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Plane Sole Lapping question

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Forum topic by groland posted 12-10-2011 08:51 PM 2426 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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groland

126 posts in 2131 days


12-10-2011 08:51 PM

Greetings,

So I am trying to tune up an old Bailey No. 5 I bought on e-Bay. I really love this old plane. Its adjusters are like silk the old rosewood handles are nearly perfect and it just has a wonderful feel and vintage vibe.

I bought a new Lie-Nielsen blade for it and that is all nicely shaped and sharp.

Today, I began lapping the sole that was not real flat. I used aluminum oxide roll abrasive with sticky backing on a table saw bed for my lapping surface and Sharpie marks cross-wise on the sole to give me a tell-tale about low spots, evenness of my lapping and so on.

Okay so with a huge amount of work with 80 grit, I got it pretty smooth. Switched to 120 and got that even looking and smooth. Switched to 240 and whoa! I was getting high polish for about an inch down the middle of the sole and nothing at all along the edges. If the previous two grits looked flat, even removing the marker cross-lines evenly, why would it sudden;y exhibit such an out-of-kilter pattern? Is this kind of thing normal?

On a related matter—what’s a good grit to stop at for a plane sole?

Thanks,

George


16 replies so far

View chrisstef's profile

chrisstef

11328 posts in 1725 days


#1 posted 12-10-2011 09:03 PM

220 is plenty good to stop on the sole. I cant imagine why youre getting that streak down the middle. Id fall back to the 120 grit and see if you still get the same issue. Did you have the chip breaker and the iron in the plane while you were flattiening the sole?

-- "there aren’t many hand tools as awe-inspiring as the #8 jointer. I mean, it just reeks of cast iron heft and hubris" - Smitty

View Sawkerf's profile

Sawkerf

1730 posts in 1787 days


#2 posted 12-10-2011 09:13 PM

Lay a straightedge across the sole and see if you have a bit of a crown. One problem with your method is the tendency to “help” as you work. No matter how hard you try, it’s difficult to look at the sole and think “I need to take more on this side, and slightly shift your pressure for the next few strokes. Before long, you get a crown.

-- Adversity doesn't build character...................it reveals it.

View Mike's profile

Mike

66 posts in 1101 days


#3 posted 12-10-2011 09:14 PM

I’m glad you asked this one, I’m bringing a baily #4 back to life and needed to know about lapping the sole of it so thanks

-- But hon I need this tool.......

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groland

126 posts in 2131 days


#4 posted 12-10-2011 10:21 PM

Working to answer these responses. First of all, yes, I did have the plane fully assembled—blade in, lever cap on and tensioned, just as in use except that, of course, I had the blade retracted so it wouldn’t be cut.

When I saw this crowning, I went back through the 80 and 120 grits and tried very hard not to “help” but concentrated on putting on even straight down pressure.

When I went back to the 240 sandpaper, I still got the center pattern though I believe it was a bit wider.

Sawkerf…what method to avoid “helping”? I think you’re probably right about this.

GR

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chrisstef

11328 posts in 1725 days


#5 posted 12-10-2011 10:23 PM

Maybe you can try making figure 8’s with the plane to flatten instead of running it straight back and forth. It might alleviate the “helping”.

-- "there aren’t many hand tools as awe-inspiring as the #8 jointer. I mean, it just reeks of cast iron heft and hubris" - Smitty

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drfunk

223 posts in 1396 days


#6 posted 12-11-2011 02:43 AM

I solved the problem by not lapping my plane bottoms. I talked to enough old timers who thought I was wasting my time. I really don’t see any better performance out of the ones I lapped vs the ones I didn’t. It’s wood we are talking about here, not titanium.

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Don W

15398 posts in 1286 days


#7 posted 12-11-2011 03:16 AM

I haven’t gone as far as not lapping, but I never worry about minor deficiencies. I agree with ” It’s wood we are talking about here, not titanium.”

The true test is in the shavings. With a sharp blade, if you can take razor thin shavings, will you ever look at the sole?

