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I need help with hand plane technique

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Forum topic by Bob Downing posted 02-04-2012 07:22 PM 2532 views 0 times favorited 21 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Bob Downing

43 posts in 1543 days


02-04-2012 07:22 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question hand planes

I’m trying to prep some stock using only hand planes. I’ve read about how to do it and seen some videos and the how-to seems easy enough. Seems I’m having problems with communication between my brain and my hands. First I check the board with winding sticks to get an idea of twist and flatness. Then I use a jack plane with a curved blade going across the grain, then diagonally. I follow up with my jointer to remove the scallops left by the curved blade and finally finish with the smoother. Then when I check it again with winding sticks I still have some twist and usually I end up causing a crown.
Now this is the first time I have tried to use only hand planes to square up stock and I realize there will be a learning curve. This may just be a case of practice, practice, practice but any suggestions would be welcome. Please don’t suggest I go back to powered jointer and planer :)

-- BobD Chandler, AZ


21 replies so far

View graywolf's profile

graywolf

62 posts in 1411 days


#1 posted 02-04-2012 08:10 PM

This take moment to explain but I ‘ll give it a shot. Use the jack plane only to start, and check your board for general flatness and all directions during this process regularly and often. that means staightness from end to end, side to side, and then check for wind. Once you have the suface condition generally straight then use your jointer checking your progress regularly in all directions. then you can smooth the surface again checking your boards condition regularly. I say this because your hand plane is a great tool but it has no intellect and only does what your hands tell it. What all this means is if you have a crown in your board then only plane the high spot down to the low spots checking your progress regularly. Please don’t give up and give it a try. take your time and you could really enjoy this if begin to see sucess.
regards, Richard

-- Richard, North Carolina, http://graywolfwoodworks.wordpress.com/

View Farkled's profile

Farkled

24 posts in 1033 days


#2 posted 02-04-2012 09:03 PM

What graywolf said. The key is to check often – sometimes every couple strokes. Take off the high spots. When they are gone, the surface should be flat (not smooth.) Use the jointer to remove the evidence of the jack work, again checking frequently.

View sikrap's profile

sikrap

1051 posts in 2076 days


#3 posted 02-04-2012 09:11 PM

Definitely check often. There’s no such thing as checking too much, especially when learning. If you have access to a DVD called Hand Plane Basics by Chris Schwarz, he demonstrates how to flatten a board. Good Luck and don’t give up.

-- Dave, Colonie, NY

View Bob Downing's profile

Bob Downing

43 posts in 1543 days


#4 posted 02-04-2012 09:13 PM

Maybe that’s my problem guys. Not checking often enough. I getting the feeling that planes remove wood a lot faster than I think. Also, my standards for flat might be a unrealistic compared to using power jointer and planer where the blades are set to within a couple thousands of an inch. What do you think?

-- BobD Chandler, AZ

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

10194 posts in 1336 days


#5 posted 02-04-2012 09:33 PM

Oh, you’re standards aren’t too high. You can get incredible results w/ tuned and sharp handtools… Keep at it, I hope you get there. It’s addictive!

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

View Dennisgrosen's profile

Dennisgrosen

10850 posts in 1833 days


#6 posted 02-04-2012 09:35 PM

work diagonal on the boards the hole lenth and then you turn the boards and do it from the othersite
still diagonal with the grain so the pattern you make is looking like a bunch of XXXXXXXXXXXXXX
on one site of the board this will make the board relative flat on one site
but as the other say tjeck often ….....you don´t want to over doing the planework :-)
and then use the jointer ….........it shuoldn´t be nessery with the smother if the jointer is set up correct
then you make the two edge of the board parrallel to the flat site before you scripe a line around the board
of how thick you want it to be before you start to plane the second site down

one advice I will give to you is to start out with some softer wood until you have the confidence
and have your thecnic on the backbones
as well have learned your handplanes and how they behave , how to fine tune them etc. etc.
constructionwood , palletwood in pine , fir, pople and other soft woods is cheap and great to
make the first projects with

good luck on the slippery sloope with your handtools

Dennis

View graywolf's profile

graywolf

62 posts in 1411 days


#7 posted 02-04-2012 09:39 PM

Not to worry, Your level of sucess in the begining may be a little high. Yes you can achieve high levels of flatness with hand tools. sometimes as good if not better than the power tools. However I’m not apposed to using hand tools and power tools in tandem. And heres why. the tought of processing large amounts of lumber by hand is laborious and you will soon find its not always the best use of time or you’ll just ware out which ever comes first. Besides the wood don’t care. For small to medium sized projects a lot of times I do mill all my wood by hand and I enjoy it. Trust me you just have to train your self one board at a time and don’t give up. Trust this as well your winding sticks and straight edges and your board will teach you what you need to do so check often
Regards, Richard

