Planes for smoothing

Page 1 of 2  
My general woodworking skills: Modest at best My plane skills: None
I recently "inherited" a Stanley block plane that I intended to use to fix a sticky door in my house. I asked how to clean the rust off it on this forum and got rather more answers than I expected. I can't wait to see the crop this question reaps.
The cleaning went fine, after which I blundered about trying to sharpen the iron and adjust the plane at least well enough to shave down the door. Despite my inexpertise, it went pretty well; the door now opens and closes nicely.
But in the process, I noticed something interesting. I had set up a scrap piece of 1x2 oak in a vise to test the plane after each clumsy tweak. I of course hacked it to bits at first, but after a while I got things reasonably functional. And the test piece (I was planing the edge) got smooth; surprisingly so, and a different sort of smooth than I would expect from sanding. It was glassy, or perhaps waxy, looking rather than dusty.
I have no illusions that my junior high shop teacher would have pronounced my scrap piece "SSS" (Straight, Square, Smooth) and I didn't dare run a try square over it, but the finish was quite surprising. I looked briefly online, and it seems there are craftsmen who prefer planing over sanding, at least in some situations.
So I'm wondering if this has any practical use for an occasional weekend shelf-and-cubbyhole maker like myself. If I were to get a proper plane for the purpose, could I reasonably expect to, for instance, smooth down a face frame? Or does it require more learning and practicing (both in the sharpening and the actual use of the tool) than a guy like me is likely to have the time or patience for?
Greg Guarino
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 8/16/2011 8:07 AM, Greg Guarino wrote:

and so it starts...
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
>> Greg Guarino wrote

Yes, I recommend at least a 15" planer with a spiral, segmented cutter head of no less than 3 HP.
The carbide inserts can be rotated 4 times so last forever and no sharpening skills are needed. The inserts require no adjustments so that problem is solved. About all you need learn is that boards should be a bit longer than needed so you can cut off the snipe that will undoubtedly occur on all pre-cut to length boards. Oh, the sound is sweet as well, nothing at all like a straight 15" blade whacking the wood and waking the neighbors:-)
--
Jack
Add Life to your Days not Days to your Life.
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

Keep working on it. It doesn't take long if you pay attention to 3 things: your own body, the plane, and the wood. Once you get them into some kind of harmony, beautiful things begin to happen.

<g>
Congrats, sir.

That's the burnishing the plane does to the surface. Beautiful, isn't it?

That comes with time and practice. No worries, mate.

Yes, indeed.

It's learnable. Go for it.
Next, we introduce you to the cabinet scraper. You're likely to toss out all of your sandpaper the week after that. ;)
Books to peruse:
_Handtools: Their Ways and Workings_ by Aldren Watson http://goo.gl/S5Cyt
_The Handplane Book_ by Garrett Hack http://goo.gl/L19n2
_The Complete Guide to Sharpening_ by Leonard Lee (Of Lee Valley fame) http://goo.gl/4kRSF Buy it even if you've already discovered the Scary Sharp(tm) method. It covers a lot more types of tools.
_The Workbench Book_ by Scott Landis http://goo.gl/ml9q9 You'll benefit by having and using a good bench once you start using planes and scrapers more often.
Welcome to the slippery slope, Greg!
-- Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Tue, 16 Aug 2011 11:07:24 -0400, Greg Guarino wrote:

I like using a plane. But while a plane can be expected to work on most woods, it works best on relatively straight grain. It's getting harder and harder to find such, so the amount of skill needed to use a plane effectively keeps increasing.
Other than that, the only problem with (the face of) a face frame is where the pieces join. I find it easier to plane before I join them, with frequent testing to see if the pieces match as to thickness.
But don't let me discourage you. On those occasions where planing does work, it's a joy to do and to view the results.
--
Intelligence is an experiment that failed - G. B. Shaw

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Isn't a planed surface great? Reputedly the Japanese craftsmen would plane and never sand. The thinking goes that sanding cuts up the wood fibers and the little hairs that are left are dirt magnets/traps.
A block plane is very useful for many things, but something like a Stanley 4 or 5 is also very useful for straightening wonky edges and minor flattening of boards. Controlling a plane on a face frame is a different matter. In that situation you might want to look at a card scraper, or, if you've truly been bitten by the hand plane bug, a scraper plane. A scraper takes a very fine shaving off and is much easier to control. Wild grain and running into corners with perpendicular pieces and grain is no problem for a card scraper. Also, card scrapers are cheap. You should definitely have one to complement whatever planes you have.
As far as your time and patience, it's obvious that you got the warm fuzzies from cleaning up the plane, using it, and getting a nice result. You had fun. If something is fun there's usually not a problem with patience and you find the time to do it.
R
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Greg Guarino wrote:

As someone else pointed out, much depends on the grain of the wood. Grain rarely runs flat, generally "uphill" or "downhill". Look at the side of a piece of wood 90 degrees from the surface to be planed and you'll see what I mean.
If you plane downhill, the blade will tend to dig in and chip out pieces; therefore, you want to plane uphill. Problemis, the grain often changes - sometimes frequently - in the same piece of wood.
That's not to say you can't do what you want,merely that you have to take care and understand what you are doing. It helps if the blade is really sharp, you take off very thin shavings and if you skew the plane to the work. A shooting board can help get things even. _____________
When I was living in Mexico I took a piece of teak into a carpenter's shop to get it skinnied down. I had bought it on a trip to Chicago and was going to use it to make a dash board for my Fiat Spyder. The board was about 1" x 6" x 60" and I needed it reduced to 3/4.
I took it to the shop because he had power tools and I figured it would take just a couple of minutes; instead, he used a hand plane, took him maybe 20 minutes to do an excellent job. When I asked what I owed, he said to bring him a six pack of Coke sometime. We moved back to the US shortly after,he never got the Coke, figure I still owe him and will pony up next time I am there.
--

dadiOH
____________________________
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 8/16/2011 1:51 PM, dadiOH wrote:

I left it out of my post, but I noticed that very effect with my test piece. The plane was digging in until I realized (or perhaps awakened a brain cell that had lain dormant since Nixon was president - I may have been taught this) that I should turn the piece around.

I hadn't thought of that. I'm going to have to look through my scraps and do some experimenting. I knew I was saving that pile for something.

I think that's my biggest source of doubt here; my ability to get the blade sharp enough and straight enough. To repair my door I used a two-sided stone that I found in a blister-pak at HD. Even I could tell that it was not terribly fine.

I somehow knew to hold the plane at a slight angle. I can remember my Dad teaching me to do that with files and rasps. Perhaps they also taught that back in shop class.

Just looked that up. It looks pretty useful, especially for a novice like me. Thanks.
I hope more people chime in. I'm still trying to get a handle on how much practice is required to get decent results.
An analogy: I'm a musician, among other things; I'm a lot more skilled on the piano than I am at woodworking. I also dabble on some other instruments. While it takes a lot of practice to get truly good at any instrument, some are simply painful to listen to unless played by a near-expert. Violin is like that. The learning curve seems to be "awful, awful, awful, awful, awful, awful, awful, EXPERT". Whereas a novice can learn to strum a few guitar chords and make a reasonably non-offensive sound in short order.
So I'm wondering if planing wood is more like violin or guitar. Will I get decent results that won't shame my family after a little practice, and improve from there? Or will the first few years produce nothing but firewood?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Greg Guarino wrote:

Could on a violin too if they'd just put frets on them :)

It isn't *THAT* hard. Question is, do you really want to spend all that time using a plane to make something smooth when their primary purpose is to make it flat?
--

dadiOH
____________________________
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 8/16/2011 4:16 PM, dadiOH wrote:

That's only half the problem. Even bowing an open string can sound pretty ugly in the wrong hands, of which there are many.

I have two aims. The more important one is make my (infrequent) projects a little nicer each time. Someone suggested card scrapers, which I have heard of, but have yet to try. My secondary goal is to try new and interesting things in the hope of learning something. But given my limited time, I'd rather not take on a "violin equivalent". I am very much open to learning better techniques that a guy like me can improve at at a reasonable pace. Bass guitar is on my list (really).
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Greg Guarino wrote:

You guys are starting to hurt my feelings! ; )
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Greg Guarino wrote:

Greg,
You REALLY Need To get "The Hand Plane Book" by Hack. I noticed this was on the short book list Larry Jaques posted earlier. $16.47 at Amazon. You can read a sample from it here:
(Amazon.com product link shortened)13532838&sr=8-1#reader_1561587125
BTW, I like stringed instruments too. My current musical interest is mostly "Old Time Fiddle". One of my favorite albums is Hamilton Ironworks which was performed by the late John Hartford, who was better known for writing "Gentle On My Mind" which was put on the charts by Glen Campbell. Of course, in Hamilton Ironworks, John Hartford was playing the songs of Gene Goforth most of which he learned from some other folks in his neck of Missouri... John went a step forward (or is that backward?) in contacting some of the sources and mentions some of their names in his album if you need them... It starts to get more complicated after that, so I better stop there. Here are some samples from the album if, after all that, you may be interested.
(Amazon.com product link shortened)13532907&sr=1-1
Have fun! Bill
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

That and/or lessen the cut until you're taking 0.002" shavings. Later adjust it for a finer cut.

There ya go.