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

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drfunk

223 posts in 1396 days


#8 posted 12-11-2011 03:33 AM

If you think about it, old timers didn’t have giant – laser height gauge tested – perfectly flat surfaces to which they could apply various grits of peel and stick silicon carbon sandpaper to flatten the soles of their jointer planes. A lot of what they did was feel and technique – that is what I prefer to work on.

I will admit however that I pull out all the $tops to make ludicrously flat – certifiably insanely sharp blades.

View Dave's profile

Dave

11193 posts in 1559 days


#9 posted 12-12-2011 02:22 AM

To me wood was a living creature. And it still moves after we have conformed it to the shape we need. As long as the toe, front of the mouth and heal are parallel you should be good to go. Joiners and smooth planes need a bit of more attention than a fore plane.
One thing that has helped me on a stubborn plane, I will divide the time in half on each grit by turning the plane backwards and pushing it with even pressure.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are." http://chiselandforge.com

View Newage Neanderthal's profile

Newage Neanderthal

190 posts in 1269 days


#10 posted 12-12-2011 03:44 AM

The true test is in the shavings. With a sharp blade, if you can take razor thin shavings, will you ever look at the sole?
While I agree with most of what I’ve read from Don, I have to disagree with this. While it may be semantics and arguing about rather there are six eggs or a half dozen, I think it serves to mention. The true test is what the board you’re planning looks like. Is it flat and smooth, tear out free? The test is only the shavings if your hobby is making shavings, otherwise it’s the board that well go into your finished piece. The shaving test is how we end up with people trying to take .001” shavings with a jointer and complaining that milling by hand is “so slow”

-- www.newageneanderthal.blogspot.com . @NANeanderthal on twitter

View Don W's profile

Don W

15398 posts in 1286 days


#11 posted 12-12-2011 03:58 AM

I agree. The point was more “if it works” leave it alone. It may have been poorly worded. A better way to put it may be, If the plane is working just the way you want it to, will you ever look at the sole.

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

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Newage Neanderthal

190 posts in 1269 days


#12 posted 12-12-2011 04:16 AM

Don,
Going by your other posts that’s what I figured, hence the half dozen vs six statement, I also may have just worded poorly. My Veritas planes have never even had a straight edge held to them, never will; they work and that all I care about. If something’s not working then start checking, I don’t tear apart my engine in my car to see if there’s problems either.

-- www.newageneanderthal.blogspot.com . @NANeanderthal on twitter

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Don W

15398 posts in 1286 days


#13 posted 12-12-2011 04:23 AM

When I was about 8, I tore apart a lawn mower engine just to see what it looked like. My old man was so mad at me I thought he was going to kill me. In retrospect, I would have killed me. I haven’t done that since.

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

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TCCcabinetmaker

925 posts in 1074 days


#14 posted 12-15-2011 09:41 AM

Maybe yer tablesaw ain’t as flat as you thought it was?
Some plane soles need the lapping, in order to get the desired finish. And while yes, old timers did not have laser sites and so on, they still had their eyes, which, can be trained to spot the smallest imperfections. Hehe I handed my blockplane to an old timer who just happened to be standing around one time while I wasn’t getting the performance out of it I desired, and he took it apart, and started lapping the sole, then he flattend the chip breaker, and the iron, then sharpened the iron, handed it back to me, and said there you go.

Of course the quality of the shavings may also be of concern if your hobby is basket weaving :X

-- The mark of a good carpenter is not how few mistakes he makes, but rather how well he fixes them.

View andrewr79's profile

andrewr79

33 posts in 1071 days


#15 posted 12-18-2011 10:55 AM

I’ve lapped most of mine and hit the same issue, it seems that once you get down to the finer grits you find the spots the others missed. It taks some work to get it right from there but as others have said, it’s wood we are working not metal. It’s going to have some give in it anyway. As long as a ruler or straightedge shows no gap it will be fine. Wax it with some beeswax and get to the shavings :)

-- Visit my blog @ thewoodworkgeek.wordpress.com to see what I've been up to

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