advise needed : hand plane technique

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Forum topic by bonaventura posted 04-24-2011 05:03 AM 1984 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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8 posts in 2789 days

04-24-2011 05:03 AM


totally newbie in woodworking and decided to start with handtools before progressing to powered tools.

i plan to joint 2 pieces of mahogany each 50cm x 20cm x 6cm. for practice, i acquired 2 slabs of pine, slightly oversized.

i rough dimensioned it (busted down?) by using a 30cm taiwan/hongkong style plane but i use it without the handle bar. it went well, i learned to lap the sole, sharpen the blade and tune this style of plane and feel the grain direction.

truing also went ok. not perfect but the design i plan doesnt require super flat surfaces anyway.

except for the edges to be jointed. i always try to apply the correct stance (start with pressure at the toe and transfer pressure to the heel towards the end). but somehow the edge is slightly concave (along the length), eventhough i got blade wide, full length shavings.

the other day, i got my first stanley. an england made no 5 that works properly. but i still get that concave edge. initially i thought that the extra length and the longer sole behind the cutter will give me better result (my first plane has the cutter at/around the middle).

so question 1 : judging from the concave edge that i got, what did i do wrong? i reckon that i might be putting too little pressure at the heel and toe when the plane passes the middle of the edge (right abt when i shift the pressure from toe to heel)

question 2 : is it really possible to joint a 50cm edge using a no 5?

at the moment i compensate by making short passes starting around the top of the concave to shave off the peak and work my way towards the ends. when put together i still get less than perfect joint line.

appreciate your input…

12 replies so far

View HerbC's profile


1790 posts in 3057 days

#1 posted 04-24-2011 05:08 AM

How much concave is the edge? The reason I ask, some craftsmen purposefully create a minor concave edge to create what is known as a “spring joint”. If the concavity is very shallow you may be able to pull the joint togeather when clamping during glueup. If that’s the case it would wind up being a very tight joint…

Goodl Luck!

Be Careful!


-- Herb, Florida - Here's why I close most messages with "Be Careful!"

View bonaventura's profile


8 posts in 2789 days

#2 posted 04-25-2011 10:45 AM

Wow,didn’t know that.if I put the two jointing edges together and put pressure at one end,I would get ard 0.5mm gap at the other this too much?

View Brett's profile


661 posts in 2881 days

#3 posted 04-25-2011 04:39 PM

In a spring joint, the ends touch and there is a tiny gap in the middle. It sounds like your jointed edges are convex (bulging in the middle) rather than concave (hollow in the middle).

-- More tools, fewer machines.

View WayneC's profile


13783 posts in 4295 days

#4 posted 04-25-2011 05:58 PM

You do not have to take full passes. Start in from the end until it is slightly concave, then take a full pass to finish the edge.

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

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8 posts in 2789 days

#5 posted 04-25-2011 06:01 PM

Oh embarassing…that’s what I meant.bulging in the middle.,

View bonaventura's profile


8 posts in 2789 days

#6 posted 04-25-2011 06:13 PM

Oh you’re right. This is a D’OH! moment.
But that’s what I meant.bulge in the middle.

View bonaventura's profile


8 posts in 2789 days

#7 posted 04-25-2011 06:35 PM

Sorry for the double post.

@waynec,so you mean I should start from each end towards the middle until I get a slightly concave edge before taking full passes?

View WayneC's profile


13783 posts in 4295 days

#8 posted 04-25-2011 10:14 PM

Not both ends to the middle, it should be only one end depending on grain direction. lift the plane off before you get to the end. I would probably take full passes until I had a good edge and one that is 90 degrees to the face. Then put in the spring joint.

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

View mcase's profile


446 posts in 3327 days

#9 posted 04-26-2011 12:49 AM

You got a new Stanley plane made in England? The “new” English-made Stanleys are known for relatively poor quality. I know, I own three of them. You can make them work, but they demand a fair amount of tuning. Like you, when I first got these I did not know that most planes with the exception of some high-end (Veritas, Lie Nielsen) don’t work out of the box without tuning. Some people have also had good luck with Woodriver, the Woodcraft house brand, though I’m not one of them. Anyway if you have a new Stanley you will have to tune it. The sole is almost certainly concave which explains the convex results. Here are some photos of mine as they are now after much work and the addition of rosewood handles. Note – never set you plane on a table upright as I did in these photos without retracting the blade all the way.

You can see in the photos the difference in finish between the rough ground side as Stanley leaves the surfaces and the tuned up bottoms. The last photo shows the basics for plane tuning i.e. a plate glass with self-stick sand paper, and an actually true straight edge (levels and such are no good) and a 1.5 thsds feeler gauge. For more info maybe get a book on planes or ask around on the forum. Feel free to shoot me question if you want or maybe talk to BigIke as he tunes a lot of planes.

View Gofor's profile


470 posts in 3985 days

#10 posted 04-26-2011 02:53 AM

bonaventura: I think your technique needs a little work.

From what you describe, I would guess you have one hand on the tote (handle) and the other on the front knob. Although you may think you are putting all the pressure on the heel of the plane after starting, you are probably transferring weight to the front knob when you take that step to go the 50 cm. Very common.

Try setting the blade to get the thinnest full shaving. Then grab the front of the plane with your thumb next to the knob on the metal and your fingers wrapped around under the sole. (Please smooth the surface closest to you first, or your knuckles will get a lot of abrasion and splinters in the next step). Use the front hand just to guide the plane, and put the pressure on the heel through out the stroke.

Do this using your convex board (bulge in the middle). If you have the right technique, the plane will quit cutting shavings when you get to the high point. Keep practicing until you get the rhythm. As you plane, the shavings will quit closer to the far end. After you get the rhythm, you can deepen the cut.

Do not try to press the plane down harder when it quits cutting. It is finding the high spots and leaving the low ones, so trust it to only remove what’s necessary.

Yes, a number five can be used to joint the edge of a 50 cm board.

Hope this helps


PS: the concave surface works only if you are using clamps to glue up. If you are using hide glue and making a rub joint, you want both surfaces square and flat enough that you cannot see any light though the seam when one is set on top of the other (dry fit).

-- Go

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8 posts in 2789 days

#11 posted 04-26-2011 12:43 PM

hi everybody,

back home. good to be surfing the net on my pc again! browsing on my cellphone really put strain on me eyes…

@mcase: mine looks alot like yours with kidney shaped set screw hole on the lever cap and the orange paint behind the mine used and in, of course worse shape than yours. but unfortunately i cant find references to date an england made stanley (want to trade pictures?).

i did check the sole by placing it upright (with blade on, retracted) on a piece of glass. no gaps and no hi spots found. on the test cuts i was able to set the mouth tight and depth of cut very fine and got a smooth shining surface behind. reflective too!

so at the moment im quite confident that this plane functions properly. i do realize i need more study and practice in tuning and will also have to restore plane. will look you up for advice!

(inexplicably, sawmillcreek rejected my membership application. maybe they know im prone to double posting).

@gofor: i think i get the idea although i think i have to resharpen the blade.the edge im jointing is ard 6 cm and im right handed.i’ll see if i can guide the plane using the knob.

View mcase's profile


446 posts in 3327 days

#12 posted 04-26-2011 05:54 PM

They rejected your application? Well that’s’ not very nice. Maybe they just had a glitch.

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