Brand new woodworker frustrated with tear out

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Forum topic by Proff posted 11-21-2016 02:45 PM 783 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Proff's profile


5 posts in 793 days

11-21-2016 02:45 PM

Topic tags/keywords: tear out

So I am planing my edge with my #7 bailer jointer plane and I am loving it. I turn the board and start to on it’s face and want to follow the grain with my Jointer plane not as smooth as edge ok fair enough rotate board and follow the grain the other way (still cannot read grain direction FYI) still no dice. Aha! I need to sharpen, I sharpen repeat last two steps and nada. I get nothing but tear out. I can plane board easily across the grain just not with it. Is it my species of wood or is my plane still not sharp enough? Thanks y’all

15 replies so far

View HickWillis's profile


114 posts in 899 days

#1 posted 11-21-2016 02:57 PM

It could be your blade isn’t sharp enough, but also how much of a shaving are you taking? Have you tried taking a lighter pass?

-- -Will

View JayT's profile


6010 posts in 2451 days

#2 posted 11-21-2016 03:01 PM

Tear out almost always has one of a few causes.

  • Not sharp enough
  • Planing against the grain
  • Iron needs to be sharper
  • Trying to take too deep a cut
  • Is the iron sharp enough?
  • Chipbreaker set too far back
  • Did I mention making sure the iron is sharp? :-)

Now, in your picture above, I don’t see a lot of tearout. What I do see are gouges from either not being sharp or trying to cut too deep and tracks from the corners of the iron. For the first problem, back the iron out until it’s not touching the wood, make a pass with the plane to be sure. Advance the iron a quarter turn of the knob at a time until it just barely starts to take a shaving and then about 1/8 of a turn more to get a decent cut.

For the tracks, that is a lateral adjustment &/or easing the corners of the iron when you sharpen. When setting the depth, you should also be watching to see that the shaving is even across the mouth and adjusting the lateral accordingly. When sharpening, I like to make about five strokes at the very end of the sharpening on the finest stone while putting pressure on just one corner, then repeat for the other corner. That, in combination with the lateral adjustment, helps get rid of the tracks.

(still cannot read grain direction FYI)

- Proff

Pet the dog method is the easiest. Rub your finger down the board one direction, then the opposite direction. One way should feel smoother—that is the direction you want to plane.

-- In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.

View HokieKen's profile (online now)


7589 posts in 1378 days

#3 posted 11-21-2016 04:20 PM

Is your iron cutting full width? In other words is it square to the mouth? Almost looks like you may have one corner digging in. Your blade is in bevel-down, right?

Sharpen again and break the corners. Then do what JayT said^

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3888 days

#4 posted 11-21-2016 04:45 PM

That’s why you want to be cautious surfacing
boards with long planes… it’s hard to see
what’s going on. When the face is relatively
flat move to a smooth plane and scraping.

Every piece of wood takes planing differently.

Just like with sandpaper, move from coarse
planing to fine and be careful about taking deep
cuts because reversing face grain can drive you
nuts if you’re not careful. I’ve been using
planes for many years and I still get in over
my head with reversing grain. Aside from
developing plane tuning skills, develop your
judgment about when to reach for the scrapers
and sandpaper.

View Proff's profile


5 posts in 793 days

#5 posted 11-21-2016 05:06 PM

Hey guys all good feedback. Let me try a few things and report back.

View Drew's profile


350 posts in 3340 days

#6 posted 11-21-2016 09:00 PM

Might need to move the frog forward. This can happen if the mouth is open too much.


View Proff's profile


5 posts in 793 days

#7 posted 11-21-2016 10:55 PM

Ok I set the plane iron 1mm from chip breaker but it is rather dull meaning I cannot shave my arms. When I set up my iron I try to put it dead center on the frog put when I start taking some shavings it always is shaving from one side and not the other. I adjust then I get more from the other side and nothing from previous side. Is this just a matter of me not finessing it enough when I move it with my hand?

View bbasiaga's profile


1242 posts in 2235 days

#8 posted 11-21-2016 11:06 PM

You’ll never get the blade perfectly square by eye unless you get lucky. It will always do what you say – cut more on one side than the other. Use the lateral adjuster, on the plane by pushing the lever towards the side that is cutting heavier – a little movement of the lever goes a long way. Or get a very light (4oz) hammer and lightly tap the side that is cutting heavier very lightly. Repeat until it shaves evenly on both sides. I usually take a little scrap, something the size of a paint stick, and test it by running it down the plan sole on each side of the blade. When the cuts feel even, I’m close enough.

After that, retract the blade and start the process of setting your depth of cut. Once you are getting a shaving, you can see if it is still a bit heavier on one side. If so, tap the blade a little more for some fine tuning. Once you have the hang of it, this process takes about 2 min.

Your picture looks more like plane tracks than anything else. People above have described how to solve that.


-- Part of engineering is to know when to put your calculator down and pick up your tools.

View Proff's profile


5 posts in 793 days

#9 posted 11-21-2016 11:12 PM

Sorry English is my second language.

Tell us what kind of wood it is. And write betterly.

