# Hand plane - can you REALLY joint a perfectly straight edge?

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• posted on November 12, 2003, 6:33 pm

Read the sources listed below, but short of that:
- jointer planes run 22" to 24" long, generally;
- you can make nice, flat surfaces for joining with them and lots of practice;
- you can use the edge of the plane as your straightedge while planing;
- there are some tricks to creating joinable board edges (e.g., jointing both boards at once to remove one variable in the process).
--
John Snow
"If I knew what I was doing, I wouldn't be here"
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• posted on November 12, 2003, 8:36 pm
so there is no point to getting a low angle block plane to take a swipe or two across the edge of a power jointed board to get that sucker dead on flat and smooth? I've read articles stating that the author will power joint a board and then run a plane over it to make the edge even better than what came off the jointer. Does that require a long jointing plane. No other plane will suffice?
If that IS the case, what use will I get out of a \$160 Veritas plane?
thanks.
DAVE
Hitch wrote:

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• posted on November 12, 2003, 8:51 pm
Hi Dave,
You're thinking of the Veritas low-angle SMOOTHING plane, right? (not the block plane as you've referred to in a few other posts in this thread). That's a big difference in how you would use the plane. Neither one of these is meant to be used to joint board edges, at least not ideally.
The best use for the low-angle smoothing plane, IMO, would be to finish smooth the FACES of particularly difficult (i.e. highly figured) pieces. Using the smoothing plane on a board edge is fine, if what you want is a smooth edge. If you start out with a square, flat edge, you should end up with a square, flat and smooth edge. Technique is critical, though.
So, if you were going to edge glue several boards into a panel, there wouldn't be much reason to smooth the edges and the power jointer should do perefectly well at this operation. If you have a door edge, say, that will be visible and you want to give it a final treatment before finishing, then a swipe with the smoothing plane might make sense.
I'm no expert mind, you, but that's how I see it.
Mike
--
There are no stupid questions.
There are a LOT of inquisitive idiots.
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• posted on November 12, 2003, 8:53 pm
Mike in Mystic wrote:

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• posted on November 13, 2003, 1:14 am

I think I read about what you mention here in The Handplane Book. I don't have a jointer, so can't speak from experience, but I can tell you that the low angle block plane is not the tool you want for this task. You would use a smooth plane like a number 4 or even a slightly longer plane, set to take a very fine shaving. As I understand it, low angle planes are mostly for end grain and maybe grain that has no particular direction. The point is not to make the work piece straighter than it comes off the jointer though. The point is to remove any slight ripples left by the rotating cutting head of the power jointer.
-Chris
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• posted on November 13, 2003, 2:14 am
Chris, you understand my dilemma exactly. If I get a smoother (sorry, I had misspoken earlier when I referred to a block plane) as my first quality plane (Veritas \$160) I was wondering if I could smooth a power jointed edge to perfection. The edge would already be flat, but the object of further work would be to remove machining marks, as you noted. Somebody understands me! :)
dave
Christopher wrote:

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• posted on November 13, 2003, 2:24 am

Why is your power jointer leaving machining marks? And a jointer plane would do a better job of smoothing out your rough machining. It's made for that work.
Charlie Self
"Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things." Sir Winston Churchill
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• posted on November 13, 2003, 2:42 am
I DON'T notice any obvious marks unless I rush a piece through on the first pass. I am just repeating what I've read about guys doing; taking a pass with a plane before glue-ups. Then I got to thinking that how flat is the surface gonna stay if I get the results like I got with tinkering around with a small plane.
After all is said and done, I think I'm gonna order the smoother, but not for edges. I want something to tweak a board to EXACT length when the TS gets me within 5 thous and I want it within .002 or better. An example of when I could have used a very fine length adjustment was when I edged my desk. I didn't want mitered corners, so I cut the side edging to exactly the width of the desk top, hiding the end grain with the front edging. I could NOT sand or machine the front edge flush, because I used a shaper to put detail on all the edging before attaching them to the desk. So I couldn't overlap and sand or plane to even out any discrepancies.
dave
dave
Charlie Self wrote:

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• posted on November 13, 2003, 9:10 pm

I'll add that an electric jointer uses a rotary cutter that results in a scalloped surface. You can do better with a handplane.
Or at least some folks can.
--

FF

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• posted on November 12, 2003, 6:43 pm
Dodging hornets, I'll say that blade exposure can be kept to such a minimum that it just plain (plane) makes no difference at all. The length of the plane sole is important relative to how straight the board is initially, and how impatient the operator, as comparison to a standard allows even a short-soled plane to level observed high spots enough to where its sole will bridge and average the remaining.
Aren't you the same one who was giving me grief a couple months ago when I told you that a jointer could/should be used the same way?

