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The "What am I doing?" Holtzapffel Workbench #7: Dealing with tear out

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Blog entry by DragonLady posted 1592 days ago 1656 reads 0 times favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 6: Serious Question-When to switch planes? Part 7 of The "What am I doing?" Holtzapffel Workbench series Part 8: Leg lamination lament »

I’m in the process of flattening my new bench top, made out of #2 construction grade doug fir. I am really new to woodworking, and didn’t pay enough attention to grain direction when I glued up the top.

I’m getting some pretty bad tear out with my #5 plane. I don’t have a scraper and can’t afford one right now (plus, that’s another thing I’d have to learn to sharpen, and I’m not doing so great with the regular tools).

How can I reduce tear out in soft wood, with knots everywhere, and grain going every which way? Should I just call it good and switch to my RO sander?

I did sharpen the irons using the plate glass and sandpaper method,with a jig, and found it pretty sharp, but I’m still missing something there. Might just need practice.

I have been sharpening the iron while working on a 6000 grit waterstone. And I have an adjustable frog, so I know what you mean by “closing up the throat” but I just can’t seem to get it right.

this stuff is hard! Fun, but a little frustrating to learn on your own by trial and error. Reading is one thing, doing it, even passably well, is another!

-- A woman's work is never done-but power tools help!



18 comments so far

View jack1's profile

jack1

1907 posts in 2629 days


#1 posted 1592 days ago

Maybe leave it for a couple days and just think about what you’ve done and what you could do to change the outcome. Talk to a lot of people and after a bit, try again. You can do it!

-- jack -- ...measure once, curse twice!

View Andrew's profile

Andrew

709 posts in 1801 days


#2 posted 1592 days ago

Okay, take a deep breath, are you planing it straight with the grain, maybe you can try going diagonal across the wood, or move the plane straight but while it is angled to one side or the other. Soft woods can be tough. If that doesn’t help, put a 2# cut of shellac on it, if you don’t have any shellac, you could thin some poly with mineral spirits, 50/50, apply let dry and cure, this will stiffen the wood fibers enough to allow some more planing, but resharpen your iron first.
Things like this can be a challenge, work benches were a very common test of ones apprenticeship, because they can be so difficult.
Hope this helped
Good luck.

-- Even a broken clock is right twice a day, unless, it moves at half speed like ....-As the Saw Turns

View DragonLady's profile

DragonLady

298 posts in 1609 days


#3 posted 1592 days ago

Andrew, I’ve done directly across the grain, diagonal, and straight. I get tearout somewhere no matter which way I go!

It’s only a workbench, and it’s my first major project, so I’m not too upset. And at least I know WHY I’m having these problems. I was too impatient to get get started on the glue up and paid NO attention whatsoever to the grain direction.

It’s actually gotten pretty flat, which I’m kinda proud of. Just missing chunks!

-- A woman's work is never done-but power tools help!

View Luke's profile

Luke

536 posts in 1896 days


#4 posted 1592 days ago

You could try using the jig to sharpen your plane blade to a higher angle, something that would come closer to the angle of a scraper plane. I’m not sure if this will really make too much of a difference, just a thought. Softer woods are so much harder for me to plane. They love to tear out and when they do it’s usually a disaster. I agree with the others and say take a break for a while then come back later. You’ll get it.

-- LAS, http://www.abettersign.com

View Sawdust4Blood's profile

Sawdust4Blood

344 posts in 1624 days


#5 posted 1592 days ago

Maybe come at it from a different angle. Rig up a jig to a router and flatten it with a hinge mortising bit.

-- Greg, Severn MD

View DragonLady's profile

DragonLady

298 posts in 1609 days


#6 posted 1592 days ago

No router available.

-- A woman's work is never done-but power tools help!

View Rasta's profile

Rasta

120 posts in 2044 days


#7 posted 1592 days ago

You could try to flatten with a belt sander then go over it with a scraper or a more shallow bite with your plane to smooth

-- Roscoe in Iowa

View grumpycarp's profile

grumpycarp

257 posts in 2348 days


#8 posted 1592 days ago

You probably just need to change the direction of attack. Traverse, instead of parallel. And sandpaper makes “shiny” not “sharp”. But I digress. Slice, don’t chop.

Douglass fir is not hard, it is very soft. And that could be your problem. It is somewhat contrarian to logic. but softwoods require even sharper tools than do hardwoods. By skewing your angle of attack: i.e.; traversing, you increase the angle of attack and create a shearing action at the cutter you make it easier on the edge.You will slice instead of lift and you will not experience as much “tear out”

View grumpycarp's profile

grumpycarp

257 posts in 2348 days


#9 posted 1592 days ago

In the time that it took me to respond to the above eight or so people have chimed in with excellent advice. I still stand by the notion that soft woods require really sharp tools . . .

View DragonLady's profile

DragonLady

298 posts in 1609 days


#10 posted 1592 days ago

Grumpy, I’m really trying for sharp. I need practice, I know!

-- A woman's work is never done-but power tools help!

View Chelios's profile

Chelios

567 posts in 1668 days


#11 posted 1592 days ago

I had the same issue tackling the top on my table..http://lumberjocks.com/projects/28445 I also used fir. It is not the plane and it is not you. It is the soft wood. It just won’t hold its own….So I just went across the grain to flatten as much as I could without too much tear out and then sanded away. This approach gave me the best result.

View DragonLady's profile

DragonLady

298 posts in 1609 days


#12 posted 1592 days ago

Thanks, Chelios! I’ve actually done pretty well with the scrub plane and the jack, but I think it’s time to admit hand tool defeat and go with sanding.

I still have the base to do, and you can bet I’m paying attention to grain direction this time!!

-- A woman's work is never done-but power tools help!

View jack1's profile

jack1

1907 posts in 2629 days


#13 posted 1592 days ago

Hey don’t blame me… jack, get it? ;0) oh, wait, sharp oh, ok… never mind… ;0)

Have fun out there!

-- jack -- ...measure once, curse twice!

View charlton's profile

charlton

78 posts in 2011 days


#14 posted 1592 days ago

I don’t really have much to add but maybe a higher blade angle and a slightly tighter mouth? Looking forward to your results.

View OutPutter's profile

OutPutter

1194 posts in 2592 days


#15 posted 1592 days ago

Can you describe the shavings you are getting?

-- Jim

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