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Thread: Really bad plane technique?

  1. #1
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    Really bad plane technique?

    Hey, folks,

    The bench is proceeding apace (I have many pictures for when I get time to sit down and write up the story... It's a huge comedy of errors.

    For now, though: the top is made of "hem fir" 2x10s, ripped into thirds, glued up, run through the planer in sections, and then the sections are glued. It came out almost perfectly even. So far, so good, right?

    Wrong. I bought a 14" el cheapo plane from the despot. I know it's hit or miss on these cheap things, so I closed my eyes and blindly selected one box over another. And the thing, to my utter shock, worked great after a little adjustment and honing. Nice thin curly shavings. Took about five minutes to get out the uneven parts at the two glue lines. It worked so well, in fact, I decided to try to use it to flatten the whole bench. And that was my next mistake.

    Long story short, every once in a while the blade "catches" on the wood, and digs in. In a couple places, it's caught badly. And forgetting the rule of holes (when you're in a hole, stop digging I persisted in my folly, thinking 'ok, I'll just plane this gouge out' And made it worse...

    I feel like the only person I know who can make a surface *less smooth* by planing it. Any advice? Hope it's beyond "Bite the bullet and spend a couple hundred buying yourself a *real* plane"

    Thanks,

    Bill

  2. #2
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    Most of the "cheapo" planes have a mouth that is really too wide, allowing the fibers to lift. I have an old #5 Stanley that when tuned up works great, So you might want to check on the older planes. If you want some thing that will work "out of the box", Lee Valley or Lie Nielsen are probably the way to go.

    Let us know which direction you go!

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    Placitas, NM in the foothills of the Sandia Mt
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    Hey Bill,
    For flattening large surfaces, I use a 24 inch long jointer plane, when I have the time. Otherwise (most of the time) I build a simple router sled and flatten it with a router

    One thing that makes planing a glued up surface difficult is that a plane needs to work with the grain, not against it. Your glued up top probably has grain going in both directions. If you really feel the need to go neander on this one, try using a scraper where the plane balks.

    Good luck and let us know how it comes out!
    Don't believe everything you think!

  4. #4
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    Ok, you bought an 'off the shelf' plane - not the best use of your money, but hardly the end of the world. (BTW a planer is a powered plane - you bought a hand plane.)

    Did you make any attempt to sharpen it ? Your built-up top undoubtedly has grain running in all directions. This requires a sharp blade set very fine and, as Ed says, a tight mouth. Do planes come with instructions these days ? If so, look into adjusting the frog to narrow the mouth opening.

    An old friend of mine who taught me about flattening plane bottoms told me "When you buy a new plane, you should think of it as a kit." This was before we had the LN and LV option. If you buy at the big box store, you've got a kit. If you go upscale, you've got something you can use pretty much out of the box.

    You still need to have the means to sharpen the cutter, though.

    For a good intro to planes and sharpening, visit this site:

    Rex Mill

    Check out Handplanes 101 in particular as well as sharpening. The articles are written by a very respected expert who contributes on a sister WW'ing forum (WoodNet).
    All the best,
    Ian G

    **Now holding auditions for a catchy new signature**

  5. #5
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    What was said above about planes is true. Jesse's suggestion about a router and sled will work too. I think a belt sander using 60 then 80 then 120 grits will be your fastest means of escape. It sounds like you've had enough planing on this surface. Post what you do, and pictures too. Please.
    Ken

  6. #6
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    You guys were *so* right!

    Well, I went home yesterday evening, and found you guys were right, on all counts. Yes, the grain goes every which way, and i was usually going against it when the plane grabbed. The idea that a plane is actually a kit made a lot of sense to me... so I took the durned thing completely apart. "Not the best use of money" is no understatement! When I first got the frog out, I was sure it was plastic! Instead, it's some sort of very thin and not very rigid mystery metal, with a terrible (dipped) paint job to boot! A few minutes getting to know some coarse sandpaper glued down to a marble tile changed its ideas a little. Now at least the bottom of the frog actually makes contact with the plane body. And the mouth is "way" too wide... I adjusted the frog as far forward as I could. Then I had the chipbreaker make friends with the same sandpaper, so now it actually makes contact with the blade in more than two places...

    So then I flattened the back of the blade (its actually one big dome, so that at first the sandpaper just touched all four edges). I got it so its shiny on at least the first half inch all around. Then I put it in my $8 honing guide, and started going through the sandpaper grits...

    20 minutes later I was making some pretty nice shavings. When it catches a little, I go at it in the opposite direction. Not perfect, by any means, but serviceable. Thanks!

    I think if the top were maple, properly seasoned and all that, I'd do the router sled trick. But it's hem fir, and likely still a little moist, and likely to move... I can see myself getting it perfectly flat today, and then have it twisting like a curlicue tomorrow...

    Oh, well: I think this is what they meant in the old days when they said "Forward, never straight!"

    Thanks,

    Bill

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by William Lantry View Post
    20 minutes later I was making some pretty nice shavings. When it catches a little, I go at it in the opposite direction. Not perfect, by any means, but serviceable...
    Well, I know you're not making it up, cus that's a pretty good description of planing in the real world

    It's very refreshing to me to see someone who follows through on advice, does the reading, does the work then comes back to tell us how it went.

    Thank you. You're off to a great start with handplanes.
    All the best,
    Ian G

    **Now holding auditions for a catchy new signature**

  8. #8
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    Good job Bill. Where's the pics showing the nice curly shavings as evidence?

  9. #9
    Steve Clardy Guest
    No pics. Didn't happen

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