I'm having a bit of difficulty getting my plane blades dead square to
the sole of the plane. They seem to be fine, but I keep ending up
cutting a bevel onto the edges of boards I'm jointing for glue-up.
I'm wondering if it's more my technique than my set-up. On a related
note - do any of you use a fence like LV sells for when you're trying
to get the edge nice and square? How about one of the edge trimming
planes - do they work well? (And do the come in sizes that would
allow you to plane boards as wide as 1.5"?)
Probably I'll just practice some more and figure it out, but figured
I'd take a break and vent a little.
It sounds like technique, I usually mate them back to back (or face to face)
& plane them both at the same time, that way it does not matter if your edge
is square because the angles will compliment each other. Just be sure you
orientate them exactly as they will be glued. i.e. lay the boards out as if
you are going to glue them, then close them like a book. I would only do 2
edges at a time. Hope this helps. Of course planing squarely is the goal,but
I know how frustrating it can be trying to get something done & it not
You could just lay the board flat on a piece of 1/4" plywood, lay the
plane on its side, and make edges. If it's not exactly square you can
play the alternating edge game to make the /fit/ come out square.
You can square the blade to the plane if you take a block of wood maybe 1/4"
thick and maybe 1"X 3". Plane on the 1/4" side of the block. Plane with the
left side of your plane and then the right. compare the thickness of the
shavings, then adjust the plane. When the shavings are the same thickness,
the blade will be square to the sole (bottom) of the plane. The Lie Nielsen
people use this technique at wood shows, at least that's where I saw it.
If you have a block of paraffin, you can doe the same thing and also
lubricate your plane sole for ease in planing.
Get your iron (blade) square and you can correct the bevel on the edge of
the board by shifting you blade angle to compensate for the bevel. I do not
use a fence to plane the edges square.
Congrats! This is a great skill to master, and I encourage you to
continue to practice! It is a wonderful thing to get your edges
perfectly square to your face side. Your glue ups will never be the
Yes, it is hard to get the plane blade square to the sole of the plane.
And yes, it is hard to get the plane sole then square to the board. And
yes, it is nearly impossible to tilt your plane back and forth to get a
perfectly square edge.
That's why a good number (many? most? all?) of the old masters didn't do
it that way. And I can't name any well known hand tool gurus who use
that method today!
Yes, you can take the shortcuts of tilting the plane, or buying some
gizmo, or fence, or mucking around with bookmatching boards.
Camber the blade!! Curve the business of the blade, and this become a
piece of cake! So let's assume you've cambered the blade 1/32" or so
(offering the blade to a straight edge and light, you see about 1/32"
gap on each side).
Every 6" or so of your board, check if you are square to the face side.
Mark the high spots. Take your cambered blade and "drive" it over the
high spots. What this does is takes a thick shaving from the high spot,
and a very thin shaving everywhere else. Three or four passes like this,
your board will be square! Take a final shaving down the middle - and
you're good to go.
That should be enough to get you started!
I have a similar technique to the one Lowell describes. Start with
a thin scrap, where the edge is between 1/4" - 1/2" thick. The
smaller the plane (e.g., a No. 3 or block) the thinner you want the
scrap. The bigger and wider the plane (e.g., a No. 6 or No. 7) use
a piece of scrap that's a little wider so you're not having to work
at "balancing" the sole of the big plane on the thin stock. Mount
the scrap in a vise with the thin edge facing up.
Now to actually adjust the blade. Turn the adjuster and back the
blade up so that it stops making contact with the wood. Now turn
the adjuster a little bit, in the opposite direction, and then set
the toe of the plane on the scrap of wood. Move the plane forward
slowly and see if the blade will make contact with the wood. Start
with the far left side of the blade and see if that side will
touch/bite into wood. Don't try and make a shaving, you're just
checking to see if the blade will make contact with the wood. Then
check the far right side and the middle. If nothing will touch/bite,
turn the adjuster a little more and try again. When the blade
catches on one side, but not the other, make a lateral adjustment.
Check left and right again to see if they'll touch equally. Also
check the middle, if you get one side and the middle, but not the
other side, you probably only need to make a small lateral adjustment.
If you get one side, but not the middle or the other side--you need
to make a more pronounced lateral adjustment.
NOTE: The above technique is for when the blade is ground square.
If there's a camber in the blade, the middle of the blade is supposed
to bite before the sides.
Now try making some test cuts on the scrap. Make cuts with the left,
middle and right sides of the blade to see if they feel like they're
cutting the same. Check the touch/bite on the left, middle and
right again. Does everything touch the same as it did before the
test cuts? If by chance they're no longer touching the same, this
would indicate that your blade is not being held securely enough.
Tighten things up a bit, reset so left, middle and right touch the
same again, and then take some more test cuts.
No. I just make frequent checks with a square to see how I'm doing.
When one side of the edge shows to be too high, then I make an
adjustment. For example, if the right side of the edge is showing
high, then I'll make a pass where only the left side of the plane
blade would cover about a 1/3 of the width of the edge of the wood.
A second pass where the left side of the blade would cover about
2/3 of the width and then a third pass where the blade covers the
entire width of the edge. Now I recheck for square. If the right
edge is still high, I repeat the adjustment process.
Thanks for the replies everyone. I've been such a Normite for so long
that I think I just want the skill before the practice. One thing I
do notice is how different an open grained wood like walnut looks when
hand-planed versus sanded. I really like the relative quiet of
Welcome to the dark side. The slippery slope for you my friend is
Very soon you'll yawn at the name of Delta, Porter Cable, and
Fezzztool, but your pulse will race hearing Stanley, Disston, and
There are some very healthy tool forums at www.sawmillcreek.org and
www.woodnet.net/forums. Chris Schwartz blog is at
- jbd in Denver
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