Can a plane *really* replace sanding, and which one?

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First things first: Yes I have googled this group for these answers, and no this is neither a troll nor flame bait. Many of the opinions I read are from people who don't post here regularly anymore, so I'd love to get some new ones.
I am still very new to hand planes, owning only a LV low-angle block and an old Stanley/Bailey which I've found is just too damn beat-up to get to work right.
I would like to be able to cut out sanding as much as possible, and I've been told by some that hand-planing will either (a) achieve this with even better results, or (b) simply shorten the time spent sanding.
So three questions:
1. What are the opinions of everyone regarding whether or not a well-planed surface will *still* need some sanding?
2. I have a 25%-off coupon at Woodcraft, which would make a LN #4 roughly the same price as a LV #4. So price now being no object, which does people prefer?
3. The LN #4 also comes with a high-angle frog option to give it a 50-deg pitch. Any thoughts on this?
I am building mostly tables and case goods, usually cherry. With the tables, I inevitably have glue-ups, so reversing grain could be an issue.
Thanks in advance, and NO FIGHTING!! ;-)
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If you want to replace sanding with planing, then consider a scraping plane like the Veritas 112: http://www.leevalley.com/wood/page.aspx?c=2&pH431&cat=1,41182,48945 I'm not doing it yet, but I will. Supposedly you can get wood to be like glass by scraping properly. You'd also need a burnisher for the blade too: http://www.leevalley.com/wood/page.aspx?c=2&cat=1,310&pA070 Look at all your price options with this, including that coupon.
You can also learn how to fettle an old plane to a tuned state so it works well, and get it a new blade and chip breaker that is thicker, like a Hock set. Lots of that lesson out on the 'net.
--
Alex - "newbie_neander" woodworker
cravdraa_at-yahoo_dot-com
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On 28 Dec 2005 16:46:00 -0800, wood snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

Depends on the wood and grain. Some wood just will not plane well and even causes problems for scrapers. Also, I've found that I still need to sand corners where rail meets stile and the grain directions are orthogonal. However, I have eliminated a significant amount of sanding from my projects. IMO, planing and scraping actually go faster than sanding because you aren't having to cycle through grits. In addition, the wood really does look nicer, it doesn't get "muddied" up by the sanding swarf. However, I have yet to get the same very smooth feel one gets from sanding.

That probably verges on a religious or political argument as few people actually have both planes. I really like my #4 Lie Nielsen, others have said good things about the LV #4.

I looked at both, consider what you plan to do with it. I settled on the high angle frog because I was mostly looking for something that would give good results in difficult grains.

If you have reversing grain, that is going to be an issue. Setting for very shallow cuts and a tight mouth will help. You may also want to look at scraper planes. And scrapers.

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You may also find you begin planning your glue-ups to avoid grain reversals (book-match glue-ups excepted<g>).
--
Alex -- Replace "nospam" with "mail" to reply by email. Checked infrequently.

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There was an article in Fine woodworking, I believe it was December issue, that said there is no significant difference between sanding, planing and scraping. I've never done a comparison. Sure cuts a whole lot of time off the job when you knock off planer marks with a nice LN bench plane. My favorite method, whether there is a diffrence I have no idea, is using a hand scraper. I really enjoy using a hand scraper, probably because of its simplicity. I would still sand with a flat sanding pad. That being said if your going to have any kind of plane in the shop a block plane and a #4 are great choices. LN and LV both make great products. I think LV would save you some cash without much. if any, drop in quality. The shiny brass on LN sure looks good. Either way your still going to have to tune that baby up. No plane , untuned, is worth a poop. You might check the Fine woodworking website for the article comparing the methods. Whatever you decide, think FLAT. Thats what your going for , unless your making a chair. Then think NOT BUMPY. Also remember sanding = saw dust = clogged pores= bad finish penetration. Too much information...very complicated hobby...why would anyone want to be a woodworker. My motto...keep it simple or the tool salesmen will screw you. wood snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

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... snip

Gotta disagree there. When I got my LN, the only thing I did was slightly honed the blade, and I really don't think that was all that necessary. The only "tuning" was setting the blade depth. Same with my Knight smoother, Steve ships those suckers sharp and adjusted. I had to slightly adjust the depth because my humidity is different from where the plane was made, but no major tuning was required.
... snip
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Personally, I would ditch the whole idea of using hand planes for anything except clean up work. You can buy a good quality 8" jointer and 13" electric planner for the cost of 3 or 4 good quality hand planes. And if you were going to use hand planes exclusively it would probably require more than 4. Good ones are NOT cheap and cheap ones are.....well....cheap. Not to mention you will get more precise and smoother results then hand planes are capable of.......and in about 1/10th the time. If my calculations are correct that is a win win win win situation.
Just my two cents
Paul

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Paul Stewart wrote:

that can be minimized by the use of high angle blades and scrapers. A thickness sander will also prevent the tear out you'll get from a planer. Planers and jointers are fine when the wood you are working isn't tear out prone. otherwise...
Also, I can get a smoother finish using a scraper than what comes out of a planer.
dave
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On Wed, 28 Dec 2005 22:14:00 -0600, with neither quill nor qualm,

What would you know, you top-posting, normite, heathen bastid? I meant that in a nice way. ;)
By 1/10th, you mean 0.0001", right? Most common thicknesses of woods _breathe_ more than 20x that amount every day; more when a cold rainy day turns sunny and hot. While it can be fun to try for, 'taint no reasonableness about it, son.
I prefer a cabinetmaker's scraper to a sheet of sandpaper every time. They're less dusty, MUCH cheaper, easier to use, and leave a nicer surface IMHO.
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planes. But on a comparable quality basis, the planes would be a lot cheaper. Vintage Stanleys versus Griz or vintage Delta jointer and lunchbox planer. LV or LN planes versus new Delta/Jet/Powermatic. Or Holtey planes versus Oliver/Northfield machinery.

apprentices used to do--the "grunt work" of getting things close to final.

