Technique for 6 squaring stock - simple question

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Forum topic by lysdexic posted 07-26-2011 07:15 AM 2051 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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5254 posts in 2590 days

07-26-2011 07:15 AM

Over the last year my knowledge of hand planes has grown immensely yet my skill with hand planes is still in its infancy.

So, let me ask: say you are squaring some stock that’s around 1” x 2” x 12”. So relatively small. One of the faces is flat but not square to the sides and nor parallel to the other face. How do you correct this? Do you hash mark the face then use your lateral adjuster to take more off the high side and then adjust the iron back to parallel and take a full thickness shaving? Or do you keep the iron parallel at all times and tilt the plane until all marks are gone.

It is a basic question but not one that I have seen addressed in my reading.

-- "It's only wood. Use it." - Smitty || Instagram - out_of_focus1.618

19 replies so far

View RGtools's profile


3372 posts in 2622 days

#1 posted 07-26-2011 03:17 PM

For reading, David Finck’s Making and mastering Wood planes. This i the missing manual to your handplanes.

There are several ways to get this job done. I would not skrw the iron though as the results are unpredictable.

Here are the two ways I would do it:

Lightly cambered Iron in a jointer/jack plane. If the Iron is centered on the wood it will make a “flat” cut (hollow is ok) by placing the iron on further onto the high side of the wood, you can remove a “triangular” shaped shaving. This will get you to square in a hurry.

The other method, two planes, your block and your jointer/jack, both with straight blades. Use the block to remove the high spot as it is easy to control the partial width cut. This technique creates a faceted surface, even it out with the long plane of your choice.

have fun.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

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13753 posts in 4064 days

#2 posted 07-26-2011 05:01 PM

Agree with RG. Also, Chris Schwarz has some vidoes that cover this topic well.

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

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13521 posts in 2660 days

#3 posted 07-26-2011 05:50 PM

It’s a bad idea to try to use the lateral adjuster to adjust for out-of-square. It’s just a long learning curve to get really good at it; I’m still not, but I’m better. I use a jointer set to a thin cut, absolutely square, and check often. I’ll scratch the surface with a pencil to see what I’m planing & I’ve run a titemark referencing the good edge to work towards.

All this being said, I’ve made more pencils than I’ve made square stock. Pay close attention to grain direction or you’ll tear your piece out (always on the last face when you’re almost there!) I’ll usually at least start out on the powered jointer if I’m working on all four sides. For jointing two edges, I’m pretty decent with the no. 7.

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

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Rick Dennington

5808 posts in 3161 days

#4 posted 07-26-2011 06:30 PM

I am NOT really a hand tool guy, so I can’t help with this one…... I square my stock with a table saw, jointer, then a planer. But then again I’m a power tool guy…..Personally, I don’t like to use hand tools much…they are too hard on my bad back, and that stooping over the bench is simply a killer… I try to go the easy way out, if you can call it that….:)

-- " At my age, happy hour is a crap and a nap".....

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15283 posts in 2586 days

#5 posted 07-26-2011 06:55 PM

1) Don’t rip the stuff into 1×2s until it’s flat

or, if it’s too late for that…

2) The key is holding the plane to make the cut you want. Pencil lines across the face of the piece help alot, as mentioned above.

And, seriously, shoot for making #1 above the reality and avoid working with small stuff…

If you haven’t read Wearing’s book “The Essential Woodworker,” he has skill building exercises that help with #2.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

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Joe Lyddon

10048 posts in 4019 days

#6 posted 07-26-2011 07:20 PM

There was a WoodSmith TV program that covered the use of hand planes…

One that I remember(I think) was how to an edge square to a side:
Take a piece 3/4” x 2”-3” x length of plane.
Cut a square Rabbet 3/8” x 3/8” along ONE of the long edges.
Place you plane into the Rabbet, cutting edge facing into the Rabbet, and clamp it in place.

If you placed the plane on top of an Edge, with the Flat side of the plane carrier against a Flat side of the board being planed, you would be planing the edge Square to the wood sliding side.

I thought that was slick way of doing it…

Now, how they got the opposite side square to the edge, if it were a wide board, they didn’t cover. (I didn’t see it)

For a small piece, like a 1×2 x 12, I would think you could just rotate the wood sliding on a different face to get another square face.

I’m going to the website to see if they have that episode archived and available to see on-line.
(later edit)
... well it looks like they DO NOT archive their shows or Tips…
I called them… Nope… they don’t do it… I guess they want to Save them for republishing to make more $$$$!