-- Richard, North Carolina, http://graywolfwoodworks.wordpress.com/

View Bob Downing's profile

Bob Downing

43 posts in 1543 days


#8 posted 02-04-2012 10:42 PM

Thx guys
I’ll just keep practicing until I get. I want to make the move away from power tools and just use hand tools. I know, I know….. a lot of people tell me I’m nuts. But this is my hobby, not my job so speed isn’t as important as enjoyment. The shop sure is quieter without that planer and vacuum running.

-- BobD Chandler, AZ

View Bertha's profile

Bertha

12951 posts in 1411 days


#9 posted 02-04-2012 10:47 PM

I won’t clutter the excellent responses above but what really helps me is a fat pencil. I’ll shade out the “high” areas and once I hit them, recheck. I understand TOTALLY what you’re saying; I’ve made wedges out of long expanses of wood, just trying to correct an angle. The sequence is quite important to me, meaning I start with something with an aggressive bite (like a cambered #5), then move up (down) as appropriate. How much fun is it, though:) It’s just wood. Enjoy the rewarding process;)

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Bob Downing's profile

Bob Downing

43 posts in 1543 days


#10 posted 02-04-2012 11:11 PM

LOL. I know Bertha. If I finally do get a face flat I look and realize that one edge is 3/4” thick and the other is
1/2”
Oh, well. It’s fun learning this stuff.

-- BobD Chandler, AZ

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

10194 posts in 1336 days


#11 posted 02-04-2012 11:12 PM

Consider picking up a copy of The Essential Woodworker (R. Wearing) from Lost Art Press, via the web. Great tips like what Al just mentioned, plus loinery, and more…

Edit: Loinery??? How about joinery!!!

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

View Sylvain's profile

Sylvain

574 posts in 1217 days


#12 posted 02-04-2012 11:15 PM

have a look at the excellent class :
Occasional Table – Hand Tool Build
http://lumberjocks.com/RGtools/blog/series/4232

see also
http://www.amgron.clara.net/materialprep49.html
http://www.amgron.clara.net/twist65.html

-- Sylvain, Brussels, Belgium, Europe - The more I learn, the more there is to learn

View Bob Downing's profile

Bob Downing

43 posts in 1543 days


#13 posted 02-04-2012 11:43 PM

Thx Sylvain.
I have been following RG on the occasional table build. Turns out watching it and doing it are two different things :). I checked out the other two links and they will be useful.

-- BobD Chandler, AZ

View Lumber2Sawdust's profile

Lumber2Sawdust

136 posts in 1583 days


#14 posted 02-05-2012 02:26 AM

A couple of things to consider:

Is the surface you are working on flat? If not you probably won’t ever get a board much flatter than that surface.

If you are clamping the board in a vise (on the ends), be careful to not apply too much pressure or the board will bow while you are trying to work on it.

I would recommend you don’t even pick up the smoother plane until you are already done flattening the board. The jack and jointer should be enough to get it flat. Use the smoother for the last little bit of cleanup.

I usually look for a bow down the length of the board, and wind. Then I’ll work both ends, with extra attention to the higher corners on both ends. Like others have said, recheck your work often. I’m still getting the hang of this process myself. Every time I feel like I’m getting “the touch” for getting boards flat, my straight edge reminds me that I’m not as good as I thought I was :(

Stick with it. I enjoy the process of flattening boards by hand, and having a lot more space in my shop than I would if I bought a jointer to do this.

View lysdexic's profile

lysdexic

4887 posts in 1340 days


#15 posted 02-05-2012 06:14 AM

Smitty,

I think that is the second time that you have typed “loinery” in as many weeks. It might be time for some introspection there, sir. :^)

-- It isn't the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it's the pebble in your shoe. - Muhammad Ali

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