Beginning Woodworker Just Starting Out #2: My First Wood Purchase and Adventures in Hand Planing

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Blog entry by Jimi_C posted 09-05-2009 09:01 PM 1191 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: My First Attempt at Jointing Part 2 of Beginning Woodworker Just Starting Out series Part 3: First Handcut Dovetails »

Got back a little while ago with my first hardwood purchase (which is, ironically, soft maple):

And a close-up:

The really cool thing about this is the top three boards, which are 11” wide each and 9’ long. I am surprised I got these boards for $2/bf :) These three boards are all obviously from the same tree, as the grain is very similar and they’re nearly identical in size. The only bad thing about this is I’m going to have to cut all these down to be able to machine them with my equipment!

All told, this is just 36bf, but I figured it’d give me something to start playing with and learning on, which brings me to my next topic: hand planing. I had mentioned a while back (in a comment I think), that the one hand plane I had was not doing a very good job. I thought it might be an issue with sharpness, so last night I broke out the sand paper and did a quick and dirty scary sharp (my first attempt) sharpening.

The difference was night and day!

I edge jointed some of the crappy 1×4’s I had laying around, and took my sharpened plane to the resulting glued up board. The plane started taking off razor thin, beautifully tight curled slices instead of gouging into the wood and making a mess. I will definitely have to do a proper sharpening of this plane!

The plane itself is labeled as a Stanley SB4 – I’m sure someone here can tell me what the difference between that and standard #4 is. I’m not real crazy about this plane, as it has two adjustment screws to control the blade depth (one on each side of the blade), which to me makes it seem more difficult to keep the blade at a consistent depth across the width of the plane. It seems to be more of a UK item, based on the Google results, so it’s odd that I found it at Lowes.

Anyway, enough rambling for now, till next time :)

-- The difference between being defeated and admitting defeat is what makes all the difference in the world - Upton Sinclair, "The Jungle"

6 comments so far

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5621 posts in 3712 days

#1 posted 09-05-2009 09:41 PM

Some nice lookin’ maple. What are you building with it? or are you just practicing basic hand tool skills?

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

View WoodyWoodWrecker's profile


171 posts in 3251 days

#2 posted 09-05-2009 11:26 PM

I’m a beginner as well but I noticed what looks to be sticker marks across it. Does these marks seem to run deep into the wood or is it only on the surface? If this is normal, does anyone know how to prevent this? I’ve just purchase 10 acres of woods and plan on trying to dry my own wood some day.

-- You always have tomorrow to stop procrastinating.

View Don Newton's profile

Don Newton

716 posts in 3618 days

#3 posted 09-06-2009 02:44 AM

Hi Jimi, Did you buy your maple from a saw mill?

-- Don, Pittsburgh

View a1Jim's profile (online now)


117093 posts in 3577 days

#4 posted 09-06-2009 03:02 AM

Hey Jimi
Got wood! Make something beautuiful.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Jimi_C's profile


507 posts in 3235 days

#5 posted 09-06-2009 08:31 AM

Sorry for the slow response, it was my father-in-laws b-day :)

@Mark: Bought it to start learning, and went with the soft maple because I figured it’d be cheap and easier to work with than some others. One of the first things my wife has requested is a built-in for all our wine glasses/bar stuff (my grand father was a bartender, so we have some really old, neat glasses, plus all the fancy stuff we got for wedding gifts), so that’s my first goal.

@Woody: The warehouse where the wood was stored was not the best environmentally, but I’m sure a little bit of planing/sanding/etc. will get rid of those. The marks seem to be surface discolorations only. If they’re not, I’m planning on painting the built-ins anyway :) These boards are all actually 1 1/8” thick, so I can remove a lot of material before I really need to worry about it.

@Don: The place I got this from is a local company that buys logs from landscapers, etc. and mills it. They don’t have anything too exotic, but they have all the major US woods plus some that I’d never really heard of before (Osage orange for example). Here's their info on woodfinder. Their prices are amazingly cheap, and after looking through some of their piles today I will definitely buy some cherry/walnut from them in the future (those boards looked amazingly good).

-- The difference between being defeated and admitting defeat is what makes all the difference in the world - Upton Sinclair, "The Jungle"

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3334 days

#6 posted 09-06-2009 05:53 PM

I just want to warn you Jimi about how things work in this craft. First they sell you real good wood cheap, and then when you’re hooked they raise the price. Once you’ve become an addict there is no turning back! The only worse addiction you could experience is to be a member of LJ. If you get that, then you are really lost to the rest of the world. You might survive it though, by doing as I do and just take it a day at a time. That maple looks good. I hope we will have the opportunity to see it in a finished project. Thanks for posting.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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