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Refurbishing and Tuning a Bench Plane . . . . help

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Forum topic by Ron Ramsey posted 11-23-2011 08:51 PM 1940 views 1 time favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Ron Ramsey

36 posts in 1977 days


11-23-2011 08:51 PM

I recently downsized my shop from 14×20 to 16×12, and I am very interested in eliminating as much power tool work as possible (maybe someday all together). I’m not a lightweight at woodworking. I’ve built projects, including my current house, for years . . . . since I was about 7 years old. However, I’m having trouble mastering the plane set up and sharpening process.

I have watched several Rob Cosman videos where sharpens plane blades, including “Hand Plane Revival,” and I have tried to sharpen and set up/refurbish 5 different bench planes. Some of them are old “grandad” type planes that are in good – excellent condition. One is a record jack plan. And one is a Veritas bevel up jack plane. I have not gone to IBC blades yet, however. But I am not able to get good, consistent shavings. I’m having beter results with the block planes and my shoulder plane, but just can’t get the desired results with the bench planes.

I have done everything to a “T” as Rob has described multiple times: flattening the bottoms to a pristine mirror condition with sandpaper on granite surfaces, and getting them 99.9% flat (non one’s perfect); dis-assembly of the frog and flattening, flattening and squaring the chip breaker, oiling the adjustment gear (he doesn’t talk about that, but they needed it); sharpening the blade at 25 degrees with a micro-bevel and back bevel, and reassembly as he prescribes. I am just not getting smooth, consistent, .001 shavings and the planes are sometimes tearing out the quarter sawn white oak grain, even the bevel up and the low angle block planes.

I would like to think I’m not a complete “dolt” so I must have missed something. I’m wondering if I am must not getting the blade/frog positioned properly to the mouth of the bench planes? I’m not getting chatter, and I’m pretty sure the blade is fully supported by the frog.

Any suggestions? I can’t affort to buy 5 IBC blades, although I may try one in my Miller Falls #10 (a Stanley 4 1/2 equivalent). It’s a very nice plane, almost like new condition. Other than the Hand Plan Revival video, are there any other recommendations on sharpening and refurbishing, and setting up bench planes? Do I really need to spend the money for “new” planes, such as Wood River, Veritas, or Lie Nielsen?

Any help will be appreciated. Thanks

-- Ron Ramsey, Rochester Hills,


16 replies so far

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4450 posts in 3422 days


#1 posted 11-23-2011 09:18 PM

Look at the frog setting. Sounds like ya have the “mouth” of the plane set too wide.
Bill

-- bill@magraphics.us

View Brit's profile

Brit

6712 posts in 2304 days


#2 posted 11-23-2011 09:30 PM

Ron, I’ve taken the liberty of posting a link to this post on the Handplanes of your dreams as there are many people there who can help you get the desired results.

-- Andy -- "I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free." (Michelangelo)

View Brit's profile

Brit

6712 posts in 2304 days


#3 posted 11-23-2011 09:33 PM

One thing I can definitely tell you though, is that you don’t need to buy new planes to get good results. There are regular contributors to the above thread who restore planes for breakfast.

-- Andy -- "I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free." (Michelangelo)

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

13715 posts in 2080 days


#4 posted 11-23-2011 09:43 PM

Ron – Short answer is No, you don’t need new blades to get consistent results. There are some things to consider the next time you give it a go (I haven’t seen the Cosman ‘how to,’ so regrets if all or part of the following is redundant):

—Are you ‘sneaking up’ on the smoothing cut? With the iron retracted, sight down the bed of plane and extend the iron w/ the adjuster until you can just only barely see it. Using an edge corner of scrapwood, go back and forth over the blade and see how much is engaged, and use the lateral until material is pulled from the scrapwood primarily at the center of the mouth. And then is should be taking (for a smoother) only a whisper of material. If you take that setting and apply it to your QSWO, it should be fine.

—Is the mouth wide open, or closed? For smoothers, a tighter mouth is better.

—Ensure the chip breaker is polished at it’s end and mated with the iron within 1/16” from the tip of said iron.

Those are the things that come to me quickly. Others, as Andy said above, will surely jump in. Good luck!

EDIT: A couple more things.

The cap iron needs to be secure to hold the iron / chipbreaker for consistent results. Not too tight, not loose. May check that. And to close the mouth on a bench plane, the frog needs to be moved forward (didn’t mention that, but you likely already know that).

