Jointing an edge that is tearing out, what to do?

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Forum topic by ChunkyC posted 10-23-2011 05:25 AM 1081 views 1 time favorited 20 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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856 posts in 2675 days

10-23-2011 05:25 AM

I ran into a situation that I just couldn’t get passed tonight, I should say get passed easily. I re-sawed some 3/4 walnut to make a 1/4” thick glued up a panel. I will normally joint the edges of the pieces that need it with my Veritas low angle jointer using the “fold it like a book method.” This method usually works very well for me and I tend to get very nice joint lines. Not tonight, the jointer Gods were not with me! The one board was tearing something horrible on about the last 1/8 of the board. The other board had a little tear out at about the same location but it wasn’t anything serious at all.

I tried everything that I know to do, using water to “soften” the fibers, re sharping the iron in the jointer, taking the lightest cut that I could get, trying a different plane, going the opposite direction, using a card scraper (this made a terrible joint line.) Nothing that I tried worked.

I couldn’t get pass the tear out. I ended up ripping the edges off on the table saw to get rid of the worst of the tear out. I then glued a sheet of 150 sandpaper to the top of my workbench and sanded all along the edges until a got, at least a somewhat acceptable joint line. In the end, the panel turned out fine but I spent more time making the back panel than I have on the rest of the project.

I thought about trying Mineral Spirits to soften the fibers some but I figured that if the water didn’t help, the MS probably wouldn’t either.

So what other tricks are there to taming tear out? Or does my technique need refined.

Thanks in advance,


-- Chunk's Workshop pictures:

20 replies so far

View PurpLev's profile


8523 posts in 3069 days

#1 posted 10-23-2011 05:31 AM

I would try skewing the plane slightly. Also, I would try to put another block of wood behind to act as a backer block, or chamfer the end of the board so that the last part of the board is not being planed ‘off’ the board with no back support which can result in tear out

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View a1Jim's profile


115177 posts in 2998 days

#2 posted 10-23-2011 05:35 AM

You tried most of the things I know other than using a straight edge and a router doing a climb cut making very light cuts to joint it.
This is a perfect case for always leaving extra material when your sizing your material.

-- Custom furniture

View pintodeluxe's profile


4825 posts in 2234 days

#3 posted 10-23-2011 05:38 AM

Sometimes I run into burl stock or crotch wood that varies in grain direction so badly that it would never make an acceptable joint. For those occasional pieces, I cut them down to use for smaller projects, and look for straighter grained wood.
You did everything that a good woodworker would try.
Glad it worked out.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View AaronK's profile


1436 posts in 2885 days

#4 posted 10-23-2011 05:42 AM

ugh, sounds like a problem i would have. my sympathies to you. the backer board/chamfer idea seems pretty reasonable though, particularly since you say it’s happening in the last 1/8th or so – very typical amount in which to get blow out/tear out.

How is the grain oriented in that last little bit and also in the area before it? i wonder how well it would work to stop the jointer a few inches from the end, then come back from the other direction?

View ChunkyC's profile


856 posts in 2675 days

#5 posted 10-23-2011 05:54 AM

It wasn’t not tearing out the end of the board at all. It was tearing badly along the edge. The grain switched direction and I couldn’t get passed it. Even if had been blowing out the end it wouldn’t have been an issue as I had plenty of extra stock to work with, but not enough to cut off the bad tear out spot.

It wasn’t the last 1/8”, it was the last 1/8 of the entire length of the board.

I did skew the plane(s), no help at all.

Jim: I forgot the router trick. darn it, that would have cut my time by loads.

-- Chunk's Workshop pictures:

View tomd's profile


2022 posts in 3191 days

#6 posted 10-23-2011 05:56 AM

When I run into that problem I don’t try to soften the fibers, I try to stiffen them I use a little shellac let it dry then cut it. That way the fibers do not bend but tend to cut or shear off.

-- Tom D

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856 posts in 2675 days

#7 posted 10-23-2011 06:00 AM

Shellac… Hummm There’s some real logic to that. Is there any issues with glue up afterwards?

-- Chunk's Workshop pictures:

View superstretch's profile


1530 posts in 2114 days

#8 posted 10-27-2011 12:12 AM

I ran into some issues with some large waves in the grain of some walnut I was working with.. The planer tore out pretty good on half the board. I used a scraper (very light passes) and it seemed to work better.

-- Dan, Rochester, NY

View Loren's profile


8159 posts in 3069 days

#9 posted 10-27-2011 12:53 AM

Back-bevel the blade on a jack or jointer plane by 5-10 degrees. This
raises the chip-forming angle from 45 degrees to 50 or 55. The
method is called double-bevel sharpening and was written about in
a little book some years ago by luthier Brian Burns. The higher the
angle, the more the plane scrapes. You can do it to jointer and planer
blades as well, but 45 degrees is a pretty good standard for working
with both soft and well-behaved hardwoods. Figured hardwoods
do better with a scraping cut but that same 50 or 55 degree angle
will tear-up softwoods.

View crank49's profile


3979 posts in 2392 days

#10 posted 10-27-2011 03:01 AM

Occilating edge belt sander would work wonders. But, I would try the high angle plane Loren speaks of first.

Shellac should help as well. Shellac can be removed with alcohol before glue-up if needed. Depends on what glue.

-- Michael: Hillary has a long list of accomplishments, though most DAs would refer to them as felonies.

View ChunkyC's profile


856 posts in 2675 days

#11 posted 10-27-2011 03:14 AM

Thanks Loren. Now that you mention it, I remember seeing / reading about that very thing once. To bad I didn’t remember that at the time.

Scrapping the edge was not an option. I was trying to joint the edges flat for an edge panel glue up. There’s no way I could scrap the edges so that they were both straight. I tried it with no luck.

Sanding the edges is what I ended up doing. But I use the oscillating sweat method. lol

-- Chunk's Workshop pictures:

View AaronK's profile


1436 posts in 2885 days

#12 posted 10-27-2011 03:26 AM

does the tearout show up only within the joint, or is it visible from the face of the boards too? if it doesnt, you might just forget about it, since the joint should be strong enough anyway. and if you’re worried you could add biscuits or dowels at that location (whichever’s easier with your equipment)...

View ChunkyC's profile


856 posts in 2675 days

#13 posted 10-27-2011 03:39 AM

The panel was 1/4” thick and the tear out was so bad, you couldn’t pull the two pieces together to close up the joint. It reminded me of rough sawed lumber.

I wish I had snapped a picture of the tear out, it was impressive.

-- Chunk's Workshop pictures:

View AaronK's profile


1436 posts in 2885 days

#14 posted 10-27-2011 03:42 AM

oh right, forgot it was so thin. ugh what a mess!

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856 posts in 2675 days

#15 posted 10-27-2011 03:44 AM

>> ugh what a mess!

Well said!

-- Chunk's Workshop pictures:

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