Where does one go(locally) to find someone who will teach me how to use hand
planes. I don't see any courses in my community colleges. I see various
private courses around the country that I might go to in a few months but I
wonder how to find a person sooner than that. I have Hack's book. My wife
is an antiques buff so I have half a dozen planes in various stages of
rusting/rot that she picked up at garage sales. With a lot of work I have
gotten them 'better' but I can't imagine actually using them. I have spent
hours sharpening each of them but I find it is time to see an expert rather
than just reading more books.
My local Woodcraft store has classes but again it will be many months before
they get around to this subject.
Barrington, Illinois(40m NW of Chicago)
How well do youknow the guys at the store? Most are woodworkers and willing
to help to a point. they have a job and customers to care for, but if you
pop in at a slow time and make a purchase, you may get a little help. Ask
them if they know of any customers that would be willing to tutor you and
maybe they will either refer you or take you into the back room for a quick
Ask about a local club too.
I'm pretty much in the same boat you are. The shop I'm at now doesn't
rely very heavily at all on handplanes, so I've sort of had to teach
myself. I've found that simply making shavings has been the best
education, although I've never taken a course so I guess I can't
really compare. What I tried to do was give myself the best chance of
success right from the get go.
Here's what I did... Rather than trying to restore an old plane to
workable condition, I purchased a very good plane and fettled it such
that I knew it would work (based upon what I'd read). I bought the
Lee Valley low angle block plane. The first thing I did was to try
and make a few shavings straight out of the box. It did make
shavings, but I primarily did it for the sake of comparison. Then I
went to work...
First I disassembled the entire plane and cleaned it thoroughly of
rust protection gunk. Then I put it back together and made a couple
more shavings. No real change. Took it all back apart and started
the fettling process. I used ScarySharp (the use of abrasive paper in
lieu of sharpenijng stones) and lapped the sold of the plane flat up
to 600 grit (I think - I've since gone to 1200). Then I put a slight
chamfer on the leading edge of the mouth and the back edge of the sole
to avoid catching. Then I moved on to the blade. Lapped the back up
to 1500 grit (it took FOREVER - consider an alternative method right
out of the gate). Then I flipped it and put it in the Lee Valley
sharpening jig and put the primary bevel on it at 600 grit and then
put a microbevel on at 1500. Reassembled yet again taking great pains
to get the cutting edge square to the mouth.
Now I was ready to plane - or so I thought. I've since learned that
waxing the sole can really, really help, but I skipped that step
initially. With a piece of poplar in the vise (oh yeah - you will
need a vise) I went to work. First pass was waaaaay to heavy.
Lightened up the cut and took another pass - nothing came off. Now I
picked up on just how sensitive the depth of cut mechanism is. The
way to do it is to start with the blade just a RCH below the surface
of the sole, and then just move it up a smidgen at a time until you
are cutting beautiful little curly cues. Take care to watch how the
plane reacts to the wood - and vise versa. Tear out? Try plaing the
other way. Maybe try closing the mouth. Just play around. Oh - and
the shavings (aka excelsior?) make an outstanding firestarter.
Remember "The Bad Seed"....
Half the battle for me was in the fettling. Once that's been
accomplished you are well on your way.
98% normite and dropping.
I'm glad that you're enjoying the seduction of handtools. %-)
Next time around, reassemble the plane, back the blade up so it
doesn't take a cut and then flatten the sole. Unless it's
flattened while stressed, it won't be the same shape as when it's
being used. The leading edge of the throat is the important part
of the throat. It needs to be flat and sharp to work properly.
If you've chamfered it the way I envision it, you're allowing the
wood too much room between it and the blade. I's possible,
though, that I've just misunderstood you. I'm glad that it works
for you. Now collect a handful of old Stanleys and make them work
Dave in Fairfax
If nothing else, how about a video?
http://www.lie-nielsen.com/library.html?cat=6&id=VD-110 . I saw the last
one listed by Mario Rodriguez. It was pretty good and it was much easier to
understand watching as opposed to reading.
I taught myself on a pine 2x4 lying around the house. The first project
I used a plane for was to make an electric guitar. You should stop
worrying about how to use a plane and just use it. Learning by doing is
the best way.
A plane is not that hard to use. The hard part is getting it tuned up and
Get some wood. Pine is fine--stay with something cheap and readily
available and just use one kind at first. Cut a block maybe 5"x7" and
clamp it in your vise. If you don't have a good vise or some other type of
stable workholder then you're going to find working with a plane horribly
frustrating. Now try to make all the edges and faces of that block square
to each other and flat. You may end up whittling it down to a toothpick
before you're done--as long as you keep paying attention to what you're
doing and when a cut doesn't give the result you want figuring out why
you'll get where you want to be. You'll be amazed at the pile of shavings
you've made and surprised at how fast it comes once you start getting the
"hang" of it. Once you can square a little block you're ready for bigger
and better things.
Reply to jclarke at ae tee tee global dot net
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