Face jointing with a hand plane

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Forum topic by Chuck posted 09-20-2010 08:25 PM 7229 views 1 time favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Chuck's profile


27 posts in 2667 days

09-20-2010 08:25 PM

Topic tags/keywords: plane milling question

I have been working on milling lumber out of wider (8-10”) boards. I only have a 6” jointer, and was attempting to flatten one face by hand. The first board seemed to come out fine, but then I had a lot of difficulty getting the second board flat (it had a twist in it). I was using a No 7. Jointer plane. Does anyone have a basic process for jointing a face by hand?

I did my best by laying the board face down on a flat surface and looking at the high points and trying to knock them down… but that didn’t seem to work very well on the second board. Should I be using winding sticks or other tools to see where the high points are?


-- Chuck, Preston CT,

12 replies so far

View uffitze's profile


199 posts in 2379 days

#1 posted 09-20-2010 08:32 PM

You can use your jointer in conjunction with a hand plane to great effect in this situation. Just take the blade guard off of the jointer and face joint the 1/2 or 2/3 of the board that fits on the jointer table, then use your hand plane to bring the remainder of the board to the same level.

If you want to use hand planes to do the whole thing, you really should start with a scrub (jack) plane to take off the bulk of the wood, then switch to a jointer plane to remove the scallops left by the scrub plane. And, yes winding sticks help a lot.

View PurpLev's profile


8523 posts in 3072 days

#2 posted 09-20-2010 08:43 PM

do you have a planer? if so, you can joint flat just half the board, double stick its now jointed half face to a known flat 4”-6” board, and run that through the planer to flatten to top face flat and parallel to your half jointed face, flip, and run the 1st fact through the planer to flatten the remainder of the half jointed face.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View swirt's profile


2107 posts in 2395 days

#3 posted 09-20-2010 08:45 PM

It will take you a long time to flatten a twist with a #7. You really need something no longer than a #5 that you can set the blade deep on and attack just the high spots.

And yes winding sticks of some sort can help. You also need a flat bench to start with.

-- Galootish log blog,

View Dan's profile


3630 posts in 2304 days

#4 posted 09-20-2010 09:13 PM

I have spent many many hours in the shop trying to fix twisted boards and flatten boards with my hand planes. I don’t have it down quite yet but I have got a lot better. I think it just takes a lot of practice. I usually start by making a wavy pencil line down the board and that helps me find the high spots once I start planing. Checking the board with a straight edge works also.

Another option for flattening a board face is with a router and jig. You can use either a straight bit or a specialty bit that wont leave any cut lines. I have seen jigs where you place board in the jig and use shims to get rid of any dips in the board. I sometimes surface a board using the router attachment on my Radial Arm Saw and it works well but my only issue is the cutting lines that my straight bits leave.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


17577 posts in 3099 days

#5 posted 09-21-2010 07:15 AM

PurpLev, how are you going to do half a face in a planer? Aren’t they closed on both sides?

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View brtech's profile


884 posts in 2346 days

#6 posted 09-21-2010 03:40 PM

The OP said he had a jointer, but didn’t say if he had a planer. PurpLev suggested that if he has both, to use the jointer to flatten half the width, tape to a known flat board, and then run it through the planer.

View PurpLev's profile


8523 posts in 3072 days

#7 posted 09-21-2010 03:47 PM

Thanks brtech,

Topamax you can always cut off one side of the planer to use as an open end planer ;) (not!)

As explained, I meant to flatten the half board on the Jointer (I guess I was not specific about it enough now that I reread what I wrote, although being the OP was related to the Jointer it was a given) then take it to the planer to finish the process on both sides.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Chuck's profile


27 posts in 2667 days

#8 posted 09-21-2010 08:20 PM

Dcase, how do you determine the high points? Is it just by the parts first cut by the hand plane, or do you use a straight edge as well? Has it been just trial and error, or do you think you have a “process” that seems to work most of the time? I am still early in the trial and error part of flattening the board, and would like to limit the “error” part of that (of course I can’t get rid of all of the error – but it seems that any feedback, process, or technique may help make it easier to flatten).

Thanks everyone for the suggestions. I am considering using one of the other techniques, but first would like to see if I can do it with hand planes first – I enjoy the workshop when no power tools are running. But of course I will still use the planer (I don’t like the quiet enough to do that part of the milling by hand).

-- Chuck, Preston CT,

View PurpLev's profile


8523 posts in 3072 days

#9 posted 09-21-2010 08:29 PM

I use a straight edge. in many cases, I don’t bother pulling out the proper straight edge, and just use the edge of the jointer plane (tilted at 45 degrees sideways, using the edge between the sole and the side)

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View RichClark's profile


157 posts in 2854 days

#10 posted 09-22-2010 03:34 AM

Lotta good advise…. If you look around in the NET you’ll find other places that have instructional videos on this… but the best in this lot Ive seen (and how I do it) is to determine the twist with sticks, remove the high spots and then turn the board over and remove the belly on that side. You don’t need a new plane but what I do is have extra blades for my Joiner plane. I have one that is serrated to haul out allot of wood and rough out the surface. One that has a small arc in it to get closer and then a flat one to finish it. You have to be careful when fixing twist because the pressure you exert causes the wood to follow the plane and you just wind up with a thinner piece of twisted stock. So stop allot and check it. Once your close go at an 45 degree angle for side to side then switch sides and repeat. Then finally go with the grain to finish it up. (but squiggles are perfect) and a set of winding sticks…

-- Duct Tape is the Force! It has a light side and a dark side and it Binds the Universe together!

View canadianchips's profile


2310 posts in 2421 days

#11 posted 09-22-2010 03:56 AM

I appreciate you wanting to learn how to flatten and straighten only using hand planes.
This is what works for me.
I use a homemade SCRUB plane, I make diagonal cuts about 1 inch apart the full length of the board, I try for 45 degree angle, no need to get a protractor out for this ! Then I make cuts 90 degrees from the first ones I make. This leaves you with a checkerboard pattern diagonally.I don’t have my scrub plane set to deep, no need for a lot of tearout.I Then use an old #7 plane. I run this one the length of the board with the grain. You can feel the high spots as you pass over them, take an extra pass over these. Once again I have my plane set to cut minimal amount. When I think I have my board close to being ready, straight, no twist, etc, I dig out my favorite number 4C. I have this blade tuned to remove hair from arms. I run this with the grain as well. Try to run your last pass with the grain of the board going up. When you are planing you will see the up and down of the grain. Grain Down will leave little tearout marks. I truly believe the key to using the hand plane is “NOT TRYING TO CUT TOO MUCH AT ONE TIME”.
Practice, practice,and more practice.

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


17577 posts in 3099 days

#12 posted 09-22-2010 07:01 AM

Purp, Guess my ignorane of wood working machines is showing. I never thought you might mean a jointer. I wasn’t sure there isn’t a planer with an open side i don’t know about. :-))

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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