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Why Won't My Planes Work On Hardwood?

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Forum topic by SleepingFox posted 09-18-2018 12:49 AM 886 views 0 times favorited 26 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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SleepingFox

8 posts in 75 days


09-18-2018 12:49 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question plane

Hello,

I’m new to the woodworking craft and have picked up a pair of used hand planes. I’ve tuned them up and sharpened the blades and they work beautifully on any softwood. I’ve tried them on Fir, Pine and Cedar all with great success. However as soon as I try and run them over some hardwood they skip and stop and make atrocious marks all over the wood. I’ve tried on Cherry, Maple and White Oak and the planes are hopeless on all of them.

Can anyone tell me what I might be doing wrong or if I just need newer, better planes. Also if pictures or more information would help just let me know what you need and I’ll post it.

Thanks for the help


26 replies so far

View Mr_Pink's profile

Mr_Pink

131 posts in 516 days


#1 posted 09-18-2018 12:53 AM

Have you tried taking a lighter cut? What happens if you back the iron up so it won’t cut, and then slowly advance the iron until it just barely cuts?

View bandit571's profile

bandit571

21274 posts in 2827 days


#2 posted 09-18-2018 01:14 AM

And…don’t go against the grain….

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View SleepingFox's profile

SleepingFox

8 posts in 75 days


#3 posted 09-18-2018 01:19 AM



Have you tried taking a lighter cut? What happens if you back the iron up so it won t cut, and then slowly advance the iron until it just barely cuts?

- Mr_Pink

This seems to have helped but I’m not sure if it has completely fixed the problem. I can now get the plane to slide across the wood without skipping however what I end up taking off is more like sawdust than shavings. I’ll keep messing around and give them both a fresh sharpen to see if I can get this sorted.

View BlasterStumps's profile

BlasterStumps

894 posts in 584 days


#4 posted 09-18-2018 01:52 AM

My eyes are not so good so I made a “grain direction detector” to help me find grain direction. I asked my wife for a piece of nylon stocking. I rolled it into a ball and stuck it in the end of a piece of wood dowel. When I want to see which direction the grain is going on a piece of wood, I simply rub the nylon along an edge. It will catch on the fibers sticking up when rubbed against them. Works pretty good. Saves digging up the fibers with the plane for the most part.

-- "I build for function first, looks second. Most times I never get around to looks." - Mike, western Colorado

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

15567 posts in 2762 days


#5 posted 09-18-2018 02:04 AM

‘Sharp’ that fails against hardwood ain’t sharp. Harsh reality, and one huge reason I love working with pine. Lawl.

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

View JayT's profile

JayT

5864 posts in 2355 days


#6 posted 09-18-2018 02:20 AM


I can now get the plane to slide across the wood without skipping however what I end up taking off is more like sawdust than shavings.

- SleepingFox

That’s a sure sign of not being truly sharp.

-- In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. Thomas Jefferson

View shampeon's profile

shampeon

1821 posts in 2328 days


#7 posted 09-18-2018 02:33 AM

+1 to all the others saying, “not sharp enough.”

How are you sharpening the blades? Sandpaper, stones, something else? Any of the various ways works, so choose one and work on getting the back of your blades flat, an even bevel, a wire burr at each grit before moving on, and a strop to get it mirror sharp.

If you’re looking for a simple and reliable sharpening method, look up Paul Seller’s videos on sharpening.

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

View QuangFromCalgary's profile

QuangFromCalgary

35 posts in 3142 days


#8 posted 09-18-2018 03:51 AM

If it produces something like saw dust, then I am pretty sure it is not sharp enough. That happened to me too when I started. Please do the sharpening again. Then take very light shave at beginning, go with the grain. I believe you will find the magic of shaving the wood by hand plan. It is addictive…. :)
Good luck.

View Planeman40's profile

Planeman40

1256 posts in 2905 days


#9 posted 09-18-2018 08:37 PM

Two hints.

1. When sharpening, periodically take a close look at the edge under magnification. A cheap 10X (10power) jeweler’s loupe for around $5 to $7 should do the job. This will enable you to REALLY see what you are doing to the edge. Very educational!

2. Try taking a SLICING cut with your plane by holding it at a slight angle to the work when planing, roughly 30 degree angle or so.

-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

View HokieKen's profile (online now)

HokieKen

6271 posts in 1283 days


#10 posted 09-18-2018 08:47 PM

Don’t take this the wrong way but, your blades aren’t upside down are they? :-) Just gotta check… you wouldn’t be the first. Make sure your bevel is down (assuming BD planes…)

If not, then yup. Sharpen them suckers up some more.

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View corelz125's profile

corelz125

542 posts in 1120 days


#11 posted 09-18-2018 09:11 PM

you know its sharp enough when you shave the hair right off of your arm

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

15567 posts in 2762 days


#12 posted 09-18-2018 09:15 PM

Sleepingfox ain’t regarding any of this, apparently. Oh well, good advice nonetheless.

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

View RPhillips's profile

RPhillips

1221 posts in 1980 days


#13 posted 09-18-2018 09:27 PM

Blaster, Nice tip on the stocking! I may be utilizing that myself as I still have a difficult time identifying grain direction.

SleepingFox, Google “Scary Sharp” sharpening technique… as everyone mentioned, you ain’t sharp yet!

-- Rob - Indianapolis IN - Learning... one mistake at a time...

View Planeman40's profile

Planeman40

1256 posts in 2905 days


#14 posted 09-18-2018 09:40 PM

That’s true corelz125! That is the ultimate test and the one I always use.. I made a set of 62 wood carving gouges a couple of years ago (http://lumberjocks.com/Planeman40/projects) and the final test on each one was shaving the hair off my forearm. I had bald forearms in those days!

-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

View shampeon's profile

shampeon

1821 posts in 2328 days


#15 posted 09-18-2018 11:54 PM

I prefer to use my fingernail to test the edge. My arm hair must be perfectly coifed for me to get my “look”.

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

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