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Forum topic by zippymorocco posted 10-22-2015 12:14 AM 945 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View zippymorocco's profile


39 posts in 1315 days

10-22-2015 12:14 AM

Hello all,

I was given a wood river block plane a month ago and then purchased a Lie Neilson low angle jack plane last week. I am enjoying the results that I get with them but I think I am damaging (scratching the sole, chipping the blade), the sole and blades more than necessary. I am spending a lot of time honing my blade and lapping the sole.

I think I figured out why I am shipping the blade. I was king of ramming the plane into the end grain when I started off with a pass. However, I am not sure why the sole is getting scratched or what the acceptable amount of scratching is.

Another thing that I find myself doing is pushing really hard down on the plane. How much pressure downward should I exert?

I am using the tools on quarter sawn white oak, wenge, cherry and walnut so far. I am making face frames, cabinet doors, table tops, newel posts, mirror frames and a mantle.

I would like any advice on what pitfalls to avoid, resources on proper technique etc. I would be grateful to listen to any advice you might think is important. I want to get this down but feel like I am losing ground.

Thank you,


16 replies so far

View Tim's profile


3812 posts in 1988 days

#1 posted 10-22-2015 12:36 AM

If you need to push down hard your blade is just not sharp enough. Focus on learning to sharpen. There are lots of sharpening systems, mostly you just need to pick one, stick with it and practice. If you want to give your location there may be an LJ local to you that’s willing to show you the ropes.

I don’t have any new premium planes, so I don’t know how much scratching would show up on the sole, but some scratching is definitely normal. Soles on planes wear down eventually through lots of use.

View Logan Windram's profile

Logan Windram

346 posts in 2489 days

#2 posted 10-22-2015 01:57 AM

That LN 62 should come dead on flat on the sole, I wouldn’t mess with it. Like Tim said, your blade is either not super sharp, or you may be taking off too much material. That 62 is heavy enough and that low angle attack with a razor sharp blade should make whisper thin shaving easily.

I think Wenge is pretty hard on the scale, so that might be beating up your blade pretty bad.

View BurlyBob's profile


5555 posts in 2292 days

#3 posted 10-22-2015 02:41 AM

You might also trying skewing your plane to the wood especially with your block plane.

View zippymorocco's profile


39 posts in 1315 days

#4 posted 10-22-2015 02:52 AM

Thank you all for the responses thus far.

In response to Tim,
I am from Missoula, MT. I watched the Lie Neilsen videos tonight and realized that my sharpening/micro bevel technique was indeed awful. I went to the shop and was able to pull up a razor sharp edge on both planes. This helped a lot.

Logan, I think that you are right on about me taking off too much material. I tried some tests with some really fine passes and it seemed much better with much less effort.

Bob, skewing is one thing that I have found that works well with the oak which has a lot of grain shifts.

Thanks again. Please keep them coming.

View RobS888's profile


2413 posts in 1872 days

#5 posted 10-22-2015 02:58 AM

Practice on pine, it is very forgiving. You can tell when your technique is wrong on pine easier than white oak!

Same goes for sharpness, if you can’t make a thin curl in pine, you are gonna suffer with white oak.

My wife bought me some old wooden hand planes a couple years ago and I wore down more than a couple of 2×4s learning to use them.

-- I always suspected many gun nuts were afraid of something, just never thought popcorn was on the list.

View bandit571's profile


20247 posts in 2710 days

#6 posted 10-22-2015 03:14 AM

IF something is indeed scratching the soles of these planes…..I would go looking at the wood to find out what was causing those scratches…..Might be a grit of some sort in the wood?

Yep, pine and Poplar are very good to pratize on. Lately, i have been “molesting a plank of White Oak as a test track

And this is before I even had waxed the sole. Yep, I add a bit of candle wax, just a few squiggley lines across the soles. Candle is just a plain, cheap “Tea Light” candle. Doesn’t take much. Things can get a bit slippery, though.

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View rwe2156's profile


2965 posts in 1507 days

#7 posted 10-22-2015 01:28 PM

Nice that you’re starting out with quality tools. Trying to learn with inferior quality tools is a huge hindrance, something I learned from personal experience.

Not mentioned but one very important aspect of hand planing is reading grain and planing in the right direction. This is crucial in some kinds of wood.

For example, oak is notorious for tearing out and reading the grain direction is sometimes hard especially when quarter sawn. Some wood like QSWO can have such funky grain directions you don’t know which way to plane. This situation will test even the most skilled ww’er. Many resort to a scraper in these cases. Not to discourage you but so you know to give yourself a break when things aren’t going well it might not be your fault!!

The basics to planing (especially with wild grain) are: extremely sharp blade, very thin shavings, elevated blade angle (there are 50 and 55 degree frogs available. There is also the skewed approach or the back bevel which effectively raises the blade angle). Some advocate moistening the wood prior to planing.