<g> Unfortunately true.

enough. But I certainly cannot get as precise or smooth with machines as I can with comparable quality planes.
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wood snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

****so reversing grain could be an issue.****

I personally would not use the plane you have now. A new plane would be necessary for the application. BUT, a scraper is what you want for that finish you seek. My experience has been that reversing grain is hardly ever good when using a handplane. A scraper on the other hand, is not as picky when the grain is wild. You still might have a rare moment when a scraper will hang up on a snipe (soft wood in a burly like knot situation). Curse heavily and move on. One thing I don't ever have luck with is trying to sand spots after scraping. Do one or the other, or after all of that planing and scraping, you will have to sand it all to blend it all in.
Planing and scraping is an art. You won't have instantly perfect results the first time you try. Practice will be necessary to aquire the feel, the instinct to know when it's all coming together. And to recognize when it's all about to go south.
Tom in KY, flying my plane blind. Feel it Man.
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Just to add my comments, a plane needs 'tuning' and a SHARP blade to make it work correctly. It will then yield a fine finish on most woods. My antique 24" wooden [Beech] plane is a joy to use. Scrapers are also great for finishing odd shapes. Violin backs & tops are finished with various cabinet scrapers. Freshly broken glass makes an instant scraper. My new Veritas scraper plane is also wonderful for difficult grain. The use of all these tools requires knowledge and practice to yield fine work. It's called . . . craftsmanship. Bugs
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On 29 Dec 2005 03:08:00 -0800, with neither quill nor qualm, "Bugs"

EVERY tool, hand or power, needs tuning for best effect.
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wood snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

It does not, a properly planed surface is ready to finish.
Scrapers can nicely replace sandpaper in cases where you need to remove a mark.
I still sand, but often find scrapers much faster and more pleasant to use. An excellent arsenal of card scrapers and a cabinet scraper (the one that looks like a large spokeshave) can be had for under $75. You can do an awful lot with ONE $5 Bauco (Sandvik) card scraper, and maybe a pair of gloves. The cabinet scraper can be the ONLY tool I need to prepare surfaces as they come off of power jointers and thickness planers. Machine -> scrape -> finish, how fast, inexpensive, and easy is that?
Card scrapers are also incredibly useful for fixing finishing mistakes, like drips and runs. They can shave off only the run, while sanding tools will deflect, clog, pill, etc...
Barry
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Just quoting this paragraph to make sure it appears twice for others' edification. Took me a while to come to this realization, but a card scraper is GREAT for that purpose! I'd only add that _very_ light pressure is needed--with a sharp scraper, you are almost letting the weight of the card scraper provide the down force as you pull accross a run.
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alexy said:

I'll quote it again. Excepting sandpaper, a card scraper is one of the first "neander" finishing tools I obtained - that and a good file and HSS burnishing rod. Properly prepared, a scraper is an amazing thing. The hook can be adapted somewhat to deal with varying conditions.
And unlike sandpaper, it doesn't dig into soft spots or glaze over glue drips. But (to me) the best thing is the quite hiss of the tool and the relative lack of dust flying through the air and lungs. And while my thumbs may get cramped, it beats your whole hand vibrating for an hour after a "power sanding" session.
Even a well set up $10 palm plane can do some impressive things. (I wouldn't know about high-dollar planes, 'cause I can't afford 'em.)
And as much as I love and depend on power planers and jointers, there is no way they leave a surface "ready to finish". The characteristic pattern of "cuts-per-inch" leaves a telltale indicator behind.
FWIW,
Greg G.
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Nope. Won't unless you decide that the things that others call "hand-friendly" marks have to go. Then scrape or sand as you prefer.

Tough pick. I'd bypass both and get the low-angle. http://www.lie-nielsen.com/catalog.php?sku 4 Wonderful plane. Does curly stock, softwood, and straight grain with the same ease.

Sure, read what LV has to say about sharpness angles, and buy another blade. Or just buy the LV http://www.leevalley.com/wood/page.aspx?c=2&pQ870&cat=1,41182,52515

Reversing grain can be an issue on opposite sides of the same board. Skew and take a fine shaving.
If you're going to get a #4, get the LV with the easily adjustable frog and enough space to get a grip.
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I was struck by the same thing - are you discounting the low angle plane for any particular reason? Seem like changing the blade to change the cut is easier than changing the frog.
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You can eliminate quite a bit of sanding. but curves and such are easier to sand. but depending on the woods one plane may not do it all. you may need higher angled planes. plus the key thing is your ability to tune and use the plane. this is the biggest key factor in the whole idea. Knight-Toolworks http://www.knight-toolworks.com affordable handmade wooden planes
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Where I can fit a spokeshave does not see sanding.
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