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

View Dan's profile

Dan

3630 posts in 2342 days


#5 posted 11-23-2011 09:47 PM

Ron, I own one of the Rob Cosman IBC Blade/Breaker set and put it in my old Stanley #4. Its a great blade but I can assure you that if you are not getting good results with the old blades then your not going to get much better with the new blade. Its not a night and day difference. Coming from someone who owns the IBC blade/breaker set my advice is hold off on spending that money until you fix your current problem that you are having with the old blade..

I also have Rob’s dvd The Great Hand Plane Revival and I pretty much follow all of the steps that he shows in the video and I don’t think he is missing anything. My first thought is that maybe you don’t truly have the iron as sharp as it could be. What are you using to sharpen the irons? Do you use stones? Power grinder? Sandpaper? What grit are you sharpening the final bevel to?

I am sure your getting your iron sharp but it sounds to me like your just not getting a fine enough edge to take those really fine shavings…

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View Don W's profile

Don W

17960 posts in 2029 days


#6 posted 11-23-2011 10:07 PM

Ron, i’d hate to see you spend a lot of money on blades to have the same problem, so I’d suggest solving the problem first. I agree with Dan, I have thick and normal blades and I don’t see a whole lot of difference, especially if your NOT getting chatter.

As for other references, start here.

Next, I wouldn’t recommend a back bevel until you’ve mastered the sharpening. It took me some time to get the sharpening down. Here is my sharpening blog

It takes time, but you can feel a sharp blade. You will read a lot on this site, if you think you need to sharpen, you need to sharpen.

How thick is your mouth opening. If you want super fine shavings and you can slide a business card through it, your to wide. 1/16” or less is needed.

Is the shavings getting logged in your chip breaker? You want the business end of your chip breaker tight with the blade (for several reasons) and you want it polished. Here your not polishing for looks, but you want the shavings to slide just as easy as they can.

Look at some of the planes I have restored (Dan as well) and you will see you probably have just as good as we started with.

When your planing, are you tarting with the blade so its not touching, and slowly lowering it so it just barely touches. Until you get experienced, your not going to be able to lower the blade and go. You need to lower it a little at a time. If the plane catches when you slide it forward, the blade may be to low to start.

Try different wood. It was unclear how many pieces you’ve tried. I’ve got a piece of popular that I use for a test piece. I call it un-planeable. I will get tearout no matter what. (That’s why scrapers came about) I know if I can get it close, with minimal tearout, I can use it on almost anything else.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.net

View Ron Ramsey's profile

Ron Ramsey

36 posts in 1977 days


#7 posted 11-23-2011 10:15 PM

Thanks to everyone for the quick replies.

First, about Rob. He sent me a personal note saying if I’d buy an IBC blade from him, he would sharpen it at no charge, verify it’s working, and that would at least point to or eliminate the blade as the issue. So that it didn’t look like he’s trying to just sell me some stuff, he offered to do it at half price. Nice guy the Rob Cosman. I don’t know he’d do that for everyone, so let’s not all rush to his site with a request.

Second, about sharpening. I primarily use water stones. If I have to grind a new bevel, I use sandpaper and take it to 600 grit wet/dry paper, then go to the water stones to finish up, starting with 1000 and ending with 8000 I also have a 1600 that I sometimes use, but its getting old and used up.

I also use the Veritas honing guide to assure I have the angle right. It has a built in micro bevel feature too, so that’s consistent from time to time. I’m sharpening at 25 degrees. I also use the ruler trick for getting the back bevel. I have two Japanese water stones: and 1000 and a 1200. I have three Norton stones: a 220, and a 4000/800o combination. I also use a polishing wheel to assure that the blade is slippery and smooth on the front and the back (not on the bevel, however).

My thought is that I’m not doing something right with the sharpening. I have adjusted the frog every which way to Sunday and have tried different settings on the chip breaker, i.e., 1/32” and 1”16” off the bevel, as well as closing up the mouth and opening it. I’ve flattened the chip breaker and polished the top as well.

So, I think I’ll work on trying to get the sharpening down. Any suggestions on best way to assure the sharpest edge? I’ve read three books on the matter, so if you’ve got some special tips, or some gizmo that works for you . . . . I’m all ears.

-- Ron Ramsey, Rochester Hills,

View Ron Ramsey's profile

Ron Ramsey

36 posts in 1977 days


#8 posted 11-23-2011 10:16 PM

Great suggestions Don. I’ll study your comments and the links later today and let you know how it goes.

-- Ron Ramsey, Rochester Hills,

View dbray45's profile

dbray45

3178 posts in 2238 days


#9 posted 11-23-2011 10:22 PM

I have a bevel up Veritas plane and it works well.

