Jointing with a hand plane

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Forum topic by derosa posted 04-30-2011 07:34 AM 1526 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View derosa's profile


1577 posts in 3032 days

04-30-2011 07:34 AM

Topic tags/keywords: plane milling question

I’ve been getting more into using hand planes and decided to try jointing some rectangular mahogany stock I’m using to make some picture frames. The pieces are about 29” in length. All the pieces had twisted and warped when they were sliced out and I lack a jointer so I tried the stanley no.5 (30s era) that I just finished tuning up. After working on two of the pieces it quickly became apparent that while I could remove the twist I left a curve in both pieces. Both ended up too thin to use from the repeated attempts to make them plat and both had a nice barrel style curve to them. Was this from trying to use too big a plane or what am I missing. The shavings were fairly thin and even across the whole surface.

As an additional experiment I tried doing the next one with the stanley 220 I also tuned up and it had the board flat in no time. I finished 6 pieces total in no time and then ran them through the thickness planer to finish them and all 6 pieces came out perfect. Does the 220 work just due to size or could it be how I’m applying pressure?
Any suggestions are appreciated.

-- --Rev. Russ in NY-- A posse ad esse

3 replies so far

View Lumber2Sawdust's profile


139 posts in 3062 days

#1 posted 04-30-2011 05:49 PM

I am an intermediate-level handplane user, at best, so feel free to disregard any/all of what I’m about to say as completely useless…

I doubt that using the No. 5 was a problem of being too big. A jointer plane is even bigger – usually close to 24” long. I think the problem you had was in your technique. If you put too much downward force on the rear of the plane when starting the stroke, and too much downward force on the front of the plane when it runs off the end of the board the blade takes a little bit deeper “bite” in those places and you get the shape you are talking about: the ends get thinner than the center. I have a dresser with several drawer fronts that have this exact problem.

I suspect the reason the block plan worked for you is that you don’t have the leverage you would with the No 5, so you end up with a surface that is flatter. One one hand, I say if it works for you, go with it. On the other hand, if you want to surface larger boards, or a bigger stack of them, you will be better off using the No. 5 for comfort and being able to work at it longer.

I won’t try to describe it here, but there are plenty of resources online that will guide you in how to “shift your weight” on the plane as you progress through each stroke so that you get a truly flat board. Practice, and check the flatness of your board often, and you will get the hang of it pretty quickly.

Good luck.

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3844 days

#2 posted 04-30-2011 06:16 PM

There’s a lot of technique to it, actually. You should have a flat bench
to start. If the bench isn’t flat you’ll have troubles. Use a straightedge
and examine your board critically as you work on it.

View derosa's profile


1577 posts in 3032 days

#3 posted 04-30-2011 08:37 PM

Thanks for the replies. I had a feeling it had something to do with too much pressure at the wrong points and just couldn’t figure out the hang of it. I think I’ll get the 20.00 shopping cart of scrap wood at the local lumber place and keep trying.

Loren, For these small pieces the surface was definitely flat. Although my workbench is complete crap and a new one is in the works I was set up on a very large piece of pool table slate which will be integrated into the new bench and the shooting board I made was 3/4” cabinet plywood which was flat.

Thanks for the responses, I’ll make sure to pay attention to the technique.

-- --Rev. Russ in NY-- A posse ad esse

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