Thicknessing stock by hand, tips needed.

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Forum topic by markedwardsims posted 01-25-2011 10:13 PM 2672 views 0 times favorited 23 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View markedwardsims's profile


50 posts in 2687 days

01-25-2011 10:13 PM

Hello everyone. I’m a bit new to using hand planes. I have read Garrett Hack’s Hand Plane book, as well as a bunch of posts both here and other sources on the web. I think I’ve got the basics, but I thought I would make a post and get some clarification and advice from some more experienced woodworkers.

I’m beginning a project and have a piece of 4/4 tiger maple. I need to get this stock down to 3/4”. Since I’m hand planing this stuff, I rough cut the pieces to reduce the amount of work. I got one side of each of the 4 nice and flat. For the other side, I plan on using a #5 scrub to hog off nearly a quarter inch. What to do next is where I’m a little uncertain. It seems like I would use my #5 jack or #7 to to work out the troughs from the scrub, then use a #4 to smooth it.

If you guys think there’s a better method, or have any tricks for this type of work, I’m all ears.



23 replies so far

View rogerw's profile


262 posts in 2683 days

#1 posted 01-25-2011 10:23 PM

no offense but that sounds like too much labor. been watching too many episodes of “the woodwright with roy underhill”? he does everything by hand like he’s still in the 18th century. thats why they invented power tools.

have fun and good luck!

-- >> my shop teacher used to say "do the best at everything you make for your mom because you're going to see it for the rest of your life!" <<

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3068 days

#2 posted 01-25-2011 10:43 PM

How big are these pieces of wood? If there very big, you have a lot of work ahead of you. If the size is manageable, then you have the sequence right – Scrub, Jack, Smoothing.

I think the most important advice I can give you is sharp irons and thin cuts. Even with the scrub plane I would not attempt to take more than 1/32” on each pass. WIth the other 2 planes you want to take paper thin shavings.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View PurpLev's profile


8535 posts in 3642 days

#3 posted 01-25-2011 10:49 PM

tiger maple?

I think I would personally try to resaw 3/16” off of it to use as veneer in later projects, that would be a shame to waste this type of lumber on scrub chips.

that said, use a marking gauge all around the piece to be thicknessed, the scribed line will help you asses when you are getting close to the finished thickness as you’ll see ‘feathers’ on the edges as your are planing very close to the scribed line.

if your #7 is setup correctly, I don’t think you’ll need to smooth it with a #4 afterwards. just work nice and slow, and keep checking your references as you work your way to the desired thickness.

this beads box was thicknessed by hand:
Click for details

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

View IkeandBerry's profile


45 posts in 3258 days

#4 posted 01-25-2011 10:50 PM

You should score a line with a marking gauge that is your finished thickness all around the board. Then use the scrub plane to get is within about 1/16 or so of the scribe line. Then take your Jack plane to take down the ridges from the scrub plane. Then use the #7 to flatten the piece. Then finish is off with a smoothing plane like a #4. Just as a point of reference you should use the scrub plane 90 degrees to the grain, the Jack plane at about a 30 degree angle to the grain, the #7 joiner plane with the grain, and the #4 with the grain. It is a lot of work, but I find it very satisfying to be able to do this with hand tools and the quietness of my shop.

-- There is nothing like the sound of a hand plane passing across a board in an otherwise quiet shop.

View swirt's profile


2731 posts in 2966 days

#5 posted 01-25-2011 11:01 PM

All doable and not as backbreaking as some may make it sound. Though if you have a bandsaw, I second Purplev’s suggestion of resawing off the bulk. Not because the scrub planing is bad… it goes remarkably quick, it is just a alot of wood to waste that could be used for something else if you can resaw it off.

-- Galootish log blog,

View markedwardsims's profile


50 posts in 2687 days

#6 posted 01-25-2011 11:14 PM

Ha! Roger, no offense taken. It’s a combination of stubborn determination and the fact that I’m in a single space garage, so I’m not able to fit any more power tools in there. Plus, so far I’ve actually gotten a lot of enjoyment out of learning to use the hand planes.

I had actually thought about the resawing route, but unfortunately I don’t own a bandsaw yet. At $10/bf it is definitely a shame to waste that much beautiful stock.

