hand plane newbie help

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Forum topic by Jeff82780 posted 08-19-2011 05:31 AM 1863 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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204 posts in 2993 days

08-19-2011 05:31 AM

just purchased my first decent planes. a no4 stanley and a low angle stanley block plane. well i have done some research and did my homework.I want to get a hang of my block plane first so this is the one i worked on. I however did not flatten the sole as the dealer who sold me it said “thats only for used planes and new cheapos”? stanleys are flat. Is this true or should i flatten the sole? I also sharpenened the blade at 25 degrees with a honing guide and oil stone. then barely lowered the blade. I then made my first stroke with the block plane and all that happened was it dug into the wood and got stuck. tried again and almost knocked my bench over this time. So i figured its still not sharp enough. so i re-honed and got the same results. So what gives? what am i doing wrong?

thanks, jeff

16 replies so far

View Dan's profile


3630 posts in 2879 days

#1 posted 08-19-2011 06:42 AM

Yes, you are doing something wrong but its ok because I had the same problems when I first got into using the planes…

The soles flatness is a debatable topic… I am of the opinion the sole does not need to be dead flat but you may want to lap the sole of your #4… Even though you bought new they are probably not as flat as some guys suggest for smoothing planes. I would run the 4 over some sand paper attached to glass maybe start with 220 grit and lap the sole for a min or two then check. If there is no big dips and the scratches are uniform then I would say its fine. If there is a big dip you may want to flatten till its evened out.

Your blade is probably not sharp enough and it sounds like you maybe lowered it to much. The blade should only be out slightly.

My best advice to you would be to read some how to info books or online articles on sharpening and using planes.. A good book on planes will cover all you need to k now to get started

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View Jorge G.'s profile

Jorge G.

1537 posts in 2474 days

#2 posted 08-19-2011 07:04 AM

You know the KISS principle, right? Before you go “flattening” your new planes and possibly make them worse, why don’t you take a straight edge and check if they are flat already. If they are not, then return them to the store, no new plane should come bowed.

Now if you are a glutton for punishment and they are bowed, then get a flat surface ( I use a granite top) some sand paper and get to it putting pressure on top of the plane not from behind like you were planning wood.

Best of luck.

PS, could you possible have extended the blade too much and that is why it stuck on the wood? I am not one of those guys who wants to see a 1/10000000 of an inch thin shaving, but you are shooting for something reasonable, not a 1/16 of an inch shaving either. :-)

-- To surrender a dream leaves life as it is — and not as it could be.

View WayneC's profile


13754 posts in 4096 days

#3 posted 08-19-2011 07:11 AM

From the sound of the problem, it does not sound like a plane flatness issue….

Also, check to ensure the blade is not installed upside down…. :)

Does your block plane have an adjustable mouth? Yes? Make sure it is as close to the blade as possible. Should only be a small opening…

Are you planing the face or the edge of the board? Yes, Start with the edge, it is easier to get a feel for it…

Are you skewing the plane at all? You should cock the plane a bit…

Are you planing with or against the grain? You need to plane with the grain if not, the blade will dig in. If your not sure, try plaining the other direction on the board.

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

View Jeff82780's profile


204 posts in 2993 days

#4 posted 08-19-2011 12:48 PM

what does skewing the plane mean? also i am using a honing guide so shouldnt the blade be at the perfect angle when sharpening?

View racerglen's profile


3112 posts in 2779 days

#5 posted 08-19-2011 02:00 PM

Skewing the plane means you aren’t running it with the sides paralell to the edge of the wood. Push it at 30 or 40 or whatever degrees, try different angles and see what works for you.
That gives you an angled shearing cut rather than a sraight cut, less chance of digging in. And like Dan says, check the flatness of the soles with a trustworthy straight edge before trying any flatning..realy, a brand new plane should be flat or back to the store like JGM said.
Using a honing guide dosen’t guarantee you’ve got the right angle unless you are sure you have it set right..