This is what I had to do – back the blade until it does nothing. Wax the sole with a good car wax, you don’t have to do this but if you don’t this plane will make you work for the shavings. On a flat piece of wood to reference the plane, I used pine, move the blade out until it just touches the wood. Now close the opening, I guess it is the frog, to where you can only slide a thin piece of cardboard, about 1/16” or a little less through the opening for the blade. Extend the blade 1/8 of a turn down. This should produce a clean very thin shaving.

The goal here is to cut as little as possible and keep the chips to be very thin and any direction of the grain.

-- David in Damascus, MD

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dbray45

3178 posts in 2238 days


#10 posted 11-23-2011 10:25 PM

Don, just read your post, great minds think alike.

-- David in Damascus, MD

View Don W's profile

Don W

17960 posts in 2029 days


#11 posted 11-23-2011 10:25 PM

I’ll agree with David when he says “Wax the sole with a good car wax, you don’t have to do this”, but pretend you do have to do it. I forget a lot. Its one of my little quirks, then I kick myself when I realize I’ve been over exerting for nothing.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.net

View Don W's profile

Don W

17960 posts in 2029 days


#12 posted 11-23-2011 10:31 PM

David, and I get lucky once in a while :-)

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.net

View dbray45's profile

dbray45

3178 posts in 2238 days


#13 posted 11-23-2011 10:41 PM

Oh, one more thing, anchor your bench, your gonna move it with every full pass. These planes do a really nice job but you know what they say, “you get out what you put in to it.”

-- David in Damascus, MD

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 2460 days


#14 posted 11-24-2011 08:10 AM

Warning—Highly opinionated advice follows :)

Stay away from car wax. It can sometimes have silicone that will play havoc with finishing. Stay with natural waxes like beeswax and carnuba.

Don’t waste time with a high dollar iron and chipbreaker until you can get the normal set sorted out. Then you will be able to make make the good ones sing. If you go the the good ones first, you will get it right sometimes – not consistently.

A properly set plane should handle about 90% of everything you throw at it. Then you come up against the ugly stuff. Highly figured wood or maybe worse, something rowed like some Mahogany where you have grain running in opposite directions in stripes. Just no way you can work with the grain. Then you get serious in your approach. Here is how to get a smoother going:

I don’t advise a back bevel. The only real reason for one is to raise the pitch of the blade to a higher angle to simulate what you get with a higher pitch frog and if you really need that, go ahead and see about getting a high angle plane or switch to a scraper plane. The back bevel is a poor substitute for the real thing. It makes for a complicated relationship of the chip breaker.

The blade should be almost flat ground. No radius whatsoever. Then lean on the corners a bit when sharpening to relieve the corners so you don’t leave tracks.

Once you finish the sharpening, then the frog and chipbreaker need to be sorted out. The fit of the chipbreaker to the blade is important. It should be in contact for the whole width. It should also not have any way for chips to get between it and the blade. Think of an edge that is almost sharp for it. On a dedicated smoother, it will be pretty close to the edge. With no back bevel and planing “difficult wood”, I would go in 1/32” behind the edge. Maybe even 1/64”.

Then the frog. Bring it way in. I mean where you barely see light looking in the mouth. Let it almost have to squeeze the shavings into little ruffles as it comes out. Go in to where it actually clogs the mouth and back off just enough to squeeze the shavings out. The idea is that there is absolutely no way for the shaving to lift and tear out.

The blade will barely peek out of the mouth. As you sight down the sole, it will just look like the mouth is a little darker shadow. You will barely be able to feel the blade peeking out. Get it where it is just raising dust and then sneak into taking a bit thicker until you are getting the kind of shaving you are happy with. Gently tap the sides of the blade to get shavings that are even thickness from side to side.

Last point: Don’t get too hung up on the shavings. It is the workpiece that matters.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune: http://lowbudgetwoodworker.blogspot.com/

View Ron Ramsey's profile

Ron Ramsey

36 posts in 1977 days


#15 posted 11-24-2011 10:16 AM

Well, I’m overwhelmed with the benefit of some seasoned advice. I’ll be watching the Lions beat Green Bay tomorrow, and then turkey dinner. But somewhere in there I’ll put some of these suggestions to the test. I’ll start first with my MF #10. When I get that working, I’ll most likely work on my Record jack plane.

Have a great thanksgiving everyone.

-- Ron Ramsey, Rochester Hills,

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