Hand Plane Technique?


Hi,
It is highly likely my question has been done here before. I'm a bit of a novice to furniture making, I've been doing a night school at the polytechnic down here in Christchurch, New Zealand, for about 12 months.
It's fair to say I'm hooked. I cannot believe what I can produce with the machinery available and some expert guidance. It's fair to say I have been spoilt by using huge saws and jointers and thicknessers.
Projects so far include a bedside table (beech), bookcase (white oak),outdoor table (macrocarpa).
I have now developed a curiosity with the question "How easy would it be to learn how to mill and joint boards by hand?"
I have just bought a second hand Stanley No.5 and read up on tuning it andsharpening (scary sharp).
I am intrigued by how much of what I have done at night school can be doneat home with hand tools without spending ten times as much time on it.
My question is "Am I on a hiding to nothing if I attempt to prepare andjoint some rough timber with this plane alone?" I won't be buying a Lie Nielsen until I'm sure I will use it!! Should I at least be getting a new blade (eg Ron Hock) for my Stanley plane. I don't want to put myself offjust because I haven't even got what you guys would call an entry level tool.
I am partly intrigued as to how possible it is for a novice to learn this. Also machines are really expensive here.
Any advice welcome.
Pete
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Hi Pete,
Well, I'm jealous. I'd love to take some classes. Anyway, on to your question. You can actually do quite a bit with a #5. You can use as a scrub plane (to remove alot of wood) if you camber the iron (alot, take a look at a scrub plane iron) and set the mouth wide. You can use it to flatten the surface of a board after scrubbing by using a sligthly cambered iron and medium set mouth. Then you can use it to smooth the board with an ever so slightly cambered iron and a tight mouth.
But, to get it to do all of these things means it will need to be well tuned. Check the sole for flatness. It should be flat at least across the toe, the heel and the mouth. Flatten the back of the blade, check the chipbreaker, etc. See here at the bottom of the page. http://www.yesterdaystools.com/planes.htm
Many people like scary sharp, but I never got the hang of it. I use waterstones. After a couple of projects you'll realize how nice it would be to have a #4 smoother, a jointer, a block plane, a scrub plane, etc. Don't give up. One thing to listen for when planing is that a sharp blade (not a scrub) will make a distinctive slicing sound, almost like a z-z-z-z-z or sh-sh-sh-sh. If you don't hear it, practice your sharpening.
I mill alot of my lumber by hand, sometimes straight from the rough lumber, sometimes after rough dimensioning with a bandsaw. I always smooth plane my projects. My #5 gets alot of use. Be sure to use wax or something on the bottom as you plane to lessen the friction. I use car wax, just dab a little on as you go.
HTH
jimg
PeteD wrote:

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As far as waxing the sole with car wax, it absolutely must NOT contain silicone. Silicone, once in your wood fibers, becomes the enemy of finishing, it destroys the capability of wood to accept any liquid finishing products.
A metal polish: To make a protective coating and polish for metal, mix turpentine (8 parts), beeswax (1 part), and boiled linseed oil (1/2 part)*. This mixture also makes a good lubricant for saw blades and tablesaw tops. After applying with a cloth and it dries, brush out with a shoe brush.
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It would appear that I'm not the only one that buffs with a shoe brush. Do the table saw and scroll saw this way all the time.

silicone.
destroys
parts),
makes
cloth
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On Thu, 30 Jun 2005 19:47:57 -0700, jimg wrote:

Whoops. Lose the car wax. It contains silicone, which will screw up your finish later. Use paraffin wax, beeswax, or one of several cabinet waxes; just don't use anything with silicone compounds.
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"Keep your ass behind you"
vladimir a t mad scientist com
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<snip>

