Another $#$** request for advice on the correct way to use a hand plane

I have just recently glued up a 3' x 6' solid hard maple top for a desk. (Not butcher block style - no end grain on top). I also decided to try flattening the top via hand planing. So I bought a Record #7 Jack plane, a Record block plane, and a smoothing plane (Taiwanese thing). I tried to follow all the advice that has been posted over the years:
1. First I sharpened the Jack plane iron - I sharpened it first with a Delta sharpening stone and then, because I didn't like the finish, went to a 800 grit Japanese water stone.
2. Using the Jack plane (Record #7) I started planing at 45 degree angle to get the top roughly flat.
This is where I stopped, because I felt I was not achieving the desired end product. The Record jack plane seemed to slightly chatter when it caught some wood - it wasn't a nice cutting action. And the shavings were nothing like when you plane a piece of pine in the direction of the grain (remember this is hard (very hard) maple). The plane also did not shave much wood off with each pass (a lot of effort with no results). When I lowered the blade even a little, the blade would engage, but dig in and the plane would stop (leaving an unslightly gouge).
Is my plane blade still not sharp? Is there some sort of test to tell when something is sharp? If this is the case, what grit/ sharpening method do you guys suggest?
Also, if I am planing at 45 angle, do I try and plane from one edge to the other in one stroke? With a 3' wide table top, this is 4.2 feet! Or do I take short strokes and just work with a quarter of the table top at a time?
Any suggestions would be appreciated...
Thanks Russ
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I'll let some of the others go through tuning and using a plane, but suggest that you hold off until you get that advice, and that you first practice on some scrap, before you create a lot more work for yourself. But don't feel bad, you've got the same results I had with my first plane.
One suggestion though: before you start planing, and periodically while you're working, you need to map out the hils and dips on the top. Don't simply count on the plane doing all the work (unless you get one 5' long).
GerryG
On 16 Sep 2004 19:26:23 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@hiwaay.net (r. mcelhaney) wrote:

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: ....................The Record jack plane seemed to slightly chatter : when it caught some wood - it wasn't a nice cutting action. And the : shavings were nothing like when you plane a piece of pine in the : direction of the grain (remember this is hard (very hard) maple). The : plane also did not shave much wood off with each pass (a lot of effort : with no results). When I lowered the blade even a little, the blade : would engage, but dig in and the plane would stop (leaving an : unslightly gouge).
This looks like 'skitter' rather than 'chatter'.
Please try my web site - Planing Notes - Skitter and Chatter.
Jeff G
--
Jeff Gorman, West Yorkshire, UK
Email: username is amgron
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On 16 Sep 2004 19:26:23 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@hiwaay.net (r. mcelhaney) wrote:

What about the bit that said don't buy modern mass-market planes ?
Read Jeff Gorman's site, buy this month's FWW (Charlesworth tunes a new Record) and read this group again - couple of plane tuning threads in the last week.
Good smoothing is (nearly) as much about rigidity as it is about sharpening. Check that the frog bone is connected to the sole bone, the cap bone connected to the iron bone, etc.
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snipped-for-privacy@hiwaay.net (r. mcelhaney) wrote in message

Oh so many things need saying, but I will start and end by saying an 800 water stone is faaaaaaaaar to rough for sharpening a plane blade - a lawnmower blade maybe, but not a plane blade. Either google for "scary sharp" and go through the 2000 grit sandpaper or go to Woodcraft et. al. and get a 4000 and an 8000 waterstone (note the extra zeros on those numbers). Don't forget the nagura stone, a good sharpening guide,a ...... well you get the idea. Then we can start to talk about Record planes......
Dave Hall who has the odd feeling of a sharp object starting to penetrate his cheek and pull him upwards toward the light........... Swim Dave, swim!!! Try to wrap that line around some sharp coral.....ah, too late. Some troll is going to enjoy a little fillet of Dave unless he is a catch & release troll.
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For your reading pleasure, with pictures and everything, check out FWW magazine, Oct. 2004 (#172) On page 36 is an article on "handplane tune-up.
Take care

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