I'm getting ready to make several largish projects in hickory and hard
maple and I'm not looking forward to sanding. I've heard that you can
replace sanding with a smoothing plane and scrapers. My goal is to
remove marks from the jointer and planer, then hvlp spray a tung
oil/poly mixture several layers deep.
I was thinking about picking up a smoothing plane from grizzly. There
are several in the $30 range, although I'm not sure which one to get.
My gut is telling me the biggest one since it's a large project. Does
anyone have the pros/cons for this plane compared to the
veritas/lieneilsen type expensive stuff?
How do you decide on the blade depth of cut? I'm worried about taking
too much off in one pass and unflattening the board I'm trying to
As far as the scrapers go, anything special I should look for? I was
planning on getting one of the sets I saw on leevalley (iirc) that had
several scrapers with the burnisher, file, and other stuff.
Should I give up and just sand? I'll be able to use a DA sander when
the big compressor gets here.
Seriously, you get what you pay for. But that doesn't mean the Griz
won't work--I have an old Stanley Blue Handyman plane that is just
fine with some flattening, rounding of corners, etc. You'll see a lot
about "tuning" a plane. And the Griz will need lots more of that than
a LV or LN, and may not be worth the effort. But IMHO, some of the
tuning talk is over-rated--gettting a REALLY sharp iron is far more
important than all of the other tuning steps combined.
As fine as possible. Get a little scrap of wood to pass back and forth
across the mouth of the plane as you advance the iron until the blade
first begins to take the thinnest sliver off of the test piece. I use
a little 2x2x3" long piece of cherry that I shave the corner off of as
I set the planes.
Yes. I'm a big fan of planing and scraping, and of not breathing
sanding dust. But a finished project of moderately expensive wood is
not a place to try out new techniques, and if you screw up the
planing, you will have to do a LOT of sanding to correct your
mistakes. Stick to what you know here, and get a decent plane when
funds are available, and practice on some scrap hardwood. Once you get
to where you see the difference between the clarity of your planed
surface and a sanded one, you will know you are ready to plane a
BTW, while planing versus sanding can make a big difference in how a
surface looks when raw, I'm not convinced there is much difference
under a film finish -- I pane and scrape a surface I plan to shellac
mainly because I like the process so much more.
Alex -- Replace "nospam" with "mail" to reply by email. Checked infrequently.
ok, so you're advocating waiting and getting the good stuff. I'm ok
with that. I ordered the scraper set from leevalley. I figure I'll
experiment with that.
I have a tormek. :-)
I was planning an experimental project up front. Something small. My
wife had requested those bear ear isoloc thingies from leigh. She also
wants me to try one of the inlay techniques they show on their website.
So I figured I would try the scraping/planing angle on this one as
well. I think I've decided on a bathroom over-the-toilet cabinet type
thing. It's a good place to hide a misfit project. :-)
Snipped a bit.
At the risk of being called a tool snob - OK call me one, I really am one -
If the choice is a cheap smooth plane or sanding, stick to sanding.
I own some very nice planes from LN, Veritas and Steve Knight. In order to
make them function properly, you do need to tune them. The cheap planes
with their cheap irons will not get as sharp or stay sharp long, especially
The difference is time and energy. A cheap, sharp plane will indeed plane
for a few minutes, that's right a few minutes. This is under the
assumption your intention is to get a ready for finish surface and not just
hogging down and edge.
Learning how to pull a hook on a card scrapper is to me, a very important
endeavor. After you master this simplest of tools, it will no doubt be the
most used tool on your bench.
I've decided to go with one of the expensive ones. I haven't decided
when to get it though. or which one. Maybe woodcraft will have a
I ordered a card scraper set from lee valley with this gadget that's
supposed to help get the right angle and burr.
I believe so. I haven't tried it yet. I know that it will avoid brush
marks. In theory you can get self-leveling finishes that make the
brush marks go away. But I haven't had much luck with that. Spraying
should go a lot faster also.
I painted my first two projects. Then I stained and polied my second
one. Then I've made three or four major shop projects For the one I
stained, I used a gel stain with an old shirt. In the future, I'll
probably avoid stains altogether. I don't really care for them. I'm
mainly interested in various colored clear finishes like shelac or
varnish or poly. I admit that finishing is my weak spot though. I
know nothing about it.
Looking back at his post, I see that he said stain. I sort of read
finishing in general.
I find lots of folks that go with this theory. I guess I'm a bit of a
maverick, but really get down to business at first. I'm lucky enough
that I don't have health problems and a not-insignificant amount of
upper body strength, so when I hog off the high spots, I _really_ hog
off the high spots. Just today, I was pushing my bench across the
floor of the shop. My iron was dull, but I was gonna finish with that
#5 before I sharpened it, dammit. The #7 whispered off (most of) the
plane marks in just a few passes.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'd rather make 20 heavy passes
than 100 light ones. YM, of course, MV.
Maple? Stick with sanding. Good quality, good range of grits, and maybe
a usable quality 1/4 sheet sander.
Smoothing planes cost more than $30 if they're to be usable. Maple isn't
the timber to learn on either.
Using a plane is an art, and not learned on one project. Card scrapers
work well and are a lot easier to use and sharpen. I cheat now, I found
a painting company near by that has one of those big (52 inch wide
double oscilating head) sanders. I took a 84 by 40 by 2 inch thick
hickory table top to them to sand. Their rate is $140 per hour, and it
took them 15 minutes. It would have taked me all day to have done that.
Some cabinet shops have them, or would know where one is. All you are
left with is touch up work.
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