You have the plane, and you have a few resources on how to tune it up. Now make a smallish, fairly simple project, using just the tools you have on hand, at home.
Small boxes, tables, benches and stools come immediately to mind. Check at the library for some inspiration in the magazines. Don't be too ambitious at first, because this is a learning experience, not a 'showpiece'. Find some easy to work wood, and have a go at it. This small, inexpensive project, whatever it is, will teach you more about what is possible than anything we can teach you over Usenet.
When you're done with it, take it to one of your trusted instructors, and ask how you might improve your hand tool skills in the next project. You'll likely get some really good pointers.
Welcome to the quiet side.
Patriarch
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wrote:

There is a lot you can do with hand tools, but I probably wouldn't recommend surfacing lumber as a good first one to learn. To me, I think you'd be much better served to stick with s4s and get straight to the building. For me I get a lot more satisfaction from doing the joinery than making a not so flat board flat. I won't deny planes are fun to use, but I use them enough without doing the surfacing. I think you'd get more bang for your buck learning to mortise & tenon or dovetails.
I am still getting a hang of using the planes myself. I find it hard to get flat surfaces. I always seem to take off more on one side or corner. I am sure my technique will improve over time, but I just don't find the process enjoyable. I think it would be difficult to try to complete a project until you've mastered it, as boards that aren't square and aren't a consistent thickness are going to wreck havoc. Having the plane(s) does make dealing with presurfaced lumber easier, as any boards that have warped you can get back into shape.
Also, after a full afternoon of planing the way your hands / arms / shoulders / back are going to feel the price of a jointer/planer will start looking better...
-Leuf
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PeteD wrote: snip

You need to take a look at Jeff's website for info on fettling your planes since I suspect that you're buying new Stanleys not old ones. Flattening the surface of the boards after jointing them will take some practice, jointing them will take a shooting board. You're right, we have been over this in the past, but everything here is cyclical. You can look for shooting booard pics in the archives, or I can post a pic of mine over on ABPW. You'll need to become proficient in sharpening your planes. There are a bunch of ways to do this, different people have different views on which work best. The #5 is a very useful plane, but you'll need both larger and smaller as well. Flattening with a #5 is problematic, smoothing is very difficult, at least for me. I'd recommend adding a #7 and a #3 or #4 as well. This depends on your size as well. If you're a bigger guy, move the number up one, if you're smaller, decrease the numbers by one. 3,5,7 or 4,6,8 in other words. Shooting boards work best on a bench, and can be used for ends as well as edges, BTW, the shooting board used may need to change though. I use a 5' board to joint edges and a shorter on for ends. YMMV
Dave in Fairfax
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And that would be here: http://www.amgron.clara.net /
-- ******** Bill Pounds http://www.billpounds.com
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Pounds on Wood wrote:

Thanks, the shooting board is over on ABPW under Plane technology - shooting board.
Dave in Fairfax
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wrote:

Yes. It's a question of time, not technique.
If you _want_ to flatten boards by hand, then go for it. You should certainly learn to do it, just for the experience. But if you're trying to earn money by making things, then flatten them on the quick, easy machine, not the slow skill-dependent hand plane.
Even if you're making medieval repro, machine the boards flat first, then hand plane them again to put a hand-worked texture on them. It gives the same finish, but it's quicker.

Not for flattening boards anyway - well, maybe the #40 scrub plane.
What you want is another yard-sale Stanley #4. Working order, but this is a good way to use up a rough modern one. Grind the iron into the deep curve of a scrub plane with a fairly blunt (35) angle on it - a modern Stanley iron is good for this (it's good for little else) as it doesn't need to be that perfectly sharp. Adjust the frog backwards (but not beyond the rear edge of the mouth) and maybe even file the forward mouth edge open further.
Now get some boards of cheap larch (or whatever), and flatten them by hand. Practice on something easy to plane (soft, but stable)
Make yourself some winding sticks too.

If you're after good bench planes, then improved blades are worth having. Stanley Sweetheart (1920s) are a good idea, as eBay shopping will often turn them up with attached planes. Personally I buy new Samurai brand, another laminated iron, or Clifton Victor, probably the thickest and most stable you can fit into a Stanley. I don't like Hock myself (search this ng).

You need a basic benchful, but you don't need to spend much to get them. Second hand is the trick.
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