Hand planing 2 edges for glue up - How does a newbie learn to keep it square?

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Forum topic by rbterhune posted 01-18-2011 09:52 PM 7504 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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176 posts in 3423 days

01-18-2011 09:52 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question tip joining panel glue up

I recently posted a topic here commending the craftsmen in the field of woodworking…that post made reference to a panel glue up or two that I messed up.

My panels did not come out flat for a couple of reasons. One reason was that I focussed on the ‘show’ side of the joint too much during my dry fit. I added glue before noticing that the back side of the joint had a significant gap. The gap was the result of my poor hand planing technique…which is the ultimate reason the panels did not turn out well.

Anyway, I tried the ‘plane both edges at the same time’ trick to get a seamless joint. Obviously I was rolling the plane to the outsides with each stroke to create the gap mentioned above.

Any pointers for a new guy who’s trying to learn this technique…simple as it seems for some?


15 replies so far

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3849 days

#1 posted 01-18-2011 11:36 PM

It takes a lot of practice to joint boards well by hand. Sure it is
a skill worth learning. I advise you to practice a lot on scrap.

Use a straightedge and a pocket square and always be checking
your edges as you practice. You’ll be able to identify your own
bad habits from examining the practice edges. Don’t be ashamed
to take an edge you’ve messed up and rip it on the table saw and
start over.

Just like perfecting a golf swing, you have to analyze your
technique and work to learn better habits.

View biglarry's profile


76 posts in 2889 days

#2 posted 01-18-2011 11:44 PM

Try clamping the two peaces to be glue with the two ‘show’ sides together and plane them both at once. This will have more surface area for your plane so it won’t tilt as much and if there are imperfections in your planing technique they be compensated for because the tilted angle will be equal and opposite.

-- "When the going gets tough, switch to power tools." - Red Green

View DougH's profile


40 posts in 2891 days

#3 posted 01-19-2011 01:24 AM

I have practiced golf since I was 10 and I am still a bogey golfer, not sure how that will translate to hand planing LOL.

-- Doug, South Carolina

View Lifesaver2000's profile


556 posts in 3314 days

#4 posted 01-19-2011 01:25 AM

I will second what biglarry said. I am quite new at using hand planes, but was able to obtain a perfect glue joint on one of my first attempts for a small table top. I had read of that technique, probably somewhere here on LJ’s and it saved me a lot time.

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3317 days

#5 posted 01-19-2011 01:40 AM

now if all atemped to do it has failed after three month…...but only then…...not before ….do you hear

then go to one of Mafe´s (Mads) projects where he has made a fence to one of his planes

good luck with it I´m sure you will learn it fast
just be sure your boards ain´t sitting too high in the bench

take care

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 3199 days

#6 posted 01-19-2011 02:26 AM

The two boards together is the real answer. The hardest thing is to learn to let go and trust it. It doesn’t make any difference what the angle is, they always add up to the same. If you take a full length shaving off both boards, they will join flat.

The only “trick” is that you mark the boards and keep them in order. They also need to be kept in the same relationship lengthwise as well.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View lwllms's profile


555 posts in 3483 days

#7 posted 01-19-2011 03:18 AM

I would advise against “match planing” or putting the show faces together and planing both boards at once. While it will give both boards the same angle to the face, it doubles the error along the length and this is the most difficult to deal with. Instead, put a light camber on the iron of the trying plane or jointer plane you’re using and correct error in square by the part of the iron presented to the wood by moving the plane laterally. This is the traditional trade practice when jointing edges. Check for square along the length of the stock and plane accordingly. The camber you’re looking for will have the outside corners about 1/64” further back than the center of the plane iron, it’s not a lot but plenty to deal with the small error you’ll find yourself getting. It doesn’t take a lot of practice to get control of edge squareness. I’m not aware of any old text that suggests match planing except for very thin stock or veneer and, in those cases, a shooting board is used.