Honing a back bevel of 2-5 degrees on the plane blade (so called Charlesworth trick) is advocated by many people. I don’t routinely put a back bevel on but I do keep a spare blade with a back bevel when the grain is tearing out.

There are other nuances of planing to look into such as easing the edges of the blade to eliminate blade tracks (when face planing) and learning to adjust the cap iron/blade distance and taking advantage of the adjustable mouth.

As you’ve already learned THE most important thing about hand tools is learning to hone beyond mere sharpness. I recommend finding a technique and combination of stones that work for you and stay with it your body, mind and muscles will become trained to it until its like second nature. When I need to touch up a blade I can usually be back to work in less than 2 minutes. I think it is quite valuable to learn to sharpen freehand.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View jdh122's profile


1018 posts in 2844 days

#8 posted 10-22-2015 01:36 PM

You shouldn’t be lapping the soles. That Lie-Nielsen didn’t need it at the start (if it did you should have sent it back). And the WR might have needed a little lapping, but only once to get it set up. If you get small scratches on the bottom, leave them there.

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

View AandCstyle's profile


3075 posts in 2284 days

#9 posted 10-22-2015 10:05 PM

Zippy, you have gotten lots of good advice so far, but nobody has mentioned the chipper. You need to have the chipper VERY close to the front edge of the plane iron, maybe a sixteenth. The chipper needs to smoothly sit against the plane iron so the shavings don’t get under it and it should be polished to reduce the friction of the shavings passing over it. Those three factors will reduce the effort required to push the plane across the wood. HTH

-- Art

View BurlyBob's profile


5555 posts in 2292 days

#10 posted 10-22-2015 11:28 PM

Here’s another question. How are you sharpening your Irons? There’s lots of ways, by hand a machine or a jig. Each requires that you get competent. There’s no substitute for sharp. The sharper the better as everyone knows. How you get there is the question.

View zippymorocco's profile


39 posts in 1315 days

#11 posted 10-23-2015 04:07 AM

Right now I am sharpening with sandpaper on granite.. I have grits that go all the way up to 18000. I also use a Veritas jig. Seems to be working out okay. Would I benefit from using stones instead?

Art, The planes that I am using don’t have a chip breaker. So that is one thing that I don’t have to try to dial in. I am sure there is one in my future though.

View rwe2156's profile


2965 posts in 1507 days

#12 posted 10-24-2015 11:01 AM

Sounds like you are set on your sharpening.
Good to see you’re using in good quality tools great way to start.
I’m of the opinion that hand tools should be viewed as an investment not an expense.

You’re eventually going to want a smoother (4 or 4 1/2) and a longer plane (6,7 or 8).

I also have the WR block plane set and the LN LA jack. Great tools. Its good to have a couple blades for the LA jack sharpened at diff angles.

For smoothers, I have both #4 WoodRiver and a 4 1/2 LN. Both do great job but I like the width of the 4 1/2 so I use it 80% of time for smoothing operations.

I also get alot of use out of my #6 WR. In stock prep its my “go to” plane.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View TheWoodenOyster's profile


1317 posts in 1962 days

#13 posted 10-24-2015 02:00 PM

- Don’t lap the soles!!! Unless you are planing rocks, the sole of your plane is much harder than whatever you are planing and the scratches will only be superficial and won’t affect performance

- Wenge is very tough and may be the reason your blades are dulling quickly. Wood species being worked has a strong effect on how quickly blades dull.

- Don’t push down hard. If your sharpening has gotten better, my guess is that you aren’t haveing to press down as hard.

Good Luck!

-- The Wood Is Your Oyster

View zippymorocco's profile


39 posts in 1315 days

#14 posted 10-24-2015 03:11 PM

After work yesterday I pulled out a chunk of poplar and planed it flat. Took a while but worked well. It would have been easier to use a shorter length but I didn’t want to waste the wood by cutting it.

Things are improving. Thank you for mentioning that the soles don’t need to stay pristine. I really wanted the plane to look like it just came out of the box forever. However, it is a tool and I will just have to get over it if I want to use it as such. There are no deep scratches on the bottom and even planing the poplar introduced new ones. I suppose that is the way it is meant to be.

I ordered a second blade from our local woodworking store. It will be here in a week or more. The blade will come with a primary bevel of 25 degrees. The store owner recommends that I grind the whole bevel to 50 degrees (I don’t have a grinder but could send it to the place we sharpen our saw blades). I noticed on the LN site they have a 50 degree micro bevel on the higher angle blade they sell. Is there any difference in changing the whole primary bevel vs. using a 50 degree secondary bevel? I want to be able to use this second blade in figured wood… Eventually.

View Don W's profile

Don W

18754 posts in 2594 days

#15 posted 10-24-2015 04:07 PM

One thing not mentioned which will help, keep the sole waxed or oiled. Not only will it make the plane work better it will help with the marring of the bottom.

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

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