Thanks guys, for the feedback. I’ve got 2 pieces that are roughly 5” x 20” and the other 2 are about 4” x 30”, so it seems like I can pull this off. I’m glad to get the tip for the scrub. My instinct was to try and go for a 1/16” or even an 1/8” cut. I’ll definitely pull that back a bit, and make sure I have the blade good and sharp. The input about the angles to the grain is great! I’ve definitely noticed while practicing that the direction of the plane makes a difference in how hard you have to push to complete the stroke.

I’ll get this thing posted in my projects when it’s done. Thanks again!

View Dan's profile


3630 posts in 2874 days

#7 posted 01-26-2011 12:03 AM

Another option would be to Re-saw some of it off on your table saw. I don’t own a bandsaw and I have done a lot of resawing on the table saw. As long as you have the one flat face and both edges are square you can do it by flipping the board and doing with a few passes.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View Loren's profile


10373 posts in 3642 days

#8 posted 01-26-2011 12:30 AM

I do some flattening but these days I mostly use a hand-held
electric planer in place of a scrub plane. A decent used planer
can be got for about $50. Blades on a straight-knife cutterhead
are easy to camber on a bench grinder.

I won’t try to tell you there aren’t benefits (like low noise and
plenty of excercise) to hogging off stock with a hand-plane,
just that an electric plane is a useful tool for more than trimming

View brianinpa's profile


1812 posts in 3717 days

#9 posted 01-26-2011 01:24 AM

I am a proponent of power tools, but it sure is fun watching the shavings curl out of a hand plane when it is working right.

I have taken some slab benches from being rough cut (chain saw) all the way to smooth and ready for sanding with nothing but a #5 and then a #4. Was it the right way? Don’t know, but it worked for me… Experiment and find out what works for you best and then move onto the good wood.

One benefit of using a plane is that cleaning up shavings is a lot easier than sweeping up a lot of sawdust.

-- Brian, Lebanon PA, If you aren’t having fun doing it, find something else to do.

View markedwardsims's profile


50 posts in 2687 days

#10 posted 01-26-2011 01:32 AM

I like the idea of resawing on the table saw. I guess the thinest kerf blade would be ideal. I never thought of an electric planer as a scrub. I guess if I wear myself out I may have to consider it. Brian, I agree with you. I love power tools, but using those old planes just makes me feel a little more like a craftsman. Thanks again all. This is a great community, and I’ve already learned a ton.

View CL810's profile


3784 posts in 2982 days

#11 posted 01-26-2011 04:18 AM

I believe Woodsmith has a video of how to use your tablesaw for resawing.

-- "The only limits to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today." - FDR

View QuangFromCalgary's profile


33 posts in 2992 days

#12 posted 01-26-2011 07:23 AM

If you want to do it using hand plane, the best video is Jim KingShott. You can borrow it from public library. The title is “Hand Planes” by Jim KingShott. His video is the best.
It’s quite fun and easy.

View 489tad's profile


3362 posts in 3005 days

#13 posted 01-26-2011 04:34 PM

I would resaw and save. If the boards are too wide cut one side on the table saw then flip and cut. Cut the remaining material in the middle with a hand saw. the two flats will give you a reference for finishing with the hand planes.

-- Dan, Naperville IL, I.G.N.

View Derek Cohen's profile

Derek Cohen

370 posts in 3962 days

#14 posted 01-27-2011 03:48 PM

I have two articles on my website. The first is a pictorial in a review of the LV scrub plane ….

The second includes the use of a bandsaw, but just consider this along with the first pictorial …

As a bonus, here is a little technique you may find useful …

Regards from Perth


-- Buildiing furniture, and reviewing and building tools at

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5621 posts in 3706 days

#15 posted 01-30-2011 09:02 AM

You may want to use a silicon free wax (I use floor pastewax, some use a true paraffin candle) to lubricate the base of your plane. It makes a huge difference in the amount of effort to move the plane over the wood. I just did a test on some drawers I am making a few strokes with out the wax and then add the wax! Wow I thought I’d inadvertently pulled the blade up, but the thin shavings told me I was still peeling wood! Well worth the effort to stop every once in a while and re-wax the sole of your plane. Have fun!

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

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