Keep a Lookout on the PBS channels for their TV shows… they may rerun it… They always have a very good show anyways… :)

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

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1506 posts in 3432 days

#7 posted 07-26-2011 07:31 PM

I’ve used the cambered blade method as mentioned by RG. I never thought of using a block plane, but it seems worth a shot.

View RGtools's profile


3372 posts in 2622 days

#8 posted 07-27-2011 03:32 AM

One thing I should mention about the cambered blade, it magnifies problems with your technique (wandering from left to right creates twist in a hurry…it removes it too f you know what you are doing)

Another method with just the straight blade is to skew the back of the plane towards the high side, increasing the weight on that side, it helps you take a triangular shaving with a straight blade, but you have to relax to do it right. The camber and the block produce more reliable results.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

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Joe Lyddon

10048 posts in 4019 days

#9 posted 07-28-2011 02:52 AM

Jim: That looks like a good procedure!

After you get one side flat, how would you get the perpendicular?

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

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10273 posts in 3615 days

#10 posted 07-28-2011 05:33 AM

Squaring stock with hand planes is pretty much just a wicked hard
skill. Flattening one side, then thicknessing to a scribed line is
child’s play by comparison. Shooting straight edges square to
a reference face is a little trickier…. but squaring all faces of boards
consistently? That’s hard.

Much easier with power tools to aid you in establishing the
basic geometry.

If you look at antiques built by hand you’ll notice the craftsmanship
is often sloppy by today’s standards… there’s a reason for that –
because making stuff really accurate by hand is really time

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3372 posts in 2622 days

#11 posted 07-28-2011 03:03 PM

I do the same Jim. It just makes more sense that way.

Let me ask you a question. What type of component is the piece? Does it NEED to be perfectly square all around, or will two or three surfaces work?

Question two: do you have a good marking gauge? This with definitely help with getting the surface perpendicular.

Enjoy your time well spent.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

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Joe Lyddon

10048 posts in 4019 days

#12 posted 07-29-2011 03:11 AM


Thanks to you, I’ve spent most of the day watching videos, etc. from this Fine Website for Logan Cabinet Shoppe...

Thank you very much! That place is Fantastic for Hand Tool education!

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

View RGtools's profile


3372 posts in 2622 days

#13 posted 07-29-2011 04:27 AM

Bob does awesome stuff.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

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3320 posts in 2744 days

#14 posted 07-29-2011 02:50 PM

A little food for thought. If you are assembling boards and are going to hand plane or use scrapers to flatten and smooth, be very mindful of the grain when gluing up. You will make a lot of work for yourself if the grains of subsequent boards do not plane in the same direction and you don’t have a drum sander available.

On my 6’ countertop, I have one board that the grain is going the wrong way, when I hand planed it, it would tear out. When I scraped that board, I had to go cross grain then the other way from the rest of the countertop. Over all, I lost 1/8” from the thickness repairing damage and figuring out how to get it right.

Another thing that I do for jointing the edges, I use the jointer to get 1/16” from where I want to be. From there, I use an engineer’s square to make sure I am pretty close to square from one face. (My jointer does a fair job for a little sucker but leaves a scalloped surface compaired to a hand plane) From there, I set it on edge on my bench and use a larger square to make sure the main edge is square to the reference face. On subsequent boards, I set them on the mating edge and make sure the boards line up straight and with a bright light behind the boards with the shop lights out, tell me if there are any voids between the boards. It is a pain but has been foolproof. The board edges do not have to be perfectly straight, they have to match their mating edge. Hand planes, the jointer specifically, does this really well for boards 3’ and longer, a smoother from 12” to 36”, and a block plane for smaller. I try to leave 1/8” extra thickness in the board thickness in case the boards move during glue up. That way your top is the thickness that you want when finished.

-- David in Damascus, MD

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44 posts in 3946 days

#15 posted 07-29-2011 05:22 PM

Two videos address this, both with slightly different views, it seems to me. First is Jim Kingshott’s video 1 in his series called “Bench Planes”. In this one he uses a wooden jack, jointer (#7 I think) and an infill to dimension to size. Pretty striaghtforward info, especially if you have the infill, which most of us don’t.

The second video is David Charlesworth’s first video “Hand Planing” in which he specifically addresses this issue of dimensioning stock to size. He explains his use of a cambered blade and explains how he uses that blade along with the lateral adjuster to take shavings off the high side to flatten. Makes sense, but you have to be paying attention. Can’t just plane away and expect flat. Don’t ask me how I know that.

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