Frog angle for highly figured woods

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Forum topic by DrewM posted 02-02-2011 03:22 AM 2111 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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176 posts in 2998 days

02-02-2011 03:22 AM

I have had my eye on a Lie-Nielsen 4 1/2 smoothing plane to setup for more difficult grains such as figured maple. I have a few handplanes now including a #4 stanley that does an excellent job, but I run into trouble with it on highly figured woods. I also feel like the added mass of the #4 1/2 will help improve my results. My main question is which angle would be best for the frog 55 or 50. I haven’t had any experience with high angle frogs in bench planes and was hoping for some insight from those who have. I know there are the low angle smoothing planes available that have changeable blades, I just don’t prefer the feel of those planes and would rather have a single bench plane setup for “fine smoothing” only. Thanks for your help.

-- Drew, Delaware

5 replies so far

View bigike's profile


4052 posts in 3287 days

#1 posted 02-02-2011 03:39 AM

have you tried scewing the plane to the surface? The 55 should do it with a sharp blade but try to scew the plane a little 9 turn it to the side this also increases the angle of cut.

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop,

View DrewM's profile


176 posts in 2998 days

#2 posted 02-04-2011 04:19 AM

Yeah I’ve been skewing the plane at times and that does make a difference, I was just wondering if anyone has had any experience with the higher angle Lie-Nielsen planes and if there were any drawbacks to them.

-- Drew, Delaware

View Chuck 's profile


88 posts in 3198 days

#3 posted 02-04-2011 04:35 AM

you can always buy the standard plane and purchase an extra 50 angle frog to change out when you need to. If you’re already spending the $325 what’s an extra frog? btw, I have the LN 4.5 and all I can say about it is … SWEET!

-- Chuck, Washington D.C.

View Loren's profile


10394 posts in 3646 days

#4 posted 02-04-2011 05:31 AM

Look into double-bevel sharpening. Brian Burns wrote a little
book about it that has some cool insights and methods of work
for figured woods.

I have a wooden smoother at 55 or 60 I think and while I like it
I don’t use it much. I also have a bronze L-N 4 1/2 at standard
pitch and while the plane doesn’t do well on interlocked grain,
it’s a fine plane for almost all work. On interlocked and difficult
grain I find myself grabbing the scrapers and razor blades before
the high-angle smoother.

If you’re working extensively with quilted woods and things like
that a high-angle smoother is convenient, but do understand
that the cut becomes more of a scrape above 45 degrees. At
the point where scraping becomes the way to go I’m going for
the scrapers and sanders to get through it as fast as possible
of the time, because I’ve had interlocked woods break out
badly on me before and trying to hand plane them and then
mess around with fillers to correct the tear-out is more trouble
than scraping and sanding.

Not trying to dissuade you – if you’ve got the wood and it needs
to be worked with high-angle planes you would know your
needs better than I, but consider that high-angle smoothers
were developed in a day when power sanders didn’t exist.

View DrewM's profile


176 posts in 2998 days

#5 posted 02-04-2011 06:07 AM

I was also looking into a scraper plane instead of a high angle bench plane to handle the work, I really like to avoid using sandpaper on figured woods. It would be so much easier if I had an unlimited tool budget….haha.

-- Drew, Delaware

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