I use 600 and 1200 grit diamond hones, then move up to 1500 grit wet or dry paper, then a strop with Lee Valley green compound to finish. Forget stones, which clog, break, develop ridges, etc. They're pains in the arse.
Try Steve LaMantia's ScarySharp(tm) method as related here: http://www.woodbutcher.net/scary.shtml
A carver I know told me how to determine if a blade was sharp, and it's the best method I've ever heard. Rest the blade on your thumbnail with only its weight on the nail. Now try to push it from the flat side. If it hesitates (or raises a shaving) it's sharp. What might feel sharp to your finger ain't. What cuts hairs off your arm ain't. but that edge sticking into your calcified nail with just a few ounces of weight on it proves that it IS sharp. ONce you've done this a few times, you'll stop raising shavings off your nails. You can feel the 'stick' without damage.

Right!
Atta Boy! Look up the words and phrases you don't understand, then ask for clarification here if you're still confused.

Yes. <g>
That all depends on your dexterity and ability at it -and- what you try to make. Some things require violinesque practice, others guitaresque. Try it and see which of your skills are which. It varies for all of us by tool and by method. If one method doesn't give you satisfaction, ask others if they have other methods for doing a particular task. Some of us can cut dovetails by hand, with chisels and saws. Some others need jigs, routers, bandsaws, and all sorts of other stuff. Some like hand tools, others power, others a mix. See what works for you.
-- ...in order that a man may be happy, it is necessary that he should not only be capable of his work, but a good judge of his work. -- John Ruskin
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Scary sharp. How much does a piece of plate glass and a few sheets of 600, 1000, and 2000 grit wet-dry paper cost compared to a "professional" stone, such as a Shapton glass ceramic?

Jim Krenov planed everything. He compared a finely tuned plane to a Stradivarius.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
It does not take much practice with a well tuned hand plane to get a smooth, straight edge on a board or a surface that is narrower than the plane blade and is already straight and square. Using one to square or joint an edge, or to surface a wider piece of stock does require some practice and instruction. Take a look at a book by Garret Hack, I believe it is titled simply "The Plane Book"
That said, as far as board edges go, many table saw blades these days leave a pretty good edge. If anything at all, a pass or 2 with a plane is usually all that is needed to get them ready for finishing and is a whole lot quicker than sanding, with better results IMHO.
--
There is always an easy solution to every human problem -- neat,
plausible, and wrong." (H L Mencken)
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 8/16/2011 5:42 PM, Larry W wrote:

I'll bet. In junior high we were given a piece of wood maybe 10 long and 6" wide. We had to true up the 10 inch edges with a plane until the teacher could run a try square over them without seeing any light. They also had to be square to the ends of the board. Once our boards passed muster, they were to be the bases of our napkin holders.
Suffice it to say that by the time most of the kids' boards passed, they were too narrow to hold many napkins. My Mom still has mine, made in 1970.

That's exactly the kind of thing I might like to try my hand(s) at. Any recommendation for an (affordable) kind of plane?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Greg Guarino wrote:

Do you wish to save time or money?
Don't forget to factor in how you are going to sharpen it (them).
The book is only 16.47!
Bill
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

If money is no object: Clifton, Lee Valley, Lie-Nielsen
If you have more time than $$: Stanley #5 to start, pre WW-II, then a #4, then a #7 or #8 http://www.woodcentral.com/bparticles/pdatechart.pdf
Block planes: Stanley 9-1/2 and 60 or 65
There's a lot of info available on the web about resurrecting these old planes. A recent Fine Woodworking issue had a terrific article by Roland Johnson. I sat through his plane and scraper talks at the WW Show and as far as I am concerned he is the Grand Poughbah Of Restoring, Sharpening, and Tuning Handplanes Plus Demystifying Scrapers Of All Kinds.
Couple of good threads last November included the search phrases:
Scrapers Stanley 80 Block Planes Anant Bull Nose Rabbet Plane
Plugging these into a Google search of rec.woodworking ought to reveal some spirited discussion as I recall.
Regards, Roy
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
"Greg Guarino" <snipped respectfully>.

Sorry, but I can't help much, as I was removed from jr high shop because I took out the school bully with a plane. I was much older before I learned about planes. I'm not proud of my improper use of a plane, but I have never really regretted it.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Fri, 19 Aug 2011 01:07:32 -0500, "woodstuff"

Arn, wood, or transitional? I believe it was transitional for the bully, in any case. Good shew!
(I treated my bully to an exercise in humility. He was in my PE class so, when he approached me to push me around again, I stood up to him on the track around the football field and left my arms at my side, yelling at him "OK, Rex, if you want to hit me, then hit me. Here I am, go ahead and hit me." That really threw him. He was flustered, wondering why I stood up to him, wondering if I was setting him up, and it embarrassed him. He just walked away and never bothered me again. I was glad because wet shower towel whips really, really STING!
Bullies are as bad as spammers and trolls.
-- ...in order that a man may be happy, it is necessary that he should not only be capable of his work, but a good judge of his work. -- John Ruskin
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

    HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.