Used jointer Plane sole Flatness

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Forum topic by ChrisCarr posted 09-13-2012 12:53 AM 2506 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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196 posts in 2863 days

09-13-2012 12:53 AM

I recently posted another thread where most suggested i buy a used jointer plane instead of a new. I am just wondering if i buy a vintage one on ebay how flat does the jointer plane (#7) need to be? If the sole isn’t flat will it result in my boards not being flat? Should i attempt to lap it if it isn’t flat? I have a 36 inch straight edge which is flat to within 0.0015 of an inch i can check whatever plane i purchase with. I have read various articles online about plane sole flatness, some say don’t even worry about it being flat, some say if its not flat trash it. Its very confusing so I’ll ask you guys.

6 replies so far

View Gerald Thompson's profile

Gerald Thompson

917 posts in 2199 days

#1 posted 09-13-2012 12:59 AM

The only areas that need to be flat are the toe, heel and the areas in front & back of the mouth. I went reaql anal retentive on a Jack and gfot it flat on one side and the whole sole. It took forever and I had a thin plane but by golly it was flat. I was sorrta ‘fraid I would bend it.

-- Jerry

View sikrap's profile


1121 posts in 3324 days

#2 posted 09-13-2012 02:56 AM

If you buy one from one of the folks here, the sole should be flat. Those of us that sell tools wouldn’t be around very long if we sold bad tools.

-- Dave, Colonie, NY

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 2963 days

#3 posted 09-13-2012 03:17 AM

Yep, there are two camps on the subject. The flat sole society and the ones that are right. :)

It doesn’t hurt a thing to flatten them if it makes you feel better. Is it necessary? Well, Japanese planes are intentionally hollowed to where only the toe, heel, and just in front of the mouth are touching and they work just fine. In fact, they have a special plane just for hollowing other planes. I think that is a waste of time too.

It is a plane, not a microtome. Come on, you are taking off a couple thousanths and the soles of planes flex more than that.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View ChrisCarr's profile


196 posts in 2863 days

#4 posted 09-13-2012 07:42 PM

So what would be acceptable tolerances? 0.002, 0.01, etc?

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 2963 days

#5 posted 09-13-2012 10:39 PM

My general guide is that if it sits flat on a surface without rocking, you are fine. Try a tablesaw, jointer or something.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View Don W's profile

Don W

18685 posts in 2532 days

#6 posted 09-14-2012 12:47 AM

think about it logically. If the plane sits flat, the blade connects even with the wood. If the metal holds the plane off the wood, then it’ll be uneven. If the plane sits even in front and behind the mouth (or the blade really) it will plane just fine. A twist will cause the most grief because the opposing corners will rock the plane.

If you’re trying to take even thin shavings for smoothing(or really fine jointing on wider stock), the sole need to be as flat as the shaving are thin, at least in the contact area’s I said about.

If your buying a joint, to just joint 1” boards, then it really doesn’t matter.

Scrubs and jacks I don’t worry about. You don’t need to look at them. Jointers should be reasonably flat, and most I have found are close enough. Smoothers need to be flat. The flatter they are, the better they work.

That’s the long winded way to say the exact same thing David Kirtley said as well.

If you buy a lot planes off of ebay, you will have horror stories. A good portion of the sellers don’t know any more about planes than i do about the stock market. If I could buy stocks like I can buy planes, I’d be a wealthy man, but then maybe I am, I’ve found a few nice planes here and there.

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

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