-- Glen, B.C. Canada

View jeth's profile


262 posts in 2837 days

#6 posted 08-19-2011 02:33 PM

Sounds to me like you have the blade set too deep, check that it is straight by holding the plane bottom side up and looking along the bottom from the front of the plane, you should be able to see if the edge of the blade is parallel with the edges of the mouth. Get this right first, its easier to see it and correct it with the blade extending further than normal anyway.
Once straight wind your blade back in turning the adjuster anti-clockwise.. do this until you no longer see the blade. Now take your piece of wood, preferably something on the soft side and as mentioned make your test cuts along the edge rather than on a face of the board as its easier going. Pass the plane over the wood turning that adjustment knob a turn or so at a time trying it out between each adjustment (the amount you have to turn for a given blade movement varies from one plane to another). Like this you will find the point at which the blade is just proud of the sole by a hair or so and at this point it should start to cut. Now you can fine tune by turning one way or another and see the affect on the cut.

Good luck, when you do start pulling some shavings you will quickly get the hang of it and you will most likely be smiling :)

View chrisstef's profile


17386 posts in 3005 days

#7 posted 08-19-2011 03:01 PM

I think on a low angle block plane the iron should be sharpened to 15 degrees … by sharpening it to 25 degrees you may have made the angle too steep. Ill have to look back at some notes when i get home.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4217 days

#8 posted 08-19-2011 03:14 PM

Probably as simple as too much blade extended.

Sneak up on it by retracting the blade until you are not cutting at all. Then make tiny adjustments until the blade begins to contact the surface.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View WayneC's profile


13754 posts in 4096 days

#9 posted 08-19-2011 10:36 PM

Standard bevel angle for a block plane is 25 degrees independent of the type. Bed angle on a low angle plane is 12 degrees and for a standard angle it is 20 degrees… This results in a cutting angle of 37 degrees for a low angle plane and 45 degrees for a standard angle plane.

My guess is a combination of too deep of a cut and possibly plaing against the grain…

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

View Jeff82780's profile


204 posts in 2993 days

#10 posted 08-20-2011 01:51 AM

so i should be honing at 12 or 15 degrees not 25

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 2997 days

#11 posted 08-20-2011 02:00 AM

No, hone at 25. They were talking about where the blade sits.

Also, make sure to round the corners of the blade a bit. Otherwise it will leave tracks on the sides of the cut.

Be sure to put it back in the plane bevel up. Also make sure that the little notches on the back of the blade engage the adjuster.

When you adjust the blade, look from the front end of the plane like sighting down a gun barrel. The blade will barely be visible peeking out of the mouth. Also make sure you don’t have the lever cap too tight. You adjust it by raising the screw that goes up from the bed that it hooks on.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View WayneC's profile


13754 posts in 4096 days

#12 posted 08-20-2011 02:27 AM

Yes, hone at 25….

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

View Don W's profile

Don W

18715 posts in 2566 days

#13 posted 08-20-2011 04:29 AM

I agree with Waynes first comment. (The rest to, but focus on the first). When I read your post I thought “mouth was to wide”. It may be the blade is to deep as well. Start with the blade up and take a swipe. Lower a quarter then take a swipe. Keep doing that until you just touch. If its a shave, but to thin, another 1/8 turn. If it chatters it could be almost anything including dull. If its more like sawdust, its just dull.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


15353 posts in 2617 days

#14 posted 08-20-2011 04:57 AM

Wayne’s first points above nail it, especially starting with an edge rather than the face of a board. And grain direction will definitely stop the tool in it’s track.

Get those points in action and let us know how it’s going.

What kind of wood is it? I have planes that won’t get through a certain piece of hickory I have available no matter what I do right… :-)

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

View Manitario's profile


2630 posts in 2882 days

#15 posted 08-20-2011 05:27 AM

welcome to the world of handplanes. As a newbie to this world, I don’t have any advice to offer that others more qualified than myself haven’t already shared with you. Your first experience with a plane sounds exactly like mine; my plane went back in its box and onto the shelf for another 6 months. I highly recommend “The Handplane Book” by Garrett Hack.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

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