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• posted on November 12, 2003, 8:48 pm
George,
Not sure as to your last point about the grief, but it's entirely possible. I don't remember the specifics. Right now my take on a jointer is that you get two flat surfaces out of the deal. One edge, one face. Then you go to the TS to true up the other edge. Then you go to the thickness planer to make the untouched face parallel and flat. And to avoid flamers, take some material off both sides of the board, rather than just the side that I mark an 'X' on. :)
My question is more related to starting with a totally flat edge. The idea is that some woodworkers like to run a hand plane over a jointed edge for that "edge" (pun intended) in quality of a glue up joint. So what I want to know is if you are going to just cut a smidge from the edge with a smaller plane, do you end up with a worse edge than if you just rely on a well power jointed edge? Is anyone understanding what I getting at? (Cramer, for god's sake, don't answer, you are just an absolute jerk of grand proportions and I can't imagine why anyone would respond to you).
dave
George wrote:

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• posted on November 12, 2003, 10:37 pm
If you take the perfect stroke with minimum blade exposure, all's the same.
Maybe someone in the group can help me, but I believe the theory behind it is that you have hardened and burnished your jointed faces, and will get a better glue joint by "opening" the pores. I think it's crap, and glue off the jointer or the TS with a good blade.
You use a plane to do two things, if you're a basic Norm - trim and surface.

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• posted on November 12, 2003, 10:56 pm
George,
I'm an agnostic on this issue of which method yields the best joint too! Just 2 days ago I ripped a hunk of face-glued poplar to 1/16" thick, soaked it in water and bent the piece 180 degrees to form a U shaped trough. The Titebond glue held fast in that 1/16" thick piece (there were 2 glue lines in it), even when wet, so I don't know how much better I can get glue to stick! :) But I'm always open to suggestions...except the rude ones from the miscreants. <g>
dave
George wrote:

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• posted on November 14, 2003, 8:45 pm
Dave,
I will often take a plane to clean up the edge after I've run a board through on my jointer (PM 60). When the knives on my jointer are fresh and recently set, the surface left by the jointer is very, very good and runing a hand plane over the surface does little to improve things. However, as the knives wear a bit, maybe develop a nick or two, develop a slight crown or hollow (were talking maybe .002"), or if I run a board over the jointer too fast, using a hand plane will improve things a bunch. So now I use a plane to clean up edge joints all the time. Do you need a long plane (i.e. #6, #7, #8) to do this? No, because the edge is square to a face and straight. The plane, finely tuned, is just there to take off a whisper thin shaving to clean up slight imperfections in the surface. Now, sometimes the edge, generally due to a technique screw up on my part, needs a little more work. Then I make sure I pull out a jointer. What plane do I usually use? I have two #7's (a new Clifton and an Type 11 Stanley/Bailey) in my arsenal and I have the Type 11 tuned to take a very thin shaving (IIRC .0015") and I leave a 386 jointer fence attached to it always. So, when I clean up a jointed edge before a glue up, or to fix a bonehead error, I just reach for my Bailey #7 w/386 fence and pass it down the edge. That way I'm consistent and the edge always comes out great. But in reality, if the edge is straight and square then any finely set plane will work for cleaning up slight machine marks (generally scallops)
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• posted on November 14, 2003, 9:06 pm
Steve,
Now THAT'S a finely detailed description of when and with what to clean up a board. Thanks for the succinctly written explanation of what you use, and the reasons for bothering to plane a jointed surface. You have explained this for me in practical terms that I relate to.
To summarize: well tuned, sharp bladed jointer, run at optimum pace, provides a perfect edge ready for glue-up. Dull blades, less than stellar technique requires a bit of touch-up.
How am I doing? :)
dave
Steve Wilson wrote:

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• posted on November 15, 2003, 12:44 am
I am convinced......... You have to be Frazer Crane
ooop I forgot Dr.
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• posted on November 17, 2003, 3:56 pm
and you are? ...
Obviously Demented.
dave
O D wrote:

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• posted on November 15, 2003, 2:54 am
Steve Wilson wrote:
<snipped>

There you go Dave, a Stanley #7 (in a "Sweetheart" box no less)
http://www.patented-antiques.com/Backpages/T-F-S/stanley%20planes/jointer/s7_jointer_boxed.htm
and a #386 jointer fence
http://www.patented-antiques.com/Backpages/T-F-S/Stanley%20Tools/misc-cutters/386fence.htm
You better hurry, they will probably be sold by tomorrow.
-- Jack Novak Buffalo, NY - USA (Remove "SPAM" from email address to reply)
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• posted on November 12, 2003, 6:43 pm
Well Dave, it would appear that no one here really knows. Longer planes, since they ride the high points, can not get down into the lows to plane them. So what you end up doing is knocking of those high spots. It still takes a bit of skill but it is easier with a longer plane. I'm not much for explaining things but you probably get the idea.