- gargey

View Proff's profile


5 posts in 793 days

#10 posted 11-21-2016 11:49 PM

Thank you all for the kind responses. I have some investigating to do on this plane

View rwe2156's profile


3232 posts in 1721 days

#11 posted 11-22-2016 03:04 PM

As JayT said, but in my experience tear out is almost always caused by planing against the grain and/or the blade set to a thick shaving. Look at the edge of the board to determine grain direction always plane with the rising grain. You can Google how to determine grain direction.

What I see there are plane tracks, which can be cause by the blade cutting too deep, uneven blade depth, and sharp corners on the blade. Rounding over the corners of the blade combined with a shallow cut can eliminate tracks.

But you probably found the one big problem: getting the blade sharp. Most problems with tool performance can be traced to faulty sharpening technique. A jig will help if you are not experienced at sharpening but I highly recommend you learn to sharpen freehand. In the future you will find it saves a lot of time.

I would start by checking the edge for square and straight. You may have a curve in the blade, but that’s not totally a bad thing the main thing is get that blade super super sharp.

You can also apply a micro back bevel. Google “Charlesworth ruler trick”.

The way I adjust my blade is to put a very thin piece of wood in the vise and plane off both sides of the blade while adjusting until I get even shavings.

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

View HokieKen's profile (online now)


7589 posts in 1378 days

#12 posted 11-22-2016 03:31 PM

Yep, sharpen that blade first. Then make sure it’s cutting evenly across the width. Then find the grain direction and you’ll be all set.

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View dbray45's profile


3320 posts in 3016 days

#13 posted 11-22-2016 04:04 PM

You stated that the blade will not shave your arm – it is a dull blade.

Read up on how to tune a hand plane, this will cover how to sharpen, flatten the back, easing the corners, setting the blade and chipper, etc…

Once you do this, you will see a serious difference.

There is a lot on the web sight about it.

-- David in Damascus, MD

View ClutteredShop's profile


38 posts in 792 days

#14 posted 11-22-2016 09:01 PM

With regard to lateral adjustment of the cutting iron: I find that with the right lighting, if I invert the plane and sight from the toe toward the cutter I can judge quite well whether one side is set deeper than the other, and can adjust as needed by moving the adjustment lever while still sighting. The key is holding the plane properly with respect to the room lighting so the sole is well illuminated but there is no glare.

Another factor that affects tear-out is the width of the mouth in front of the cutter. When working difficult grain, this gap should be no wider than the chip that passes through it. The part of the sole that is immediately in front of the mouth is pressing down on the wood even as the cutter is lifting the shaving. This pressing down prevents the “split” caused by the cutter from running forward of the cutter, and when you think about it, the that running forward is the essence of tear-out.

Adjusting the width of the gap in front of the cutter is accomplished by sliding the frog fore and aft. For that you must take the cutter out and loosen the screws that hold the frog to the plane bed. If your #7 is one of the high-end models, there is a screw under the depth-adjustment wheel that lets you move the frog in a very controlled way. If your model does not have this screw, I would suggest leaving the hold-down screws fairly snug and moving the frog with light taps. When you tighten the screws again, there is some danger that the frog will squirm and change your adjustment, but the washers under the screw heads are pretty effective at preventing this.

-- Cluttered Shop

View bobasaurus's profile


3549 posts in 3424 days

#15 posted 11-22-2016 10:19 PM

Ok I set the plane iron 1mm from chip breaker but it is rather dull meaning I cannot shave my arms. When I set up my iron I try to put it dead center on the frog put when I start taking some shavings it always is shaving from one side and not the other. I adjust then I get more from the other side and nothing from previous side. Is this just a matter of me not finessing it enough when I move it with my hand?

- Proff

Like others have said, keeping the blade sharp is the most important thing. What grit are you sharpening up to (8k or more is typical for a really sharp blade, or lower grit with stropping)? Waterstones or oilstones or diamond? Any stropping? Freehand or jigs?

For smoothing work, the chipbreaker should be closer than 1 mm… more like half that. You typically set the chipbreaker screw semi-tight, then use your tumbs to push the breaker until it is super close to the edge, with a super-thin line of light reflecting off the back of the exposed blade. Then tighten the screw fully, making sure it doesn’t shift the breaker edge much.

Make sure your chipbreaker is tuned correctly. You want it undercut so it will not trap shavings when tightened to the blade, and flat against the back of the blade. You can use a rough stone to correct a bad breaker with a few strokes. The chipbreaker’s leading edge angle that shavings contact should be about 60 deg from the face of the blade, forcing chips to curl sharply. Polishing the leading edge of the chipbreaker can help, too.

To get the lateral adjustment right after inserting the iron, I sight down the sole onto a bright surface while advancing the blade. When I see a tiny portion stick out, I use the lateral adjust lever carefully (bracing with my thumb on the frog) to bring it into square with the sole. I continue advancing until I’m sure the edge barely protruding from the sole is even across, watching to see which side disappears first when backing out the blade. Then a few test passes on a chunk of scrap wood tells me how to do any final adjustments to the lateral lever.

Keeping a tight mouth on the plane can help as well, though not as much as a proper chipbreaker.

Another trick is to put a small back bevel on the iron to effectively raise its cutting angle, reducing tear-out. This can affect the chipbreaker registration if you make it too large, though.

Have you tried planing at a skew angle? It helps sometimes.

-- Allen, Colorado (Instagram @bobasaurus_woodworking)

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