ready, just ends up in the bin

  9. #9
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    For a Stanley #45...that is just too many shavings ( and yes, I counted the passes...)

    As for the "start" of that rebate being higher? EVERYONE knows one work back...and the far end gets done first....just the way the plane works..as you well know. As far that "mess"...that is 3 passes worth...right before I clear them out.
    Normal for me shavings..
    A Busy Tuesday, Flatten a panel.JPG
    #8c to flatten a panel?
    June Project, edge shavings.JPG
    Or, just jointing an end....

    YMMV, of course.....
    A Planer? I'm the Planer, and this is what I use

  10. #10
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    Jim and Derek - like I said, the shaving is a good indicator of uniformity and depth of cut. On certain woods it will communicate edge quality and geometry too. Nicks in a cutter are tougher to see with oak than maple. Yes, you can go to school on a shaving. My point was that the narrative seems to always be that it’s a tool to make shavings. If you’re using a spill plane to make fire starters maybe. Otherwise it’s a tool to surface wood.
    Sharp solves all manner of problems.

  11. #11
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    Gossamer Shavings do have a use.....like when someone is trying to sell their "New & Improved" Sharpening System......or, when you are in Japan, taking part in a contest about shavings...

    Also, if you are getting full width, full length Gossamer shavings...means you are done...unless you just want to stand around making them all day....
    A Planer? I'm the Planer, and this is what I use

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Luter View Post
    Sunday morning coffee rant......

    Like some of us I consume my fair share of woodworking related print and video media. A favorite is YouTube instructional bits on technique, tool use, tool restoration, and such.
    I used to watch just about any woodworking related YouTube video.

    But something happened. Now, after the comercials, and the in-video paid promotions and the begging to subscribe and the 'join my patreon for more, detailed content', what is left?

    The titles would draw me in: "17 must see tips for using a ROS!!!" "Watch this before using polyurethane" "Best measuring tape tricks you've never seen!!" But after watching them, I couldn't think of anything I didn't already know.

    Maybe woodworking YouTube videos have gone the way of woodworking magazines? Just recycling the same old stuff?

  13. #13
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    General content tends to get more clicks. This likely drives filming those ¬ďtape measure tricks¬Ē type videos. Check out Squarerule Furniture or Ishitani Furniture for some better content. No talking, just woodworking. Lots of good WW content beyond April Wilkerson and the other DIY type content.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Clifford McGuire View Post
    I used to watch just about any woodworking related YouTube video.

    But something happened. Now, after the comercials, and the in-video paid promotions and the begging to subscribe and the 'join my patreon for more, detailed content', what is left?

    The titles would draw me in: "17 must see tips for using a ROS!!!" "Watch this before using polyurethane" "Best measuring tape tricks you've never seen!!" But after watching them, I couldn't think of anything I didn't already know.

    Maybe woodworking YouTube videos have gone the way of woodworking magazines? Just recycling the same old stuff?

    To quote a friend of mine, "Youtube does not respect history"

    If some of the presenters took a few seconds and did some research, they might find out that there is very little new. Most is re-hashed for an uninformed captive audience.
    There are only so many top 10 lists, buy this not that, must have tools, and let's not forget the tips & tricks, one person can take.
    All foam, no beer or is it all hat, no cattle, take your pick
    I find very little "substance" in the majority of videos I've seen lately, not to mention, lack of safety and rather questionable tool usage.
    None of that really bugs me, you post what you want, i find the sad part is the commenters that simply fawn over this type of content.

    Unfortunately, a collection of look how clever I am videos is all we get from most. It is free content after all and you get what you pay for.

  15. #15
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    Even though itís primarily dedicated to chairmaking, Iíve learned more about hand tool woodworking watching Curtis Buchananís channel than anywhere else. Most woodworking YouTubers are not worth the time.

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