How smooth a surface can a Jack Plane leave

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Forum topic by Texchappy posted 05-12-2012 01:29 AM 3176 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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252 posts in 2249 days

05-12-2012 01:29 AM

When set up to function as a jack plane, how smooth a surface can a jack plane leave? What factors influence this?


-- Wood is not velveeta

9 replies so far

View Loren's profile


10476 posts in 3677 days

#1 posted 05-12-2012 02:06 AM

It’s a matter of honing and tuning, but a jack plane
can leave a nearly flawless surface in most timbers
with appropriate grain structure for surfacing with
a plane with standard pitch.

The smooth plane dives into minor hollows left by
longer planes in flattening the board, and with
a cambered iron the smoother eliminates planing
lines left by longer bench planes in flattening the

You can smooth with a jack, but the smoother is
better sized to the job and gets it done faster.

View lwllms's profile


555 posts in 3310 days

#2 posted 05-12-2012 03:22 AM

A jack plane set up as a jack plane or fore plane will have a cambered cutting edge and will leave a scalloped surface. While you want to avoid tear out with the jack/fore plane a smooth surface isn’t the goal. The goal is to use the plane’s length and cutting edge to rapidly and in a controlled manner remove high areas on the face or edge of a board.

If you want to make sounds similar to fingernails on a black-board, just talk about setting up a jack plane as a scrub plane. A jack plane should be set up for roughing and there were no scrub planes in traditional Anglo/American woodworking. Scrub planes were a Continental phenomenon and don’t show up in British or American plane catalogs until they appeared as “Bismarks” in the late 19th Century or early 20th Century.

View nwbusa's profile


1021 posts in 2315 days

#3 posted 05-12-2012 03:37 AM

Pretty darn smooth, depending on how you have it set up.

-- John, BC, Canada

View Texchappy's profile


252 posts in 2249 days

#4 posted 05-12-2012 06:30 PM

The reason I ask is that I see that I see recommendations of getting a Jack fairly often and I don’t know when I could get a general smoother. The Anarchist Toolchest (which I just read, really like, and keep mentioning) puts a smoother under ‘nice to have’. Don’t really want to use sand paper and not sure I’m confident enough in sharpening etc to have a couple of blades to change out like he recommends. Hmm, what to do.

-- Wood is not velveeta

View bandit571's profile


20266 posts in 2712 days

#5 posted 05-12-2012 06:40 PM

Used just a jack on this beam

Actually, I have two jacks, one with a cambered iron, the other has a straight edge. i roughed this down with the cambered one, then went over it with the square edged jack. I also hit it with a couple of the long bodied planes, just to level things out. Afterall, i had a top to do

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View 12strings's profile


434 posts in 2413 days

#6 posted 05-12-2012 10:08 PM

Good answers already, but just remember the ONLY difference between a smoother and a jack plane is the length. If your plane is set up and tuned well with a sharp blade and the blade set for a very slim cut, it can do very well.

The reason everyone says get a Jack first is because it is long enough to flatten some stuff, and short enought to smooth some stuff. If you are using it for both, though, you may want to plan on honing the edge between roughing and smoothing, since the deep cuts will put more wear on the edge.

-- I'm strictly hand-tool only...unless the power tool is faster and easier!

View ShipWreck's profile


557 posts in 3781 days

#7 posted 05-12-2012 10:27 PM

Texchappy…..... sharpening is very easy with all the jigs and sharpening machines on the market. Freehand sharpening is also very easy, but alot of people dont like the time it takes to learn.

Please dont let sharpening be a factor when considering hand tools. Sharpening is a no brainer.

View waho6o9's profile


8209 posts in 2606 days

#8 posted 05-12-2012 10:31 PM

Jack of all trades, hence the name for the Jack plane.
I read that some where. True? I’m not sure, but it makes sense.

View Gerald Thompson's profile

Gerald Thompson

977 posts in 2263 days

#9 posted 05-13-2012 03:22 AM

I have SB #5 that I tuned up. I flattened the frog, sole, sides, etc. I installed a Hock blade and chip breaker. The blades corners were relieved a tad and no marks on the wood. It will cut fluff. The blade is too thick so I cannot take a serious cut with it. My next step is to open the mouth a little at a time to get a little thicker cut. It is my general go to plane and I love it.

-- Jerry

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