Handplane Tearout on my "new workbench"

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Forum topic by willy66 posted 04-11-2011 06:00 PM 2550 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View willy66's profile


44 posts in 2806 days

04-11-2011 06:00 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question plane

Hey guys, been reading and learning from you for a couple years now. Signed up today, because I need help. After many years of dreaming, I am finally starting to set up my own shop! Ive work with the power tools most of my life, but am trying to use more hand tools in my shop. I bought an old used Steiner Cabinet Makers bench off Craigs List. I am in the process of planing down the top. Have gotten it pretty flat and true, but am having a hell of a time on two boards of the laminated top. I believe it is constructed of European Red Beech, but not 100% sure. Tried planing (#4 Stanley Bailery Smoother) from every direction, angle. Sharpened my blades to a bevel, even back beveled an iron….but still getting tear out on those two boards.

I know its just a workbench, and if I put some BLO, and wax on it now, it would look beautiful, and work great. I just like to use anything I build for the shop, as a way to learn, practice, and hone my trade.

I guess my question is, what do I do next? Should I try a scraper, low angle smoother, I dunno? Maybe I am doing something wrong with my plane…I’m relatively new to using it..

I was getting real confident with my progress of tuning and using my old planes, till these two boards knocked me off my cloud. Please help..

Here are some before and during pics of the bench…

-- -Willy, White Plains, NY

14 replies so far

View Dan's profile


3630 posts in 3084 days

#1 posted 04-11-2011 07:41 PM

Could be the blade, could be the wood has a weird grain, could be something else. Do you have a block plane? If you do I would get that real sharp and try and smooth that area with a bevel up block plane. I find my block planes to work much better on difficult woods.

If you are getting good results everywhere else but that one area then I don’t think its anything your doing wrong. If it was me I would try my block plane and if that didn’t work I would give up and take my power sander to it.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View Bertha's profile


13551 posts in 2897 days

#2 posted 04-11-2011 08:13 PM

Gorgeous bench. I’m very jealous. You might use this as an excuse to purchase a bevel-up jack, or better yet a jointer. You could also consider Dan’s suggestion using a low angle block. I’ve found that using a massive jointer with a uber-sharp modern blade & a diagonal stroke helps on the big pieces. If all else fails, a belt sander will knock it down quickly. I’d hate to see you do that, though.

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

View Bertha's profile


13551 posts in 2897 days

#3 posted 04-11-2011 08:48 PM

Cessna’s probably right but for some reason, my low angle block seems to handle difficult grain that my other planes struggle with. Of course, being aggressive with it will threaten the levelness of your work surface. I’d try to use the biggest plane in my arsenal if possible. A scraper’s a good plan if you’re pretty handy with it (me, not so much).

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

View blackcherry's profile


3338 posts in 4027 days

#4 posted 04-11-2011 09:36 PM

Yes a higher angle of attack is required as stated above and if you still get tear out try wetting the surface with mineral spirits or denature alcohol. Hope this help good luck BC

View Ollie's profile


146 posts in 3478 days

#5 posted 04-11-2011 10:33 PM

I have recently been amazed by the humble card scraper for tricky grain. I have only recently managed to get the hang of sharpening them to get a real shaving.
The trick seams to be in the fact that you can vary the angle infinitely until you find the angle that works for the tricky patch.
Worth a try and at least it will be a lot cheaper than a high angle smoother.

-- Ollie, UK.

View Bertha's profile


13551 posts in 2897 days

#6 posted 04-11-2011 10:37 PM

There was a steep learning curve for me and my Stanley #81. Once you get the hand of it, it can tackle almost anything. It can actually be pretty aggressive if you let it.

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

View Div's profile


1653 posts in 3144 days

#7 posted 04-12-2011 12:03 AM

Yes, that Stanley#81 Scraper plane can take care of the worst nightmare. I’ve even used with great success on softwoods.

-- Div @ the bottom end of Africa. "A woodworker's sharpest tool should be his mind."

View WayneC's profile


13794 posts in 4301 days

#8 posted 04-12-2011 02:46 AM

Might try a thicker blade/chipbreaker. Hock for example….

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View willy66's profile


44 posts in 2806 days

#9 posted 04-12-2011 06:29 PM

Thanks for all the feedback folks! tried my low angle block plane last night, made it worse. So before I go out to get the scraper, I decided to strip down my planes (#’s 4-7) and tune them a bit. Flattened the frogs, trued the cap iron tip, and resharpened all my blades. Tonite, I will give them a quick lapping, then put them to the bench to see… I’ll start with the Record #7, then work my way down. If not, off to Tools For Working Wood, to buy a card scraper or scraper. Wish me luck, will keep you posted as I go!! Thanks Folks!

-- -Willy, White Plains, NY

View Bertha's profile


13551 posts in 2897 days

#10 posted 04-12-2011 06:39 PM

Well, there you have it. I apologize for recommending the low angle. Contrary to common physics, mine seems to tackle difficult grain. Of course, I’ve got the upgraded blades that Wayne mentions. A scraper plane might be a little more than you’d like to spend but I get better luck on large surfaces with the plane, rather than the card. A Stanley #81 can be had for a song but mine took a bit of tuning & the blade had to be completely reground. Good luck!

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

View willy66's profile


44 posts in 2806 days

#11 posted 04-12-2011 07:07 PM

Thanks Al. No worries about the low angle… sometimes trial and error is the only way. Not ready to upgrade to new blades yet, want to start creating more, before I keep spending too much money…though they are on the list. So is the Stanley #81…


-- -Willy, White Plains, NY

View DonH's profile


495 posts in 3021 days

#12 posted 04-13-2011 09:49 PM

For difficult flattening jobs I use a block of polished granit that weighs about 30 or more pounds (reference block, see Lee Valley) and put 2 1/2 or 3 inch stick on sandpaper on it with about 1 inch of space between the strips and shove it back and forth at a 45 degree angle to the direction of the sandpaper strips. This will make anything flat and smooth in reasonable time.

-- DonH Orleans Ontario

View willy66's profile


44 posts in 2806 days

#13 posted 04-16-2011 12:04 AM

AAAARRRRRRGGGGGHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!! (like charlie brown).

Took all my planes apart, my Stanley Bailers #’s 4-6, and my Record #7 Jointer, and fettled them ALL. Resharpened the irons, micro bevel, back bevel and all. Then I took the # 6 to the tear out areas and seemed to smooth them out pretty well, then took my straight edge to the top, to see how it looks. I was all over the place, especially on the boards where I didnt have tear out.

I decided to start the whole process over again. Started with my jack plane going on a diagonal, right to left, then TEAROUT…huge pieces of beautiful quartersawn red beech RIPPED out. Back to square one.

How do I go about flattening the entire top, if I can only go in ONE in direction on two of the five boards???

It was a bad night last night in the shop, was feeling good about my hand work. Now I’m very very frustrated!! About to take it to the lumber yard and let them flatten the top (then have a big enough planer) but hate to surrender.

Any suggestions?

BTW the mineral spirits on the wood is AWESOME….what is the down side of using it? Why not all the time?

-- -Willy, White Plains, NY

View Viktor's profile


466 posts in 3622 days

#14 posted 04-16-2011 12:55 AM

Clamp two straight boards along the sides parallel to each other. Then use a router planer sled. Something like this: Plenty of other examples on the site and the web. You’ll be done in 20 min and have perfectly flat tearout free top. I use dust collection (shop-made shroud and a small vacuum) and the process is also practically dust-free.
... Unless you want to use hand tool as a matter of principle.

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