Traditional trade practices evolved with the tools over centuries and represent the most straight-forward and direct way to get good results. These practices enable the average person to do about anything in woodworking. Probably the best easily available source of information on traditional trade practice is Charles Hayward’s out of print book Cabinet Making for Beginners which is much more than a book on basics. If you hunt down an old copy, and they’re available at very reasonable prices, get an early edition from the mid 1950s or earlier. Later editions were “updated” and aren’t nearly as good.

View BertFlores58's profile


1698 posts in 3123 days

#8 posted 01-19-2011 07:27 AM

As most drafters say… ‘A GOOD DRAFTSMAN NEVER LETTER WITHOUT A GUIDELINE.’ An everlasting tip…
please make guidelines on the board to make straight line…. both sides for proper squaring… A shooting board will also help. I do most of my board joints using planes. DONT FORGET that blade should also be tuned with the planning surface… Straight planing can be achieved using jack planes. Lastly, the type of wood makes difference … say accross grain on one end mixed with interlacing grain pattern… this can be solve by using a high angle plane… or use a 55 degree plane …. or sharpen the plane at greater angle.

-- Bert

View swirt's profile


3429 posts in 3173 days

#9 posted 01-19-2011 07:38 AM

Another tip is to keep your hand off the knob. Plant your thumb print in the middle of the plane body just behind the knob. Switching to that method did a lot to help reduce my side to side squareness.

Planing hollow in the middle (along the length) first, did a lot to reduce rounding off the ends.

-- Galootish log blog,

View canadianchips's profile


2613 posts in 3198 days

#10 posted 01-19-2011 02:50 PM

Using a larger plane will help. The longer the plane the less chance of dips in the board. Also, stanley makes a # 378 fence that attaches to side of plane. You can set the fence at different angles . “Lee Valley” sells a veritas fence also.(p.65 of fall2010 online catalogue)

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

View Bertha's profile


13551 posts in 2894 days

#11 posted 01-19-2011 02:57 PM

For me, this was a steep learning curve. I found that placing my thumb behind the front knob & letting my fingers drag lightly against the piece really helped. I had to adjust my planing height & tweak my stroke a bit. It was awkward at first (as for me, it was a very different stroke than when smoothing) but over time it got better. All the advice above is good advice. I encountered the problem described above dual-planing stacked boards. Good luck, it’s worth pursuing.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View HallTree's profile


5665 posts in 3969 days

#12 posted 01-19-2011 05:46 PM

Interesting post. I have never prepaired boards by planing to join them together, but as I read the post I have a question. In the planing process, would it help to have a scrap board at both ends to help keep the planing stright?

-- "Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life" Solomon

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3317 days

#13 posted 01-19-2011 07:15 PM

No it wont , you have to press on the front of the plane when you start a cut
and when all of the sole is on the wood you have to press equel down on both
the front and on the back and when you start lieving the board you have to
press down more on the rear end of the plane


View rbterhune's profile


176 posts in 3423 days

#14 posted 01-19-2011 08:27 PM

David and biglarry…I think you nailed what my problem was. I don’t think I took a full shaving across the width of the 2 boards…so my equal and opposite wasn’t actually equal and opposite. I think I had a high center…thus leaving a gap on the non-show side.

lwllms…I may try your method as well, thanks for the tip and the book recommendation.

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 3199 days

#15 posted 01-21-2011 04:07 AM

Don’t give up on what lwllms said though. If you start out with material that is square and straight, you can just put them together and give it a quick pass and take off a fine shaving for the length to make them fit closely. The point he was making about the camber of the iron is that if the joint is dished a tiny bit, when you clamp them together, the little extra feathers on the edge of the board makes a sort of gasket that fills in the joint when clamped up. A very pretty technique. You get a tight joint and just small ridges to plane off once the glue is dried.

My own style is to edge glue stuff long before it is near final thickness because I am going to plane it all to thickness as a unit. I generally use softwood that is very forgiving. I also don’t glue up many wide panels. I reach for sheet goods for the most part. If you are using more expensive stock, trying to carefully match grain, or just don’t have the extra thickness to play with, you have to be much more careful as you approach gluing up larger panels. That is where his method will serve you well.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

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