Becoming a Galoot #4: Planing Blues - In Need of Advice

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Blog entry by scruboak51 posted 01-25-2014 08:46 PM 1232 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Finally Apart Part 4 of Becoming a Galoot series Part 5: Falling off the Wagon »

Things have progressed nicely over the past few days. After a good 30 minutes of study, I laid out some chalk lines to square up the live edges.

Then went to work ripping with a combination of the old cross-cut and a small rip-saw on the sections that were thin enough for that to be effective.

It’s about time put a fresh edge on the old crosscut. Things really started bogging down during these cuts. I was able to muscle through, and am pretty pleased with how the project is starting to take shape. The plan is to craft this into a bench.

With the major cuts out of the way, I turned my attention to trying to smooth out and level the surface. I have a router and jig with a 1.5 inch (3.8 cm) surfacing planing bit, which I am very fond of, but I also have a #6 Bailey Plane that I picked up at a thrift shop and have had sitting unused in the garage.

Having made it this far with old hand tools, I decided to put a fresh edge on the hand plane and give things a go. Mind you, I’ve never used a hand plane before, so this is virgin territory.

Things went ok-ish. I am hopeful a fellow Galoot (or experienced hand planer) can see what may be wrong.

Some sections of the log cut as smooth as butter, other portions the blade would just grab and when I was able to make progress would only produced a fine powder while leaving a very rough surface. For lack of a better terms, it’s like the end grain was mixed in the the regular grain. Perhaps that’s the nature of this being a root burl and being very dry.

I tried shallower, deeper, firmer, lighter passes and it didn’t seem to make a difference. The only thing that seemed to help was changing the angel of approach; but this still left a very rough surface. About the only thing left I can think of is to put a better edge on the blade.

The lower section of the log was much easier, I was able to produce clean shavings and the surface was pretty smooth.

Thanks for reading. If any one can give me some tips for more effective planing, I would be greatly appreciative.

4 comments so far

View ScottStewart's profile


119 posts in 2098 days

#1 posted 01-25-2014 09:06 PM

I am not an expert, but I think a lot of it may be the changing grain direction. I would suggest a very light cut, make sure your blade is a sharp as possible. I’ve never done it, but I think a back bevel on your blade might be appropriate here to raise the cutting angle off the 45 degrees that stanleys are bedded at.

View mantwi's profile


312 posts in 1862 days

#2 posted 01-25-2014 10:12 PM

Knock down the high spots with your hand plane in a cross hatch pattern then use a card scraper to smooth the surface. The card scraper will cut in any direction equally well and the undulating grain in this burl will not be a problem for it. The more I use a scraper the more I find myself reaching for it, they are very effective and easy to use once you understand the thinking behind one. Here’s an excellent tutorial on how to sharpen and use a card scraper by William Ng.
By the way that’s a nice piece of wood you have there. It should make a beautiful project.

View Don W's profile

Don W

18685 posts in 2533 days

#3 posted 01-25-2014 10:19 PM

By the looks of the shavings my first guess would be your sharp isn’t really sharp. Also for the work your doing it would be best (maybe not really a necessity but….) if you first used a #5 with a slight camber on the cutter.

But the second part is jus going to make it quicker, you’ll want sharp either way.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View CypressAndPine's profile


62 posts in 1773 days

#4 posted 01-26-2014 01:05 AM

That blade is definately not sharp enough for that mixed grain. It is possible to do, but you will need the iron sharper than a razor. Also make sure the back of the bevel is perfectly flat. You will also need to probably re-hone the blade a few times before that task is done. Planes can be frustrating if they aren’t kept sharp and it takes some practice to really get them sharp. I’m no professional, but I spent many months, many dollars, and tried many methods before I felt competent in sharpening my equipment. I think the best way if you don’t have all the fancy stones is to use sandpaper on one of your tool tables. I would go from 220 all the way to at least 1000. First also make sure the back of the blade close to the edge is perfectly flat and smooth. Good luck and don’t give up. That is a pretty peice of wood.

-- Cypress Jake, New Orleans

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