Hand Plane set up.

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Forum topic by NateX posted 12-01-2011 09:20 AM 1769 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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98 posts in 2997 days

12-01-2011 09:20 AM

Topic tags/keywords: plane

I have a few older hand planes in my collection now and after I tuned them up a bit they work pretty well. The thing is, at this point in my new found love affair with hand tools I realized I have just been guessing. I just sort of try to set the frog so the blade looks “right?” Where exactly should the chip breaker be in relation to the bevel? Is there a better way to dial in the lateral adjustment than setting it on the work bench and just eyeballing it?

All I have been able to find on the web so far shows sharpening, lapping, and filing down the fiddly bits so they sit nicely.

In short, I feel like I am not getting the most out of my tools. They work, they are sharp, but I just sorta…. figured it out. I am a newbie, there must be more to know.

Are there any must have references or good web pages? The Handplane Book by Garret Hack looks promising, anyone have an opinion on this one or others?

10 replies so far

View BobE's profile


28 posts in 2953 days

#1 posted 12-01-2011 03:03 PM

View chrisstef's profile


17387 posts in 3007 days

#2 posted 12-01-2011 03:19 PM

Its a great book, ive persoanlly read it myself and would recommend it. I try and set my chip breakers to about 1/16” – ish from the bevel for fine shavings and a little further bzack if im hogging off a lot of material. I dont think there is an exact way to set the lateral adjustment, i eyeball it.

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

View paratrooper34's profile


915 posts in 2952 days

#3 posted 12-01-2011 03:55 PM

The Handplane Book is a great read, I have that book and learned a lot from it.

I agree with chrisstef on the cap iron (chipbreaker), I do the same. As for lateral adjustment, I do it this way: I set the blade in the plane so it is just inside the mouth. I have a small piece of wood, about 3/16” thick by 1” by 2” or there abouts. I slowly advance the blade and move the piece of wood across the blade and work the blade settings so that I am getting equal contact with the piece of wood when I drag it across the blade. I determine this by the shavings taken from the piece of wood. Once I get it where I want it, I take some shavings on a piece of wood to final tune it. Hopefully I explained that right. It is not my own technique, I read it from one of the handplane books I read. You could probably do a search for that if my explanation doesn’t do it for you.

-- Mike

View dbray45's profile


3320 posts in 2777 days

#4 posted 12-01-2011 03:59 PM

Have the book, read it twice. First time to see what is there, the second to see what you missed.

-- David in Damascus, MD

View Don W's profile

Don W

18717 posts in 2568 days

#5 posted 12-01-2011 04:58 PM

great book. If you don’t have it and plan to use hand planes, get it.

I do the same as chrisstef. The finer shave you want the closer the chipbreaker is to the point.

Actually you have been doing it right. Find out what works and works for you. To adjust my plane for smoothing I start with the blade not touching and very slowly advance until its taking the shave I want. Obviously you need to hit first, then adjust laterally, then down, then laterally. The first few times should be on scrap, but after that you will know. I just the the piece now, the scraps are for heating the shop.

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

View dbray45's profile


3320 posts in 2777 days

#6 posted 12-01-2011 05:14 PM

I put the chip breaker at less than 1/32”. For the bevelup planes, I adjust the opening to the same – very tight.

-- David in Damascus, MD

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


15353 posts in 2619 days

#7 posted 12-01-2011 06:03 PM

Ditto on the method by paratrooper above.

Another very good reference for handplanes is Handplane Essentials by Christopher Schwarz.

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

View Don W's profile

Don W

18717 posts in 2568 days

#8 posted 12-01-2011 06:17 PM

Making & Mastering Wood Planes: Revised Edition by David Finck and James Krenov is also a great book. Its more if you want to build your own, but in doing so it helps understand how to get them set up.

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

View NateX's profile


98 posts in 2997 days

#9 posted 12-02-2011 04:21 AM

Thanks everyone, looks like I have some reading to do!

View ChuckM's profile


608 posts in 3667 days

#10 posted 12-02-2011 05:10 AM

Two more suggestions:

1) Reading helps but it doesn’t replace actually handling the plane after whatever set-up you put in. Try using different set-ups and feel and judge which one works better for you (wood also affects your set-up).
2) LV and LN (Chris Schwarz, too) have produced various videos that you can enjoy free: here’s one example on setting up a BU plane:

-- The time I enjoy wasting is not time wasted

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