Maple Workbench top planing problem

I bought a maple slab from Woodcraft 2 years ago .. got a great buy. 2 1/4 30x57 for 129 ... used it for a setup bench..
Now I want to use it for a workbench.
So I used a cab scraper #80 to remove the varnish.
Then I started to plane it.. tear out everywhere.
This is a finger jointed glue up. I figured I could close the mouth on my #7 and plane across the grain, but some of this is quarter sawn, some is plain sawn, and the tear out is still occurring across.. every which way.
I tried wetting it out, skewing doesn't help.
Looking for advice on how to work it. I thought I had advanced in hand planing but I guess not.
Next question... If I build my own top, do I orient the boards so that they plane easily? Is that what those of you who have built a top have done?
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On Dec 29, 6:06 pm, tiredofspam <nospam.nospam.com> wrote:

you might try sharpening your plane with a little bit of a back bevel. of course, this is a good reason have two blades....
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"tiredofspam" <nospam.nospam.com> wrote in message
|I bought a maple slab from Woodcraft 2 years ago .. got a great buy. | 2 1/4 30x57 for 129 ... used it for a setup bench.. | | Now I want to use it for a workbench. | | So I used a cab scraper #80 to remove the varnish. | | Then I started to plane it.. tear out everywhere. | | This is a finger jointed glue up. I figured I could close the mouth on | my #7 and plane across the grain, but some of this is quarter sawn, some | is plain sawn, and the tear out is still occurring across.. every which way. | | I tried wetting it out, skewing doesn't help. | | Looking for advice on how to work it. I thought I had advanced in hand | planing but I guess not. | | Next question... If I build my own top, do I orient the boards so that | they plane easily? Is that what those of you who have built a top have | done?
It's not clear to me from your post, did the top need to be flattened or just smoothed? If it just needs smoothing skip the No 7 and use a well tuned smoother set to take 1-2/1000s off and if need be a card scraper. Attack each board from the direction it planes best from... generally with the grain from one direction or the other. If you skew the plane a No 4 will take a relatively narrow cut so you may be able to work individual boards--particularly if you have some camber in the cutting edge. Use a tight mouth.
If it needs to be flattened first perhaps working at an angle e.g,. 45 degrees, to the length rather than across the width might yield better results and then move on to the smoother and card scraper skipping planing with the grain with the No 7.
Another point to consider is that if it's a work bench being flat is more important than smooth... smooth doesn't last long in my shop as tools, materials, etc., hit the surface but flat does. I take a card scraper to the surface occasionally to knock off any lumps.
John
PS. A York Pitch (e.g,. 50 degree) frog L-N No 4 handles these situations well if you are looking for an excuse to buy a new plane. ;~)
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Yes the tob needs flattening.
The top is slightly twisted having stuck a straight edge across in different directions.
I am not looking for smooth. That is why I removed the varnish too. Boards just slid on it. Not sure why tops come with a finish on it, other than to prevent moisture from getting to them.
Tried at 45 degrees too. The thing that really gets me is the finger glue joints.. the grain can be two different directions on the glue up. And when planing across the grain I have the same issue.
I'll continue with the jointer, but consider rebeveling. A couple of the tearouts went deep before I closed the mouth, so sanding isn't an option.
John Grossbohlin wrote:

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"tiredofspam" <nospam.nospam.com> wrote in message
| Yes the tob needs flattening. | | The top is slightly twisted having stuck a straight edge across in | different directions. | | I am not looking for smooth. That is why I removed the varnish too. | Boards just slid on it. Not sure why tops come with a finish on it, | other than to prevent moisture from getting to them. | | Tried at 45 degrees too. The thing that really gets me is the finger | glue joints.. the grain can be two different directions on the glue up. | And when planing across the grain I have the same issue. | | I'll continue with the jointer, but consider rebeveling. A couple of the | tearouts went deep before I closed the mouth, so sanding isn't an option.
I think the same principles could be applied to the No 7 as to a smoother... Do you have camber in the cutting edge such that you can take a narrow cut of 1-2/1000ths using the middle of the iron? A bit of camber, a tight mouth and set to take a very fine cut should work fine with a sharp iron, especially a thick iron that resists chatter. Sure it will take more time to flatten the top but if you've got tear out problems it may be the solution...
There is a Fine Woodworking clip on camber at
http://www.taunton.com/finewoodworking/SkillsAndTechniques/SkillsAndTechniquesArticle.aspx?id )711
John
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"tiredofspam" wrote:

