Another Hand plane question

I've been doing <a little> reading about hand planes. Trying to figure out where to start. One thing that I just dont get... I can't see how you get a board or wood completely flat with a hand plane. You have a 2 inch or so slot on the bottom of a flat piece of metal or wood with a sharp knife extending out of it. To me that seems that it would always cut a groove the width of the blade into the wood? I know that I'm wrong, because people have been doing it for a long time... I just can't see how it works. Is there an explanation for this that someone can post? Or is it more of a 'just buy one and figure it out' kinda thing?
I guess I had imagined it such that if you ran a correctly calibrated plane across a completely flat board it would do nothing... but after actually holding a plane or two at a show this past weekend I dont think that anymore. There's a blade sticking out of it... one touch on your perfectly flat board and it's back to the carving board to start all over again.
Any explanation would be appreciated.
Thanks Mike W.
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Most of the guys who prefer hand planed surfaces appreciate the slight marks left by the plane. Keep in mind that planes used for this kind of work are VERY finely tuned, VERY sharp and are taking a VERY thin cut. Also, many sharpen their plane blades so that there is a VERY slight crown which prevents the edges of the blade from leaving ridges. This is a skill that takes time to master. Most of that time is spent learning how to set up and use the plane properly. DD
"It's easy when you know how..." Johnny Shines
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: I've been doing <a little> reading about hand planes. Trying to figure out : where to start. One thing that I just dont get... I can't see how you get a : board or wood completely flat with a hand plane. You have a 2 inch or so : slot on the bottom of a flat piece of metal or wood with a sharp knife : extending out of it. To me that seems that it would always cut a groove the : width of the blade into the wood? I know that I'm wrong, because people : have been doing it for a long time... I just can't see how it works. Is : there an explanation for this that someone can post?
Mike might find some help on my web site.
For the full process of flattening a board, please look at 'Planing Notes' - 'Fundamentals'
For a solution to the grooving problem try 'Planing a Square Edge'.
Hopefully there is more about planing that might enlighten Mike.
Jeff G -- Jeff Gorman, West Yorkshire, UK Email address is username@ISP username is amgron ISP is clara.co.uk Website www.amgron.clara.net
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Mike W. asks:

Check out www.ecemmerich.com.
That's the outfit, ECE, that makes and sells Primus (and other) planes. A friend of mine distributes them in the U.S., and he's done a great article that should be there still.
Whoops. Wrong. It's NOT on the web site, which is fascinating anyway.
Drop Dave a note: snipped-for-privacy@aol.comremovethelastfour and ask. It's 2 bucks.
Charlie Self "Ain't no man can avoid being born average, but there ain't no man got to be common." Satchel Paige
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Mike,
Technically speaking, I think you are correct; i.e. the board will never become *perfectly* flat. But it will become flat within reasonable tolerances if done correctly. Keep in mind that, aside from a scrub plane or a really rank set jack plane, the cutting iron will only extend a few thousandths of an inch beyond the sole of the plane. Barring bad tearout (let's leave that demon for another conversation), the groove cut by this is well within standard tolerance for flatness. In other words, you can get a plane (hand tool kind) to make a piece of wood nearly planar (mathematical kind), which is good enough for most woodworking purposes.
As far as where to start; if you want to work wood with hand tools, you're going to want a decent workbench with a decent vise. Making a cheap (but effective) bench from construction lumber is a good way to practice planing techniques. Look here for help: http://www.terraclavis.com/bws/beginners.htm Good luck.
Cheers, Mike
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+ + + That is not a problem. The groove is cut relative to the wood in front of and in back of the blade. Think of a groove like a straight strip of cardboard. Put such strips side by side on a piece of glass: you have a level surface. Of course the trick is to make perfectly straight grooves and to align these perfectly. Practice makes perfect ;-) PvR
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Mike W. wrote:

Right. To make it simple, take a case where the face of the board is narrower than the plane blade. When you get the board perfectly flat, you take off a perfectly rectangular shaving that's a uniform thickness from one end to the other. I've done that, and it's pretty cool.
If the board is wider than the plane, then it's not so cut and dried. More of a feel thing, and I don't have that good of a feel for it yet. I'm settling for "mostly flat" and reminding myself that a board doesn't have to pass the granite test to be flat enough to make something out of.
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