Make life easy, take it to a commercial drum sander.
My guess is about 20 minutes and you are done,
Around here, less than $30 and no aggravation.
IMHO, not a work shop job.
Lew
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Tired.... If the top can be removed, try to find a local shop that has a 36" belt sander. I built my own a couple of years ago and ran it through one of these sanders. It create a great surface with no tear out.
Roger
"tiredofspam" <nospam.nospam.com> wrote in message

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You have a link to the plans or did you do it freestyle-homebrew. Sounds like something every shop should have. :-) Thanks in advance Lyndell

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I might try that. Hate to have to redo the blade after, so I'll first see about getting a new blade so I can avoid having to redo it.
Good suggestion, wish I thought of it.
tiredofspam wrote:

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On Dec 29, 8:06 pm, tiredofspam <nospam.nospam.com> wrote:

Slap on a coat of 50% cut shellac to bind the fibers.
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The best way to flatten your tabletop is to use a router and a simple jig. The jig consists of two boards clamped to the sides of the table. The top edge must be parralel and straight. Here's a website with photos of the jig in operation and the instructions are better than I could give.
http://www.jeffgreefwoodworking.com/pnc/ShopProj/benchrout/index2.html
On Sat, 29 Dec 2007 20:06:55 -0500, tiredofspam <nospam.nospam.com> wrote:

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I am familiar with that. Would rather plane it. Might as well improve my planing skills. Although this top has frustrated me.
If I don't get it done, I will consider it. I have a sled already built from working a board in the past. but it is slow work due to the size of the cutter and I am not interested in doing it again.
Ron c. wrote:

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tiredofspam <nospam.nospam.com> wrote:

I doubt you can hand plane a bench top successfully. Think about it; even if it were perfectly flat in one area larger than the plane, what's the plane going to do? It's going to remove material. I suppose a sled of some sort would work, but not too sure how to rig it up properly. I'd much rather just glide a router across a sled a few more than a few times and be done with it. Nothing to keep track of, easy to guide the router, & it only works on the high spots. As smooth as you said that was, it probably only needs one pass total.
My 1 's worth anyway

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Depends on the precision you need. I've used a belt sander and a hand plane to flatten the surface of a low-cost pine workbench (made with 2x12). Yeah - it doesn't look like fine furniture, but it works. I''ve used a belt sander on a maple butcher block table, front porch, etc.
A longer plane would help. That's what they did in the old days. If you have problems, then it's a matter of tuning/using the right plane.
Use a long straight edge and mark the high spots with a pencil. Remove wood until the pencil marks dissapear. Repeat.
Consider a belt sander. If you are worried about taking away too much with a belt sander, use a finer grit. 220 won't cut fast. And it won't tear out like a poorly adjusted plane. You do have to worry about tilting the sander - the edge will dig in. I just let the sander glide over the surface while changing orientations. One hand is all I need - it's a light touch. It pulls itself forward, I then pull it back, and repeat at a different location and angle.
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I have done it many times with a #8.
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Are you sure that you blades is really sharp?

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Yes my blade was/is sharp.
The grain is going in all different directions. I do believe setting the plane up with a high angle bevel on the back of the blade will help take care of much of the tear out as suggested. Not all of it. I think it will continue to tear out some of it.
I think if the boards were oriented correctly it would have helped quite a bit. I am sure the company that made the top took the sanding approach. just throw it in the machine and be done with it.
If it were flat I would leave it alone. It's off by a slight amount, twisted.
Hank Finkel wrote:

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"tiredofspam" <nospam.nospam.com> wrote in message

I didn't think of it being manufactured and no thought going into grain direction. I have only leveled tops that I have glued up myself.
Have you called any cabinet shops to get a quote on have the leveling outsourced?
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Having fealt with similar tops, the best way to plane them is to plane at a 45 degree angle across the brain - not perpendicular. Set the throat as tight as you have too. You will probably still get some tearout in places - note where they are, and work those areas with a cab. scraper. Its a lot of owrk, but it can be done. Stop frequently to hone your blade.
the method I use is to start at one corner, and take a pass at 45 degrees, slowling moving across the top. When I get to the other side, I start going back, but reverse the angle - if I start out at the left end cutting left to right, when I get to the rigt end, I go back cutting right to left. That way you are planing a criss-cross pattern, and are less likely to develop dips. Start with a smallish plane - it should be big enough that it "skips" parts of the surface, but cuts others, but not so big that it only cuts in smal areas. Once its taking cuts across the majority of the surface, move up to a bigger plane and repeat. a #7 is as big as I get, and I get pretty darn flat surfaces. Use winding sticks to make sure you don't introduce new twist..
good luck -JD

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